Rhetorical Question


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?


And Forgetting

Each year on the anniversary of 9/11, many pause to remember those who died tragically that day. As part of these memorials, there have been many touching tributes in which the names of the deceased are read. We all know that memories are an important part of the grieving and healing process. But memories of the deceased alone are not enough. Because tragedy is not limited to one religion, these memorials have become increasingly secular and so all we have are our memories. In the secularization process, we are now reaching an outer limit that will bring us to either hope or despair. With Christ in our memories, there is hope. Without Him, there is only despair.

How soon we forget in remembering? How many remember the full churches 11 years ago? There were no planned services… just people coming to God. In the aftermath of such a horrible tragedy, churches across the country were filled to overflowing, and rightfully so. As has been the case in every generation, the most important memorial in the light of human frailty is the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Yet in accepting the secular grieving process, we have eliminated the memorial of Jesus from the memorials planned.

If the secular continues to dominate the memorial process, is there anything other than despair left in our future?

Just Wondering

In Praise of Immorality

There have been repeated interruptions of national speeches this week in which raucous applause breaks out in support of widespread and horrendous moral evils. Was I the only one horrified by this public jubilation in support blatant evils?

What are Words For?

Communicating Truth

In a recent column, George Weigel revisited the question of translations of the Bible and Liturgy. Especially since the new translation of the Roman Missal was announced, many have been questioning the method of translating. Mr. Weigel's article was republished in our local Catholic Newspaper and since has set off a conversation from a guest columnist, bishop Emil Wcela who is a Scripture professor, and letters to the editor.

The guest columnist's article questioned Mr. Weigel on several points and built a progressivist argument with regard to language. This argument reveals the problem we have today in that the idea of progress means everything keeps changing and we must change with it, including language. Yet in language, what is revealed is what something is. While what we come to know about what something is may grow, what something is remains the same in itself. Yes, language may have adapted over time but what it reveals has not changed or adapted.

In addition to this progressivist argument, there was a letter written by one of the diocesan priests who rejects using certain translations depending on the audience before him. This argument is based on speaking the language of the common man, which also is where the changing element of language finds root. This argument is captured today in expressions such as, "give it to me in layman's terms." In other words, dumb down what you are saying to help me understand. But we must always remember that doing so has not changed the reality of what one is trying to communicate and the original words remain the norm. The problem in this approach is that the dumbed down version does not accurately capture what was being communicated and should not be the norm for expressing a reality. In this approach, the translation should not be changed but should always have an explanation to assist the listener.

In the middle of the discussion has been the word "consubstantial," which was restored in the new Missal. This word is indicative of what the heart of the problem actually is -- Catechetical Illiteracy. The problem is not the word chosen by the comminicator but the lack of understanding by the listener. What something is, it always is and when a word is chosen to reveal it, that word should be used. The responsibility falls to the communicator to assist the one listening to understand the meaning of the word, possibly depending on layman's terms, but should in no way allow the precision to be replaced by inaccurate language. Precision is important and, rather than lower the precision to the level of the listener, we all have a responsibility to raise listener to the level of the precision being communicated. Such is what the education process ought to be instead of what it has become.

The discussion that has ensued identifies exactly why Catholics are effectively illiterate today -- we have inundated them with language for "the common man" and not with the language of God. We tend to communicate in description and euphemism and not with precision. We no longer expect the faithful to work at understanding and, it seems, the more we dumb down our Teaching, the more the Teaching sounds dumb. A correct understanding of the Bible requires education, not simplification. A correct praying of the Liturgy requires precision, not description.

Now that it has been more than half a year with the new translation of the Roman Missal, the Beauty of linguistic precision is shining through. It is not a simple or common language. It is a precise and lofty language. Ironically, the criticism of the word consubstantial given by Bishop Wcela in his guest column is the most telling. He rhetorically asked, is it that people "understand it or that they can say it?" While we all love to demonize precision in language, everyone said "one in being with the Father" for decades and they still did not understand it -- because of the catechetical failure. And pointing this out does not even address the theological inaccuracy in the former translation. Consubstantial is specific and is the word used for centuries. Thus, the problem is not translation but education.

Of all the questions I have received since the new translation was implemented, the most common one has been, "what does the word consubstantial mean?" And from there the catechesis begins…

So is the real problem a fear of catechizing and precision or translation methodology?

From Vice to President

The Gay Marriage Debate Is On

Cardinal Dolan broke silence today after President Obama confirmed what everyone already knew -- that he supports gay marriage. Of course, the Cardinal's comments have not been picked up by the liberal media but that is to be expected. At this point, the bishops must not let their opposition to anti-family and anti-marriage legislation slip into the background, especially in an election year in which so much is at stake. Too often in election years the candidates are not put in a position to publicly answer the concerns raised by the bishops or other religious leaders. Because the media control the soundbites, candidates tend provide polished responses and public statements they know will be picked up by the media, which allows them to ignore the concerns of the rest.

Wouldn't it be great if candidates for political office agreed to a public debate in which religious leaders were able to ask them open questions?

Mandating Cancer

The Irony in the Mandate

Interesting how no one has yet talked about the how the HHS Mandate, which is based on delivering “health care” to women, is actually asking insurance companies to pay for treatment that can cause cancer. Although the mainstream media has failed to report on it, using the pill has been directly linked to an increased chance of breast cancer later in life.

How ironic that this supposed medical treatment that insurance companies are forced to cover has ill effects that are ignored by the medical community?

And So It Continues...

Conscience and Morality

The recent HHS mandate that clearly requires a violation of Catholic conscience continues to make headlines. Apparently everyone has an opinion and no one wants to pursue the Truth. The secular media has certainly mired the question in rhetoric and apparently refuses to allow the Church to present the problem as it truly is -- one of morality. Human sexuality is not a medical condition but a personal human act that must be guided by moral norms, which are ultimately established by God. Violating moral norms and conscience places one in danger of eternal damnation.

In this regard. the Church is not “anti-contraception” or “anti-healthcare” but pro-eternal life. The Church is not imposing Her “views” on society but rather engaged in the works of mercy that impels Her to instruct the ignorant and warn the sinner. Conscience must be pure in this regard -- every person must act “CON SCIENTIA,” that is, “WITH KNOWLEDGE.” The Church, established by Jesus Christ, is tasked with Teaching the fulness of knowledge, that is, knowledge that cannot come from a laboratory or some medical experiment or even a public debate. The Church is not offering a perspective or opinion but stating the Truth about human sexuality and its connection to moral living with an eye on eternal life.

Contrary to the secular claim that the issue is about access to family planning measures, the fact of the matter is there are other ways to plan the spacing and timing of children -- ways that are completely faithful to human nature and honest to the nature of the human sexual faculty called natural family planning. Contrary to the secular media rhetoric that we are dealing with a “health issue,” fertility is not a health “condition” but an integral part of the human sexual faculty, which is integral to the human person. It is not something that is “controlled” by human manipulation but relationally expressed through free human action, ordered to its own end and perfection. Fertility must always be integrated within the whole of human sexuality and understood as a good of Marriage. And sadly, the secular rhetoric has continuously left out this important aspect of the problem at hand.

I would be remiss, however, if I did not note that a great deal of this issue is the U.S. Bishops, Catholic priests, and other Catholic theologians fault. For too long there has been a deafening silence on the immorality of contraception in this country, evidenced in the arguments put forward of the number of Catholics who use artificial means of contraception and have no problem with it. Regardless of the moral and catechetical failure, artificial contraception is still an intrinsic evil and no Catholic can be said to be in “good” standing (aka, a state of Grace) if he or she uses any artificial form of it. This can be extended to anyone who cooperates formally and materially with those who do. It is within the latter that the Church cannot pay for contraception, even for non-Catholics who work in their institutions, as doing so is clearly a form of cooperation. Having heard all the rhetoric, it is extremely disappointing that no one is presenting a public statement with regard to the Truth and speaking of the morality that is at the heart of the issue.

So how much longer do we wait before we start Teaching again?

Life at Its Best

Why Does It Remain a Question

As voters head to the voting booth, it is amazing how many still do not consider voting pro-life as a key issue that will influence their decision. Ironically, those who are pro-abortion and pro-death do choose candidates on their stand on this issue. Yes, we are dealing with a very complicated issue but there should be no equivocation by Catholics about voting pro-life.

Of course, there are many moral issues that now dominate the public discourse. Marriage, religious liberty, sex education, contraception, and many other issues are currently being debated in our society and the Church continues to offer guidance in these areas as well. Yet, generally speaking, these issues are not considered by Catholics who enter the voting booth. Even with some of the debate that could ensue with these other issues, abortion should be an obvious one because an abortion obviously kills an innocent human being. In this regard, everyone agrees that it is wrong to kill an innocent human being until that being is in the womb.

So why is abortion still the law of the land? Could it be because of our Fallen proclivities and our desire to engage in unrestricted sexual pleasure? If not, then why is abortion still legal and why do so few vote for the pro-life candidate?

New Year?

Merry Christmas!

For weeks people were wishing one another a “Merry Christmas” to help combat the secular degradation of the great Feast. The practice is laudable although out of sync with the Church. In this regard, people were wishing a Merry Christmas as early as Thanksgiving weekend and took every opportunity in the weeks leading up to Christmas as they engaged in feeding the consumerist beast. These wishes were extended all throughout Advent, which effectively makes Advent a non-season. By January 1st, many decorations had been taken down and all were making a fuss of the secular feast of New Year’s Eve and Day. Interestingly, more Catholics know the secular rituals for celebrating New Year’s than the Catholic rituals for celebrating Christmas.

On January 1st, the eighth day in the Octave of Christmas, which concludes one of the highest liturgical celebrations of the year, not one person wished me a Merry Christmas. The chorus at the doors of the church were “Happy New Year!” And believe it or not, parishioners were angry and agitated when I responded to their triumphant “Happy New Year” with “Merry Christmas!” When they repeated their wishes, I politely mentioned that the Church celebrated its New Year weeks ago and explained that we were still in the Octave of Christmas. I went on to remind them that these 8 days were to be celebrated with the same honor and dignity as Christmas Day. The puzzled looks were well worth earning the various titles people bestow on someone like me. Sadly, I do not believe any of them got the point and instead will make the issue an
ad hominem attack rather than allow it to be a learning experience.

So many today proudly display signs that call for all to keep “Christ in Christmas” while Catholics are not keeping Christmas in the Christmas Season. It is so sad that even when we attempt friendly and simple correctives to the catechetical failure of the last few generations the response is one of desired ignorance and anger. Today, we have so few opportunities to catechize and evangelize our own and, when we take those opportunities, the response is anger and resistance. If we try to do it in the classroom, no one comes.

So when and how are we to address and correct the mistakes flowing from the era of catechetical failure?


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...

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?

More to Discuss?

Two Species at Mass

In the years following Vatican II, there was a frenetic move by many dioceses in the United States to restore the supposedly lost tradition of distributing Holy Communion under both species. The practice had stopped some eight centuries previous, quite probably for good reason. In the centuries leading up to and since the initiation of the practice of distributing Holy Communion under one species, a solid theology developed and this theology, which is now called concomitance, was concretized by the Council of Trent. Thus, for centuries there has been a continuity of theology and practice in the Church. And now today this is one of those practices that has the power to divide rather than unite.

For good reasons, the council fathers at Vatican II did raise a question regarding the so-called fuller sign and called for a very limited restoration of distribution under both species. The fact that the practice became so widespread so quickly would indicate that it is more from the hermeneutic of discontinuity than of true reform. While a discussion was certainly needed and the limits of good practical sense, the widespread establishment of the practice should have been held in abeyance at least until the discussion was complete. Instead, particularly in the United States, the practice went from obscurity to commonplace seemingly overnight. A careful reading of the documents indicated a need for a concurrent suitable catechesis on the Teaching of concomitance to accompany the reinstitution of the distribution, if it were to be reinstituted at all.

Where things have fallen apart is that the practice was being added in parishes around the country during a period in which catechesis was generally falling into total disarray. Simply put, as the catechetical failure took hold, the practice took off. And the result is that so many today truly believe that they are receiving more when they receive both and are being cheated of something if they are not offered both.

Also, as a result of the catechetical failure, there are more and more Catholics today who do not believe they are truly receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament (the percentage varies depending on the study consulted and the frequency of Mass attendance). Yet this important doctrine and the practice of distributing Holy Communion under two species must necessarily go hand-in-hand. And both are currently suffering from the catechetical failure.

The fact that the practice outstripped the catechesis is why so many think today that the discussion of Holy Communion under both species should continue. While the practice has merits and should have a highly limited scope, the reality is that a great number of so-called practicing Catholics believe they are more fully communicated when they receive both. These are the same Catholics who may attend Holy Mass weekly or more yet hardly ever go to Confession. These are the same Catholics who say they believe in the real presence yet have no problem holding idle conversation before the tabernacle and never come to Adoration. These are the same Catholics who say they are in union with the pope yet promote and/or use contraception. These are the same Catholics who say they espouse the Ten Commandments yet have no problem with abortion.

The irony in this discussion is that those who do attend Mass weekly believe that doing so makes them a better and fully informed Catholic and we priests should be happy they are still there. These would be members of the generation that are victims of the catechetical failure and yet think they know more than enough about the faith. This would be the same generation of Catholics that do not attend adult formation classes or, when they do, come with a chip on his or her shoulder.

So is it a further discussion that is needed or better catechesis?

More Abuse Please

Get Out the Calculators!!

As we enter the final days before implementing the New Translation of the Roman Missal, Bishop Murphy recently sent a memo to all priests (see post for October 10) asking that various abuses be eliminated from the sacred liturgy. Or course, the reaction was strong by those who are entrenched in certain practices that should never have been implemented. For obvious reasons, the memo issued by the bishop could not detail every abuse that goes on and he should not have to as many of them have been addressed through Church Teaching over the years. Of course, that assumes that priests have been reading the documents issued by the Church.

Among the items not covered in the memo but continues to spread like wildfire is the practice of inviting hoards of people into the “presbyterium” for the Consecration and Our Father. This practice was addressed in 1981 by the Congregation of Divine Worship and yet still continues to this day. It is bad enough that there are still parishes that continue the practice but it is even more distressing that the local Catholic paper “reports” its occurrence as if it is a wonderful thing. What makes this most difficult is the impact it has on parishes that try to remain faithful to the Teaching of the Church because of the confusion it creates.

Does anyone have a way of calculating the exponential growth of these abuses and the impact they will actually have on the future of the Church?

The Joy of Seven Billion

Talk about a truly important mark!

Since the middle of last century the flag has been raised on the population growth. While some recognize the beauty of this moment, the Anti-Life groups see the growth as a problem and want to put an end to it. Yet these secular groups with all their science should be proud of their accomplishment because the number is due to a greater life expectancy, lower infant mortality rate, and other medical accomplishments. And as more contribute to the global effort, more good will come of it.

This week the seven billionth person was born. Despite the mainstream media focusing on the doom and gloomists, this is a great moment. At the heart of the fear is a tremendous selfishness and self-centeredness on the part of the “elite” who would prefer to spread the Culture of Death to stem the growth. If someone actually spends a few moments considering the actions of these progressivist population control scientists and social engineers, one would quickly see a form of eugenics behind the thinking. Here we have the educated and modern countries imposing a doctrine on poorer countries to keep them from having children. The only caveat is that these social indoctrinators have imposed the same ideology on their modern contemporaries.

Why are so many afraid of using words like share, help, and charity?

No Limits?

The Call to Tolerance at Its Best!

Every now and then a story comes along that really begs the question on the limits of tolerance. The most recent one has to do with the Catholic University in Washington DC. It seems non-Catholics who attend the university are offended by the Catholic images on the campus. Apparently when these individuals took the orientation tour, the sign in front of the university must have been covered. And all the brochures they received must have been altered. And the applications must have been generic. There must have been some cover up because the name of the university is THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA.

So what did they expect when they matriculated?


Catholic Excitement

Not only is there an identity crisis but a real move to complacency. As the catechetical failure takes its toll, many Catholics are not concerned about the Church or Her Teaching. It is odd that so many want other to listen to them but they do not want to listen to Legitimate Authority established by God.

What makes it very difficult is the number of American Catholics who would prefer a democratic process with regard to Church Teaching. Interestingly, these are the same Catholics who really do not know the Church’s Teaching or where the Teaching originates. Whenever a corrective is offered to help someone understand the Teaching, the usual responses are, “I don’t have time for that,” or, “that’s not important to me.” Yet when Salvation hangs in the balance, getting it right is very important.

Complacency with regard to the Truth has become the norm for many Catholics and what was it that Jesus said about being lukewarm?

Shepherds Today

The Last Bargaining Chip

Many pastors and parishioners today want to create or recreate their parish in a worldly image. For decades the Church has been besieged and infiltrated by the dictatorship or relativism and the effects have been devastating. It is imperative that Catholics take note of the process and admit how it has impacted. It is even more important that priests and pastors keep focus on the Nature of the Church in every moment of every day and remain faithful to Her alone.

The first problem many note is that they come to Mass but are not being fed. When asked, they complain that the homily was not good or they could not understand father. Such statements betray the catechetical failure in that being fed at Mass is with regard to the Grace communicated through the Eucharist. The starvation comes from those who approach unworthily and such seems to be expanding exponentially. Unfortunately, many priests take such comments as part of a popularity contest and try to “attract” more people to “his” Mass or “his” parish through entertaining the people in the pews. But playing with the liturgy and only giving “feel good” homilies betrays the reality of why Christ instituted the Mass in the first place.

The fact of the matter is that Christ established the Church and it is He Who acts at the Mass. It is His sacrifice on the Cross that feeds us. It is His Blood poured out that sanctifies. All priests and Catholics must begin from this position and accept the Truth. We are not in a sales game as the Church is not a product to be consumed or a place to be entertained. It is the vehicle for Salvation. Unfortunately too many priests in recent decades catered to the whims of those before them in an attempt to avoid offense and possibly drive people away. Yet more have left the Church during that period and the numbers continue to drop. Could the problem have stemmed from negotiating with the world rather than pursuing Salvation.

The problem today is that we have Americans sitting in the pews and, in many cases, not true Catholics. They approach the parish as a consumer and believe that they should get what they want. For decades, pastors and priests “negotiated” with aspects of the Mass and chose to entertain relativistic notions rather than uphold what the liturgy is.

Now, those who are dissatisfied with one aspect or another believe that they must take action if their wants are not met. This usually plays out in the numbers game... The two most common final bargaining chips made by parishioners today are: “I guess I have to changes parishes,” or “I am going to have to withdraw my financial support.” These are American bargaining chips, not Catholic. If all parishes and parishioners were truly Catholic, there would be little or no difference from one parish to the other and if such chips are played the result would be the individual endangering his or her own Salvation.

If all things Catholic are up for debate then playing the last bargaining chip would mean that Salvation is not the reason for the Church. Is this the Church people want?


Technologically Speaking...

The notion of progress has certainly infected the modern mind to the point where so many now expect that all technological advances should serve only to advance the comfort of the individual. It seems that the gauge of progress is no longer that we have advanced toward Salvation but that we can make people comfortable in this life. Those who live for air conditioned spaces in the summer are prime examples. As soon as there is a slight bit of discomfort, the modern Rich Man complains and will go to any extent to eliminate the temporal suffering.

In this regard, look at the number of Catholic Churches in America without air conditioning. The pastors note how attendance drops radically during the summer months. Although some may be vacationing and others scampering to surrounding parishes with air conditioning, many just stay in the comfort of their own homes without giving any thought to the Sin committed by missing Sunday Mass. Rather than going to church in discomfort and offering it up, they succumb to self-indulgence.

Yet, through suffering, Love IS. It is not that every moment needs to be a time of suffering but not all suffering should be shunned. And taking on a penitential practice out of Love for another has eternal import. Yet today so many are convinced that the measure of goodness is commensurate with self-pleasure. There is no doubt that the Rich Man believed the same...

For sure, when self-pleasure and comfort become the daily pursuit of one’s life, the ability to see God is obscured and the capacity for self-gift to others is diminished. The deeper one is mired in the pursuit of pleasure that undergirds the deadly sins, the more one can be assured the soul is being suffocated. And it is that person who will be surprised like the Rich Man in the depths of torment that result upon entering eternal life.

So is Man really better with all His creature comforts?

Got Modesty?

An Irony...

In years gone by, the faithful attended church on a regular basis and those in attendance were always dressed appropriately and modestly. In fact, for church people wore their “Sunday Best.” It did not make a difference what time of year or what the weather was as everyone came to church dressed in ways that were appropriate before God. Even on the hottest days of summer everyone dressed according to the modesty one should have before God. In doing so, everyone understood the place of the Cross and knew that temporary discomfort had eternal effects.

In fact, it was not only church but anywhere in public that a person would dress appropriately. Even at public events like baseball games and outdoor gatherings, people dressed with respect and dignity. They dressed appropriately in places of work. They covered themselves in market places. In fact, except in the privacy of the home or at the beach, people presented themselves with modest and respect. And they did so in a time when air conditioning did not exist. As was the case for most of the Church’s existence, the Cross was to be embraced with an eye on the Resurrection.

Over the last 50 years or so, we have seen an increase in the number of churches that have air conditioning and are more comfortable than ever. In fact, many homes are now air conditioned, cars are air conditioned, buses and trains are air conditioned, and public buildings are air conditioned. Never before in the history of Man has there been an era in which the heat of the summer months has been made so tolerable. Yet now people are wearing less clothes than ever in public and in church. The shift, it seems, has gone from being able to offer some suffering up for another soul has been replaced with the pursuit of personal comfort.

Is it not ironic that in an era in which summer comfort is assured modesty has all but been lost and Man now spirals in self-centered hedonism?

Intolerant Exclusion

The Secular call to Tolerance is a veiled Intolerance

Ever notice that the secularist credo is to tolerate everyone and everything, to give it a chance before condemning it, except when the view contradicts their message? Ever notice the irony that such tolerance is not extended to Catholicism? Notice that the media is generally filled with the secular minded and if someone were to regularly express a particular religious view, he or she would eventually be dismissed. In addition, when the media is rallying support for a cause of their choosing, notice how Catholic Teaching is excluded.

Could you imagine a regular program on a major network station today like the one Archbishop Fulton Sheen once had?

Hearing through Silence

God Speaks

For those who have not heard The Voice, we must keep in mind that it is God Who Speaks and we must listen. The deafness of the modern person has come through the amount of noise made by the secular attacks on Faith, attacks that are very subtle and all too common. To be sure, the secularlists would find it even more absurd that there are those who dedicate their entire existence to listening to the Vioce, which means tuning out the noise. Such tuning out makes it impossible for the secular to obscure God’s Voice!

For centuries the contemplative life was seen as the ultimate response to God’s call. To want to listen to God should be the desire of every human heart. But such listening requires Sacred Silence, which seems to frighten so many believers today. Even when encouraged by priests, the faithful have a very difficult time keeping a Sacred Silence in the church. So many would prefer to chat with their neighbors, which disturbs those around them who are yearning for Silence, than listen for God’s Voice. Not only is there a deafening noise made by the secularists today, the noise is continued by the faithful in God’s presence.

At the heart of Catholicism should be the desire to pull away from the world/secular life and simply listen. There are those whose lives were dedicated to such and they were the inspiration for the rest of the faithful. Yet today there are so few who accept the Call to Silence and prefer the deafening noise of the world.

For those who believe God is not speaking to them, have you stopped the noise in your life long enough to make sure? The hard part is that stopping the noise is very difficult today and may take many hours of silent prayer before God to reach a healthy level of Silence, a level at which God’s Voice becomes clear. Yet such Silence is as important to the soul as water is to the body.

Could the lack of Silence in the Church today be part of the reason for the declining numbers?

Religious Simplicity

Simplicity in the Complex

For many centuries, the correct understanding of our religious existence was ordered to simplicity. This was clearly the case in the Rule of St. Benedict. This rule was basically centered on prayer and work - on listening to God’s Word in prayer. The prayer life was only interrupted for the work that was needed to continue the prayer life. Those who followed and rule of religious life sought to simplify rather than multiply. Anyone who follows Christ knows that much is not needed for the journey.

In order to confuse God’s followers, the evil one has developed a world filled with such complexity that those in the world today believe that more is better. The pursuit of more has obfuscated the Truth of simplicity. Yet anyone who listens to The Voice of the Shepherd knows that less is truly better and at its minimum, one can Live on every Word that comes from the Mouth of God.

So why do so many today prefer more to less when less is clearly better?

Formation of Catholics

Baptism and Indoctrination!

One of the expectations that the Church has for someone to be Baptized is that they be properly trained in the way of the Faith as a condition for being initiated. In the case of adult initiation, this takes place before the Initiation itself. The Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) has been the standard since the earliest days of the Church. In this regard, if the person seeking Baptism is not fully prepared, the initiation into the Church should be delayed indefinitely until such time that the candidate is fully prepared. As is the case even today, there is a fully initiated Catholic who “walks” the journey with the candidate and is tasked with determining the suitability of the person for entrance into the Body of Christ, which includes a solid grasp on the Teachings of the Church.

In fact, every Sacrament has some requirement attached to it that those seeking it be properly formed for the particular Sacrament. As part of the Ordination ritual, the responsible formator is asked if the candidate is judged worthy. For those who wish to Marry, they must make a statement of intention as part of the ritual. At Confirmation, the pastor, who is tasked with overseeing their preparation, presents the candidates to the bishop. At the Initiation of an adult, the “sponsor” presents the properly formed candidate to the priest.

However, as we all are well aware, the initiation of infants has become the common practice in the Catholic Church. The presenters of the “candidate” are the parents in conjunction with the godparents and they are told that in seeking Baptism for the child they must raise the child in the ways of the Faith. In this statement we see the reason for the Canonical requirement that there is a “founded hope” the child will be raised Catholic. This founded hope requires a level of indoctrination (in the positive sense of the term) into the Faith as a way of life.

Yet today, in order to keep the numbers up, we are often asked to ignore objectively disordered situations in the lives of the parents that certainly challenge that there is a founded hope. Not attending Sunday Mass, divorce and remarriage, having a child out-of-wedlock, and same-sex unions are all instances of situations in which the lives of the formators of the newly Baptized are clearly problematic. Today, it is often the case that they are not challenged and questions are not asked lest they be alienated further from the Church, as if the objectively disordered situation of their lives has not already done so.

Should we not be more more concerned with the quality of the formation the child will receive and the extent to which the formator is living the Teachings of the Catholic Church in the objective order?

Access to Priests II

Why is it hard to admit?

There have been several recent “secular” responses to the dwindling numbers of priests but the distressing aspect of these responses is that they have come from internal Catholic circles. In this regard, many still call for the pseudo-solution to the problem and call for ordaining just about everyone under the sun. This error had been influenced by the instrumentalist school of thought that forms the secular part of our education system today. To identify it, this errant line of thought has many sentences that begin with the phrase, “if only.” For instance, there have been those recently who would claim that the problem would disappear “if only they would ordain married men.” Or they may say, “if only they would ordain women.” And the solution would be, “let’s give it a try and see what happens.”

These pseudo-solutions sound good because they offer a knee-jerk reaction to the numbers problem. But they do not admit the deeper problem and the need for experimentation is dangerous because failures in the Church endanger the salvation of souls. When we speak of a vocation crises, we need to admit that it is not just the priesthood and religious life to which we are referring. It has to do with the universal call to holiness and the failure we are now experiencing across the board. The effects of the crises are seen in all the walks of life within the Church. We not only have a problem with the number of priests and religious, the married are also manifesting a real crisis. Tie this in with the lack of Catholics in the pews and the result is what we see before our eyes. For this, there is no quick fix.

Could the problem really be that the faithful are generally not praying and coming before the Lord enough? Could the problem have something to do with the general catechetical failure?

Case in Point

The Failure is Obvious

Although many who live in New York are discussing the recent legislation regarding gay marriage, it seems few want to discuss what it means to be a “good” Catholic. Senator Grisanti, who claims to be a good Catholic, stated that he had to take the Catholic out of his vote. To do so also means he must take the “good” out of his Catholic.

Based on the principle of cooperation, it should be easy enough for the Church hierarchy to publicly reiterate the Teaching that support of civil laws that betray the moral law are sufficient to render the person in a dubious status with regard to being Catholic. His vote is not a private matter and the New York State Catholic Conference should be issuing quotes that answer the question of what it takes to be a “good” Catholic.

Jesus said to his disciples, "Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:1-2)

Yes, Sin is real and all the faithful must be aware of it. We are sinners but we do not have to be controlled by Sin. The key to being a good Catholic is that we repent of the sins committed AND help others to avoid sinning, not pass laws that allow Sin to proliferate.

So are we ready to admit that there has been a catechetical failure? Now is the time to begin working more closely on evangelizing our own.

Other Factors Anyone? III

The Numbers Game V

One of the mistakes made over the most recent decades is actually playing the numbers game itself. With a consideration of all the factors that have left the Church in this state, it is clear that the numbers have changed. What we must admit is that it is NOT the Church that has changed, only the numbers.

Too often we spend countless hours examining the numbers without admitting the factors that contribute to them. Yes, there are now generations of confused Catholics in the United States who prefer the cafeteria style of faith. Yes, there are dwindling numbers in the pews. Yes, something has gone wrong. But we must always recall that Jesus promised that the Church will endure through it all. The Church has NOT changed. The numbers are NOT the Church and we should be careful in believing they are. The Church is and always will be, even if many of the pews are empty.

The first error that we must address in the mind of many Catholics today is the composition of the Church. Christ is the Church! It is He Who established Her and it is He Who sustains Her. Those who enter the Church through Baptism are members of Her -- they are NOT the Church Herself. In Baptism, we are joined to Christ and His Church as members. Here is where the American culture has infected Catholics who claim that “we” are the Church. That ideology works in the democratic environment of the United States. The Church is not a democracy and those who are members do not exhaust Her existence. Rather, we humbly submit ourselves to Christ and His Church.

At this point, should we move away from counting and begin to focus on the remnant before us who wish to be faithful to the Teachings of the Church?

Other Factors Anyone?

The Numbers Game III

The best we can say about the numbers Jones reports is that there is a real problem. Throughout the Twentieth Century, the total number of Catholics increased dramatically -- from 17.7 million in 1920 to 65 million in 2002, with 45 million in 1965. The most rapid increase was from the Second World War to the Second Vatican Council. Missing in the report on Mass Attendance is a breakdown by generation. Who are the ones going to Mass in the year 2000? This particular stat is missing but if one can guess, it is the older generations who were catechized much better.

When Mass Attendance is examined by generation, there is a clear difference by age. If the changes in the Mass were the reason, logic would say that the oldest group (the Pre-Vatican II generation) would be the most disillusioned by the change and would fall away. As Dr. Gray notes on the link above, “Pre-Vatican II Generation Catholics grew up in an era where deliberately failing to attend Sunday Mass or other day of obligation, without good reason, was quite clearly communicated as a mortal sin. For the Vatican II and Post-Vatican II generations this has not been emphasized to the same degree.” However, the teaching in this regard was not changed at Vatican II and still remains in effect today.

Should we then be asking if there is another factor? Has there been a catechetical failure in recent decades?


A Nation Celebrates...

Each year the citizens of the United States celebrates its independence. This particular holiday is uniquely American and reflects a long history. Unfortunately, too many Americans have taken the idea of independence too far. The Declaration signed was an official statement regarding the reasons for severing the political ties to another nation, specifically Great Britain. The independence declared was from an earthly power, not from God.

It is amazing that in the course of the centuries since, so many Americans believe that we should also declare independence from God. Yet the very document in question invokes “a firm reliance on divine Providence” as the path to independence. So why do so many today believe that the same Divine Providence is no longer required to sustain this nation?

Another Job Well Done

It must be said...

The Archbishop of Santa Fe, Most Reverend Michael Sheehan, recently published a pastoral letter on the care of those who cohabitate. It is good that bishops take such measures and hopefully the faithful are listening and will respond with an assent of Faith. It should also be mentioned that it is a sad state of affairs when a bishop is compelled to make such statements as everything contained in the letter should have been part of the catechetical programs over the years.

With regard to such statements, we must keep in mind that this letter does not open “a discussion” nor does it ask for interpretation by the pastors or faithful. Instead, it comes under the heading of teaching from authority. Yes, the Church is a hierarchical structure and that means that directives are occasionally handed down. In this regard, more bishops should take such a position even though it may upset some of those to whom the teaching applies.

What makes this particular letter a good example is that it does not accuse, insult, or malign anyone... it just reiterates the teaching and demands that the teaching be respected by Catholics. Too many today want to interpret and relativize rather than assent. As the bishop points out, “Our popular American culture is often in conflict with the teachings of Jesus and His Church.” Such should make every Catholic living in America ask himself or herself a very important question - Am I a Catholic or an American first and foremost?

Our Lady's Tears

A Sad Day

On the thirtieth anniversary of the alleged apparitions in Medjugorje, Catholics across New York are waking up to news reports that the secular world has again sided with Prometheus and defied God in thinking that the divine reality He established in Marriage is under Man’s control. The ruling is certainly disappointing but even more distressing is the number of Catholic politicians that voted in favor. Our Lady’s reaction is predictably one of sorrow as such a ruling has the power to mislead many from the path of salvation.

At this point, one should wonder, what will the reaction of the New York State bishops be? Maybe it is time for them to engage in hand wringing and a posture of disappointment?

Our Lady, Queen of Peace - Help Us!

Marriage Anyone?

The Vote Looms

The issue of gay marriage is in the spotlight in New York State and there have been some, albeit late, statements from the New York state Catholic bishops, particularly from Archbishop Dolan. Of course, we are living in a time under the dictator so such statements will be marginalized for the most part. When dealing with the secular world and the media, such is to be expected as those who wield power and influence are able to set the rules. Yes, the rules are not just and do not take the Truth into consideration. But, as has been noted here already, the media will always spin the issues to their favor.

The distressing part is that the catechetical failure has left the bishops in an unenviable position. Their eleventh hours statements are not being met with the respect from Catholics they deserve. As authentic teachers and shepherds, in some cases their own do not follow them and will even publicly chastise them. This failure can be seen in the discussion “comments” attached to the online postings of the bishops’ statements. Fortunately on the Catholic sites there are others who attempt to set the record straight but generally speaking there are supposed Catholics who not only disagree with the Church but make comments that outright betray their Catholic identity. The fact that there are so many Catholics divided on critical moral issues only points out how serious the problem is within the walls of the Church.

At the heart of the issues today is the fact that many Catholics do not understand what is meant by Truth and have not been properly catechized to accept the Truth. There has been a silence in many cases in which there is a fear of alienating the “masses” of Catholics. This silence, coupled with the catechetical failure, is the reason why so many supposed Catholics are more secular in their views and believe the Church should embrace those views as well. To further complicate the problem, it seems that the bishops have come to the game a bit late in that such statements and teaching should have started some time ago. It is not as if this issue and upcoming vote are a surprise. It is good that the bishops speak out but unfortunately they are speaking to Catholics who do not have the catechetical foundation to understand what is being said and that they are not just offering a valid opinion amongst a variety of valid opinions.

So why is it so hard to admit the catechetical failure and take a hard line stand with Catholic politicians and other misguided Catholics? Is it time to open a window and let the smoke of satan out?

Ever Notice

The Power of the Media

Ever notice how when the secular media report on something Catholic they always make sure they have included every opinion of the issue? Or better stated, have you noticed how the secular media will always find a dissenting opinion or disgruntled individual to quote in a report that deals with a Catholic matter? An obvious recent example was the Beatification of Pope John Paul II in which they found a group who do not think he should be beatified now because he was pope when the scandal broke.

Yet in secular matters that have moral import, there is never a quote from a Catholic or even from someone who may disagree. As an example, there was a recent report in the local newspaper about a woman who served in the military and has since returned home. Because she really wanted to be a mother and did not want to deal with courtship, so she became a single mom through IVF with donor sperm. The article could not say enough about how wonderful the technology is and how great it is that this woman is now a mom. There was not one quote about the morality of the procedure or having children out of wedlock.

So is the media really fair and balanced?

To Be Precise

Much Ado About Nothing

There are those who seem to fear the new translation of the Roman Missal. The more one reads about it and understands what has been done, the more one should come to realize that there is much greater precision in the Translation.

Especially for those who have not dealt with other languages, the question usually raised is, “Why do we have to go through all this nonsense.” The simple answer is that we need to be more precise in what we say. Yet there are those who don’t think such precision is that important.

Would they feel the same way if their mechanic was not very precise about what is wrong with the brakes on the car?

The Fatima Message

Are we listening?

94 years ago on May 13, three shepherd children were graced with a vision of the Blessed Mother. These visions would continue for six months and culminate with the miracle of the sun.

These visions were a call to conversion and desperate plea to all to return to the ways of the Faith. Unlike the woman of Lourdes, the Blessed Mother warned the world in these visions that horrendous punishments would come upon the world if her message was not heeded. She asked the children and all to make personal sacrifices and pray the rosary daily. In all, She did not ask for very much. Yet many still ignore the ways of God today.

The irony is that many ask where God was during the twentieth century and how He could allow such atrocities as occurred during the century. These visions preceded the first world war and warned that if people do not convert there would be a worse war. The real question should be why did we not heed the call to prayer so that these events would be mitigated? It is never too late to start...

Today there are many who manipulate the Fatima message for personal gain. It is best that we keep it in perspective. Here is one of the better documentaries on the subject. Make sure to watch all four parts.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Misplaced Energy

Pray for Peace

The events that have unfolded over the past few days are quite interesting. Americans have shown jubilation over the death of an enemy and now see the world as a safer place. Yet many admit that the action taken will not assure Peace for our nations. While there is come truth to these claims, it seems that a great deal of time and resources have been invested into finding and eliminating one man. And an equal amount of time and resources in the pursuit a safer world. I am sure that all concerned want Peace. But many of those who want it do not pursue it in the only way that can bring it about. While we have to live in this world, we are asked to maintain an other worldly perspective.

Could you imagine how much more Peace would materialize in this world if the amount of time and energy put into making war was invested in prayer? Pray, Pray, Pray...

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.


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?”

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.


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?

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?