Sorry for the lack of material lately. I've been having some health difficulties which will be requiring surgery on Wednesday. I hope to return as soon as is possible.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Unfortunately, they happen to be on the wrong side. From Crisis:
Even as the nation’s bishops react with alarm to a recent Montana Supreme Court ruling allowing physician-assisted suicide, their efforts are being undermined by ethics and law professors at several Jesuit universities.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Between the latest bit with Fr. Corapi, the indictments in Philadelphia, and the business in Kansas City with Bishop Finn, I've noticed something of a trend. A report is issued. The bulk of people immediately presume the guilt of the cleric in question, whether it's an accusation of being a child molester or tolerating molesters or just doing something else that was bad. This reaction almost always entails excoriating anybody who might defend the accused or even just suggest that we wait until all the facts come out before passing judgment. The ones treated the worst are people who offer anecdotal evidence of how they know the priest/bishop personally and can't believe they would do such a thing.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
If you have been hanging around the Catholic neighborhoods of the internets, you may have come across the story of Father John Corapi, a very talented preacher, who has become embroiled in an accusation of impropriety from an employee and has since renounced his priesthood. I don't know all the details of his case, and make no judgment, but suspect it will cause many to lose faith.
I think that this affair underlines the dangers of being a public Catholic. If you evangelize, you must be aware that you will be a target of powers and principalities. If you are successful, then you will be even more of a target. I've seen it happen with priest friends of mine who have fallen away from their vocation, with former pastors, and with stars of the Catholic "blogosphere." I remember one young man who had a marvelous blog detailing his attempts to live a chaste Catholic life despite of a same-sex orientation, who was so upset at the failure of another online Catholic evangelist's marriage, that he abandoned all of his efforts. I have another friend, a former Catholic priest and pastor, who has left his vocation and joined the United Church of Christ because of an inability to keep faith. Another had a blog about his journey to monasticism, but lost his vocation and I believe also his faith. All of this was made worse because it was public. In hindsight, none of these people should have been living their lives of faith in such a public manner, because of the spiritual dangers. Furthermore, because all of these people were to some degree well-known, their spiritual failures don't just affect themselves, but everyone who followed them. If these people can't do it, one thinks, then how could I?
The faith certainly needs defending, and you should defend it, if you are able. But be very careful. Pray always, and let Jesus Christ be the story, not yourself. Don't put your interior castle on Facebook. Keep your temple of the Holy Spirit off Twitter.
Just as our minds are inattentive when we set out to pray, so too we proceed to do so with an equally careless and sprawling deportment of our bodies. True, we pretend that the worship of God is our reason for wearing better than everyday clothes on feast days, but the negligence with which most of us pray makes it utterly clear that we have utterly failed to conceal the real motive, namely a haughty desire to show off in the eyes of the world. Thus in our negligence we sometimes stroll around, sometimes sit down on a stool. And even when we kneel down, we either place our weight on one knee, raising up the other and resting it on our foot, or we place a cushion under our knees, and sometimes (if we are especially spoiled) we even support our elbows on a cushion, looking for all the world like a propped up house that is threatening to tumble down.
And then our actions too, in how many ways do they betray that our minds are wandering miles away? We scratch our heads, clean our fingernails with a pocketknife, pick our noses with our fingers, meanwhile making the wrong responses. Having no idea what we have already said and what we have not said, we make a wild guess as to what remains to be said. Are we not ashamed to pray in such a deranged state of mind and body -- to beseech God's favor in a matter so crucial for us, to beg His forgiveness for so many monstrous misdeeds, to ask Him to save us from eternal punishment? -- so that even if we had not sinned before, we would still deserve tenfold eternal torments for having approached the majesty of God in such a contemptuous fashion.
Imagine, if you will, that you have committed a crime of high treason against some mortal prince or other who has your life in his hands but who is so merciful that he is prepared to temper his wrath because of your repentance and humble supplication, and to commute the death sentence into a monetary fine or even to suspend it completely if you give convincing signs of great shame and sorrow. Now, when you have been brought into the presence of the prince, go ahead and speak to him carelessly, casually, without the least concern. While he stays in one place and listens attentively, stroll around here and there as you run through your plea. Then, when you have had enough of walking up and down, sit down on a chair, or if courtesy seems to require that you condescend to kneel down, first command someone to come and place a cushion beneath your knees, or, better yet, to bring a prie-dieu with another cushion to lean your elbows on. Then yawn, stretch, sneeze, spit without giving it a thought, and belch up the fumes of your gluttony. In short, conduct yourself in such a way that he can clearly see from your face, your voice, your gestures, and your whole bodily deportment that while you are addressing him you are thinking about something else. Tellm e now, what success could you hope for from such a plea as this?
Certainly we would consider it quite mad to defend ourselves in this way before a mortal prince against a charge that carries the death penalty. And yet such a prince, once he had destroyed our bodies, could do nothing further. And do we think it is reasonable, when we have been caught committing a whole series of far more serious crimes, to beg pardon so contemptuously from the king of all kings, God Himself, who, when He has destroyed our bodies, has the power to send both body and soul together to hell?
Still, I would not wish anyone to construe what I have said as meaning that I forbid anyone to pray while walking or sitting or even lying down. Indeed I wish that, whatever our bodies may be doing, we would at the same time constantly lift up our minds to God (which is the most acceptable form of prayer). For no matter where we may turn our steps, as long as our minds are directed to God, we clearly do not turn away from Him who is present everywhere.... but... besides such prayers for which we prepare our minds more thoughtfully, for which we dispose our bodies more reverently, than we would if we were about to approach all the kings in the whole world sitting together in one place.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Bear with me on this. Despite the weird title of this post, I will work everything in.
A lot of you have probably heard by now that DC Comics has re-launched pretty much every book they have. They are kicking off 52 new titles and doing so in the name of "innovation" and "surprise" and a whole bunch of other stuff.
This isn't nearly as innovative, creative, or whatever as they claim it is. Both DC and Marvel have had major "re-boots" like this in the past. Many times. If things get stale, they just restart everything. People, being suckers, run out and buy the new crap without wondering if it will be good or not. It's just new, ergo, good. Things will rock along for a while. Then the newness wears off, and readers start drifting away with the realization that what they've been reading is crap.
Time for another re-boot! And so forth.
For the purposes of our discussion today, by the way, let's leave aside that these re-boots (or re-launches or whatever you want to call them) are, on their substantive merits, typically events of the most awful caliber. There are exceedingly rare exceptions, but for today, let's just think about the point of a re-boot itself.
I'm saying that re-booting things this way lends itself to a complete lack of respect for the stories and characters. It's sort of like killing off a character then bringing them back to life. It cheapens the character. Nobody can take any threat to them seriously anymore, whether it's a super-villain or some sort of internal conflict/angst. They just have to wait for the writer to retcon or re-boot the badness into oblivion.
Indulging in such practices is one of the many reasons why Dan DiDio and Joe Quesada are scourges upon the literary world and should be banished from civilized society until they have done sufficient penance for the crimes against the comic book world and good taste in general. But I digress...
Novelty is a dangerous drug. People crave it without even knowing they do so. Stuff is old. Stuff is therefore seen as dull or tiresome. Rather than looking inward and realizing that the problem might not be with what is old but instead with ourselves, we look for something new to stimulate our senses back into enjoyment. Especially in an age driven so much by entertainment and titillation, we are constantly looking for something to feed our appetite for innovation.
Chesterton put it this way:
All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
I wonder if the idea has ever occurred to any of these empirical thrill-seekers that perfection is changeless and therefore rejects novelty.
Back to the main issue. It's the same thing with the law. St. Thomas states the following:
Objection 1. It would seem that human law should be changed, whenever something better occurs. Because human laws are devised by human reason, like other arts. But in the other arts, the tenets of former times give place to others, if something better occurs. Therefore the same should apply to human laws.
Objection 2. Further, by taking note of the past we can provide for the future. Now unless human laws had been changed when it was found possible to improve them, considerable inconvenience would have ensued; because the laws of old were crude in many points. Therefore it seems that laws should be changed, whenever anything better occurs to be enacted.
Objection 3. Further, human laws are enacted about single acts of man. But we cannot acquire perfect knowledge in singular matters, except by experience, which "requires time," as stated in Ethic. ii. Therefore it seems that as time goes on it is possible for something better to occur for legislation.
On the contrary, It is stated in the Decretals (Dist. xii, 5): "It is absurd, and a detestable shame, that we should suffer those traditions to be changed which we have received from the fathers of old."
I answer that, As stated above (Article 1), human law is rightly changed, in so far as such change is conducive to the common weal. But, to a certain extent, the mere change of law is of itself prejudicial to the common good: because custom avails much for the observance of laws, seeing that what is done contrary to general custom, even in slight matters, is looked upon as grave. Consequently, when a law is changed, the binding power of the law is diminished, in so far as custom is abolished. Wherefore human law should never be changed, unless, in some way or other, the common weal be compensated according to the extent of the harm done in this respect. Such compensation may arise either from some very great and every evident benefit conferred by the new enactment; or from the extreme urgency of the case, due to the fact that either the existing law is clearly unjust, or its observance extremely harmful. Wherefore the jurist says [Pandect. Justin. lib. i, ff., tit. 4, De Constit. Princip.] that "in establishing new laws, there should be evidence of the benefit to be derived, before departing from a law which has long been considered just."
Reply to Objection 1. Rules of art derive their force from reason alone: and therefore whenever something better occurs, the rule followed hitherto should be changed. But "laws derive very great force from custom," as the Philosopher states (Polit. ii, 5): consequently they should not be quickly changed.
Reply to Objection 2. This argument proves that laws ought to be changed: not in view of any improvement, but for the sake of a great benefit or in a case of great urgency, as stated above. This answer applies also to the Third Objection.
New for the sake of being new isn't a good reason to change the law. In fact, even if the new law would be better, that isn't enough. It has to be so good that the goodness in the change will exceed the damage done to the overall respect for the law as a whole. After all, who would appreciate a law that changed all the time? I've often wondered what a session of Congress or our state legislatures would look like if they decided not to pass any new laws. Was their previous year/years of work so shoddy that all these new laws and changes were required? Why are they always trying to pass new laws or change old ones?
My opinion is that they do so just for the newness. They can go home and tell everyone about all the laws they passed. They can't really state a case for these new precepts having any utility. They won't have been in effect long enough. Many will probably get repealed before they have an effect at all. People hear all the shiny newness, though, and are led to think that something was actually accomplished with all this statutory diarrhea. To the contrary, the Angelic Doctor says, the only thing accomplished is a deterioration of the legal system and the public perception of their lawmakers.
Where else do we see this addiction to the new played out most palpably? You've probably guessed from my post title. It's the liturgy of course. The fact that the Gregorian Mass went pretty much unchanged for 1500 years wasn't a sign of life or vitality as Chesterton might point out. It was a sign of stagnation and death. What was needed, in direct contradiction to Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy, was a completely new Mass, with all sorts of new stuff. This was called reform.
You see it even today. Liturgical committees get together to decide what kind of Mass they want to have. Clown Mass, Halloween Mass, Gay Mass, LifeTeen Mass, Contemporary Mass, etc. If attendance is down, what's the solution? Bring in secular music. Liturgical dance. The list goes on. How odd that Mass attendance was at 80% back when we had the stodgy and dull "Old Mass." I still recall how the "expert" in my wife's RCIA group spoke about how the "Old Mass" just wasn't fun enough to enjoy.
Don't think that lust for novelty was at the root of the alleged reform? Consider the words of Fr. Joseph Gelineau, SJ, one of Archbishop Bugnini's foremost liturgical consultants in his work The Liturgy Today and Tomorrow:
It would be false to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further and goes forward far beyond the conciliar prescriptions. The liturgy is a permanent workshop.
At the root of all this is the same gluttony for sensations that drives all the other stuff I mentioned. Whether it's Justice League Dark, or the latest change in trapping regulations, or Disco Liturgy, it's all about people being addicted to the new. We look to feed our senses instead of our souls. More tragically, many think these are the same thing.
In the words of Archie Bunker, we need to stifle ourselves. Whether in terms of our literary, legal, or liturgical preferences, some acknowledgement of stability, tradition, and custom is needed. This is why the Extraordinary Form is so vital to the future of the Church. It subdues our appetite for this sort of stuff. We are decreased so that He may increase. And not just us, but the priests as well. You can't have Disco Liturgy in the Extraordinary Form. Priests making themselves the center of attention is impossible. Everything is degraded in favor of God's Presence.
Humans have a bad habit of screwing things up. We're fallen, so it's understandable. Let's not give ourselves so many opportunities, though.
Monday, June 20, 2011
There appears to be an organized effort for ecumenical relations with one of the most disorganized religious groups out there.
The Vatican's ecumenism council initiated a sixth phase in conversation with Pentecostal groups, saying a final report should be ready by 2015.
The goal is not "structural unity," the Vatican statement clarified, but "to promote mutual respect and understanding in matters of faith and practice."
Sunday, June 19, 2011
It's Trinity Sunday. Even if it's just for a little while, reflect today on the mystery that is our God. Not that you'll actually understand it, but it's good to be reminded just how unfathomable He is and how grateful we should be that He deigned to reveal Himself to us in the first place.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Ours is no different.
I'm not going to comment on this directly because I've noticed that people who have been doing so appear easily infected with pride and prone to calumny or worse.
I will simply pray for Fr. Corapi and all other parties affected by this nonsense.
On a broader note, we must ask ourselves how many good priests may be harmed by the procedures (or lack thereof) for Church investigations. The Adversary is cunning and has no qualms about leveling false accusations. Good priests have and will continue to suffer for such things. We ourselves must be careful of assuming guilt on the part of anyone.
And yet again, I wonder how much of these events are a real and organized effort.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
In sharp words, a wide range of Catholics blasted their church's leadership Friday at the opening of a three-day conference in Detroit that seeks to reform what they said is an outdated and secretive club of men out of touch with reality.
"They are like the Kremlin in the last decades" of communist rule in the Soviet Union, said the Rev. Hans Kung, a priest from Switzerland, in a taped address to about 2,000 people at Cobo Hall. "This system has no future."
"We cannot go on like this, " said Kung, whom the Vatican has ruled can no longer teach theology. "It's a Potemkin church. You have thousands of parishes without priests anymore."
Kung, who could not attend in person because of health reasons, was applauded by the audience, a mostly elderly crowd disappointed at what they see as the church's rightward turn.
I hope someone notified the local nursing homes.
Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron has asked Catholics to stay away from the conference and said priests and deacons could be defrocked if they attend a Sunday mass at Cobo. But that didn't deter local Catholics. Attendees included former seminarians, antiwar activists and those calling for women and married priests. . .
And what would any such event be without liberation theology:
In another keynote address, Jeanette Rodriguez, a theology professor from Seattle University, praised Latin American liberation theology - which has been criticized by the Vatican - and said the church must side with the poor and oppressed.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Since I've been on a bit of a Jesuit kick lately, let me go ahead and do a post that I've been meaning to do for a while now.
Secondly we should achieve for ourselves a clear understanding of what really can be meant in theological terms by resurrection. The moment we picture to ourselves a dead man returning once more into our temporal dimension, with the biological conditions belonging to it, we have conceived of something which has nothing whatever to do with the Resurrection of Jesus, and which cannot have any significance for our salvation either. In fact to say that any individual has risen from the dead must be precisely tantamount to saying: "This man in this fate of his which seems so absolutely negative, has in a true sense, as himself, and together with his history, really attained God." What it does not say, however, is this: "He has once more extricated himself from the process of death, and is once more there on the same plane as ourselves."
Monday, June 6, 2011
You might not like boxing, but you should like Manny Pacquiao for standing up to the culture of death over in the Phillipines. Per CNA:
Champion boxer Manny Pacquiao has sided with the Philippines’ Catholic bishops in a continuing controversy over a reproductive health bill that would fund access to free contraceptives.
Pacquiao said he would never have been born or become an international boxing champion if his poor, unemployed parents practiced birth control.
“God said go forth and multiply. He did not say go and have just one or two children,” the boxer said after a May 17 meeting with officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
In addition to being an eight-division world champion and the first boxer in history to win 10 world titles, Pacquiao is also a member of the Philippines House of Representatives.
He said that life is God’s gift that no man or government can rip asunder, according to CBCP News. He blamed poverty on corruption, not population size.
The boxer called on his fans to rally behind the Catholic Church and “follow God’s command, not man’s.”
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
I was looking for Sacred Heart material for posts. I figured that surely there would be something on the Society's web site.