I was just emailed this remarkable ditty from the NYT.
To summarize, it's all about churches trying to design their "worship" experience to suit the audience of the worshipers. Consider that for a moment. The essential message is that, who/whatever God is, how He is to be worshiped is none of His concern. The individual decides how they are going to worship God, and if the Almighty has a problem with that, then He'd best just suck it up and deal.
This is an odd arrangement for man's relationship to his ostensible deity. I'm not sure if I can come up with a historical precedent (or even a limping analogy) for believers who dictate to their god the terms of their relationship. Oh, sure, there had to be some of that among false religions. I can't imagine all paganism, etc. was the product of direct demonic motivation.
Our situation now is decidedly different, though. Even in the days of paganism, there was at least a class claiming to get direct revelations from the gods about the appropriate ways the masses were to commune with them. If you'll notice the trends in the articles, this isn't what's happening. The push now is to re-construct the most appealing items of the profane world (art galleries, music concerts, coffee houses, and so forth), shoehorn in mentions of God, then call it worship, regardless of whether the label actually fits.
Of course, what's really happening is that we are creating fun parks with a religious veneer. All the better for worshiping ourselves, which is what this is all about. There aren't a whole lot of other explanations for why our alleged encounters with God just happen to be in the environment where we get to do all of our favorite stuff.
It makes you wonder what such people think of the martyrs. It's an odd time when we've gotten to the point that worshiping God on His terms has gotten so inconvenient that we have to seek out customized religion.
When someone focuses all their energy on enhancing their experience, what exactly does that mean? Isn't that really an admission that it's all about themselves?
Consider the following from the article:
“Every generation wants their own thing,” said Houston Clark, whose company designs spaces and audiovisual systems for churches nationwide. “Kids in their late 20s to midteens now, they really crave intimacy and authenticity. They want high-quality experiences, but don’t necessarily want them in huge voluminous buildings...”
“That’s a significant difference for us,” said Paul Miller, the pastor of ministries for Bent Tree. “We’re really building a community center, more than we are a worship center.”
Hey, if the shoe fits...
Sunday, December 30, 2012
I was just emailed this remarkable ditty from the NYT.
Friday, December 28, 2012
This is a bit old, but we've had some emails come in requesting an update on the Paolo Gabriele story.
The Pope pardoned Mr. Gabriele a few days ago. All things considered, this isn't a huge surprise. Despite his somewhat odd method, it seemed pretty clear that Paolo really thought he was acting in the Holy Father's best interests.
Regardless of this incident, I think it's foolish to assume that things will be calming down for 2013. Please pray for Pope Benedict that he will be able to weather the storms that are no doubt on their way.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
In this age of the War on Christmas and so many people essentially turning such a marvelous event into an occasion for sin and blasphemy, Pope Leo the Great reminds us of who benefits from the wonder of the Incarnation:
Our Saviour, dearly-beloved, was born today: let us be glad. For there is no proper place for sadness, when we keep the birthday of the Life, which destroys the fear of mortality and brings to us the joy of promised eternity. No one is kept from sharing in this happiness. There is for all one common measure of joy, because as our Lord the destroyer of sin and death finds none free from charge, so is He come to free us all. Let the saint exult in that he draws near to victory. Let the sinner be glad in that he is invited to pardon. Let the gentile take courage in that he is called to life.
So don't waste it.
Christian, acknowledge your dignity, and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct. Remember the Head and the Body of which you are a member. Recollect that you were rescued from the power of darkness and brought out into God's light and kingdom. By the mystery of Baptism you were made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from you by base acts, and subject yourself once more to the devil's thraldom: because your purchase money is the blood of Christ, because He shall judge you in truth Who ransomed you in mercy, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
It's amazing sometimes to hear our ancestors in the Faith speak. I realize it's Pope Leo and all, but man, wouldn't it be something if we could manage even 0.000001% of such eloquence?
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Fr. Zuhlsdorf has thrown out a post today relating something the Pope brought up today. Here's the relevant portion:
Elizabeth, welcoming Mary, recognizes that the promise of God to humanity is being fulfilled and she exclaims, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”. The expression “Blessed art thou among women” refers in the Old Testament to Jael (or Yael or Jahel – Judges 5,24) and to Judith (Judith 13,1), two warrior women who strive to save Israel.
Jael is famous for catching the Canaanite general Sisera asleep and then driving a tent peg through his skull. Judith decapitated Holfernes, a general sent by Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the Israelites. I'm aware of their connection with the verse mentioned by the Holy Father because of the extended typology with Our Lady. Sure, those mentioned above are regarded as "blessed among women," but there is more to it than that. You can add the woman of Judges 9:52 who kills Abimelech to the following analysis.
There is enmity between these women and the agents of evil. They crush the heads of serpents sent to harm their people. Here is the image of Our Lady that seems to be forgotten. Many don't seem to have considered this at all. The Blessed Mother is not some kind of passive spectator in the conflict with the Adversary. She is the cause of his destruction. He and all his minions fear and hate her. And if I may be so bold, she hates them as well. It's ENMITY, folks. That is complete opposition and hostility. They are enemies, and it can never be otherwise.
Don't let the images of the peaceful Virgin of Bethlehem and Nazareth make you forget. It's a war, and Our Lady is on the front lines. The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary recalls these verses to our minds.
Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army set in array...
Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?
Canticle of Canticles 6:3, 9
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Disregard for a moment whatever you know (or think you know) about Supreme Court decisions. Just consider which of the following items has a firmer foundation in the text of the United States Constitution. Also, ignore items from any state laws. We're just thinking of the Constitution here.
1. The right to be married
2. The right to practice one's religion unencumbered
3. The right to own firearms
4. The right to engage in sexual activity with a partner of the same sex
5. The right to purchase, own, and use contraceptive devices
Granted, this isn't a very hard thought experiment. Just one designed to focus attention on the current insanity gripping society.
Of course, numbers 2 and 3 are the only ones with any sort of grounding in what the Constitution actually says. The current zeitgeist, however, insists upon the alleged "rights" like those in items 1, 4, and 5. Not only does it demand the existence of "rights" that have little basis in the text of the document, it increasingly calls for the restriction and/or elimination of the rights that actually are enumerated.
As mentioned above, I'm not going to get into the SCOTUS theories of "penumbras," neo-Platonic "emanations" from the 9th Amendment, or whatever other supernatural methods are used to promote a new right. I'm just looking at the black letter of what used to be regarded as the "supreme law of the land." Now, the movement is growing to ditch law altogether and instead govern according to the whims of the mob.
It's interesting to see how rights decline. More than anything, the recent trend seems to be driven by the urge for complete sexual license, coupled with the utter abdication of responsibility in all facets of life (including those that are directly associated with said sexual license). The call for government control, regulation, and intervention was something that used to scare people. Now, it's a given.
The Servile State beckons. Hell, it's probably already here, and I just don't want to admit it.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
In his omniscience, he's figured out how to solve the Republican Party's "problem" with birth control. Basically, make it more available than it is now.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has a solution for the GOP's birth control problem: Make it over the counter.
"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists announced its support last month for selling oral contraceptives over the counter without a prescription in the United States," Jindal writes in Friday's Wall Street Journal opinion section. "I agree with this opinion, which if embraced by the federal government would take contraception out of the political arena." Jindal also writes that prescription birth control drives up costs with unnecessary doctors' visits.
"Democrats have wrongly accused Republicans of being against birth control and against allowing people to use it. That's hogwash," Jindal wrote. "But Republicans do want to protect those who have religious beliefs that are opposed to contraception."
How wonderful. In the interest of political expediency, let's make immorality and sin easier. Our nation isn't destroying itself fast enough, so somebody needs to floor the accelerator.
I hope everyone takes note of this. We're about to see both parties drop the sham of being different and complete their merger to the same sides of the same coin. I hope that the bishops in Louisiana speak up about this.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Regarding the recent tragedy in Connecticut.
It is truly shameful to see how soulless our society has become. Whatever one's stance might be on the issue of gun control, do the reactions we are seeing in all this make any sense whatsoever? Rather than examining the issue of a murderer killing children, the entire emphasis of the conversation is on the instrument he used. Everywhere I turn, when someone dares to connect this crime to the overall moral and cultural decay of the nation, they are mocked.
How insane are secularists? Are they seriously suggesting that the mere presence of firearms makes one more likely to kill another? If this person in Connecticut didn't have a gun, I'm willing to bet he would still have murderous intentions, which means that we still have a major problem. Wouldn't we be better off trying to work on the issues that create those intentions, rather than ignoring them in favor of a purely ancillary concern?
Were there no gun control laws in Norway? Did lack of a firearm stop the criminal in China who stabbed 22 kids at school? Does anyone bother worrying about kids in places like Chicago where these kinds of deaths are far too commonplace?
Am I really to believe that guns are the problem here?
Here's a suggestion. Even if the mention of (gasp!) God makes the secularist uncomfortable, have any bothered to bring up the absolute shambles of our mental health system in this country, where those with such illnesses are often forced into prisons or simply held in hospital emergency rooms and then turned out on the street without any real treatment? I see it every day. And I see how there are basically no politicians who care. No, they'd rather talk about guns, as though legislation to that effect will heal the schizophrenic who can't get rid of the voices in his head.
That schizophrenic is not nearly as crazy as the incessant drumbeat that banishing guns will somehow fix these problems.
No, what will fix them is an acknowledgement of where the problem is. And anyone who wants to convince us that this is all about "kicking God out of our schools" is off the reservation as well. It's way beyond that now. God has been evicted from society pretty much altogether, hence the demented reaction to these shootings. Even the evangelicals who lament the "God in schools" issue have no concept of what the Social Kingship of Christ really means.
Don't kid yourselves like the folks piping BS into their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds about how God has nothing to do with this. What happened in Connecticut was a heinous sin of the worst order. Sin does not stay isolated to the sinner. This is why the Church has always stressed the social aspects of sin. A society that glorifies violence and a multitude of other offenses against God in its culture, while degrading what's good about people is going to reap a very bitter harvest. That's how sin works, and the fault belongs to all of us.
I repeat. None of us are exempt from blame.
Let's not even get into the terrifying reality that demonic activity is on the rise. God forbid that we bring up that possibility. No, let's keep focusing on whether or not killing can be made less efficient, rather than why so many people are interested in killing.
Who would have thought that the need to cling to the atheist superstition would be so intense as to ignore such a basic aspect of the problem of mass murder?
Sorry for the rambling, but holy smokes, this has been frustrating to listen to.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
We desire eagerly to know how you are, and whether the Lord has given you some rest, so far as in this world He can bestow it; for "if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it;" and so it is almost always our experience, that when, in the midst of our anxieties, we turn our thoughts to some of our brethren placed in a condition of comparative rest, we are in no small measure revived, as if in them we ourselves enjoyed a more peaceful and tranquil life. At the same time, when vexatious cares are multiplied in this uncertain life, they compel us to long for the everlasting rest. For this world is more dangerous to us in pleasant than in painful hours, and is to be guarded against more when it allures us to love it than when it warns and constrains us to despise it. For although "all that is in the world" is "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," nevertheless, even in the case of men who prefer to these the things which are spiritual, unseen, and eternal, the sweetness of earthly things insinuates itself into our affections, and accompanies our steps on the path of duty with its seductive allurements. For the violence with which present things acquire sway over our weakness is exactly proportioned to the superior value by which future things command our love. And oh that those who have learned to observe and bewail this may succeed in overcoming and escaping from this power of terrestrial things!
St. Augustine, Letter 145
Weird, huh? In other words, things could be way worse than they are right now. The world could be running smoothly, we might be getting all of our temporal desires fulfilled. To the detriment of our souls. When things are rough or we're being persecuted, that's when we realize that the stuff of the world is transient and that God is our true end in life.
Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
In watching the union workers in Michigan protest a right to work law with a zeal that puts 99% of Christians to shame, I began thinking about the notion of a just wage and how that might help in a lot of these situations. Then it occurred to me that it might be impossible even to talk about a just wage these days.
John Medaille is a pretty popular writer in distributist circles. He defines the just wage as "the amount necessary to support a worker and his family, but also enough surplus to allow a man to acquire some capital of his own." In other places, like his book Toward a Truly Free Market and this entry of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, we see that leisure activities are factored into the equation of what it is to support a family. This makes sense.
I know that anecdotes are not data, but here's my current observations. Modernity has presented us with a society that values leisure to the exclusion of necessities, whether for a single person or a family. Parents with DirecTV don't take their kids to the doctor. Stylish cars and clothes trump much-needed house repairs. Saving for an Xbox 360 is given priority above buying healthy foods.
Look at all the crap that people buy, regardless of their income level. We can't help ourselves. Poor people aren't exempt from these temptations.
My point in all this is to ponder what a just wage would look like. What could we pay someone with confidence that they would be able to support themselves and be able to acquire capital of their own? Would the average consumer, or even those of the lowest income levels, allow themselves to benefit from a just wage? Or would they upgrade their TV package, get some new pipes for their pick-up, and buy some more memory for their video game system?
This is a pretty big deal, I think, especially for the distributist crowd. The just wage is such a huge part of making the system work that this question is significant. I don't pretend to know what the answer is. I do know that all the base political commentary about dealing with the current minimum wage ignores this.
I'm not sure how subsidizing the acquisition of more crap helps anybody.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
There's an old saying attributed to St. Isidore of Seville that states "He who claims to have read all of (St.) Augustine's works is a liar." Or something like that. I think the same might be true for GK Chesterton. He wrote a lot of stuff. A whole lot.
One of his works is called "The Other Stocking" and contains the following tidbit. A thank you to Meg Matenaer at CatholicMom.com for initially posting about it. Anyways, here is our brother Gilbert's take on Santa:
What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.
As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good–far from it.
And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.
I have merely extended the idea.
Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea.
Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.
Blessed Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus
In a certain sense, today is the national feast day of the United States of America. Our patron saint is, after all, the Blessed Mother in her role as the Immaculate Conception. What a horrible irony that the national feast day commemorates the conception of Our Lady without sin, while we slaughter millions of newly conceived infants and then attempt to justify it by playing word games about their identity as human beings.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Do you ever run into people who say they like their current church because they are so happy to be hearing preaching that is not just about "fire and brimstone"?
There seem to be a lot of them around here, Catholic and Protestant. When asked when was the last time they heard any such shpiel, they typically can't remember. Most will comment that "it's been years, though."
Am I right then that even one sermon/homily every 5+ years about the eternal penalty for sin is just too much?
I've seen episodes of Bishop Sheen where he talks about hell. I guess the 50s were just a much simpler time, which is weird to think of it as simple since people were clearly more capable of handling transcendent topics like the fate of their immortal soul. I know that, in all my years of watching them, I've certainly never heard Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, etc. that I've never heard the subject mentioned.
This goes to show you that the only space people regard as sacred anymore is their comfort zone.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
It's Intima Ecclesiae Natura (The Church's Deepest Nature) and is captioned as "On the Service of Charity." haven't seen too much play in the media, but this is actually a pretty gargantuan undertaking. A lot of the Holy Father's reign has been to deal with this idea that the Church really only exists to tend to man's temporal wants and needs. While that might sound fine to the average modern Jesuit or LCWR delegate, it is secondary to the Church's true mission, which is the salvation of souls. He hit on this in Deus Caritas Est and then made it the theme of a whole encyclical with Caritas in Veritate. As is typical with the Magisterium these days, it takes a while for anyone to realize that nobody is paying attention to the teaching authority, meaning that mechanisms for dealing with the problem at the ground level have to be developed. We've all heard, for example, about stuff being done by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Now, how will this kind of abomination be handled?
That's what this motu proprio is about. Most of it is hung up on setting new provisions for Canon Law, so it's not exactly dynamic reading. There are a lot of cites and cross-references to the CIC, so make sure you bring some caffeine when you read it. It's not that long, though, and worth your time to be aware of how things will go from here on out. In a nutshell, the motu proprio lays out directives for how Catholic charitable institutions are to be governed, even if it's just by laypeople, and the relationships of said institutions with the bishops.
Let me hit the high points.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that “practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ." In carrying out their charitable activity, therefore, the various Catholic organizations should not limit themselves merely to collecting and distributing funds, but should show special concern for individuals in need and exercise a valuable educational function within the Christian community, helping people to appreciate the importance of sharing, respect and love in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ. The Church’s charitable activity at all levels must avoid the risk of becoming just another form of organized social assistance.
That noise you heard was probably the large mass of exploding heads as self-styled "progressive Catholics" read this paragraph. I'm not sure whether the average Catholic grasps the enormity of this. It's at the root of the LCWR, liberation theology, and every other movement that tries to camouflage their soul-murdering heresies with activities that could be found even in pagan societies. It's why universities like ND ultimately are failing in their outreach to the oppressed, since "fighting for justice" isn't the same thing as "fighting for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the triumph of His Church."
What does it profit a man to get a nice meal but wind up in hell because nobody bothered trying to show him the error of his ways?
Nevertheless, to the extent that such activities are promoted by the Hierarchy itself, or are explicitly supported by the authority of the Church’s Pastors, there is a need to ensure that they are managed in conformity with the demands of the Church’s teaching and the intentions of the faithful, and that they likewise respect the legitimate norms laid down by civil authorities.
Notice that the intentions of the faithful aren't the only consideration here. A lot of the faithful seem to forget that. I'm currently reading an excellent biography of Blessed Bartolo Longo, who renounced in favor of the Church his role in all the works he had founded and promoted. It was a difficult step for him to take, and he suffered much for it. Saints do that sort of thing, though. So should we, if that's what we want to become.
Now, for a few of the actual legislative bits:
The faithful have the right to join in associations and to establish agencies to carry out specific charitable services, especially on behalf of the poor and suffering. To the extent that these are linked to the charitable service of the Church’s Pastors and/or intend to use for this purpose contributions made by the faithful, they must submit their own Statutes for the approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority and comply with the following norms.
This is almost scary. The bishops will have to do their jobs. Thank goodness the episcopacy seems to be regaining their collective spine, even if just a little.
A charitable agency may use the name “Catholic” only with the written consent of the competent authority, as laid down by canon 300 CIC.
At the same time, the ecclesiastical authority must bear in mind its duty to regulate the exercise of the rights of the faithful in accordance with canons 223 § 2 CIC and 26 § 3 CCEO, and thus to avoid the proliferation of charitable initiatives to the detriment of their activity and effectiveness with regard to their stated goals.
This could make for some interesting situations. If we're taking for granted that the stated goals of these groups must include a focus on Church teaching and such, does this mean that the bishop can shut down initiatives that are getting in the way of this? That's what the linked section of the CIC seems to say, but I'm no canonist.
I'm going to skip Pope Benedict's Article 5 here for a moment.
The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.
Does this mean we can exclude the Nuns on the Bus?
To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life.
Prepare for a lot of lawsuits from people who want to flaunt their use of contraception, in vitro, abortion, etc. Not to mention getting canned for wacky ecumenical or liturgical abuses.
In particular, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching. Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.
Does this include the United States government? The Democratic Party? That last sentence seems pretty clearly meant to address stuff like the aforementioned CCHD fiascoes.
The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name “Catholic” and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge.
We've already seen stuff like this happen, as in the case of Bishop Olmsted with the hospital in Arizona.
It is also the duty of the Bishop to ensure that the activities carried out in his Diocese are conducted in conformity with ecclesiastical discipline, either prohibiting them or adopting any measures needed in cases where that discipline is not respected.
Another hmmmm. Seems like a shot at the wayward orders, maybe.
Ok. Now, let's take a look at the article I skipped earlier.
The diocesan Bishop is to ensure that the Church enjoys the right to carry out charitable activities, and he is to take care that the faithful and the institutions under his supervision comply with the legitimate civil legislation in this area.
There are a lot of references to the civil authority scattered throughout the document. It seems to me that maybe Pope Benedict is looking to get out in front of some of the forthcoming upheaval wrought by the HHS mandate. Sure, there were plenty of reasons to issue this kind of legislation already, but I have to believe that the mandate was at least partially on his mind.
If the Supreme Court doesn't strike down the mandate as unconstitutional, then we'll see some epic legal battles, based on both secular and canon law, about what happens to all these Catholic institutions. They aren't all structured the same, so nobody can say for sure that things will work out in one particular fashion. However, this new motu proprio does stand to weigh things a little bit more on the bishops' side, especially from the standpoint of the CIC.