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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Gentle Reminder for Traditionalists...

This was picked up from Mons. Pope's blog via my friend Fr. Ramil Fajardo:

I recently had an interesting discussion with a traditional Catholic who questioned me about a Traditional Latin Mass Wedding I did. He seemed concerned that the couple was permitted to be married at the foot of the altar. In other words they were inside the altar rail, along with their best man and maid of honor.
He said that such a thing was not allowed, and that the presbyterium (sanctuary) was only for the clergy and servers.
I explained that it was a long practice of the Church, at least in America, that a bride and groom who were both Catholic would be married inside the rail, at the foot of the altar, and that they would kneel inside the rail for the duration of the nuptial Mass. (See photo of my parent’s 1959 wedding at upper right).
He did not seem impressed with my explanation an countered that the “problems” had begun in the 1950s and even as early as the 1940s. He further explained that the liturgical movement was already exerting influence and introducing “aberrations” into the liturgy. He thus reiterated that I had done something wrong.
Sadly our conversation ended and I didn’t get the chance to ask him the question I really wanted to ask: “What was the golden year of liturgy? When was everything, according to him, done “right?” When was the year when there were no aberrations?” When were the rubrics “pure” and when was the liturgy free of what he considers improper allowances, such as a couple being married inside the rail? Apparently the 1950s were not that time for him. Then what was?
I have been saying the Traditional Latin Mass for all 23 years of my priesthood, long before most priests were widely permitted to say it. I had permission of the Archdiocese from day one to assist with traditional Catholics in this manner, under the tutelage of the Pastor of St. Mary’s in Washington DC. In “those days” there weren’t a lot of resources and many of the rubrical books that have since come back into print were hard to find. Thus I learned a lot from Fr. Aldo Petrini and some of the other “old guys.”
Under their instruction I learned not only the rubrics, but also the customs of the “old days” wherein certain permissions existed, by way of indult or custom, to do some aspects of the Sacraments in English. Among the customs of the time was that, though the faithful were generally not allowed in the Sanctuary, weddings, confirmations, and even First Communions were conducted at times within the rails:
  1. Click HERE to see a mid 1950s photo of a Cardinal Archbishop confirming on the steps of the High altar.
  1. Click HERE to see a 1952 photo of First Communion at the altar steps.
  1. Click HERE to see another photo of a wedding in 1927 with the couple inside.
Were these “abuses?” I am not enough of a rubricist to know. I just know and (obviously) have evidence that they were done.
As for weddings there was the custom of doing mixed marriages only in the rectory. But somewhere in the 1950s permission was granted to move these to the Church, but outside the rail and without Mass.
Click HERE to see a photo of a 1960 Wedding conducted outside the rail since of the couple was not Catholic.
At any rate my question remains. What was the golden age of the Mass? What year did the “troubles” begin as traditional Catholics see it? Was it 1963, 1955, 1945? Perhaps even earlier?
Please understand, I ask these questions not without sympathy for the traditional view. It is clear that in the late 1960s a floodgate opened where liturgical change occurred in a way that was in no way organic and there was a great rupture of continuity. And, although I am quite comfortable with the Ordinary Form of the Mass, I also love the Extraordinary Form, and am sympathetic to the concerns of the traditional Latin Mass community.
That said, at times I wince when a kind of particularism sets up within sectors of the Traditional Mass community. And it is odd, when I, a priest who has celebrated the Latin Mass for 23 years, am dressed down by someone who is denouncing something that was clearly done long before the liturgical changes from the Council.
It is too easy for us to savage one another over such things. A layman was telling me recently how he got the evil eye from some pew mates when he made the responses to the priest along with the servers. Those sorts of changes had also come along in the 1940s when clergy started to encourage the faithful to be more involved in the Mass. But once again, it would seem changes of that sort were “too late” to be authentic for some. Hence, though we use the Missal of 1962, it would seem that 1962 is not the year for some.
It was common 25 years ago for Traditional Catholics to call the old Mass the “Immemorial Latin Mass.” And the phrase was used to suggest that the Mass had been unchanged for centuries. Of course any serious study of the Mass reveals that it had undergone not insignificant changes all along and there there were not a few local customs, especially around the reception of the Sacraments. Though, to be fair, the changes were organic, not the rupture with tradition we experienced in the late 1960s.
But again, I wonder, what was the “Golden Year” when traditional Catholics agree all was as it should be. I ask this question sincerely, not rhetorically. But I DO ask it with some sadness for there can often be what I consider an unkindness that can be exhibited by some who wish to restrict things, where freedom is allowed, even within the old norms.
I fear at times that we, who love tradition, fail to manifest the joy and glad hearts that should bespeak those who know the Lord and love the beauty of the Extraordinary Form. We should seem more as people in love with God and the beauty of God, than as technocrats arguing each point. There is a place for precision, but there is an even greater need for joy and mutual love.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Conversation on Being Nice

So, I was in a discussion with an acquaintance again over theology and he had a fairly intense statement that he made.  He is a Catholic, so I was compelled to follow his statement with a response.  Read on:

People get on the internet and rant about Buddhism, Judaism, Jainism, atheism etc etc. There are Catholics who want to burn heretics that disagree with them and back up their opinions with 'facts' from their particular organisation. But that doesn't make them right! My solid facts come from the heart, which I believe is from the Holy Spirit. And love of Christ can only come from the heart not from a book of rules. So no, I can't prove my facts to you if you can't see them, anymore than I could to an atheist. The fact that other traditionalists disagree with you is some indication of the possibility that you could be wrong in some but not all aspects. Personally I don't believe any religion has got it 100% and the CC doesn't claim it has or Popes wouldn't be giving personal opinions. I am not in anyway a qualified theologian believing just in the truth of Jesus Christ and his words which is the common ground that I share with you and why I call you brother and care enough to take the time to share views with you. Possibly I too am a little abrupt, the inhibitions of the internet and the inability of it to convey true feelings etc. I'm sorry that you see it as a harsh criticism, that wasn't my intention. I just wanted to give you another perspective. I do hope this thread could continue on it's original course because I am interested in what other traddies have to say. One interesting point is that I notice that Voris has comments disabled? Fr. Barron whom I have some deal of respect for is willing to take on trolls like me. I could be wrong, but I suspect that Voris is tired of even trad Catholics having rage faces at him. Making sure your crucifix is strait and polished and you bow instead of genuflect while avoiding all eye contact with other parishioners, I'm sorry to say is a fail. I go more for the 'feeding the hungry.....

I responded thusly:

Your solid facts come from the heart. What is that? How can you possibly be objective? Perhaps your only goal is to troll and stir up dust, perhaps not, but one cannot have a serious discussion about anything if there is nothing to back it up.

Example: It's like being a Cubs fan. Every year they go on and on about this being the year and year after year, they don't win. But you can't tell them they aren't good, despite over 100 years of not winning a World Series. -OR- It's like being that guy who asks a supermodel out on a date and she says, "Yeah, I'll go out with you....when Hell freezes over." To which he responds, "So you're sayin' there's a chance....all right, all right."

Come on, let's be serious, you'd blast me into smithereens if I just got up and ranted "from the heart." You'd go on about how I'm just a mean old traddy who isn't open, blah, blah, blah...whatever dude. See, I understand that something can be said, "from the heart" with facts to prove it. That is what makes Catholicism alot different than other religions, like Buddhism, or Taoism or Judaism or Islam, or even Protestantism...the Catholic faith isn't just based upon the subjective. Everything about Catholicism can be backed up 2 deep. With theology and philosophy. So, come off it.

As for enabling or disabling's his blog or vlog. Voris can do what he wants. I'm not going to judge him, just like I'm not going to judge Fr. Barron for enabling comments. I can tell ya though, only once have I disabled comments on my blog and that was for a super solid reason. So, whatever on that too.

As for other traddy's disagreeing with me, who are you talking about? Most traddys I know agree with me, but that isn't an indication of anything. It's ok to have a discussion and weed through the marsh, but that doesn't mean that we ultimately disagree....

Example, a good friend and I and I have a history of going back and forth over this issue, but honestly, it is an intellectual discussion. At the end of the day, he's Catholic and so am I. Albeit, he's Eastern Catholic and I'm Western. And if it came down to brass tacks, I'd be willing to bet he's gonna meet me where I worship before he meets up with someone at this place. And I'm going to assist at this place before I go here.

Legitimate discussion and legitimate disagreement isn't a bad thing, however once one understands that salvation really does only come from the Church,'s a different issue. Now, that being said, it does not mean that we are not to be tolerant of others, but we are to be tolerant insofar as we provide them a conduit to the truth. Some people have a gentler style. Fine. Some people have a harsher style. Fine. There is room for both. But being nice, well...there really isn't any room for that in the Church. For what is the origin of the word nice? It is to be ignorant or foolish. I'm neither. So, I don't want to be considered nice. I'd much rather considered to be amiable. Nice just doesn't cut it.

If you want to discuss issues, I would love to discuss issues with you all day. This, though, this is bearing no fruit. None, unless you're going to open your heart (which you say guides you) to listening and hearing what is being said to you....that includes Voris. And that includes me. See, the penultimate difference between you and me is that in reality, I'm open to hearing other views...and you're not. You just want me to be nice and accept any view that comes across the interwebz...sorry. That is being disingenuous to my faith and to myself.
So, no I'll not be nice. Sorry.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

This Isn't A Threat, It's A Promise

Not much more needs to be said...Read on....
ROME, June 22, 2012 ( – If they are not prepared to assert a more distinctly Catholic identity, the Vatican is prepared to oust the largest umbrella group of American nuns and sisters as the official representative and liaison with Rome, one of the pope’s closest advisors said in a rare interview.
If the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) refuses absolutely to cooperate with the Vatican’s attempt at reform, said William Levada, the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they will force Rome to reconsider their position in the Church.
“If you look at the church as a hierarchical structure—whether you see that as benign, or something else—ultimately, the pope is the superior,” Levada said. 
“I suppose if the sisters said, ‘OK, we’re not cooperating with this,’ we can’t force them to cooperate. What we can do, and what we’d have to do, is say to them, ‘We will substitute a functioning group for yours,’ if it comes to that.” 
Levada told  US journalist John Allen that there it is “premature” to imagine that the current LCWR leadership is to address the “substantive issues” brought up by a doctrinal assessment issued in April.
Allen stressed the point, asking, “So if the response is not satisfactory, the result could be decertification of LCWR?” 
“It could be,” Levada responded.
LCWR is the organisation, founded in the 1950s, that officially represents about 80 percent of the 57,000 religious sisters in the U.S. Their membership is not growing, however, and the average age of most of the sisters in the US is about 74 with many of the LCWR-represented groups amalgamating or shutting down altogether.
Levada, an American prelate with decades of experience in US Catholic politics, knew that in addressing the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), the leading journalistic organ of the American Catholic left, he was directly addressing LCWR and their lay supporters.
Despite their claim to be “stunned” by it, the CDF’s doctrinal assessment, he said, was not sprung on them unawares. The CDF’s process started four years ago and LCWR’s leadership have been in close contact with Rome throughout.
In general, the assessment focused on what the CDF sees as LCWR’s conscious and determined movement away from the basics of Catholicism. The religious life in the US, it said, is in a state of crisis, facing “serious doctrinal problems”. Long before getting to doctrinal and disciplinary issues such as abortion, contraception and homosexual “marriage,” the CDF said the underlying problem is the group’s refusal to adhere to foundational dogmatic beliefs. These are the teachings like the existence of a personal, transcendent God, the divinity of Christ and the nature and place of the Catholic Church and its teaching authority in the economy of salvation.
The assessment particularly expressed concern that LCWR continued to stress “radical feminism” while remaining “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States”.
“Issues of crucial importance in the life of the Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching,” the assessment said.
The characterisation of the affair in the mainstream and leftist Catholic media – particularly in NCR  - of the Vatican “attacking” all the female religious in the US, is unjust, Levada said.
“For the record, let me say again this is not about a criticism of the sisters. No sister will lose her job in teaching or charitable work or hospital work as a result of this assessment, as far as I know This is about questions of doctrine, in response to God’s revelation, and church tradition from the time of the apostles. We take that seriously.”
“I admire religious life, and I admire religious men and women,” he said. “They’re a great grace in and for the Church. But if they aren’t people who believe and express the faith of the church, the doctrines of the church, then I think they’re misrepresenting who they are and who they ought to be.”
Following closed-door meetings with the CDF, LCWR issued a formal statement rejecting the assessment’s conclusions and indicating they have no intention of cooperating. The assessment, they said, is “based on unsubstantiated accusations” and used “a flawed process that lacked transparency”. They said it has “caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization.” The Vatican has yet to publicly respond.
Asked by NCR what the cardinal thought a “functioning group” that could replace LCWR might look like, Levada said, “I hope it would look like a conference that focuses on the priorities of religious life, the life of holiness, which is the fundamental call of all of us in the church, and the good that can come through the apostolic works that many of these orders are committed to and the prayers that others are committed to.
“I would like to see religious as champions of the mission of Jesus Christ in the church and the world.” 
A second group, whose constitutional documents closely mirror the cardinal’s description, already exists and has received formal recognition by the Vatican already, a development that infuriated LCWR when it happened in the 1990s. One of the religious communities associated with the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), has publicly taken LCWR to task for misrepresenting their life.
The Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan (RSM), many of whom work directly in health care as doctors, said  that LCWR has substituted an impoverished “language of politics” for “the language of faith”.
In a statement the RSM sisters said, “There is no basis for authentic dialogue between these two languages. The language of faith is rooted in Jesus Christ, His life and His mission, as well as the magisterial teaching of the Church.”
“The language of politics arises from the social marketplace,” they said. “The Sisters who use political language in their responses to the magisterial Church reflect the poverty of their education and formation in the faith.”
LCWR has “taken this into the public political arena” which has no regard for legitimate religious authority, they said. “It no longer stays in the dialogue of faith. Representation is always possible, dialogue is always possible, but it’s with the reverence towards the hierarchical Church.”

Out of Habit

Supertradmum, who has posted here before made a comment on WDTPRS which has made me think.  The thought is that I agree with her 100%.  My comments follow her post.
 If the nuns acted like women, I would support your criticism. However, as one who is not afraid of my femininity and who tries to act and live like a woman, I can assure you that most of the nuns in question have not pursued the spirituality of the female.
Wearing pants is just a start. Not being in habit is a huge problem. Having very short hair and lacking in manners, using male tactics of aggression, etc. are not marks of a Catholic woman who is happy with her feminity.
Our Lady, (note the word, Lady) is our example, and I would start a criticism of the nuns with the fact that Mary is no longer their model. I am not passive, nor merely “in the home”, but in the market place, but I can assure you, I embrace my womanliness. Opinions are fine, but if one has become a Bride, one tries to tune one’s mind to that of the Bridegroom, Who, is this case, is Christ.
I think they have forgotten their first Love. I know some have, by discussions and comments. Christ is not a real Lover to them, but an idea. They are afraid to confront a Real Man, because they are not real women.
There is nothing more disappointing to me, as a Catholic than meeting a nun who is out of habit.  There is nothing more joyous for me than meeting a nun in habit.  There is something magnetizing and very individual about a nun in a habit.  What do I mean?  Well, a Dominican nun has a distinct habit and that habit tells me a lot about who she is and what she believes.  The same thing holds true for any other nun.  This individuality though is not based upon personal preference or style, but it is based upon charism.  And that is what is being lost.  I think that is what Supertradmum is getting at too, btw.

When I meet a nun who is out of habit, I can't help but think to myself what is she trying to prove?  That she's an individual?  That's she's trying to live in the world?  How?  By being of the world?  That doesn't make sense.  God calls women to be radical in their love for Him.  In what more way can one be radical than to put on a habit and become a clear witness for Christ, not just on the inside, but on the outside.  Sadly, polyester pantsuits and a lapel pin don't convey that.

Shifting gears a little, I'm going to take Supertradmum's thought to another level.  I think that the reason why these nuns dress, act and present themselves the way they do is for one reason.  It is calculated and it is never spoken about.  They are trying to set themselves up as masculine role models within the Church, while still being women.  They dress, they act, and they present themselves as men.  What is the reason that nuns cut their hair?  Practically, it was so it would fit in the veil and accompanying accouterments.  Spiritually, it was to deny secular beauty.  There is no practical reason to cut their hair, yet they do.  Spiritually, it doesn't follow with the shift in dress and abandonment of the habit.  Unless, they are trying to protray themselves as masculine.

If they are trying to portray themselves as masculine, why?  Is it to set up an alternative to the priest?  That has happened in a lot of places.  Is it to present themselves as a mode of authority to be "taken more seriously?"  They tried and succeeded for a number of years, yet as they got older and didn't try to promote vocations, they have become a caricature of what they were attempting.  In short, this was an epic fail.  The nuns undercut themselves at every turn.

Oh they say that the habit doesn't make the nun.  I disagree.  The habit does make the nun.  The habit defines a charism and brings a sense of communal individuality which is unmistakable.  Now, the nuns are mistaken all the time...

What is the point of the nun out of habit?  In my estimation, it is to be in the world and of the world, attempting to do something which needs distinction.  There doesn't need to be a sense of individuality, in the sense that they are trying to express.  The nuns should be able to find their individuality in the charism of their order.  But they should find the very thing which binds them together commonality.  and the most perfect sign of the commonality and individuality is the habit.  Not a pantsuit.  Not short hair.  Not a lapel pin.

Shameless plug:  If you get a free moment, check out her blog Etheldrasplace.  It is a good read.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

More on Participation

So....maybe I'll catch some flak for this, maybe I won't, but I feel that it needs to be said.

I think that how the word participate is being used is exactly how the Holy Father doesn't want it to be used.  That is part of the misconception of Vatican Council II.  The way that it is being used in the post assumes that the faithful are somehow sharing in the ministerial action of the Mass, that they are somehow participating in the celebration of the Mass.  That is participatio activa. And that is not to be the primary function of the Mass for the faithful.

I think that properly speaking one shouldn't talk about participating as if it were a verb, but rather one should speak about HOW one participates.  What is it that the faithful do in the nave?  They do more than just participate.  They worship!  That is what they do.  To simply say that the faithful participates is to sell their inner action short.  It is to bring it to the level outward actions only.  To say that one worships is to give a fuller sense of the word and to be demonstrable in how the faithful participate.

I have been going round and round for almost 20 years trying to figure out what the issue was with the term participation.  It has never really sat right and we're seeing that now with how it is being addressed by some high powered theologians.  One of the big issues that has existed since the Council with regard to participation is how to properly state what one is doing?  Is it inward, is it outward, is it both?  The amount of confusion which exists because of that word is immeasurable.

If we stop using the word as an action verb and use it as a passive verb, then I think that it becomes much easier to deal with.  So, rather than say, "The nave is the location where the laity participate in the Sacred Mysteries."  Isn't it much more complete to say, "The nave is the location where the laity worship during the sacrifice of the Mass."  Because that is their proper role.  That is what they are called to do, before anything else.  Worship is the proper term for full, conscious and active participation.  But the term "worship" is so outdated that the liberals decided to come up with a much more complex and convoluted way of describing what they actually do.  Participatio actuosa = worship for the laity.

The same thing can be applied in our application of the clergy and lesser clergy.  I think that to speak about participation is to level the playing field, where the playing field shouldn't be leveled.  The ministerial role of the priest is not the same thing as the role of the faithful.

I think that we have to rethink how we speak of participation.  I don't think that it serves the proper purpose to simply state that we are participating that then turn around and talk about the clergy participating.  What is the difference?  Where is the distinction?  But, if we talk about the faithful as worshiping and the clergy as offering or celebrating.  It is just a more complete and clear view of how we participate.

As an aside, the term presider just chaps my chiggers.  To call a priest a presider assumes that the faithful celebrate the Mass and the priest is merely the president of the assembly.  The priest is not.  He offers the Mass, his role is not equal to the faithful.  He is not presiding, he is ministering and the Mass is his offering.  He celebrates and offers the Mass on behalf of the faithful.  One of the best ways to look at it is that as the priest celebrates the Mass, the faithful take their petitions and place them at the foot of the altar and the priest collects them at the collect and the offering begins....but that is an outdated view, right?  ;)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Anglicanorum Coetibus in Action

I received the following correspondence from Deacon Chori Seraiah yesterday.  I have been given permission to pass this along.  I have my own thoughts to follow!

Please check his blog at:  The Maccabean

I wanted to let you know that both Bp. Pates and Msgr. Steenson have encouraged me to begin working to form an Ordinariate community here in the Des Moines area. If St. Aidan's eventually chooses to join, we will just merge the two together, but for the time being, we can begin meeting as soon as we have just a few people who are interested. Feel free to get the word out to whomever you wish.
Also, I will be saying my first couple of Masses (Anglican Use) at St. Anthony's on Monday, July 9th at 10:00am, and Tuesday, July 10th at 6:00pm. All are invited to this as well (and it may be a good introduction for folks who are curious about an Ordinariate community). 
In Christ,Chori Jonathin Seraiah

I cannot express to you how many prayers are being answered.  I know that God works in his own time, but this is providential.  Des Moines is in need of a Traditional outlet, and this very well could be it.

Fr. Seraiah and I have talked extensively and he will be starting a mission for the Ordinariate in Des Moines area. This means a couple of things. 1. He'd like to invite as many Catholics to assist at his Mass and see what the Ordinariate is all about. 2. There will be another option for receptions of the Sacraments, albeit in a different, but more traditional way. 3. Think of this as something akin to an Eastern Catholic Church for the time being. It has it's own traditions, it has it's own heritage, but it is 100% Catholic and it is 100% within the scope of Holy Mother Church. 4. For those who are curious as to how the Mass is celebrated, the best way to describe it is that it is like the Tridentine Mass, only in English, but the English is High English...a lot of thee's and thou's. It isn't like going to your typical Novus Ordo parish.

A couple of other things, the Seraiah's homeschool. They REALLY are interested in attracting other homeschooling families, not only because of the shared interest, but also because it can be a way of fostering a unified form of traditional worship which remains 100% Catholic, through a new and fresh lens. It also opens the door to dialogue and fellowship. While I've done a lot of talking about the Mass, there is more to the Ordinariate than the Mass. The Seraiah's would really like to see the homeschooling families have a place to call their own and Father feels able to provide that, if it be God's will.

Finally, what is there to lose? If it is too much or if it is not enough, taking a couple of weeks and seeing the universality of Holy Mother Church at work can bear fruit. This is 100% traditional. This is 100% unique. An invitation has been given, by +Pates and by Mons. Steenson to get in on the ground floor of a new expression of orthodoxy within Holy Mother Church. Will it be for everyone? No. But, it is a new option where one didn't exist before.

God's love does reign supreme. He has put the Ordinariate in Des Moines for a reason. I believe that it is to give traditionalism a start on life in an area where it is very hard to find. Please come and support Catholicism in both a new and traditional way. Who knows...maybe you'll be like might just like it. I know I'll give it a try.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sisters in Iowa: Social Justice?

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A group of Roman Catholic nuns began a nine-state bus tour protesting proposed federal budget cuts Monday, saying they weren't trying to flout recent Vatican criticisms of socially active nuns but felt called to show how Republican policies are affecting low-income families.The tour was organized by Network, a Washington-based Catholic social justice group criticized in a recent Vatican report that said some organizations led by nuns have focused too much on economic injustice while failing to promote the church's teachings on abortion and same-sex marriage. The Vatican asked U.S. bishops to look at Network's ties to another group of nuns it is reorganizing because of what the church calls "serious doctrinal problems."Sister Simone Campbell, Network's executive director, while the tour may appear to have been organized to counter recent criticism of social activist nuns by the Vatican and American bishops, it was not. The timing was in response to consideration of the federal budget in Congress, she said."We're doing this because of what's happening on the Hill," she told The Associated Press in an interview. "We're desperate to get the word out, that's why we're doing it now."But if the 14 nuns who will rotate on and off the bus during the next two weeks weren't trying to counter the Vatican, they likely did little to ease its concerns about social activism.The tour kicked off with a rally that had the feel of a political event. About 20 supporters brought flowers and balloons and sang, "Alleluia," as the nuns boarded a modern tour bus decorated with bright-colored graphics.While the nuns say they aren't opposing any specific Republican candidate, they plan stops at the offices of several closely tied to the budget process, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of the House-passed budget. Their first stop Monday was Rep. Steve King's office in Ames. The tour will end in Washington on July 2.The mandate to crack down on socially active nuns upset some church parishioners who turned out to support the nuns."They want to bully these nuns and shut them down and tell them: 'Get back in your place, ladies.' No, it's not going to be that way anymore," said Mary Ann McCoy, of Des Moines, who attends St. Ambrose Cathedral.She said the Vatican and bishops speaking so harshly of nuns has split the church."They're women of courage," McCoy said. "Back in the Old Testament they talked about prophets. A prophet is somebody who speaks for God and these are the things that God talked about - injustice, the poor, the marginalized, woman. Jesus was the greatest prophet when he went out and he shook things up a lot. Well, I think the sisters are walking the walk and talking the talk and that's what's important to us."While the Vatican has criticized Network, church officials have not ordered a full-scale overhaul of it as is being done with another group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. After a two-year investigation, the Vatican concluded the conference had undermined Roman Catholic teaching with radical feminist themes and taken positions that undermined Catholic teaching on the all-male priesthood, marriage and homosexuality. Three U.S. bishops, including Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, have been given five years to reorganize that group.The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did not immediately comment on the bus tour.Campbell said if the Vatican would talk to her group, she could explain that it was simply continuing the work on poverty and economic injustice that has been its focus for 40 years.Father Michael Amadeo, who attended the rally and is pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Des Moines, said that although the Vatican may have issues with Women Religious, he doesn't think the bus tour conflicts with church teachings."These are Catholic social teachings which we've had for decades," he said. "What they're trying to highlight both to communities as well as legislators is what our Catholic social teachers are, and they are about not only charity work but asking the tough questions. Why are these people homeless? Why are they in shelters? Why are they on food stamps? Part of our social justice teaching is asking questions about justice."Amadeo said 300 people turned out Sunday night for a send-off prayer service for the nuns at his church. He said that's an indication of support and there are plenty of people committed to working for justice and helping the poor."Hopefully this will be a groundswell as it heads across the nation," he said.Boehner's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bus tour.King's office responded with an email faulting "the failed policies of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi," vowing to repeal the president's health care reform law and promising to pass a balanced budget amendment. The email did not say anything specifically about the nuns.Ryan's spokeswoman also did not mention the nuns when she responded to a request for comment by sending several Internet links to interviews and opinion pieces he's written on the budget.  One was published April 25 in the National Catholic Register and is posted on his website."Our budget ends welfare for those who don't need it, but strengthens welfare programs for those who do. Government safety-net programs have been stretched to the breaking point in recent years, failing the very citizens who need help the most," he wrote. "... We rightly pride ourselves on looking out for one another - and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn't worke[d.]


I'm pretty sure that we can all see what's really going on.  While Fr. Amadeo might be right that it is part of Catholic social teaching, as understood since Rerum Novarum, that doesn't give the sisters the blanket ability to start protesting.

In my humble opinion, the sisters should be about their work of spiritual and corporal works of mercy and what their foundress wanted, not protesting the Republican Party.  There just is no call for that.  As a Catholic, I find it to be reprehensible that our Religious have found it more important to protest than to pray.

Sr. Simone should not be so worried about what is going on at "The Hill" and more worried about what is going on spiritually within the Catholic Church.

I don't think anyone wants to "bully" these nuns, regardless of what Ms. McCoy might think.  That really isn't it at all.  I think that it is more that the sisters need to take into account where they would be doing the most good.  I don't think that it's on a bus tour.  I think that it is in the convent praying.  And I think that the sisters of Sr. Simone's ilk have forgotten that.  They have become so enamoured of their view of "social justice" that they have lost sight of the true mission of all Religious, not just women religious.

The true mission is not to interject into national politics.  No.  It is to help bring about the Kingdom.  Bottom line.  National politics really don't have a place in any Religious' life.  If they want to protest on the national stage, why aren't these sisters protesting the views of Biden, Pelosi, and Sebilius?  They are all Catholics.  They are all Catholics who are not ascribing to Catholic Social teaching.  If these sisters want a "call to action," then they should be imploring those Catholic national leaders who are not in favor of accepted Catholic Social thought to come in line.  I suppose though that Life issues are too polarizing for Sr. Simone and her ilk, so they will stay much more general and continue to criticize the Republican Party for holding to a truer line with regard to the Church's social teachings..

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Friend Dan

Two days ago, I lost a good friend way too soon.  Two days ago, someone who changed my life died.  I posted about a prayer request for his family.  Today, I'm asking you to pray for me.  I'm struggling with the fact that my friend died.

He was my friend first.  Unlike a lot of people who knew him as Coach, or as Mr. McClannahan and eventually got to know him, I knew him first as Dan.  Literally from the first day that I moved to Iowa, Dan was part of my life.  Oh sure, I grew up and he and his family eventually moved away, but when I think of Dan, I don't think of Coach or of Mr. McClannahan, the teacher, but I think of Dan.

Dan was huge.  He was a giant of a man.  Not many men make my dad look small, but Dan did.  As I grew up, I knew that Dan was the head football coach at the high school.  I also knew that he was a teacher at the high school.  I couldn't wait to take classes from him, but I knew that it would all come in time.

Some of the things I remember about Dan...

Birthdays.  He would give us our spankings.  This went on into high school.  He'd bum rush the house and pin us down and he would give us our licks.  Thank God he held back, because his hand was like a canoe paddle.  :)

Rebuilding our garage.  I sat out on the step of the garage and watched him work every day and talked to him as he framed the garage roof.

The talk that we had about going to high school.  He came over and we went for a ride in his Jeep.  As we were riding up to the high school, he said to me, "Andy, I'm going to be your teacher this year.  You can't call me Dan at school.  You can call me Mr. McClannahan or Coach, just not Dan. [...]  I have to treat you like everyone else, even though you're not like everyone else."

Storms.  He and my dad would stand on the front porches of the houses and yell back and forth.  God, he loved thunderstorms.

Knee surgery.  Dan had arthroscopic surgery on his knee just before I had my first knee surgery...and he was out shovelling snow the very next day.

In many ways, people have the exact same memories I do.  Everything they say about him is true.  Every word.  But, through my entire life, while he was mentoring them and working with them, I stood back a little and watched.  I knew what he was doing.  I knew how he was turning athletes into something more.  But I also knew that at the end of the day, they went home and talked about Coach.

At the end of my day, I got to go home and talk about Dan.

There are not many people who have completely had an impact on my life that I can purely say impacted me.  My parents, Mrs. Doris LaBounty, Monsignor Richard Schuler, Fr. Michael Larkin, Sue Milam (my grandmother), and Dan McClannahan.

When I go to the wake tomorrow afternoon and the funeral on Monday morning, I will stand back just a little while everyone praises the life of Dan McClannahan.  And they should.  They should until they cannot speak anymore.  Dan is worthy of every word that is spoken about him.  But I can stand there and at the end of the day I can go home and talk about Dan.  Not Coach, not Mr. McClannahan.  I can talk about Dan.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free!I follow the plan God laid for me.I saw His face, I heard His call,I took His hand and left it all...I could not stay another day,To love, to laugh, to work or play;Tasks left undone must stay that way.And if my parting has left a void,Then fill it with remembered joy.A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss...Ah yes, these things I, too, shall miss.My life's been full, I've savoured much:Good times, good friends, a loved-one's touch.Perhaps my time seemed all too brief—Don't shorten yours with undue grief.Be not burdened with tears of sorrow,Enjoy the sunshine of the morrow.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Liturgical Reform

It's almost as if Fr. Driscoll were reading my notes and my blog posts.  He isn't of course, but you get the idea...

Hook....Line....and Sinker

The reformers wanted to do away with anything which might cause scandal to the Protestant mind.  And they succeeded.  There is nothing that the reformed churches have in them which is difficult for a Protestant to accept.

That being said, the bishops of then and now have taken the bait; hook, line, and sinker.

When vertical theology left the building (literally with Elvis in his film, Change of Habit) in favor of horizontal theology, the idea Catholicism went right along with it, for the most part.  Oh sure, we keep some of the language, we keep some of the devotions, we keep some of the trappings, but by and large, the faithful lost faith.

How can I say that?  Where are they? Churches are empty, the faithful stopped assisting at Holy Mass.  Convents are empty, the nun's became radical feminists.  Seminaries and rectories are empty, the priests have quit their vocation.  And by quit, I mean quit.  They had vocations to the priesthood, but the reformers talked them out of it and the bishops just let them go.

The reformers told the priests that they were no different than a Protestant minister.  Not in so many words, but by their actions.  They took the Mass away from the priest and put it in the hands of the faithful.  They took the priesthood away and put it in the hands of the faithful.  They took the churches away and put the people in their place.  The role of the priest was reduced to that of presider.

I'll elaborate.  When they changed the Mass, after Vatican Council II, the priest ceased to celebrate the Mass.  He now presides over the assembly who celebrates.  This is most evident in the Liturgy of the Word.  Prior to the reforms, the priest did everything in the Mass of the Catechumens.  He prayed the prayers at the foot, he prayed the confiteor, he prayed the kyrie, he prayed the gloria, he prayed the collect.  Now all of those things are either optional or they have been taken over by the faithful save the praying of the collect, which is all the priest does in the entirety of the Liturgy of the Word.  The priest, prior to the reforms proclaimed the epistle, the gradual/tract/alleluia, and gospel.  After the reforms, the priest does none of that if there is a deacon and none of that save the reading of the gospel if there is no deacon.

Quite literally, the faithful have taken over the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word and the priest sits passively and allows it to happen.  He is the President of those assembled.  Nothing more.  So, his role after the reforms was reduced from celebrating the Mass to presiding over the assembly.  With the priest left with nothing to do and half of his role removed, is it any wonder they left?  Quite literally the priest lost his identity and his vocation was lost, it was ripped away, like a teddy bear on the first day of school.

Secondly, they took the idea of ministerial priesthood and took that from the priest too.  By a deliberate and exacting change, the royal priesthood was thrust into the role of ministerial priest.  Laymen who had no business in the sanctuary were put there.  They have been inserted into all phases of the Mass.  And they have diminished the role of the priest, not only in the Liturgy of the Word, but also in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  They are EMHC's.  They are commentators, They are ministers of the sick.  They have literally invaded all of the roles which properly belong to the priest.  Oh sure, the priest still consecrates the host and wine, but that is out of necessity.  The rest of the Mass has been rendered optional for the ministerial priest and has been squarely put in the hands of the royal priesthood.  There is a big difference.  The role of the faithful is to worship.  The role of the priest is to minister.  Not vice versa.  To thrust the faithful into the role of minister is to...well...Protestantize the Mass.

The Mass went from being celebrated at the altar to being presided from the chair.  The altar of sacrifice has been lost to the assembly.  The altar of sacrifice has been reduced to a mere table and the Sacrificial offering is now just a meal.  The theology has changed.  And it shows by the lack of faithful, the lack of priests, and the lack of religious.

The reformers vision has all but been accomplished.  This can largely be contributed to two men.  Paul VI and John Paul II.  Paul the VI implemented the changes and John Paul II perpetuated them.  It has fallen upon Benedict XVI to try and sort the liturgical mess.

We can talk about architecture, but architecture is just a symptom of a larger problem.  And it is a visible symptom.  The move from a Catholic theology with regard to the Mass (vertical) to a Protestant one (horizontal).  There is nothing different between the modern Catholic churches and a Lutheran church or even a Methodist church.  However, if you walk into a traddy chapel, it is clearly Catholic and it is very distinct.

My long winded point?  Fix the architecture.  But implore priests to fix the Mass.  It is in their privy to do so.

Finally, I will say this.  Which seminaries in the US are the fastest growing?  Our Lady of Guadalupe in Denton, NE (FSSP) and St. Thomas Aquinas in Winona, MN (SSPX).  Which orders of women are attracting vocations? (traditional and conservative orders such as the Nashville Dominicans).  And which segment of the Mass is gaining the most attendance through growth each and every week?  The TLM.  It is no mystery.  The Catholic faithful want to be Catholic, priests...let them be Catholic.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prayer Request

Please pray for some very close friends who lost their husband and father this morning. The world won't be the same without Coach Dan McClannahan, but we can have hope that God's will is done and that he is with the angels. 

Please pray for the repose of his soul. Wisdom 3:1-9 -- [1] But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and the torment of death shall not touch them. [2] In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure was taken for misery: [3] And their going away from us, for utter destruction: but they are in peace. [4] And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, their hope is full of immortality. [5] Afflicted in few things, in many they shall be well rewarded: because God hath tried them, and found them worthy of himself.

[6] As gold in the furnace he hath proved them, and as a victim of a holocaust he hath received them, and in time there shall be respect had to them. [7] The just shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. [8] They shall judge nations, and rule over people, and their Lord shall reign for ever. [9] They that trust in him, shall understand the truth: and they that are faithful in love shall rest in him: for grace and peace is to his elect.

It is not the end, but merely the next step toward eternal life.

Fecundity And Fertility....Necessary

I've been in a conversation with an acquaintance about the Sacrament of Matrimony.  This is part of the conversation that I've been having with him.  While I do know that it isn't complete, it is an important part of understanding why the Church holds the Sacrament of Matrimony and the parts of it including sex to a higher standard.  Please read on:

The Church has for all time understood that there are situations in which fertility issues exist between couples.  For a good many years, the Church forbade couples who were infertile from marrying, UNLESS there was a dispensation.  Over time, that dispensation became more and more liberalized, because the Church, in her wisdom understood the importance of the Sacrament of Matrimony and realized there was more to being married than just having children.  That isn't to say though that having children isn't part of the proper nature of the Sacrament.

This dispensation still exists and it still must be sought out if a couple wants to marry, but have fertility issues.  It is however, one of the most liberal dispensations given and rightly so.  However, there is a trade off.  I'm not going to go into frequency or infrequency of the sex act, but I will say this.  There is more to the Sacrament of Matrimony than simply having children.

The Sacrament of Matrimony also includes a sense of complimentarity between a man and a woman.  The Sacrament draws out the love of a man and a woman ordered to the divine love of God.  That is the first end of marriage and that is why people get married.  To have a child is the physical outpouring of that love.  This is one of the reasons that having children is so important.  It is sort of a manifestation of the Sacrament.  If a Sacrament is the outward sign instituted by Christ to bring about Grace, then having a child is the manifestation of it in an informal and symbolic way.  It is not the only way, but it is the most visible way.

That being said, if one cannot have children, then one must understand that being married in the Church requires a dispensation.  Why?  Because they must be open to the ability to have children.  If one or both have fertility issues, then one must ask permission (in a very real sense) to do something which is outside the scope and meaning of the Sacrament.  It is understandable.

Let's assume for a moment that there is a married couple who has had a "normal" marriage wherein there were not fertility issues.  As time passes, the development of their love grows.  The husband and wife move from child bearing into child rearing and eventually into retirement.  The sex act also changes.  As they decide that they've accomplished all that God has asked of them (notice the difference in attitude), the love shifts from erotic love to a more complete love.  This does not necessarily entail the sex act.  But also thinking back, there are times in the marriage where it is not appropriate to engage the sex act.  I'm not talking about a fleeting weekend or day.  I'm talking about an extended period of time.  This is when continence plays a part.

The Church teaches that part of the responsibility of the Sacrament is to practice continence, when necessary.  The key is when necessary.  For some that is never.  For some, that is part of the time, and for some that is frequently.  And finally, for some that is total.  The Church doesn't tell a couple when that time is, but the Church does say that when faced with having to use contraception or be put in a position of needing to procure and abortion, it is best to be continent.  The rhythm method can be of use, as long as it is not used as birth control.  If it is used as birth control and not a way to time fertility, then it is just as illicit as using a condom or the pill.  An important part of the rhythm method which is not spoken of is continence.  It is not always appropriate to engage the sex act when following this method.  There is a great amount of responsibility needed.

Returning to the idea of continence, as a couple grows older, the need for sex lessens.  The type of love transforms from one of needing sex to complete the couple to finding ultimate fulfillment in the love the one person has for the other.  This is the true end of the Sacrament.

Moving to the couple who has fertility issues, they are asked to find this ultimate fulfillment faster.  For living a chaste life within marriage may mean that they don't have the opportunity to engage the sex act as often or for as long.  Chasitity in marriage is much more complex and exacting than it is for the single person, because the number of people who are expected to find complemenatarity has doubled.

What I'm getting at is that in today's world, people have forgotten what chastity is.  Having sex for the sake of having sex, even in marriage is not being chaste.  While the sex act has two parts to it, unitive and procreative, if a married couple closes one of those areas, then they are not being chaste.  There must always be a threefold purpose to engaging the sex act; the third being the sanctification of the Sacrament.  To do anything else is illicit, even inside of marriage.

I know that this sounds very foreign.  I know that this isn't what is being taught today.  However, if one really examines why the Sacrament exists and why the sex act is so scrutinized, one will see that the scrutiny from the Church isn't negative.  It is positive.  It is to protect the Sacrament of marriage, it is to protect the couple, and it is to protect the sex act itself from being cheapened.  The sex act is more to the rational person than just a biological action.  It is a rational way to bond.  However, it is not the only way.

The Church has not always been 100% clear, but the reasoning is there.  I would have you look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church starting at CCC #2360 and following.  A couple of points to support what I've been saying:

CCC #2363
The spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.

CCC #2366
Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life," teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life." "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."

CCC #2370
Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:
Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality. . . . The difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.

CCC #2379
The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord's Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.

We must understand and remember that while the sex act is important and necessary, it is not an absolute.  As the need arises or if circumstances determine, the Church certainly has always made provisions for other ways of fulfilling the Sacrament of Matrimony, beyond simply that of the sex act.  It may be that those who are challenged with infertility may need to express their Marriage in a different way.  And that is ok.  There is nothing lost by the alternative, but rather there are Graces to be gained, just as in any relationship.

Bottom line, the Sacrament of Marriage isn't a license to "have sex."  It is a commitment of responsibility to another.  And that doesn't always nor should it always include "having sex."

Latest Update on the SSPX (6/14/12)

From VIS:

BISHOP FELLAY VISITS THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITHVatican City, 14 June 2012 (VIS) - "On the afternoon of Wednesday 13 June, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei', met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X who was accompanied by an assistant. Also present at the encounter were Archbishop Luis Ladaria S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'", according to a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office."The purpose of the meeting was to present the Holy See's evaluation of the text submitted in April by the Society of St. Pius X in response to the Doctrinal Preamble which the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had presented to the Society on 14 September 2011. The subsequent discussion offered an opportunity the provide the appropriate explanations and clarifications. For his part, Bishop Fellay illustrated the current situation of the Society of St. Pius X and promised to make his response known within a reasonable lapse of time."Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society."As was stated in the communique released on 16 May 2012, the situation of the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X will be dealt with separately and singularly."At the end of the meeting the hope was expressed that this additional opportunity for reflection would also contribute to reaching full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Apostolic See".

From what I can gather, this seems to mean there will be an imminent reconciliation between the SSPX and the Holy See.  It also seems that there are not going to be any impediments because of the views of the other three bishops.

That being said, I have said all along that a personal prelature much like Opus Dei would be the best option. I think that it is the best option.  It allows them to continue to keep their charism in tact and they won't have to deal so much with the prejudices that will undoubtedly exist.  It is my prayer however that they work with the bishops and not simply fight them the whole way, if this is what becomes of the situation.

As for the other three bishops, time will tell.  I would like to see all of them reconcile, but if it is not to be, it is not to be.  They should however, embrace humility and accept the decision of their superior and of their Pope.  But, that being said, I will not pass judgment on them, as they must freely choose.

May God bring the SSPX back into the fold and soon.  Please pray for +Fellay, the SSPX and the other three bishops.  This is a very delicate time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Conscience Is Not A Scapegoat

Fr. Pierson, OSB has come forward and made it clear to the people that he ministers to that they can openly dissent from Catholic teaching.  Furthermore, he distorts Catholic teaching in the process, by two methods.  First, Father clearly omits parts of teachings in order to form the teaching to his own view.  The Church has never accepted this as a form of catechesis, despite how Fr. Pierson presents it.  The 10 minute talk is to follow.  Below I will have my commentary on his talk.

Fr. Pierson has taken a step to question the fact that God is just.  While he most certainly is loving, he is also just.  And in that justice, judgment does play a part.  To think that God is simply a lover of all things without holding those things He created accountable for their actions is absurd.  Looking back in Scripture there are examples of both love and justice everywhere.  Actions must be judged.  An example that was passed along to me recently from a friend comes to mind.  Why was Moses not allowed into The Promised Land?  Because God judged him unworthy.  Moses was unworthy because he did not trust fully in the Lord.  Well...this applies to the issue at hand with Fr. Pierson.  Yes, God loves His creation.  No, God will not forgo justice in the name of love.  For that is an abandonment of the true love (agape) which God has for all of His creation.

Father Pierson chooses the Catechism of the Catholic Church to defend his position.  He only gives part of the story though.  He quotes CCC #2358 which says:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

This is true.  We must accept all people, because they are people with respect compassion and sensitivity.  But nowhere does it say that we are to accept their actions.  As a matter of fact, the Church teaches the exact opposite in CCC #2357:
 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Interesting how Fr. Pierson leaves out this part, which is important.  The Church teaches that while we do accept the person, the acts of the active homosexual person are contrary to the natural law.  They close the sexual act to the the gift of life and they do not proceed from genuine complementarity.  The cannot be approved.

What Fr. Pierson also leaves out (and this is key), is CCC #2359:
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
The person is addressed.  He is called to chastity.  He is called to self-mastery his actions which lead to inner freedom.  These things are not negative, no.  They are positive, yet in the mind of Fr. Pierson they are ignored, at least in this talk, because it doesn't fit his worldview of homosexuality.  Fr. Pierson has decided that his understanding is a partial acceptance, not total of what the Church teaches on homosexuality.  The Church understands human failings, to be sure and the Church always has a way to help overcome those failings, in the most judicious way possible and with the most compassion.  Sadly, Fr. Pierson doesn't want to see that.

Fr. Pierson while most probably already out of the closet decides to cause scandal.  He announces immediately after reading the Church's teaching on homosexual men being ordained that he is gay.  Obviously, the Church won't rescind it's ordination, it cannot.  It can however limit Father's ministry and should.  Clearly the support of the gay lifestyle is at odds with the Catholic Church.  Fr. Pierson will address this a little later on.

Father goes on to speak about freedom of conscience.  Again Fr. quotes the Catechism, #1782:
Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."
Interestingly enough he doesn't continue.  To take the Catechism out of context is to disavow what the Church teaches on a clear, open and honest way.  CCC #1781 states:
 Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice. The verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God: 
We shall . . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Remember what Fr. Pierson left out earlier?  Just judgment.  Man does have the right to act in concscience and freedom, as long as the act is moral and witness to the universal truth of the good.  To commit evil is not to act in justice.  However, when the two paragraph's are put together it is clear that it is contrary to Fr. Pierson's view.

As for his commentary on Fr. Ratzinger, it is a quote taken out of context, much like that of acceptance of the homosexual person.  As for what he says prior to being Pope, he can be wrong.  I'm not saying that he is or he isn't, but rather that he did not carry the charism of the Pope at that point.  So, even if he were to make a statement which is incorrect, he still had the chance to amend or clarify said statement.  To simply condense all that Pope Ratzinger or any other theologian has said into one statement is not only wrong, it is an indefensible maligning of the idea of personal growth.

Fr. Pierson then moves on to speak about how one cannot be forced to adhere to Catholic teaching if one is not Catholic.  To an extent he's right.  But he's wrong when that teaching is universally moral or right.  Then it can apply to all and it should.  He talks about "fudging the facts" with regard to the Church's view.

1.  Same Sex Marriage will destroy the sanctity of the Sacrament of Matrimony.  --  It will.  A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to bring about Grace. The Church teaches in CCC #1661:
The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799).
He goes on to speak about how the Church doesn't recognize civil marriage and that committed same sex marriage has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Matrimony.  He's right.  But the Church does teach that if one is not married, then one must be chaste.  And if one is not married, then to engage in living as married persons doesn't fulfill the chaste role of a single person, in the eyes of the Church.

2.  If gay persons are allowed to marry, then the Church will be forced to accept gays adopting children.  --Fr. then lists off several government agencies to announce that gay couples are as effective as heterosexual couples at raising children.  So, we have an agenda of supporting the government's view of how to raise children.  What is the counterpoint and who are the counterpoints from?  He lists only the Church.  So he is setting himself up as a defender of the government as opposed to a priest of the Catholic Church.  To which he is supposed to adhere and support, in word, action, deed, and obedience.

3.  If same sex marriage is recognized, then it will have to accept them in their social service outreach.  He then goes on to say that it is true to the extent that the Church accepts government funding for social service programs.  Fr. Pierson asks if we would want other faiths to discriminate against us?  They do already.  But he doesn't want that to happen.  How out of touch he must be.  The Catholic Church is discriminated against all the time.

Finally, he says that marriage is about love, commitment and  responsibility.  But if that love does not come from a genuine source of complimentarity, then it is not really love.  He says that in Catholicism that Marriage is a Sacrament a commitment to God, a commitment to live with one's partner, to raise a family, but most of all to live the Word of God.  Really?  I don't see how that lines up with the definition above.  It really doesn't fit.

Regardless of want, gay persons are called to the same thing as other persons.  If they want to marry, they are free to.  She is free to marry a man, if she is a woman and a woman if he is a man.  There is no impediment if they can enter into the Sacrament freely and espouses a genuine love for the prospective spouse.  But Fr. Pierson doesn't speak to that.  He speaks to support of a disordered action as being normative.

The Church is clear about one thing when it comes to homosexuality.  The Church is clear that it is a matter of self-mastery and while a deep seated tendency it can be overcome with disinterested friendship and compassion.  I don't condone homosexual actions.  I have compassion toward those who are afflicted with homosexual tendencies and I do everything I can to support and help them to overcome the affliction.  I cannot, however stand idly by and allow for a priest to support the gay agenda and to mislead the faithful as to what the Church actually teaches about the homosexual person.

I will pray for Fr. Pierson.  I will pray that he comes to understand that his view is wrong.  I will pray that his understanding of Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality comes in line with what it actually is.  May God keep him close.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LCWR Meets with Vatican Officials.

I picked this up from Catholic News and World Report.

Today the president and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious met in Rome with Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, the Vatican delegate overseeing the reform of the LCWR.

The statements released by the Vatican and the LCWR reveal little of went on behind closed doors. It is expected that more will come to light in August, when the LCWR holds its annual assembly in St. Louis and will “determine its course of action in response to the CDF assessment,” according the group’s statement about today’s meeting.

From the LCWR statement:

The meeting had been requested by the LCWR to address what the conference considered deficiencies in the process and the results of the doctrinal assessment of the organization released by the CDF in April.

“It was an open meeting and we were able to directly express our concerns to Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Sartain,” said Sister Pat Farrell.

Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the LCWR, told reporters after today’s meeting, “We are grateful for the opportunity for open dialogue, and now we will return to our members to see about the next step.”

The Vatican statement about the meeting was also brief:
The meeting provided the opportunity for the Congregation and the LCWR officers to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the doctrinal assessment in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality.
According to Canon Law, a conference of major superiors such as the LCWR is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts among the individual member institutes and cooperation with the Holy See and the local conference of bishops (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 708-709). The purpose of the doctrinal assessment is to assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium.

My analysis of the events:

Interesting to note a very big divide in the two statements.  The nun's representatives say,  “We are grateful for the opportunity for open dialogue, and now we will return to our members to see about the next step.”

While the Vatican report states, "The meeting provided the opportunity for the Congregation and the LCWR officers to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the doctrinal assessment in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality."

What I glean from this that the nun's representatives still view themselves with some sort of power and ability to sway the decision of the Holy See.  This simply isn't the case.  "Dialogue" constitutes a form of negotiation and movement from one position to another.  This is confirmed by the idea that they have a "next step," other than to fall in line with what the Holy See asks of them as consecrated Catholic religious.

The Vatican's position is very clear that while they were, "nice" that the discussions were not a form of "dialogue" as defined by liberal-speak.  Rather that it was a way for them to express their concern and for the Vatican to take what they will under advisement.  But the Vatican also clearly states the bottom line, "According to Canon Law, a conference of major superiors such as the LCWR is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts among the individual member institutes and cooperation with the Holy See and the local conference of bishops (cf. Code of Canon Law, canons 708-709). The purpose of the doctrinal assessment is to assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium."

This is not to be seen as allowing for them to continue to operate in a manner which in inconsistent with Church teaching and remain Catholic.  The sooner the nun's realize this, the better.  And it will save everyone a lot of pain and un-needed angst.

It remains my prayer that the LCWR falls in line with the Holy See and that Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Sartain continue to catechize these nun's in accord with sound Church teaching.