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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some Final Thoughts Before Election Day

We are a week away from election day.  Time is short and we have an obligation as citizens in the United States to vote.  It is one of our most basic freedoms.  The fact that we can vote and have a direct impact on how the electoral college will vote makes each vote vitally important.  As Catholics in America we have a duty to be patriots and good Catholics, voting is part of that proper understanding.

However as Catholics in America, NOT American Catholics, we must vote with a properly formed conscience.  We cannot support a candidate who is opposed to the principles of Catholic thought.  We must vote for those things which are in harmony with our faith.  If that candidate does not exist, we then must vote for the candidate which most perfectly embodies those things.

The most important issue we face in this election cycle is not the economy.  The most important issue we face in this election is not foreign or domestic policy.  The most important issue we face in this election is the right to life and the pursuit of happiness.  However that happiness must be rooted in God, the Father.  We cannot lose sight of what it means to do His will.  While we are imperfect beings, we must strive to become perfect.  We see this in the Incarnation of Christ Jesus, for God did so love the world that he did send his only begotten Son.  Christ Jesus is the perfect model for imperfect beings.  And this is all achieved through guidance from the Holy Spirit.  Please understand clearly, the Church is the embodiment of Christ Jesus glorified and we must forge a way which is complementary to Him Who Is.

As we prepare to vote in this election we must choose first to put someone in office who most perfectly embodies Catholic thought.  That is our duty as Catholics in America.  We cannot, nor should we expect to do any less nor should we expect any less from any other Catholic person in America.

I recently read an article that I would like to share with you.  It is written by Arland K. Nichols.  Arland K. Nichols is the Director of Education and Evangelization at Human Life International. He is the executive editor of the Truth and Charity Forum.

Election 2012 is upon us. Many are calling it the most important election in their lives. The candidates and supporters have routinely emphasized that the Presidential candidates, their platforms, and their voting records are complete opposites. The two main parties in the United States have extremely different visions on nearly every issue of importance. And so, as is the American way, the campaign spin machines and the rhetoric are ramped up in anticipation of November 6.
How do we cut through the rhetoric so that we might become aware of and guided by Catholic principles and priorities? In answering this, we must be aware that it is virtually impossible to address election related matters without being accused of partisanship. Even Bishops face this accusation when they, for example, speak out regarding the primacy of life, marriage, and religious liberty. It remains, however, that we must sift through the nonsense and vote responsibly.
I suggest taking a step away from the political scene in the United States to consider the teaching of the Universal Church. In 2002 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life in which the Church provides Catholics in democratic societies around the world principles that are a sure and non-partisan guide. Surely, the CDF is immune from claims of loyalty to either the Republican or Democratic parties?
Recalling the example of Saint Thomas More, the first point of emphasis made by the Congregation is that our politics cannot be separated from morality. In this we must refuse to compromise. We must each vote in conformity with our well-formed Christian conscience, bringing to the social realm the moral precepts found in natural law. We are not necessarily called to bring religious precepts, but moral precepts that are common to all human beings and binding on all.
The abiding concerns of the CDF in this document are cultural relativism, the disintegration of reason and rejection of the natural moral law in favor of passing cultural and moral trends, and the marginalization of Christians from the public square. Noting that “moral anarchy” and the “oppression of the weak by the strong” is the inevitable consequence of these trends, the Church calls Catholics to actively participate so as to uphold the dignity of all persons (6). A democracy can only succeed if it is rooted in a correct understanding of the human person. “It is respect for the person that makes democratic participation possible” (3).
With this as the backdrop, the CDF distinguishes between “temporal questions that God has left to the free and responsible judgment of each person” and “non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society” (3). On the temporal questions, the Church claims no expertise in providing “specific political solutions” (3). While the CDF does not list specific examples of such temporal questions, these are understood to include economic policy, immigration law, and methods of providing healthcare.
The CDF prioritizes the “non-negotiable ethical principles” upon which democracy must be based. Quoting John Paul II, the CDF first addresses direct attacks on human life and notes that we “have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life…it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.” In the context of its discussion concerning such attacks on life, the CDF reminds us that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals” (4).
The CDF then highlights abortion, euthanasia, experimentation on embryos, and “modern forms of slavery” as evils about which we may not compromise. Additionally, it stresses goods that must be protected: “monogamous marriage between a man and woman,” “the freedom of parents regarding the education of their children,” religious freedom, peace, and “the development of an economy that is at the service of the human person” (4). The above evils, without exception, may never receive support from a Catholic voter. The goods must always be pursued, though how that is accomplished will vary depending upon the political situation and the common will.
Limiting acts that “attack the very inviolability of human life” is the highest priority in the formation of consciences of Catholic voters, and “the Catholic commitment becomes more evident and laden with responsibility” when we face political candidates that support policies that offend “moral principles that do not admit of exception.” As we vote on November 6, we must be very clear on the positions taken by the candidates on the issues, and we must discharge our responsibilities according to the principles taught by the Church.

We must come to understand one thing.  When we vote, we must vote not only for our own good, but also for the good of all mankind.  We cannot compromise on those things which bring about evil.  If a candidate seeks to promote abortion, euthanasia, experimentation on embryos, and a disregard for life, we must not vote for him.  As I said above, if there is no perfect candidate, then we are obliged to vote for that candidate which seeks to limit the evil to the greatest extent.

I am not telling you how to vote.  But I am saying that to vote against those things which are either Catholic or open the possibility to proper Catholic action is to improperly act upon one's conscience.  The choice belongs to each one of us.  We can choose the good or we can not choose the good.  It is a simple choice, but it is not an easy choice.  We must make it, though.

Monday, October 29, 2012

More on Liturgical Aberration....

As I continue a conversation with a priest friend, the following came up for discussion:

"We nonetheless got a liturgy that was manufactured by the committee Pope Paul VI established."

Actually, "the committee" was formed in 1948.  And it was the brainchild of Bugnini.  (I would hate to think that anyone would think there is revisionist history going on.)

"...what can be done within the liturgical norms of the normative Mass apart from a total revision..."

Nothing.  I think that the horse is so far out of the barn that there is no bringing her back.  I think that it will take a total revision of the Mass.  I think that is what Benedict thinks as well, but doesn't have the gumption to do anything about it.  He doesn't know how to move it out of the realm of the hypothetical and it remains largely an academic exercise, for now.  Sure he's made some cosmetic changes, but mostly they are non-starters.

The Novus Ordo or Missa Normativa (if you would like to call it that) is such an aberration from that which was intended that there is no way to "really" save it.  Too many liberties have been taken.  Too many abuses have be normalized.  To simply turn the altars around and put boys in cassock and surplice is to simply put lipstick on a pig at this point.

I am all for an authentic "reform of the reform."  But...and this is a very big BUT...there must actually be a reform.  Not academic, not hypothetical or even theoretical, there must be an actual reform.  That Father, must come in a total revision of the Novus Ordo and re-application of the 1962 Missale.

So, my thoughts would be very simple.

1.  Abrogate the Novus Ordo
2.  Return to the TLM.
3.  Engage in truly scientific methodology with regard to the Mass (characterize, hypothesize, predict, and experiment) which can work, assuming that the premise is valid in order to begin.
4.  Act upon the methodology in a way which is shares true continuity with the TLM.

There you have it.  Easy peasy.  Except that the liberals won't allow it to actually happen, because their "hard work" to undermine the liturgical life and ultimately the entire life of Holy Mother Church would be dashed.

This is by and large the problem with the whole of the so-called liturgical movement.  It was based upon a false premise.  There was never a "renewal," but rather a revisionist attitude from the start.  When we admit this as being true, then we can start the real work of restoring and reforming the Mass.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

More on Participatio Actuosa v. Participatio Activa

The Novus Ordo can be dressed up all one wants, but in the end, it is still a MAJOR aberration of liturgical theology.  MAJOR!!!!

The idea of participatio activa taking precedence over participatio actuosa must be addressed if there is to be any "real" reform of the reform.  As long as the faithful misunderstand their role in the liturgical action and perceive that they have a right to exercise "ministry" in a way which is anything other than extraordinary then the "real" reform of the reform will never take place.

When the faithful are used on a regular basis when there is no need, when the faithful are used as a norm, then liturgical theology is compromised and the abuse of "full, conscious, and active participation" is continued.  And that is a MAJOR problem.

The role of the faithful isn't to "do stuff" at Holy Mass, but rather the role of the faithful is to worship!  WORSHIP!  The faithful should be uniting their whole mind, heart and soul to the action of the priest, primarily.  The faithful should not be seeing their external action as being fulfilling.  Until that is corrected, there is a discussion about apples, when oranges are on the agenda.

I would argue that in 100% of parishes in the USA there is no need for EMHC's.  On a regular basis there is no need to use them.  The "option" to use the chalice is just that, an option.  There is no basis for it as normative, except when there is a need to fulfill the participatio activa "fix" of the women (and occasionally, men) who want to be in the sanctuary.

That is the real discussion which needs to be had, the rest is just symantics, with regard to the Mass.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Al Smith Dinner

I hate to say it, but I have to bag on this.

First, I am not at all impressed that Cardinal Dolan invited President Obama to this dinner.  He is arguably the most anti-Catholic President this country has ever seen.  He is definitely the most outwardly pro-abortion President.  I might have been a little less critical had Cardinal Dolan taken the opportunity to catechize (because he is supposedly Christian) President Obama, but he didn't.

It saddens me that Cardinal Dolan used a pro-abort to raise money for the Archdiocese.  I know that it is supposed to be in good fun, but in all reality it is a travesty.  It is a travesty because Dolan had a chance to bring the message and he didn't do it.  It is a travesty because he allowed Obama to speak.  It is a travesty because, like Notre Dame, he gave a stage and a pulpit to a man who embodies everything the Church does not.  I am sure there are other reasons that it was a travesty, but I won't continue on that line.

Secondly, I am not at all impressed because this stage was a chance, a real chance for Cardinal Dolan to admonish and correct President Obama, but he didn't do it.  It was a real chance for Cardinal Dolan to stand up to the tyranny of abortion and he didn't do it.  It was a chance for Cardinal Dolan to shout down the evils which are embodied in the HHS mandate and Obamacare and he DID NOT DO IT!  Cardinal Dolan made jokes instead.

As a Catholic, Cardinal Dolan lost points in my book.  Does that matter to Cardinal Dolan.  Nope.  Does it matter to me?  Yep.  Should it matter to Cardinal Dolan?  Yep.  He is a pastor.  And as a pastor he didn't do his job in this instance.  He played politics and didn't teach the Catholic faith to the greatest extent.

I know that this is my opining.  And for some, this is my whining.  Fine.  Think that.  But honestly, how did Cardinal Dolan benefit Holy Mother Church in New York City, by allowing Obama to speak?

Finally, so as to be clear, I am not all that impressed that he invited Romney either.  He is supportive of abortion too; just in fewer ways and in a more limited circumstance.  Sorry, the mustard should have been cut. Instead it was not even smeared very well.

Too bad.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Patriotic Degree

Photos from my 4th Degree Exemplification at St. Teresa's in Des Moines.  This took place this past Saturday, 10.13.2012.  Congratulations to Sir Knights, Lenny Paterson, Tony Luft, (myself), Mark Haack and Chris Haack.  It is an honor to be knighted alongside you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reflection on 4th Degree Exemplification

Yesterday, I was exemplified into the 4th degree of the Knights of Columbus.  It was a moving experience and while I cannot divulge the ceremony itself, nor would I want to, I can reflect upon the exemplification and  what it meant to me, as a Catholic and a Knight.

Archbishop John Ireland made the following remarks in 1907, at a Knights gathering, "The layman must give his strength, his time, and his energies to advance and promote the honor of the Church." His Excellency went on, " of the most unfortunate things for the Catholic Church in America has been the tendency of its members to to hold aloof from non-sectarian movements for the general good.  Take an active interest in the general affairs.  Do not give the impression that Catholics are a separate body -- that we seek to isolate ourselves.  We have done this too much and too long." He continued to the Knights, "...not to wait for your bishop and your priest to take the initiative, to do things yourself, as you have done but do them in greater measures."  Archbishop Ireland concluded with a reference to the Knights of Columbus as "the elite Catholic laymen," who should be models of citizen activism and leadership in the "good works of the private soldiers of the Holy Church."

As I was going through the process yesterday, I was reminded about what it means to be a faithful American citizen.  That I should hold certain truths to be self-evident.  That I should promote and support religious liberty and proper religious tolerance.  These attitudes were manifest in 1907 and they have been perpetuated until today.  I think that His Excellency's words are important.  We must take the lead in promoting patriotism and Catholicism.  There is no disconnect if done properly.  We must be Catholics in America, but we are in America.  We must promote Catholic thought as it applies to our great country.  We are part of the "great secular experiment."   As Catholics we have the ability to bring our views to the forefront, just as the Protestant does.  As Catholics, we have the ability to protect the freedoms which we have, in a totally unique way, because they don't exist anywhere else in the world.  As Archbishop Ireland requests, we can be models for good citizenship.

As I think about the Declaration of Independence, I do know and I do accept that there are certain things which are truths held to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  Those things apply to a Catholic as much as they do to a Protestant or a non-Christian or the Orthodox.

As a 4th degree Knight, I know that I can be a Catholic in America.  I can understand that my faith and patriotism are not at odds, but when approached correctly make me a stronger person.

To the Sir Knights exemplified yesterday, CONGRATULATIONS!
To the Sir Knights who exemplified us yesterday, THANK YOU!
To the Sir Knights whose ranks I have joined, IT IS AN HONOR!

Vivat Jesus!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tips for Dealing with Abortion Supporters

Tips for dealing with; talking about abortion:

1. Talk about the NORMAL situation:  don’t be bogged down by specific situations.  The answers are not different, but they are more involved and take more time.  Invite them to discuss later one on one, then MOVE ON!
2. What is Abortion?  The deliberate killing of an innocent unborn human being.  It is homicide, by definition.
3. The Reason for Abortion?  Convenience.  An abortion takes place in nearly all situations because the child is not wanted.
4. A Woman has a Right to do what she wants with her own body.  Correct.  BUT the child in her womb is not her own body.  It is a separate body and has a distinct genetic make-up.
5. Because the child relies on the mother for sustenance, that does not give the mother a right to kill the child. Disabled persons and the elderly and infants are reliant on others for sustenance, is the right to kill them morally acceptable?  No.
6. A fetus is not a person.  Yes it is.  All scientific evidence points in this direction.  The genetics point to this, the only difference is the “issue of development.”  An unborn child is not as well developed as an infant who is not as well developed as a child, who is not as well developed as a teenager, who is not as well developed as an adult. Should we be allowed to kill newborns or teenagers?  No.  Therefore the logic doesn’t stand up.
7. When does the fetus become a person?  Make them prove it to you.  No line can be drawn except at conception.
8. Abortion is carefully considered, therefore it is acceptable.  No.  That is irrelevant.  Just because someone carefully considers murder doesn’t make murder acceptable.
9. It’s a personal choice, “I don’t agree….but…”  Yes it is a personal choice, but not all personal choices are acceptable.  Are evil personal choices ok?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Prayer for Aborted Baby

I received the following prayer request last week:

Dear friends and family,
I am sorry to be sending out a generic email, especially since I have been so out of touch. I know I owe many of you a phone call or an email.
Most of you know I work as a crisis pregnancy counselor in the South Bronx. It is a rough neighborhood with some very broken people in it. There was a woman I counseled Tuesday who came in looking for an abortion. When she left she was leaning towards keeping and was planning on going for a sonogram this Tuesday (We need more sonogram machines so they don't have to wait so long.). The baby is about 16 weeks now. She even wanted to name her August Cheyenne if it is a girl. However, I later found out from another woman in the waiting room that the grandmother, who brought her in thinking we were an abortion clinic, was livid when she found out we weren't going to "take it out". I called her today and her grandmother made an appointment for her this Saturday morning (10/6) at an unknown clinic. As I spoke with her I could easily tell this is not what she wants but feels she has no other choice. There is so much fear. She is very sweet but very weak willed.
Even though I counsel many women each week, there is something unique about this woman and child. They have affected me enough to send out this plea to you all. Please pray for her and her baby, especially Friday and Saturday. Thank you all so very much. God bless you! 
I received the following email yesterday:

 Dear friends and family,
Thank you all very much for your prayers. I was deeply touched by many of the responses I received. I am truly bless to have you in my life. Many of you asked for an update. Tragically, it appears she most likely had the abortion. We were texting back and forth on Friday about finding her a place to live (her grandmother would kick her out if she did not have the abortion) but there was no clear resolution on her part even with the promise of a home. Then I text her Saturday morning and this afternoon. I did not hear back. Which is not like her, or most girls here, to not respond to a text- especially considering the housing situation. Most of the time when there is such a sharp change in communication, this means they decided on having or had the abortion. There is a great deal of shame involved with this, so naturally it is hard for the girl to face anyone after, especially right away. Sometimes months later they return to speak with us and we are able to refer them to different healing ministries. Hopefully this will be the case with her. I will attempt to follow up with her in a month or so to offer different resources. 
I wish I was writing with better news. Please know it was not due to lack of prayers! They had an army of people praying for them. God alone knows what an impact all of those many prayers had on her and so many women contemplating abortion. We commend little August Cheyenne and this woman to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the fount of mercy and peace. God bless you all, and please know you remain in my prayers. If you ever have specific intentions, please send them my way!
I am sending the following email back to my friend who sent the email:


I am sorry that I am so late in responding to this request.  I have been so busy with post-harvest that I am about 30 deep in email responses.  A couple of things that I want you to know from my POV:

1.  I have been praying incessantly for the proper outcome of this situation.
2.  I have been praying incessantly for the souls of the mother, child and grandmother.
3.  I have been praying incessantly for the doctors involved that they see the error.
4.  I have been praying incessantly for the over all situation to find resolution and peace.

This is hard.  I went through something similar when I was in college.  I was a sidewalk counselor for the pro-life mission at St. Thomas (MN), and I turned away several girls and women who were looking to have abortions on Ford Parkway, but I can tell you this...there were more that I didn't.  That is a burden for me.  It is something I struggle with every single day.   I understand your concern and I understand your feeling of frustration.

Please know that you're doing good.  Your words, even though they don't fall on receptive ears do make a difference.  Now, assuming that she did have the abortion, is when we really need to pray.  We need to pray for the repose of the soul of the baby.  We need to pray for the soul of the mother.  And we need to pray that she eventually can come to grips with what has transpired.  If she had the abortion, then we must do damage control spiritually.  

Participation in God's will was not done.  But God's will was done.  He will not abandon the child, but unless the child was baptized, he will be remitted to limbo.  We must pray for God's mercy.  We must pray for that child.

The mother has procured an abortion.  We know what that means and we cannot be afraid to speak about it.  We must know that she has cut herself off from God's love until such time as she is either contrite to a priest or she is perfectly contrite to God.  This transcends denomination, this speaks to divine, and eternal law.

Assuming that the abortion did take place, my prayer is now twofold:

1.  For the repose of the soul of the baby.  That God may have mercy and allow him to enter into heaven.
2.  For the soul of the mother.  Her actions have consequences and I pray that she realizes and atones for those as soon as she can.

I know that this is not an easy thing to read or to understand, but it is none-the-less true.  You are a good servant.  Your work is not unnoticed and don't stop.  Don't ever stop.  May God keep you close!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Working Together: Pro-life signage becomes joint project in Humboldt

Over the last several months, I've become more active in my local Knights of Columbus Council.  In that capacity, I have been named to two positions.  I am the One Year Trustee, but I am also the Pro-Life Chair.  I would like to share a story that was printed in the latest issue of The Globe, the newspaper for the diocese of Sioux City in Iowa.  The story follows below:

 Working Together: Pro-life signage becomes joint project in Humboldt
HUMBOLDT – New pro-life signs were recently installed on the north and east sides of Humboldt to present motorists a life-affirming message as they enter and leave the city.
The process for getting the signs began with Bruce Reimers after he travelled to Emmetsburg and saw similar signs. In time other pro-life signs were placed in Manson and that led them to contact the Knights of Columbus who were responsible for the signs in that community. 
Reimers took information back to his church, Zion Lutheran Church LCMS.  They got on board with the idea, but wanted to share the project and cost with the Catholic Church as well as the other ecclesial communions in the area.  
According to Andy Milam, pro-life chair of the St. Mary's Knights of Columbus #8592, they fully supported the concept and quickly decided that they would support it in any way they could.  Eventually, the cost was shared completely between St. Mary's and Zion Lutheran.
“This process has been a great example of interreligious dialogue.  Zion Lutheran and St. Mary's have a common goal and that is to protect and make aware that the unborn are innocent and have a right to life,” he said. “There is no disagreement or theological difference on the concept.”
From a Catholic point of view, Milam said they look at this as continuing the Catholic mandate that all life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. He referred to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life."  (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270)
He also cited: "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish." (CCC 2271 and  Didache 2,2:SCh 248,148)
Because this work is so important, Milam said that is what motivated the Catholics and Lutherans to work together on this project “because some issues should be based on our common heritage as Christians.”
The Knight said that the morality of this joint action is simple to understand – no one has the right to take the life of an innocent person. He stressed, the unborn child is innocent. 
Milam called it a joy to work with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  
“We hope that going forward we will be able to collaborate again on programs which promote proper interreligious dialogue,” he said.

Do Traditional Catholics Know Better?

Recently I was asked the following:

"I wonder if there is any empirical data to indicate that traditional Catholics know their faith better and have a better formed conscience compared to their contemporary counterparts."

As a catechist, I've worked in both settings.  I was in a liberal parish for several years and as I have noted, I've lived in a very conservative parish.  I can tell you from experience that the more traditional parish promotes thinking whereas the more liberal parish promotes feeling.  Obviously, there is some feeling which goes on in a traditional parish and there is thinking that goes on in a liberal parish, but by and large, the think v. feel mentality is very obvious.  But I am sure that there must be some empirical data to support my position.  I would look to the life of conservative parishes in one's diocese v. liberal parishes and see how the sacraments are being utilized.  I will be doing some research on this in my own diocese and I hope to be able to report back on this in a month or so...for now, though I will expand upon my understanding as I have witnessed it in several different parishes.

Liberal parishes encourage people to believe based upon their personal feelings.  This causes a huge problem, because the subjective reigns supreme and there is very little objective teaching which goes on.  Everything is experiential and personal.  The Church simply doesn't base it's operation that way and what results is a distorted and subjective form of worship and theology based upon the faulty subject.

To contrast, traditional parishes promote thinking based upon objective truths.  This creates an enviornment whereby the people are not basing things off of their experience and feelings, but rather on teachings which have existed for thousands of years.  They can make those teachings personal, to be sure, but the teachings are not based upon their faulty views.  They are based upon objective truth.

When one learns and applies traditional Catholic thought, the growth is immeasurable.  When one bases their Catholicism on the personal and feelings, he is limited by his own experience.  Of course there are exceptions, but this model holds by and large to be true.

If we are to be authentic in our Catholicism we must not rely on our personal experience to guide our views, because that gives us a limited worldview, but rather we should rely on the objective truth which cannot be limited by personal experience.

So, to answer the question directly, yes...contemporary Catholicism (as you have applied the terms) forms superficial Catholics, because they are limited by their own subjective experiences.  Traditional Catholicism does form a deeper Catholic because he is not limited by his own experience, but rather he is freed by the objective truth to know and understand that which is beyond and outside himself.