The Vatican II Generation: Weeds Amongst the Wheat

Liturgical abuseFor a number of years I have struggled with resentments towards what is typically termed the “Vatican II generation.” Keep in mind that this phrase does not mean to generalize an entire bracket of people from one age to another. Rather, it summarizes a group of Catholics who have embraced an ambiguous, erroneous, and distorted vision of Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, and Liturgy. In effect, everything the Church teaches from the Natural Law to the Divine Law.  The “Vatican II generation” is not really a generation that embraced the documents of Vatican II either.  If it did, there would be Gregorian chant and Latin regularly practiced during mass…

Here is the problem. Resentment is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit. First of all, it indicates a wound for which one has not forgiven his assailant. Forgiveness is not an acceptance of behaviour or even false-doctrine, but rather a sort of compassion and mercy offered towards those who have done you wrong. It is turning away from hatred, and returning to a servant role, most especially for those who have done you wrong. Step by step, I have chipped away at this resentment. But some days were more difficult than others.

Liberalism has infiltrated the Church to such a degree that it has essentially scattered the flock of Christ. I see so many shepherds trying to attract more people towards the Church, but doing it in all the wrong ways. We turn from a Christology to a Sociology, a Christian-humanism to a Secular-Humanism. We look for cornels of truth in other faiths while failing to teach the Substance of truth fully present in the Catholic faith. Ever seen one of those “Golden-Rule” posters?

I see it rather plainly, as Catholics we have weak leadership, in the home (parents), in schools (university, high-school, elementary), and in the Church (Bishops and Priests). Political correctness have led the Church to avoid excommunicating those who endorse and promote the slaughter of several thousands of innocent children within the womb, amongst other doctrinal blunders such as Same-Sex relationships being legalized. The ambiguity this imposes upon the Church is such that the vast majority of Catholics believe they are entitled to their own views apart from God’s, while maintaining communion in His Community of the Faithful.wheat

This week’s Gospel is a further challenge to my own plight, as we read that we must “sometimes” grow alongside weeds. How incredibly frustrating it is that we grow alongside such insolent disobedience to God’s word, such greed and doctrine of the flesh. How can we not be filled with anxiety and frustration towards a Church leading so many astray through heresy, ambiguity and silence on these very real and important issues?

What is worse is that at a workshop for priests we needed to be reminded to use God’s name in a homily? Where has the Church gone, when we preach anything but Christ? We don’t use his name? What has happened to our Mission? None of the above issues matter at all if they are not grounded in the context of a relationship with God. And yet one goes to Church without hearing our Lord’s name evoked in a homily? This is sad.

But brothers and sisters, I have come to a deeper awareness as time has moved on. While there is a time to challenge and exhort, sometimes we do so without the proper temperament. Much of the woundedness in our generation is actually not directly born out of a desire to give glory and honour to God, but rather from the isolation that is caused by the multiplicity and ambiguity of doctrine within the Church.

Doctrine of the faith naturally fosters, when orthodox, a unity of mind and heart (if it is internalized). But with such a multiplicity of views, grounded in one’s preference rather than the virtue of obedience to the Magisterium and therefore God, we have fostered and created a Church of individuals, of islands onto themselves.Empty Pews

Many in my generation feel this isolation, and are incredibly weighed down by it. We search for external signs that present an ideology shared: faithfulness. When we see priests in cassocks, what we experience is a love for God, the priesthood, and the Church. Others (the Vatican II generation) see clericalism, for whatever reason.

Blessed Mother Teresa stated that there is no greater poverty than loneliness. And out of this poverty comes a spiritually hungry generation looking for genuine unity that can only be found in God, not sentimentality, not political correctness, not ambiguous respect without truth.
The decline of the faithful in the pews is our own fault. If we would repent, perhaps God would unleash his Holy Spirit once more upon the Church. But we will not. But this is no reason to fall into resentment, it is reason to reflect on scripture. The prophets spoke of an exile that takes place when we have dishonoured God. But so few ever admitted of their own fault. The leaders of the Jews justified themselves and blamed everyone else. Today we blame the culture. The culture is of our own making though.

What is the solution? I suppose there really is none for us to come up with. God has the plan, and He knows the solution. All that we need to do is be faithful in our own little corners of the Church. We do not need to stress out about what we cannot control, but rather to humbly accept our own responsibilities and fulfill them with courage and zeal. This will of course come at a cost, but consider it a sacrifice of praise to God.

Scripture speaks of those “destined for destruction.” These are the weeds amongst us who choose not to repent. We like God must respect their free-choice. It doesn’t mean we become apathetic to their blindness of the Gospel, nor do we cease to evangelize. However, we must come to grips with the fact that even God does not successfully convince everyone to follow Him.

Thomas AquinasGod allows for the anti-Christ, the Judas, the wicked to walk the earth amongst us because all of their malice and unfaithfulness turns into a blazing fire that purifies our own holiness and virtue. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us, without the Tyrant there would be no virtue of the martyr.

And so when we look at a generation which will die, much of which without repentance for the destruction of the faith of so many, through clergy sexual abuse, it being hidden, unorthodox doctrine, liberal and weak leadership…we might take on a spirit of gratitude that all of this evil has born a new generation, albeit smaller, that will seek to zealously say yes to the Lord.

There is wisdom to God allowing for such ambiguity. Evil can bring about something greater in the end. Do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that we stop the culture war, but never become disheartened when the weeds continue to spring up. Your enemy gives you a chance to love an enemy, and there is nothing healthier for your soul or the Church than this.

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Registering Catholic Blunder: Marriage and “Marriage”

Amidst my busy day I was directed by my Pastor to read the article on the back of the Catholic Register this morning. I asked him what it pertained to…but he said, “Just read it.” In other words: it is silly…and that is as polite as I can get.

I’m going to follow in the footsteps of Fr. Z who generally publishes the article in question and comments on it. Any Bolded Text is added emphasis and anything in [ square brackets ] is my own insight.

Are you ready pilgrims? Let’s ‘journey’ through this mess.

 


 

“At first we had to do everything to keep our love secret,”[Sin typically likes to hide] said Ferretti, who lives in Naples. “But it was impossible to hide such strong feelings [you mean concupiscence…love is not the same as a desire or an emotion], and we decided to make our relationship public [you mean scandalous].”

Ferretti met her husband, Natale Mele, when she was a student and he was a priest running youth programs in the city’s archdiocese.


Mele technically gave up celebrating Mass and hearing confessions when they got married
[did the Father give these up, or did his Bishop tell him to hit the road?], but in the couple’s eyes — if not in the eyes of the Church — he’s still apriest [Sacramentally he will always be a priest. What you mean is a priest in communion with the Church with that special thing called faculties that allows you to perform ministerial functions] because he never formally renounced his vows [Right, because when he ‘formally’ got ‘married’ outside of the Church, he was not in any way renouncing his promise to live a celibate life…seriously?] They’ve lived together ever since.

Our marriage is not registered in the Church,” she says, “but it is written in heaven” [As Jesus would say, “So you say.” Baptized Catholics who get married outside of the Church are not validly married. Seems to me that you do not agree with a lot of Catholic Doctrine…you sound say, Lutheran.]

Last month, a group of 25 Italian women wrote to Pope Francis to ask him to lift the ban on priestly celibacy so that they can live openly with the priests they love. The women found each other on Facebook; Ferretti is not officially part of that group. [The Pope is not going to change Divine Tradition, which is that once you are ordained, you cannot get married. While it is possible to allow others to get married prior to ordination, one who has promised to God a life of celibacy, should stay true to such a promise.]

“We love these men, they love us [isn’t that sweet], and in most cases, despite all efforts to renounce it, one cannot manage to give up such a solid and beautiful bond” [sin enslaves us, and binds us] they wrote to Francis. “We humbly place our suffering [what sufferings, it seems like they are asking for their cake and the capacity to eat it too?] at your feet in the hope that something may change, not just for us, but for the good of the entire Church.”

It hasn’t been an easy road. In Italy, the women are sometimes called “God’s rivals” [seems fitting actually considering you want them to break a promise they made to God] competing for the time and attention of the men they love. Even when their love is reciprocated by a man of the cloth, the women find that their families and friends often reject them [do they reject ‘you’ or your behaviour?]. They’re sidelined in their careers and forced to hide emotional and sexual expression [you mean you are encouraged to develop the virtue of self-control…?].

So far, their campaign has fallen flat. Many of the women don’t want to go public, to protect their reputations and the careers of the men they love. While not addressing their campaign directly, Pope Francis has nonetheless signaled that mandatory celibacy could be up for discussion.

Returning from the Middle East in May, Francis told reporters that he believed that Catholic priests should be celibate, but he noted: “Celibacy is not a dogma. It is a rule of life that I appreciate very much and I think it is a gift for the Church, but since it is not a dogma, the door is always open.” [This reminds me of a phrase one of my Seminary professors stated: ‘A little theology is a dangerous thing.’]

That’s little comfort for couples such as Ferretti and her husband, who were shunned by their families as well as local priests and bishops when they announced their love for each other. The priest who married [you mean "married"] them later got married ["married"] himself.

“Maria,” another Italian woman who fell for a priest when she was 18, declined to give her real name or disclose where she lives because of the challenges she has faced in her personal and working life. She and her husband have been together for more than 40 years and have two children.

“I had a lot of trouble in the beginning because my husband wanted to remain a priest and even though he loved me, he did not want to renounce his ministry,” she said in an interview.

“Our relationship was secret for 15 years. My family — especially my mother — did not accept it at first and did not speak to me for several years, until her grandchildren were born. I have also suffered many reprisals and great damage to my career.”

For the full article:  http://www.catholicregister.org/home/international/item/18386-italian-women-seek-freedom-to-marry-the-priests-they-love


 

I don’t understand why this was published, without representing the Catholic position, it almost could be seen as a form of advocacy for this group of women.  I would hope not, and the reputation for the Catholic Register is typically such that it does represent Catholic teaching, so perhaps we should just give them the overall benefit of the doubt.  Nonetheless, there is such an incredibly jaw-dropping ignorance present in this article by both priests and the laity with regard to the teaching on marriage. Recently the Vatican admitted that people are largely ignorant of the Church’s teaching with regard to marriage and sexuality.

But the spiritual immaturity that is the base-line of this article also demonstrates that people are entirely unable to commit, discern and know the difference between passion and love. These are essential to not only a life of faith, but even just basic human decency. Let me tell you, none of that is written in Heaven.

Getting married without the Church’s blessing essentially is an act stating that you do not recognize the Church’s authority.  You are renouncing your Catholicism…so instead of making Catholicism something other than what it is (that is, obedience to Christ), perhaps it would be better to just repeat history and leave the true Church.  But then again, conversion is all the better of the choices.

Perhaps the next article should be:  “Married Women Demand the Right to Have Relationships with the Married Men they Love.”

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Spirituality of Ordinary Time

As we enter into Ordinary time it is an opportunity for us to reflect on the “status-quo” of our spiritual life. Changing seasons within the Church reminds us that our life must always be filled with change. This can be disconcerting to many of us who would rather like things to stay comfortable. Change implies that our spiritual life needs to head in a different direction, it means that we haven’t got it all figured out quite just yet. No one on earth has it figured out quite just yet, because none of us are perfect…yet.Pope Francis goes to confession

Changing our hearts is probably the greatest task that requires the most amount of effort on both God’s part and our own part. A heart that is not willing to stretch itself, to become more loving, more attuned to the Spirit, is a heart that is hard. This is why we are called to daily conversion, just as the seasons of the Church change, so must our heart constantly and daily be open to a change.

Now, if I were to leave this reflection entirely abstract it might appear that such a task is reasonable and easy. We might choose to interpret it in a way that is safe, and costs us little sacrifice in our actual life. So I won’t leave it abstract. Here are some concrete things we can do to change our heart.

Forgive a person you have a grudge against or one who has a grudge against you. Offer them an olive branch, extend to them a favour without being asked. It should hurt when you do it…that is the interior feeling of stretching the muscles of your heart to make your love bigger. Just like any work-out in the gym, a little pain means actual progress is being made.

Go to confession. As Catholics priests have the authority to forgive, and the sacrament itself is healing. Grow in the humility and fortitude it takes to confess your actual sins, and stop cowering in darkness and the lie of “self-absolution.” God is pleased with one who humbles himself before his mercy, and will bestow his mercy on such a one.

Open the scriptures. St. Jerome teaches that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. Go to a bible study, learn more about your faith. Don’t be content with what you know, as if that is all you need. Develop a hunger to know more about God.  Read up on the faith… Fall in love with Him again.Image

Read works of the saints, or books about their lives. Be inspired by people who got it right. Stop living a life where you compare yourself to others. Such an attitude leads to a life of mediocrity and false-humility. Strive for what God can do in all of us: make you into a saint.

Serve the poor. Go to a homeless shelter, soup-kitchen, or even take the time out to sit with the homeless and get to know them. Christ in a very unique way resides in the poor. Seek the face of Christ in those who you might fear or judge.

Pray at adoration, grow in your devotion to our Lord in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Did you know that the very moment when Jesus died is present on the Altar every time we celebrate mass? Close your eyes before the Eucharist and imagine you are kneeling before your Brother and God who is pouring out his blood for you. Let your heart be penetrated by such love, don’t let it stay hard.Image

Develop a deeper relationship with our Blessed Mother, who knows Christ better than any other human. Ask her to teach you to grow in your relationship with Christ.

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Homily – June 10th, 2014: Challenged to Evangelize

            Dear brothers and sisters, in our Gospel today the Lord speaks to us about our call to evangelize, essentially saying that if we do not, we are no better than salt that has lost its taste of saltiness.  What is done with something so worthless?  It is thrown out, and trampled upon.  This means that a life without sharing the Gospel is not a life worth living.  Jesus uses harsh words to describe Judas who gave into a worldly mindset, selling the Gospel (Jesus) for 30 pieces of silver.  Jesus said, “It would have been better had he never been born.” Image          

  We cannot be fooled, the Gospel is not always nice, but it is always loving.  If God was not challenging us to be holy and to take up our call to evangelize, it would mean that he has absolutely no faith in us to complete such a task.  In God’s eyes we are failures?  No.  God challenges us like a good coach because he sees potential.  One does not challenge a dead dog to bark or beg, it is impossible, and a waste of effort.  But when we read in scripture that Jesus challenges us, it is because of his incredible confidence in us. 

            Consider that he calls us a “light of the world.”  But if we hide that light, it is useless and rather silly.  What is the light or the beauty that we share?  It is the light of Christ burning in our hearts and souls and minds.  God is true beauty, and when we share him with others we are bestowing upon them an opportunity to experience true and lasting joy.  To be silent or inactive in the faith therefore becomes an act of neglect towards our brothers and sisters who starve for Bread from Heaven.

Would we not be out-raged if we encountered a crying baby who hungered, while witnessing the mother allowing her child to starve to death, being apathetic to the cry of the child?  Of course we would.  Why then are we not outraged when we see souls addicted to the sadness of sin, and the illusion of happiness in falsehood?  Are not matters of the soul far superior to matters of the stomach? Brothers and Sisters, Christ did not come to this earth to be anonymous, he came that we might know Him, and what a wonderful joy it is in our life to know Christ.  Only those who do not know Christ (other than perhaps as an ideology), would leave him anonymous and implicit.

            It has been said “Proclaim the Gospel, and use words if necessary.”  The quote is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.  But this is a lie.  St. Francis never said it, and if you disagree, prove me wrong and do your research.  The name of Jesus, has power when spoken from a person who genuinely has faith.  It heals, and moves hearts.  St. Francis of Assisi was often burning with passion to preach the Gospel, but few would listen (because he challenged them very directly).  He decided to preach to the Animals instead, and God honoured his preaching by instructing such animals to listen.  For St. Francis, preaching was an act of worship and thanksgiving, to honour God. 

How humbling it is for us to consider these things.  God challenges us because he loves us and has confidence in us, and our faith is made to be shared, so we might confidently bestow true happiness on others.  Without sharing our faith, without evangelization we cease to be true Christians.  Christians love Christ and only know to boast of Him. 

Perhaps we ought to ask ourselves:  what is it that I boast of most often?  The answer is important, because that is what we worship.

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Obedience: Losing Our Pride

Having a good sense of doctrine is important, but it is all meaningless if our spirituality is not grounded in putting flesh to what the Church teaches. Putting flesh to such teachings we find in the Gospel and the teachings of Mother Church does not simply mean we proclaim and explain God’s wisdom, but far more it means that our own heart and will and intellect is configured to God’s wonderful and beautiful law. It means that the law, in our hearts, is not merely a tool to sneer with pride at others, nor is it merely an intellectual exercise to debate. The law is not something we follow yet resent at the same time – that is the equivalent of a man who carries his cross without love. It is all about his comfort and duty. Christ embraced His cross, because He is love.

Obedience to God must be absolute. I do not mean that we won’t fail from time to time. We most certainly will, we are weak sinners. However, Pope Francis made a very good distinction between a sinner and a corrupt man recently. He stated that a sinner is a person who seeks forgiveness and is sorrowful towards past sins; but a corrupt man exempts Himself from this law and that law.

I once heard a priest say to me, “this is the one rule I have chosen to not follow.” Such a spirituality reveals something very wrong in such a mindset. As if we have Veto Power over God’s law communicated through the Church? If one law can be ignored, which ones cannot be? Does this not set a precedent for an absolute disregard for all of God’s law if our disobedience is tied directly to our own preference and judgment?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not discussing situations where a superior asks us to do something that is altogether contrary to both the Church and the Gospel. Many bishops have been heretics throughout the history of the Church, and some of them quite popular. Obedience belongs to God and figuring out how God manifests His will sacramentally through the Church’s Bishops, Magisterium is at times quite messy. But we have to be careful to not allow our warped minds turn an exception into a rule here. Consider Padre Pio and his sincere obedience to His Bishop despite the error that belonged in the judgment of that particular Bishop. In some cases our obedience is owed to the Bishop, even if He is making a poor decision, and this is wisdom that belongs to the providence of God. Other times, when a Bishop has promoted heresy and division amongst the Church, such cases are unique and require a different response.

What needs to occur within us, however is a “general disposition” towards obedience towards our leaders. And that disposition which should be automatic within us, ought to be viewed as the means to our own salvation: especially for those who have taken a promise of Obedience to our own local Bishop, and an Oath of Fidelity to the Church.

Why does obedience safeguard our salvation? Because there is NOTHING more destructive to our Pride than Obedience. Pride, according to St. Thomas Aquinas is when man inordinately clings to his own judgment. That is, He places his own discernment above what our Church has officially stated and what the Scriptures clearly teaches us. How often do we witness the twisting of scripture to fit one’s own position? To be obedient to the Church and her teachings means we are giving to God something incredible: our mind. We are admitting that: “perhaps, I am wrong and Holy Mother Church guided by the Divine Wisdom of the Spirit is right.”

But this means nothing, because one might define for themselves what the Church is, and again, our mind itself has this impenetrable, invincible arrogance that constantly protects its assumed conclusions. And so the only two things I can say to such individuals (and deep down you know who you are):

1)      Learn to fear the Lord again. For it is an unforgivable sin to define for yourself what the truth is, as the Pharisees did of the Holy Spirit whom they gave a Demon’s name. The unforgivable sin is traditionally defined as refusing to accept God’s Mercy, and this can easily be done when we justify our disobedience, making what is good into what is evil and what is evil into good. Repentance is impossible if we perpetually justify ourselves, rather than admit of our wrongs! When you do this, you essentially name God the Devil and the Devil, God. Do you fear doing this? Perhaps you should have less confidence in so boldly pronouncing your judgments upon the Church in whether it teaches what is right by your own apparent insight, and learn to surrender your mind to the Spirit of Truth.

2)      If you have fear, consider a further step, one in which you examine in a concrete way moments when you in fact had to surrender your mind and intellect to God. Or have you been going along with things you have agreed with your whole life? If the latter is the case, I assure you, you should be greatly concerned, for you have not once challenged your pride in a concrete manner. Question again your own motives.

It may seem harsh to say this, but there are many arm-chair theologians out there who have an incredibly low academic background to share any of their thoughts, and yet so many are led astray by their words and the beating of their drums (regardless of what polar end they find themselves belonging to). Then again there are those who have made their academic background into their own idol of authority, turning God into an ideology leading to some of the most backwards theologies such as: dual covenantal theology. To declare that scripture teaches us not to evangelize anyone is the most absurd notion ever, and yet they claim St. Paul advocated this? Only a mind lost in a maze could forget that all the Apostles shared the Gospel with the Jews. And so the mind has its traps and blindness. Humility!

My challenge is that we return to the basics of our faith and first examine how our own call to obedience is lived out in our life. If that reflection causes us to be puffed up – we are likely not doing it right. If our reflection and examination leads us to confession, than you are not corrupt, but a sinner like everyone else.

“But Father!  Father!  The Bishop is wrong!”  Child, what is more humbling than being obedient to one who is wrong? Perhaps it is God’s will that He is wrong, to teach you great humility. Let him reap the fruits of His labour, for if you obey, perhaps he will quickly learn to go in the right direction.  But in the mean-time worry about your own call to do what is correct.  The Bishop is sacramentally Christ in your diocese, should you imitate the flock of the Church by obedience, or shall you imitate the evil one, and go on your own way?

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Satire: Pope Francis Abolishes the Season of Lent

During the Holy Father’s private audience with an elite group of cynical sourpuss cardinals, bishops and priests, he has decided to abolish the season of Lent and extend the Christmas Season all the way until Easter.Sourpuss

He was quoted as saying, “The Church is to be a place of joy…JOY! But you sourpuss priests and bishops are dragging me down with your daily mortifications and acts of self-denial.”

Some of the priests who support this move sent letters to the Pope in hopes that he would call them and give them a pat on the back.  Meanwhile, media outlets have suggested that the Pope’s comments are a sign that eventually the Pope will one day abolish sin in general.  CNM reported:  “The Pope is finally bringing suffering to an end, by promoting a mindset where one serves himself rather than through pious acts of self-denial.  This will usher in a new age for the Church, so that it can finally catch up to the secular-mindset which is ending poverty and other bad stuff.”

The SSPX and followers of Maria Divine Mercy gathered and made a decision to fast and pray twice as hard during the Lenten season, and make sure that every time they come across a smiling Christian they remind them of the true meaning of the season of Lent…which is to be celebrated in the hearts of all the faithful all year around.  An anonymous member of a radical Catholic Group was quoted as saying on their official WordPress DesertBlog:  “Lent is the desert and in the desert we encounter God…only in the Desert – we never encounter Him in joy because that is sinful.”

Fr. Billy was interviewed at Holy Name Parish, somewhere in Canada.  He said, “I think it is great that the Pope is embracing the joyful season of the Church.  Surely the fruits of self-denial will never bring authentic peace and joy to a Christian.  We must always Jesusembrace the resurrection of Christ and the little baby and let us wipe out from history, from our memories that nasty business with the Pharisees and Calvary.”  Soon after this Fr. Billy ordered his parishioners to remove the corpus from all crosses in the Church and Rectory.

*please be assured none of the above is true…

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Clericalism and Pope Francis

Pope Francis2

One of the number of issues Pope Francis has brought to the forefront of discussion is “Clericalism.”  It is a buzz-word for many because it primarily attacks an attitude within the leadership of the Church.  Now as a leader within the Church I must say that since I’ve been ordained I’ve become more and more accustom to how people liberally criticize their leaders at the drop of a hat.  If they have the wrong expression on their face, they are a bad, evil vile priest.  If they don’t smile and say hello to one particular parishioner out of the 300 that are present for mass it’s because, “they hate me.”

If I were to define clericalism simply I’d say it is simply a man ordained who seeks to be served by others rather than to serve.  I think every single good-hearted Catholic will agree that this is scandalous, as the priest is chiefly to represent Christ who did not come to be served, but to serve.  And the priest who is Christ’s representative (sacramentally), ought to imitate the same virtues lest he give people a false image of who Jesus truly is.

As a result of this definition we must begin to examine Pope Francis’ thinking.  One of his first criticisms around Clericalism was pertaining to the laity.  He called it the “clericalization of the laity,” whereby the priests have infected the lay-people with their own sickness.  That is to say that the laity began to take on the roles and identity of the priest and the line between the laity and the priesthood become blurred unnecessarily.  Liturgical roles were extended to the laity after Vatican II, and this was approved and promoted by Vatican II.  But as always, an exaggerated sense of importance was added to this new feet when it was explained as if, “You didn’t have dignity before, but now you do, because you can be an extra-ordinary ministry of Holy Communion.”

The Pope (Francis) hoped to stress that the laity should not find their identity in some liturgical function of the liturgy, but rather find their identity in the liturgy of the world, where their true pulpit is found and discovered.  The majority of Catholic faithful today do not believe that they have a particular Liturgical abuserole to play in the promulgation of the Gospel.  But they do, and it is incredibly important.  They are called to proclaim the Gospel in the political sphere, to become politicians who proclaim the name of Jesus.  They are called to evangelize the work-place, be it the coffee shops, schools, factories, and so on.  They are to “make a mess” in the world by Christifying every place and corner of civilization.  But it is all too easy to consider a job well-done in the “evangelization” when we merely read during Sunday mass and then go home feeling as if our obligation to pass on the faith is complete.

To demand honour and glory as a priest is really to desire hell.  But to demand respect for the authority you have for the sake of serving others is to not only ensure heaven for yourself (as a priest) but also to assure heaven to those whom you are leading.  Real authority is unknown to people these days because they only operate under two extremes:  Tyrant versus Democracy.  You have the man who abuses power, like the Bishop recently under fire for spending far too much money on his own residence.  Then you have the democratic view which is akin to the parents giving their child a vote as to what time their curfew is.  Both are extremes, but what we call priests help us understand where the middle-ground is found:  FATHER.

A Father is anything but a tyrant, if he does it correctly.  My parents would never let me call them by their first name, and rightfully so, because they demanded that I respect my relationship with them.  At one point, as a little stubborn and smart-aleck kid I turned to my mother and said, “You are being condescending.”  She swiftly responded:  “That is my job, I’m allowed.”

Growing up in the culture I did, to hear that statement from my mom confounded me into silence.  I actually began to critically think about what she was saying.  I had been so immersed into the assumption that no one should ever be condescending, and yet my mother had said because she is my Mother she has that particular role.  The reason I was confounded was because a falsehood was being challenged which was this:  to be condescending necessarily means to be unloving.

Here is an analogy for you, to perhaps help you cease to judge me unfairly.  A father who is respected by his children is happy because his children will listen to them.  Why does the father want that respect?  Not because he feels as if he is honoured and glorified by it, but rather because his children will take seriously the message he is setting forth to them.  If a father who is not respected tells his children to cross the street by looking both ways first, he may have little confidence that his children are safe since they do not respect his legitimate authority.  But if he is respected and seen as a protector and loving father, when he tells them this he can be at peace knowing that they will be safe. spoiled-child-3-mom-correcting

Now most parents probably get this. When I went to World Youth Day in Germany I was shouting with a loud voice (during mass) on the stage with the Pope, his name.  He turned around and looked directly at me with a finger to his mouth.  I wasn’t embarrassed, even though he singled me out in front of millions of people, I actually found it somewhat funny, and I also took it as a fatherly correction.  But woe to those who cannot be corrected, they will never inherit the kingdom of God.

To become a priest to receive glory is also a really ridiculous thing to do these days.  As a priest I have been maligned publically as a pedophile, faggot, and religious nut.  As a priest you don’t always make friends easily since most label you as judgmental automatically and fear being judged.  The best way to avoid all of this is of course to take off the collar.  If you take the collar off it means that you are relieving yourself of a symbol read in by many to mean authority.  Well, being a priest does have authority, it is an authority that can forgive sins, cast out demons, and bring peace into chaos. collar

Being a clericalist is an invisible reality:  it cannot be directly tied to any external manifestation.  A piece of clothing does not prove the motives of a person.  This includes those who do not wear their clerics.  It doesn’t mean they seek to only serve themselves.  I question why they don’t make themselves available to others while in public, but I don’t judge their motives, I’m just left wondering.

Being a clericalist is living in a nice rectory with a plasma flat screen in your bedroom.  It is showing up to everything late (including mass) showing BMWBishopeveryone that “mass starts when I show up.”  It is resenting baptisms on a busy Sunday because giving eternal life to these babies is breaking into your nap-time.  Clericalism in the priesthood is not seeing the role of leadership you have been given by demanding the respect that vocation requires.  But rather serving yourself by avoiding at all costs the possible interpretation of your words that may lead to someone feeling offended.

What people need are loving fathers, and we all know that sometimes loving fathers have to hear from their children, “You hate me, you don’t love me!  I hate you!”  As they slam the door in your face after a huge tantrum it can hurt, but you know that they are only pushing your buttons and attempting to justify themselves.  Am I suggesting that there aren’t bad-fathers out there?  I think there are.  They are the absent kind that don’t involve themselves in the lives of their children.  They do not take an interest but rather emphasize administrative work (office-work) rather than the personal encounter with Christ in that particular parishioner.  They are the tyrannical fathers who see their power as a means to serve themselves.

Spiritually a clericalist probably looks like a priest who never goes to confession.  He might begin by demanding others confess their sins, or he likes to hear their confession because it makes him feel powerful to forgive their sins and give them comfort.  But rarely does he realize that the work of confession and the forgiveness given is Christ’s not his own, and all the glory goes to God.  But perhaps because of his own refusal to go to confession he will agree to himself that asking others to go as well is inconsistent.  Therefore he will hold back the sacrament.  But his reaction to the door bell when someone interrupts his dinner to seek confession will speak volumes.  How about a homily where he brags about his vacation that involved a cruise or a plane trip to somewhere extravagant to a group of families who haven’t the money or time to even dream of such a thing.

There is an outdated notion that clericalism is wrapped up in a cassock.  But as my mommy always says, “Don’t judge people based on the clothing they wear.”  In scripture it wasn’t that the Pharisees dressed up in long robes that made them proud, it was that they wore them to get attention.  What do priests do to bring unhealthy attention to themselves these days?  Perhaps it is showing off their “great humility” by taking off the collar and showing how “down-to-earth” they are and “one-with the people.”  When in reality it is a show that caters to a cultural value.  Perhaps not, we can only discern our own conscience and examine our own motives.  I once heard a priest divulge the real reason for why he rarely wears his collar, “It is hard to wear it with all the embarrassment of the scandals.”  And I have the utmost respect for this priest for admitting that is the reason he doesn’t wear it.  But perhaps read this blog and reflect on what good can be done with it on.

Liturgically, clericalism is best expressed when one thinks he has the authority to change the divine liturgy according to his own preference.  This applies to the SSPX as much as it does to those who have a more liberal mindset.  Both are liturgical abuses when they are not celebrated in communion with our Holy Father and the mind of the Church.  Taking such authority as to rip out or change the wording of Sacred Scripture and the words of consecration.  Here the priest has asserted that he knows better than the Holy Spirit and this will serve him to be accepted by many in his parish.  Or even his own judgment, he asserts, is greater than that of Holy Mother Church.  Humility.Take that satan

Perhaps real clericalism today is expressed in personal expensive clothing that most of the laity themselves cannot afford, eating food that people don’t get to eat on a regular basis…the list goes on, but at the end of the day the question is simple:  are we living to serve ourselves or others.  And this is not wrapped up in externals it is wrapped up in “me.”

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The New Evangelization: Evangelical Counsels Versus Ambiguity

Father Chris Pietraszko:

Reblogging…what I think is important

Originally posted on diocesanspirituality:

I have been reflecting on my journey through the seminary and the question continues coming up from others who are somewhat suspect of the contemporary seminarians around the Western World. There are some who have been pushing a progressive theology that has developed in an autonomous way, not only disjunctive of the magisterium but also from the last two thousand years of tradition. Monstrance-04

Often times this type of progressive theology dwells in the realm of ambiguity, because if it does not explicitly or obviously contradict magisterial teaching it cannot be condemned easily. Ambiguity is probably one reality that has harmed the Church the most, and unlike many rigid Traditionalists, I do not believe it is the result of the Vatican II Council.

Vatican II is undoubtedly one of the greatest councils that has ever been introduced to the Church, but what people celebrate is not what it taught, but rather…

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Consecration to St. Michael

Recently both Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis consecrated the Vatican to the care and protection of St. Michael, known as the angel who defeated Satan, and aids us in our spiritual battles against the evil one. St. Michael is able to defend us in spiritual warfare because he is an instrument of God, who enables God to work through him.

Within the name, we see very clearly why St. Michael is a great intercessor for us. “Who is like God” is literally what Michael means. This is a rhetorical question – revealing the wit and wisdom of those who are holy. To Satan, this is the very measure by how he is defeated; the humble recognition that no one can climb the ontological latter to finally be equivalent to God. Adam and Eve attempted this when they reached out to consume the fruit of the tree of Knowledge between God and Evil. That is, they attempted to make truth subject to their own will, their own preference, and therefore fostered the illusion that the prerogative that belongs to God alone, also belonged to them.

Satan being the author of this temptation was defeated by St. Michael, simply by being asked: “Who is like God,” the answer clearly being: no one. Satan in contrast to the power of God is a speck of dust. And yet before the evil one we are entirely powerless if left to our own devices. St. Augustine stated that if Satan had not been bound up by Christ, if he had merely one hand free, the whole world would be destroyed in one fell swoop.

However, through our own free will, we can approach Satan, like a dog chained, and get so close to this deceptively sleeping dog, that we are eventually no longer safe. The dog snaps at us, and we are subdued. Without the protection and mercy of God, we are food for Satan.

The mere recognition that the Vatican itself needs to be consecrated to St. Michael implies that there is a spiritual warfare occurring in the premises. This should not be a surprise. Satan normally does not attack where the least damage to God’s people is bound to take place. Rather Satan attacks the head, he attacks Christ himself.

We must not forget that the Church and Christ are one. When Saul persecuted the Christians prior to his conversion and “name-change,” Christ created the link himself by asking, “Why do you persecute me.” When the Church is persecuted, Christ is persecuted. The two are one fundamental reality, and this is revealed all throughout scripture. So that when we treat any of God’s people with disrespect, even the least of our brothers, we do it to Christ as well.

Pope Paul VI stated that “the smoke of Satan has entered into the sanctuary,” and these famous words have been quoted by many over the last several years. We know with the sexual abuse scandal, with the homosexual lobbying, the financial scandals, and perhaps any number of other sins remaining in the dark, that the evil one has a plan and has been carrying it out.

But it is altogether dangerous to become cynical about the evil one’s efforts. In fact many times Christians can develop an unhealthy obsession with the sins of the Church altogether losing a trust in Christ’s own words: that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. We must admit that it is a real temptation to become cynical, and if we can admit this, we are probably more safe to avoid it. Some might retort: but resting on that claim of faith that the Church will be safe from the gates of hell, leads to complacency. And this is also a fair criticism. One must strike the balance, especially as a Catholic, between the reality of cooperating with God’s will (as St. Michael did) and trusting in the unfathomable power of God to overcome evil. Satan may know he has lost the battle, but he seeks to drag as many souls to hell as possible on his “way out.”

There is a frustration with many in the Church, and rightfully so, that we tend to claim everything is going along just fine. In Jeremiah 6 we see the recapitulation of this attitude where priest and prophets are liars and great sinners and yet they all cry “peace, peace” when there is “no peace.” The illusion of peace in the world is precisely why Christ has not come to bring that sort of peace, but rather warfare. That is, he has come to bring the peace that can only be found when our wills are aligned with His.

Parishioners are “thanked” for the bare-minimum of the Christian life, and affirmed often times in their own waywardness. Silence on the part of leaders (both in the domestic Church, and in the priesthood) about various particular doctrines leads children of faith into dangerous dark places. Avoiding the challenge of the gospel leads ultimately to a faith of false consolation that avoids the cross at all costs. That cross which is our salvation.

We must trust in God’s prophetic words, but what they teach us is that ultimately the saints will shine forth and will cooperate, like St. Michael, to defeat the author of lies and malice, and evil. And all of us who are called to be saints, must take up arms to participate in that spiritual battle. To be indifferent is to be like King David who stayed home during battle and fell into Lust and temptation. Our avoidance or indifferences guised as “positive thinking,” leads to an undefended soul, under the power of the Evil one. If we are people of hope rather than an illusive “positive thinking” then we will be driven to fight the battle against evil all the more since no enemy can ever stand against the will of God and live. If our faith is truly in Christ, the battle will be fought with joy and peace, because nothing can defeat the Glory of God.

Yet we must never be confused, if the Church is to be protected from evil, it will rest on our cooperation and yet totally by the power of God. That wedding between us and God is ultimately that union which protects the Woman spoken of in Revelation who flees into the wilderness from the evil one. We must never be blinded by evil to forget that Christ amidst all the evil that exists within our Church remains all the more present to us, as a saviour seeking the lost sheep. We must always realize that the goodness of Christ’s handiwork still shine forth in the Church today, and building from these sparks of the saintly lives of a few, transformation is all the more possible.

St. Michael therefore is not attacking the sinners living in the Vatican, but rather the evil one who has latched onto these leaders whose fruit is to destroy the trust and faith of the children of God. Rather, St. Michael purifies and brings light to sanctify and purify both the sinner and the Church as a whole, driving out the darkness of ambiguity and division, and bringing genuine union through surrender and humility. All of us have been a mouth-piece for the Evil one, because all of us have sinned. We all know how easy it is to be convinced that darkness is in fact light, and so our attitude towards these errors and horrors in the Church must be bridled with a sense of humility in our own personal struggle against sin.

Now that the Vatican has been consecrated to St. Michael, I ask the faithful to privately consecrate your priests, your bishops, your churches, your families, your work places, your friends to his care. Lets follow in the footsteps of our two Popes and get to battle.

Please Pray this:

Saint Michael the Archangel, invincible Prince of the Angelic hosts and glorious protector of the universal Church, I greet thee and praise thee for that splendour with which God has adorned thee so richly. I thank God for the great graces He hast bestowed upon thee, especially to remain faithful when Satan and his followers rebelled, and to battle victoriously for the honour of God and the Divinity of the Son of Man.

Saint Michael, I consecrate to thee __________________. I choose thee as our patron and protector and entrust the salvation of my soul to thy care. Be the guardian of my obligation as a child of God and of the Catholic Church as again I renounce Satan, his works and pomps.
Assist me by thy powerful intercession in the fulfilment of these sacred promises, so that imitating thy courage and loyalty to God, and trusting in thy kind help and protection, I may be victorious over the enemies of my soul and be united with God in Heaven forever. Amen.

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At the Name of Jesus: Respecting His Name

Happy PriestThis Sunday we continue to reflect on the Acts of the Apostles, who proclaim the Name of Jesus in defiance of the Sanhedrin (the highest Court in Jerusalem).  The apostles continue to do acts of mercy, charity, and none of them do it in their own name, but offer all the credit to Jesus Christ Himself, who is alive and well.

I think this is a good opportunity to reflect on “names” and how we use them.  First we should start with God’s name, because if we cannot respect His, who is worthy of all praise, all honour and all glory (as we see in the Second Reading), then how can we respect those who merely imitate his goodness?

God’s name carries with it a reputation.  That is to say, who God is, is captured by his name.  Perhaps a better way of stating this without sounding like I’ve put God into a box, is to say that His name should evoke within our memory all the good that He has done for us.

When his name is mentioned it should remind us of the inner healing he has offered us, how He has freed us from the burden of sin and shame.  How He has promised us everlasting life.  How He died for our own sake.  How He continues to be present to us through our neighbour and dwells deeply inside of us.

The name of Jesus should evoke peace, comfort, and endow faith.  With the name of Jesus, we make our faith explicit, just as a parent would share the name of their beautiful child with everyone, so would we boast of God’s name, since he is more dear to us than our own children, but the very reason why we may have children in the first place.

But to many this is simply not possible.  It is much easier to take God’s name in vain, than it is to say it seriously, with conviction in the public sphere.  Why?  Because we are fearful of entering into polemics, into a stereo-type of being labeled a Jesus-Freak, et cetera.  But all of these fears and attitudes are the result of a faith that is dead or forgotten.  We do not actually love God, we love an idea of him.  If Christ were truly our friend, we would boast of him more than we boast of our own mother, father, sister, brother, and best bud.

God is real, God is ours, and we are His.  Lets boast of his name instead of reducing it to a mere sentiment that only gets mentioned at Church.

St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that “familiarity breeds contempt.”  Meaning that when we lose track of the mystery or the grandness of another person, let alone God, we lose the reverence that we ought to give to them.  We develop a hard-heart that feels entitled before God or neighbour.

Not taking God’s name in vain is a serious command if we realize that God is in fact real, and is the one whom we should love above all else.  If we are embarrassed or fearful to make mention of his name in public, we ought to hear the same question Jesus asks Peter:  Do you love me?

Peter denied the name of Jesus three times (so we are in good company).  But Jesus undid this denial by demanding Peter to profess his love for Christ.

After the Resurrection we also notice that the lot of the Disciples were locked up in a room, out of fear of the Jews.  Jesus gave them peace, and taught them to go out into the world proclaiming his name.

In the acts of the Apostles we see clearly that this brought about conflict.  But instead of becoming downcast that they met resistance, they rejoiced that they were found worthy of being publically scorned and disciplined.  It is fair to say that their attitude as Christians is far from our attitude here in North America, where we keep God localized to the Parish, 1 hour a week, or should I say 45 for those who rush out before dismisal that tells us to go in peace or to proclaim the gospel?

If God is nothing more than an Idea that we worship, acknowledge that fact as Peter did, and hear Jesus ask you the question:  Do you love me?  When you respond yes…hear him say:  “Feed my Sheep.”

The dying of the Church takes place when the Name of Christ is not shared.  If we do not share His name explicitly, than people will remain ignorant of the infinite love God has for them, and the culture of souls craving and hungering for that love will go unfed.

The Liturgy itself gives us some practical suggestions about how we can actively, with our bodies, remember to keep his name holy.  If we can get this right, we can also stop gossiping about one another, and hold, with reverence those created in His Image and Likeness.  This is why you will notice in the GIRM that the name of God and the saints are honoured, because both are worthy of our respect, 1st God’s name, then all those who are faithful.

Here is the passage form the GIRM:

275. A bow signifies reverence and honour shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bow: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.

a) A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honour Mass is being celebrated.

Heavenly Father, you desire us to honour your Son out of justice for all he has done for us.  It is truly right and just to boast of God’s name, and this ability to praise God is your gift, burning within us.  Help us to brave the world as the Apostles did to share the name of Jesus through acts of mercy and charity.  Never let his name be used in vain or for foul judgment and hatred.  But rather let your Son’s true Love be manifested, that all who hear the name of Jesus may experience their call to follow him, and to share him with all the sheep wondering, lost.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen

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