31 October 2008

Sr. Gaia, Fr. Moonbat (Now With Comments!)

This article is a book review, but it is also an excellent insight into why some of our religious women's congregations are dying. The bottomline: they are either no longer Catholic or no longer Christian. I will have interlinear comments later. . .gotta finish my Italian homework!

Our Pantheistic Sisters

February 2008By Anne Barbeau Gardiner

Anne Barbeau Gardiner, a Contributing Editor of the NOR, is Professor Emerita of English at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She has published on Dryden, Milton, and Swift, as well as on Catholics of the 17th century.

Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology. By Sarah McFarland Taylor. Harvard University Press. 363 pages. $29.95.

Sarah McFarland Taylor, an Episcopalian and historian of women's religious history, started her research on the Catholic green sisters in 1994. She spent two summers at Genesis Farm in New Jersey, then visited more than a dozen similar centers, attended four conferences of the Sisters of Earth, conducted over a hundred interviews, and examined their newsletters, poetry, artwork, cookbooks, correspondence, prayers, and rituals. She sent a draft of her book to some leading green sisters for their approval and documented her findings in 60 pages of endnotes. [My fellow novices and I attended a conference on the vows sponsored by a large Texas-based women's religious congregation. Expecting to hear about chastity, poverty, and obedience, imagine our surprise when we discovered that the whole day was devoted to one sister ponitifcating on her adobe hut in the New Mexico desert and her struggles to learn how to recycle and use her urine. The high point came when we were told by a frightening angry sister in a tie-dye moo-moo to "dance our vows." She proceeded to twirl about ponderously. Shudder.]

Throughout the book, Taylor is in total sympathy with the green sisters, whom she regards as "some of the best-educated women in Amer­ica." [Not educated iin the Catholic faith, apparently.] She says their network includes sisters from these religious orders: Sisters of St. Joseph, of Loretto, of Charity, of Notre Dame, and of the Humility of Mary, as well as some Franciscan and Dominican Sisters [blushing with embarrassment], Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Medical Mission Sisters. In 1995 there were a dozen earth ministries; in 2006 there were at least 50, which Taylor lists in an appendix.

Green sisters complain that "right-wing Catholic critics" -- among them Michael S. Rose of the NEW OXFORD REVIEW-- have unjustly charged them with pantheism, but on the basis of this book, the charge seems justified. Pope Pius IX defined the "error" of "pantheism" thus: "No supreme, all wise, and all provident divine Godhead exists, distinct from this world of things," and "all things are God and they have the same substance of God" (Syllabus of Errors, Denzinger, #1701). As Taylor reveals, this is the green sisters' core principle, that God and the cosmos are fused [For the most part religious women were not required in the late 60's and 70's to complete a regimen of philosophy studies before taking on higher degrees in theology. Most opted for study in psychology and sociology. It shows].

At the Sisters of Earth conference in 2002, the 150 participants chanted, with regard to the earth, "All is holy, so holy. All is sacred, so sacred. All is one" [and then they passed the Spirit of Vatican Two Peace Bong]. Then, at the 2003 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), with 76,000 members in the U.S., 900 sisters chanted, with regard to the earth, "Sacred is the call, awesome indeed the entrustment [entrustment?!]. Tending the Holy, Tending the Holy." The LCWR invitation featured an image of the planet with the caption: "Tending the Holy." In her presidential address, Sr. Mary Ann Zollmann declared, "we women religious are living out of and growing more deeply into an eco­feminism that is a communion of companionship, responsibility, and accountability to the whole web of life" [except that part that includes reproducing yourselves in novices].

Thomas Berry, Spiritual Guide

Thomas Berry, a 90-year-old Passionist priest and disciple of Teilhard de Chardin, is "indispensable" for understanding the green sisters, writes Taylor. He is the "prophet" who played a "pivotal role" in creating this movement. Taylor notes that Fr. Berry, unlike Matthew Fox [a former Dominican friar whose WHOLE story--not just the parts he has chosen to tell--should be told as a warning to the young], has not been disciplined by the Church and can administer the Sacraments. He proposes as the "Great Work" for our age to "midwife humanity into an Ecozoic era" [sounds sticky], where our species and the earth will be "mutually beneficial." Green sisters have taken up this "sacred mission," which they see as larger than the Church or Christianity itself. The natural world, Fr. Berry teaches, is God's "primary revelation [apparently Jesus had it all wrong], from which every other revelation derives. This was also the teaching of the pantheist philosopher Spinoza. Fr. Berry wants the Bible put "on the shelf for at least twenty years" so people can read "the primary scripture of the world about us [like most heresies this one has some truth to it. Creation is one means of God's Self -revelation. However, creation is not the final and unique revelation. That prize goes to Christ.] Following this guide, green sisters work to create a shift of consciousness from human-centeredness to a "biocentric norm." That is to say, they have exchanged a "primary preoccupation with humans" for "a primary concern" with the "total Earth" [thus ignoring Christ's Great Commission for one of their own chooseing, "Go out to all the world and recycle, teaching all humans to clip coupons and buy locally"]. For green sisters, as for Fr. Berry, the world is a community of "subjects" all divinely related to one another.

Fr. Berry considers the biblical "creation story" meaningless because it fails to give humanity a sense of "communion" with "a universe that is alive, sacred, intelligent, and still being created." (To regard matter as alive and thinking, of course, is the foundation of pantheism.) Since Western science cannot convey the "sacredness of the cosmic evolutionary process" either, Fr. Berry proposes a "New Story" to give us a sense of the "cosmic communion" of "all things" [this "new story" nonsense is from Brian Swimme's book, The Universe Story, a hodge-podge of pseudo-science, wishful thinking, heretical theology, and New Age babble].

Greening Their Vows

Green sisters have reinterpreted their vows in light of Fr. Berry's "new evolutionary cosmological consciousness." Sr. Gail Wor­celo, who studied under Fr. Berry and took her final vows in his presence in 1991, declares that when he gave her the ring of final profession, she felt wedded "to a passionate love affair with the Divine as revealed in the universe story." This is not quite the same as becoming the bride of Christ.

As for the vow of chastity, Sr. Elaine Prevallet says it means a "moral commitment to ease ecosystem stresses caused by a burgeoning human population [um, that 's"support abortion and contraception," btw]. Other green sisters likewise speak of this vow as a "lifetime commitment" not to give birth and as a "gift that sisters have given the earth community throughout the history of religious orders." Tellingly, at the 1998 Sisters of Earth conference, Stephanie Mills was the keynote speaker: she is notorious for harping on the connection between "unchecked human population growth and ecological crisis" and, though not a sister, for having vowed herself to a "nonpro­creative life" [well, we can be glad there won't be any little Stephanies running around playing the oxygen thieves and filling Holy Mother Earth with poopy diapers].

Green sisters do not accept a dichotomy between temporal creation and eternal Creator. They see their vows in relation to a divine creation. Sr. Cathy Mueller sees them as "natural choices that enhance Earth" [watch this rhetorical clue: these moonbat sisters almost never refer to "the Earth" but to "Earth," as if the designation were a proper name for a person] and Sr. Mary Southard, as choices made in the context of "an evolutionary universe." Sr. Janet Fraser remarks that "since the earth [obviously sister has not been properly brainwashed] and the cosmos are the Body of God" [this is a religion called "hinduism," folks]. her vows make the natural world "primary"; and Sr. Barbara O'Donnell believes they make "Earth's story our story." Thus, their vows do not refer to the Kingdom, which is "not of this world."

When Taylor asks about the "spiritual dimension" of these vows, Sr. Maureen Wild replies that for them there is no dichotomy between "matter" and "spirit." (In Pius IX's definition of "pantheism," we find this very phrase: that "God is one and the same as the world, and therefore, also, spirit is one and the same with matter.") With this principle, is it any wonder that some green sisters are "certified in massage therapy and various forms of bodywork" to help "nurture" the bodies and spirits of the sisters? In one of their centers, there is a hot tub with a view of Texas hill country, in which "we all soaked our muscles and restored our bodies" after a day's work [a day's work? Doing what? Dancing a New Church into being?]. Taylor comments, "This hot tub, which clearly soothes the flesh instead of mortifying it, is a far cry from sisters' wearing hairshirts and doing daily penance."

Praying to the 'Cosmic Mother'

Green sisters protest that they have not departed from Catholic Tradition, but are "caretakers" of its deepest "essence as it has evolved over time" [Hooey. Pure unadultered hooey]. Not so. At the Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont, Sr. Gail Worcelo prays to Mary as "Holy Matrix" [does Kenau about this!? Maybe sister should lay off the little green pills] who reveals the "sacredness in all matter" and holds the universe in her womb, instead of the child Jesus. This is depicted in the image "Mary of the Cosmos," inspired by Fr. Berry. The sisters pray to Mary as "Matter impregnated with Spirit" -- a far cry from Catholic Tradition!

Just how dangerous it is to invoke a false goddess became clear at the 2002 Sisters of Earth conference, where Charlene Spretnak, a radical feminist, gave the keynote talk on "Mary as Premodern and Post­modern Cosmology." Spretnak was in the middle of her paper when a woman in the audience began to moan and shriek and fight off something invisible. Then she grew quiet and started talking in a voice much "larger" than her size, declaring, "I am Mary. I am pleased. I am very pleased. You all are my daughters. You understand. You are in the presence of Grace" [Um. . .ooooookay. . .cross myself and say a quick "Hail Mary"]. Taylor was "frightened and unsettled," sadness filled the room, yet no one suspected that this might be a sign that they were opening a door to the abyss and attracting the demonic [Exactly. . .'cause that's very likely what they did. . .what's that about demons coming to us as angels of light?].

For where is Jesus Christ in their worship? In the "Liturgy of the Cosmos," Sr. Worcelo explains, there is a fusion of "the story of Jesus, the story of the earth, and the story of the cosmos" into "one vast intertwined evolutionary epic." Here Jesus is "embodied in cosmos and thus never separate from it" [thus undermining the uniqueness of his incarnation; thus giving lie to the previous declaration that these women are still Catholics] and He suffers another "Passion" in the "wasting of the planet." What an absurdity! Jesus Christ cannot be fused with His creation: He has ascended into Heaven and cannot be "embodied" in the material cosmos so as to be inseparable from it. Such a gross error in a Christian puts one's salvation at risk.

Greening the Eucharist

Green sisters not only grow food as "priestly practice," but cook it as a "daily Eucharistic ritual" to affirm the human body as an "extension" of earth's body. Ordinary food, they claim, is a "blessed sacrament" uniting them to "the more-than-human world" and nourishing them "by the Divine directly." One sister declares, "We are the earth nourishing itself." [This is a really, really bad Walt Whitman parody. Whitman's excuse was that he lived in the 19th century and spent too much time sniffing the "scented herbage of his breasts"].

With few exceptions the sisters are vegetarians. Why? Let Sr. Jeannine Gramick explain: "I no longer believe in the old cosmology I had been taught -- the hierarchical pyramid of creation in which human animals, near the top of the pyramid, are assigned more worth than non-human animals and other beings toward the bottom." After studying with the Trappist monk Colman McCarthy, she became a vegetarian because she stopped seeing "non-humans" as "inferior to humans" [but she's depriving those poor steaks. . .I mean, cows of joining with her sacred flesh! So selfish]. Taylor notes that such "biocentrism," common among the green sisters, is "identified" with deep ecology. What Taylor does not point out is that deep ecology is a neo-pagan movement [I doubt that sister would much care that her views are neo-pagan. . .just another label for her to wear proudly in defiance of Evil Penis Centered Power Structures]. No one can reasonably deny that we should be good stewards of the natural world, but biocentrism and deep ecology are wrong to put human beings on a par with other animals and as inferior to the ecosystem. This view is a pillar of population control and so part of the Culture of Death.

Green sisters eat organic food because they think it still has the divine life-force in it. Sr. Wild explains that the important thing is the "spirit of the food" we eat: "I go for quality of Spirit in my food." Eating dinner for her is a daily "eucharist" with the "body of the earth and sun." Similarly, Sr. Miriam MacGillis remarks, "If we truly saw the Divine in a potato," we would not commit the "sacrilege" of "turning it into Pringles" [I do see the divine in a potato! They are especially divine with real butter, bacon bits, and lots of black pepper. . .wait, is saying "black pepper racist?]. Since they consider it already blessed and a "manifestation of the Divine," green sisters do not bless their food. Hard to believe, but some actually "ask the food to bless them" [That's funny. I had a Snicker's bar ask to bless me once. . .admittedly, it was well after my third bourbon].

They regard cooking as a source of "resistance and even power." Since the Church will not let them celebrate Mass, Taylor says, they bring "the essence of that ritual into a daily mindful practice available to all" [Sister, you're bringing some sort of essence into your meal, but it ain't the essence of the Eucharist]. Sr. MacGillis explains that Transubstantiation "is a very sacred word referring to Jesus Christ speaking over the bread in which the outer form didn't change but the bread itself transformed on the inner plane where God was present. This has been going on all along. This is not an act confined to specially designated human beings…." In short, Sr. MacGillis sees the Catholic mystery of the Eucharist as nothing special: the same thing has been happening all along with ordinary food [I wonder if the Jews know about this. 'Cause they were pretty insistent back in Jesus' day about blessing their food. I think sister is being religiously intolerant here]. She once had a mystical experience in which she recognized "eucharist" in a bowl of organic vegetarian chili: "It was gospel and eucharist in a sacrament so simple, so holy, my heart brimmed with gratitude" [OMG! That happened to me once too! Of course, my chili was con carne and the onions weren't well-done, so maybe it was a mystical experience of the methane kind]. Despite all their protests to the contrary, the green sisters are surely departing from Catholic Tradition in their view of the Real Presence.

Taylor observes that the green sisters retain many traditional words of Catholicism -- vows, Mary, Transubstantiation, Gospel -- but they mean radically different things to these sisters.

Greening the Stations of the Cross

Doubtless the most egregious departure from Catholic Tradition is the Earth Meditation Trail at Genesis Farm, which has been imitated across the land. The Trail is made of "stations" to evoke, in Taylor's words, "the Catholic paraliturgical activity of walking the 'stations of the cross.'" It is a "series of prayer stations" that depicts not Christ's Passion, but "the earth's Passion" [yea, like having these acolytes tread about yammering on about how sacred She is].

The "pilgrim" who walks the Trail first comes upon a "womb opening" called the "Station of Life/Death/Transformation" [again, sounds sticky]. The guidebook instructs "her" (apparently only women go there) to pass through it, touch some stones, beat a drum, and repeat three times: "Behold I come. My name is _____. Accept me here. Accept me now. " Further on, she is told to pick up a "prayer stone" that will hold the "spirit" of her "life journey" and to listen to that stone "just as the stone will listen to and absorb the prayers, thoughts, and questions" she will have on the Trail [stone, stoned. . .same thing]. Then she arrives at the "Council of All Beings," a circle of stones and trees where she assumes the role of a non-human creature to discuss "what is wrong on earth" ["she assumes the role of a non-human creature". . .yea, I bet she does. . .this is called "voodoo"]. She then walks along the "Path of the Great Elders," a line of old maple trees, and comes to the "Place of At-One-Ment," where a stone seat faces a scarred cherry tree that survived being surrounded with barbed wire. Here she is told to reflect on "human sins" against the natural world and ask forgiveness from "this community" [I think I threw up a little in my mouth. . .].

Taylor remarks that the "At-One-Ment station" [oy, we were nattering on about "at-one-ment" way back in 1983 in the Episcopal Church. . .I thought these were supposed to be trendy sisters. . .no one is honest anymore. . .sad] evokes the Catholic Sacrament of Confession. Perhaps, but forgiveness here is purely imaginary. There are many more stations until the Trail loops back to the "womb opening," now approached from the other side, and the guidebook instructs the "pilgrim" to reflect on her "last moments of life in this body." This body? Is this a reference to reincarnation? [yes, this time sister comes back as a real moonbat. . .but one with wings but with the same craving for juicy insects]

Taylor notes that the Trail is labyrinthine (perhaps a better word would be serpentine) and that both "indoor and outdoor labyrinths" are now "wildly popular among green sisters, Catholic religious sisters and brothers in general, and the Catholic and Protestant laity." Have they forgotten that the original labyrinth was a deathtrap with the bestial Minotaur at its center? [yea, but they will soon be reminded. . .]. At Genesis Farm, the labyrinth is designed to bring the "pilgrim" into deeper union with the earth as "Divine," for, as the guidebook says, "When the interconnectedness of all things is felt, then it is clear that the Earth is the source of our survival." To believe that the earth is the source of "our survival" is indeed a deathtrap.

Taylor thinks the Trail is effective precisely because it uses the Catholic "stations format" and works "from within the system" [exactly like the serpent in the Garden did when he first tempted man to believe that he could be divine without God]. When components of a tradition are "deployed," she says, new rituals quickly become "traditional." Indeed, in the last decade, Earth Meditation Trails have become popular. Sr. Theresa Jackson, who installed one at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Idaho, explains that "The 'Passion of the Earth' is designed to be a spiritual exercise that enables people to see the earth and the cosmos not only as God's creation, but as the most basic expression of God's very self." Note well, the earth and the cosmos, not Jesus Christ, are the most basic expression of God's very self. If this isn't pantheism, what is? Yes, God is omnipresent, but He is also transcendent and is never to be identified with matter. Again, this is an error that comes from not distinguishing the temporal from the eternal, and matter from spirit [no, it comes from rebelliousness and a desire to lead others into damnation. . .just like the first rational creature who rebelled out of a sense of undeserved neglect and petulant anger].

Another abuse of the Stations of the Cross is the "Cosmic Walk," a meditation sequence on what Fr. Berry calls "the universe story." In Winslow, Maine, green sisters have 25 stations in a pine grove where people can "walk the story of the universe" and come to know that story "in their own bodies." The Cosmic Walk is also popular in a portable version created by Sr. MacGillis. This involves a long rope placed in a spiral, with 30 index cards representing the stages of evolution. Standing at the place of the first "Flaring Forth," the "pilgrim" is to reflect that she too is 15 billion years old, and at the end of the Walk, she is to declare, "Today I know the story of myself." Thus, the "pilgrims" of the Cosmic Walk become "the story participating in its own telling," and experience their being as "the cosmos 'made flesh.'" More, they learn that "there is no finite created world, only an ever-expanding universe constantly changing, and of which humanity is inseparably a part."

Well, for a person to become the "cosmos made flesh" is to sink far below the level of common humanity, far below the great gift of being made in the "image of God." Besides, for a Christian to become the "cosmos made flesh" is to lose the even loftier status accorded by our Baptism of being made a son or a daughter of God through Jesus Christ [yup, but the loss of a sense of one's baptism is probably the point. . .let's not forget the demonic origins of this gibberish]. In fact, to become an "inseparable" part of the temporal universe is to give up hope of eternal life. It is to embrace the temporal as if it were the eternal, the penul­timate as if it were the ultimate reality.

In 1993, Taylor notes, Pope John Paul II issued a "condemnation of 'nature worship' by feminist Catholic groups in America, highlighting tensions in the relationship of faith to nature." The Pope warned the U.S. bishops during their July 1993 ad limina visit: "Sometimes forms of nature worship and the celebration of myths and symbols take the place of the worship of the God revealed in Jesus Christ." But he took no disciplinary action. Taylor believes that a "major punitive action" at this point from the bishops would only "unify" the green sisters [and deprive them of the revenues they collect from Catholic dupes who believe that these retreat centers are still Catholic because they are listed in the diocesan directory]. It is doubtful they would ask to be released from their vows, she says; they would more likely ignore the bishops or team up with other nuns to appeal the decision. While they do not openly show "disrespect" toward the "institutional Church," she adds, they are not "pushovers," for they are "intensely networked" and thus have a great "resistance to outside interference" [i.e., obedience to the legit authority of the Church they claim to serve. . .my experience though tells me that these sisters go to bed every night praying to Mother Gaia for a bishop to confront them or ban them from his diocese. . .they thrive on opposition and conflict, so what better way to solidify their rebellion than to have The Man come down on them with his "laws and stuff" and try to control them. They would love it]. They compare themselves to the rhizome, vegetation that cannot be easily eradicated because it is "diffuse and horizontal rather than central and vertical."

Green sisters are propagating their errors as fast and as far as they can by books, lectures, retreats, icons, and workshops. One can only wonder: Where are our shepherds? [Maybe they got lost in the labrynith somewhere. . .did Bishop forget his string. . .again?!]

30 October 2008

Follow Hanc Aquam. . .Talk Back!

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On the right-side bar you can click the "Follow Hanc Aquam" button and receive updates as I post them.

I'm always open for suggestions about future posts. . .and especially feedback on homilies.

Here's what I TRY to do in my homiles:

*Stay close the readings and preach on the text while going beyond the text where possible.
*Preach a contemporary Word without using modernist academic theories or methods.
*Preach using a patristic model advocated by the Holy Father, e.g. literary not historical-critical.
*Always preach WITH the mind of the Church never against it; preach only orthodox RC theology
*Preach the homily I myself need to hear: "The preacher preaches to himself first."
*Preach homilies you would not likely hear on Sunday morning, i.e. something different!
*Ask hard questions, give answers based in the Tradition, challenge your thinking.
*Keep you engaged with lively examples, a little humor, and some "red-meat" language.
*I'm a little bit Baptist, a little bit Benedictine, a little bit redneck and 100% Dominican!

Questions I am most interested in hearing your responses to:

1). Does the homily help you better understand the Mass readings of the day?

2). Is the homily understandable? Overly complex? Too simplistic?

3). Does the homily address your spiritual struggles/triumphs?

4). Does the homily help you grow in holiness?

5). What would you like to see more of/less of in these homilies?

6). If you use these homilies beyond reading them or listening to them, how so?

7). What else would you like to tell me about these homilies. . .?

If you enjoy the site, please help me out with my current assignment as a philosophy student in Rome by browsing my philosophy/theology WISH LIST and sending me a book or two (or three or four. . .)! Books are very expense in Rome and our university library has a very limited selection of books in my area of study. USED books are just fine by me.

God bless, Fr. Philip, OP

29 October 2008

Reaching down for higher things

30th Sunday OT: Ex 22.20-26; 1 Thes 1.5-10; Matt 22.34-40
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Convento SS Domenico e Sisto, Roma

St. Paul, ever the romantic(!), writing in his first letter to the Corinthians, insists that “love is patient, love is kind. Love is not jealous, is not pompous; it is not inflated; it is not rude; it does not seek its own interest [. . .] but rather rejoices with the truth”(1 Cor 13). He goes on to write that love bears, believes, hopes and endures all things; and finally, he declares, as if he has never grieved a betrayal or lost his heart to passion: “Love never fails.” The romantic whispers, “Yes!” The cynic scoffs, “Bull.” The pragmatist asks, “Really? Never?” The Catholic exclaims, “Deo gratis! Thanks be to God!” Who needs for love to never fail more than he for whom Love is God? This is why Jesus teaches the Pharisees that the spiritual heart of the Law is: “You shall love the Lord, your God, will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind [. . .] You shall your neighbor as yourself.” Listen to Paul again, “Our Lord is patient, He is kind. He is not jealous, is not pompous; He is not inflated; He is not rude; He does not seek His own interest [. . .] but rather Our Lord rejoices with the truth.” Though Paul is writing to the Corinthians to show them how we must love one another—patiently, kindly, selflessly—we cannot, cannot love at all except that Love Himself loves us first. Therefore, with the Lord and because of the Lord, we love Him, one another; and we rejoice with His truth.

Now, that we must be commanded to love says everything that needs to be said about the weaknesses of the human heart, soul, and mind. That we must be commanded to love tells us that we do not eagerly enthrone love in the center of our being, making all we do the children of charity. That we must be commanded to love tells us that we do not love as a way of giving thanks for our very existence, for the gift of being alive. That we must be commanded to love tells us that we do not reason with the grace of God’s wisdom, with the deliberative power granted to us as creatures created in His divine image. That we must be commanded to love tells us that we are not God but rather creatures imperfect without God, longing for God, grieving our loss yet yearning for the peace and truth of His Being-with-us.

Think for a moment of the ways we have struggled in our past to find some small portion of peace and truth. Moses returns from Mt. Sinai to find his people giving themselves over to the idols of their former masters in slavery. Paul admonishes the Corinthians for turning to “worldly philosophies” for their much-needed wisdom. He lashes them for rutting indiscriminately in the flesh, surrendering body and soul to disordered passion and vice. Jesus teaches against the legalistic blindness of the Pharisees; he calls them “white washed tombs,” beautifully, lawfully clean on the outside but stuffed with rotted meat on the inside. In our long past we have turned to idols, pagan philosophies, debauchery and license, and taken an easy refuge in the dots and tittles of the law. Each of these reach for the peace and truth we long for, but none grasp the love we need.

Think for a moment of the ways you yourself have struggled in your past and struggle even now to find some small portion of peace and truth. Do you look to the idols of power, wealth, possessions, or Self to find your purpose? Do you scratch your itchy ears with the wisdom of the world? With the profound systems of material science, the occult mysteries of New Age gurus, the glittering gospels of prosperity and celebrity? Perhaps you search for and hope to find some peace in your body, your flesh and bones. Do you worship at Gold’s Gym, Kroger and Target, Blockbuster, or CVS, searching for peace in a perfectly sculpted body, a full belly, a house full of things, a visual distraction, or over-the-counter cures for the nausea and headache of a life that will not love God? Or, perhaps in this election season, you look to parties and politicians to give you hope and security. Do you look to the Democrats to give you the ease of a well-funded government entitlement? Or perhaps you look to the Republicans to secure your place near the top of the economic food-chain? Do you think Obama will give you hope? Or that McCain will give you security? When we reach down for higher things, we grasp the lowest of the low and in our disappointment we name the Lowest the Highest, and then, in our pride, we pretend to be at peace. To do otherwise is to confess that we are fools fooled by foolish hearts, that we are stubborn mules needing the bridle and bit.

And perhaps we are fools. Perhaps this is why Jesus finds it necessary to command us to love God and one another. Why command what we would and could do willingly? In Exodus our Lord must command that we not molest the foreigners among us. That we must care for the women who have lost their husbands and children who have no family. He must command us not to extort money from the poor or strip them of their modest possessions for our profit. We must be commanded not to kill one another, not to steal, not to violate our solemn oaths, not to worship alien gods. Why doesn’t it occur to us naturally to care for the weakest, the least among us? To help those who have little or nothing? Why must we be commanded not to destroy the gift of life, not to lie or extort, not to surrender our souls to the demonic and the dead? We must be commanded to love God, to hope in His promises, to trust in His providential care because in our foolish hearts we believe that we are God and that we have no other gods but ourselves.

Are we fools? Probably not entirely. But we are often foolish, often believing and behaving in ways that give lie to Paul’s declaration, “Love never fails.” God never fails, but we often do. When we make the creature the Creator, giving thanks and praise to the bounty of our own wisdom, we reach down for the higher things and convince ourselves that we have grasped truth. We do this when we believe that it is not only sometimes necessary but also good to murder the innocent; when we believe that it is right to murder the inconveniently expensive, those whom the Nazis called “useless eaters,” the sick, the elderly, the disabled. We reach down for higher truths when we create markets for housing in order to exploit for profit the homelessness of the poor. We are foolish when we raise impregnable borders around the gifts we have been given , gifts given to us so that we might witness freely to God’s abundance. We do foolish things because we believe we are God, and so, we must be commanded by Love Himself to love. But surely this is no hardship. Difficult, yes. But not impossible. With Love all things are possible.

What must we do? To love well we must first come to know and give thanks to Love Himself. He loved us first, so He must be our First Love. Second, we must hold as inviolable the truth that we cannot love Love Himself if we fail to love one another. Third, love must be the first filter through which we see, hear, think, feel, speak, and act. No other philosophy or ideology comes before Love Himself. This mean obeying (listening to and complying with) His commandments and doing now all the things that Christ did then. Fourth, after placing God as our first filter, we must surrender to Love’s providential care, meaning we must sacrifice (make holy by giving over) our prideful need to control, direct, order our lives according to the world’s priorities. Wealth and power do not mark success. Celebrity does not mark prestige. “Having everything my way” does not mark freedom. Last, we must grow in holiness by becoming Christ—frequent attention to the sacraments, private prayer and fasting, lectio divina, strengthening our hearts with charitable works, sharpening our minds with beauty and truth in art, music, poetry, and while being painfully, painfully aware of how far we can fall from the perfection of Christ, knowing that we are absolutely free to try again and again and again.

Though we often fail love, Love never fails us. Remember: who needs for love to never fail more than he for whom Love is God?

26 October 2008

Abortion alternatives

I'm sick of hearing that Catholics only care about babies in the womb. . .

Here are some Catholic funded alternatives to abortion:

Real Alternatives



Pregnancy Support (Canada)

These links took me all of ten minutes to find and list, so please don't tell me that the Church supports pregnant women but not mothers.

You are lying. Plain and simple.

UPDATE: and how did I forget The Nurturing Network (link fixed)!? N.N. is assisted by my former student and mother of five, Jana Holmes. Five? Is it five now, Jana? ;-)

His positions are evil. . .

Many of my friends from my days as a Marxist-feminist-postmodernist ideologue have been asking me lately how I can resist supporting an Obama presidency.

My answer--much to their horror--has been simple: "Because I used to be a Marxist-feminist-postmodernist ideologue, and I understand the party-line of the movement:

-- destroy the notion of objective truth with appeals to diversity, difference, and multi-cultism;
-- eliminate the possibility of rational discourse by elevating the affective above the rational;
-- convert all public political discourse into emotive appeals to race, gender, class, and sexuality;
-- define "freedom" as "freedom from constraint" and never as "freedom to do what is right;"
-- attack all secular opposition as "oppressive, self-centered, and fearful;"
-- attack all religious opposition as "superstitious, fundamentalist, and ignorant;"
-- use "white liberal guilt" to attack economic growth and prosperity;
-- feed over-educated narcissism with the prospect of ruling, finally, and ruling more than the meager resources of an English/women's studies department at a state university."

Why do I oppose Obama? Simple. His political positions are evil. This man believes that it is morally acceptable to kill children. He believes that it is morally permissible to attempt to kill a child in the womb, fail, and then leave the child to die once delivered alive. This man believes that all Americans should participate in his evil by being forced to pay for the genocide of abortion with federal tax dollars. That the overwhelming majority of children murdered in the womb are black seems not to concern him at all. He has promised to eliminate all democratically enacted laws against the murder of children by signed the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" if elected. This will enshrine the Supreme Court's 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade into federal law.

That the MSM has chosen again and again to ignore, obfuscate, distort, and lie about his connections to domestic terrorists, international Marxists, local communists in Chicago, and his involvement with other radical left-wing groups like the vote-stealing ACORN cadre only adds to my deep suspicison and unease. Though these are more strictly political concerns and do not rise to the level of his promotion of child murder, they are nonetheless deeply distrubing to this American citizen.

Now, before you pop off in the comboxes about Catholic priests not being political, let me say this: at no time during my solemn profession as a Dominican friar in 2003 or during my priestly ordination in 2005 did I EVER renounce my U.S. citizenship; my right to free speech; my right to the free practice of my religion; or the free expression of my opinions in a public milieu. Nor should you take my opposition to the evil of the possibility of an Obama presidency as an endorsement of a John McCain presidency.

If you want me to support Obama you will need to demonstrate to me one thing and one thing only: how does the actual murder of 1.7 million children every year in the U.S. (and the inevitable increase in that number if B.O. is elected) outweigh any possible good that B.O. might do as a Marxist-feminist chief executive officer of the U.S.

All I can say at this point is: thank you God for constitutional term limits.