13 October 2012

Crypto-Marxist megabores vs. Young Catholics

The Inimitable Damien Thompson riffs on recent news from America that mainline Protestants no longer dominate our religious culture.

Among other bits of news and commentary, we read: 

Also – and I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives me to report this – the Vatican has pulled a fast one by appointing two new diocesan bishops, Mark Davies of Shrewsbury and Philip Egan of Portsmouth, who are in tune with conservative youngsters rather than an English Catholic bureaucracy run by crypto-Marxist megabores trained in the public sector.

After I finished wiping the spewed water off my screen, I reflected on the genius of our current Holy Father and prayed hard for his health and safety.

Some dioceses in the US are waking up to the reality that young men called to serve as priests and those called to serve as religious look upon the last forty years of theological and liturgical innovation, experimentation, and dissent as a travesty.  And these dioceses are welcoming these men and women into their discernment programs with open arms. . .much to the horror and despair of some.  

Even some religious orders have figured out that almost no one under 30 who's discerning a religious vocation is remotely interested in liberationist, "social justice," protestantized Catholicism.   Nor do they really crave the largely fictitious Leave It to Beaver Catholicism of the 1950's.  They simply want orthodoxy, fidelity to the magisterium

The "crypto-Marxist megabores" in the bureaucratic machinery of dioceses and vocations offices all around the country are sweating.  Why?  'Cause they have intellectually, vocationally, and spiritually contracepted themselves into an inevitable extinction.  Unfortunately for the young men and women entering into the service of the Church, these guys aren't going out w/o a fight. 

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Yes. The Church is under attack.

If for some bizarre reason you do not believe that the Church is under attack by tolerant, diversity-loving secular extremists, please watch this video from Argentina:

NB.  There is some nudity in this video toward the end.  The full story can be found here.

And here's another incident from Canada:

GRANBY, Quebec, October 12, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Quebec pro-life conference was interrupted last weekend when about a dozen pro-abortion protesters stormed the evangelical church in which it was held and began chanting blasphemous slogans in front of the barricaded doors of the conference hall. Police had to bring in reinforcements to remove the protesters [. . .]

And yet another one:

TORONTO, Oct. 10, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In what pro-life leaders are calling a stunning and unprecedented attack on religious freedom, Ontario’s Education Minister has apparently declared that Catholic schools can no longer teach that abortion is wrong [. . .]

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Being a child of God

27th Week OT (S)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Yesterday and today, the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord will remember His covenant forever. How could it be otherwise? We hear: “He has made known to his people the power of his works, giving them the inheritance of the nations” and “He, the Lord, is our God; throughout the earth his judgments prevail.” For the Lord to forget His covenant, His Word He would have to forget Himself! On the cross, the Word made flesh gave himself up so that our burden under the Law might be lifted. Thus Jesus says, “. . .blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” Our participation in the New Covenant of Christ begins and ends with our obedience to the Word in faith—both listening to the Word and doing all that the Word commands. I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know when I say: this ain't no easy task. And it doesn't get any easier over time. When Israel failed again and again, the Lord accused her of forgetting the covenant. If there's one thing we can do to maintain the strength of our faith, it's to remember the covenant-promises. Paul reminds us, “. . .through faith [we] are all children of God in Christ Jesus.” 

What does it mean to be a “child of God”? When the Lord made His covenant with Abraham, He promised to be God for Abraham and his descendents forever. He repeated this covenant-promise to Isaac, Jacob, and Moses and kept to it despite the many failures of Israel to uphold her end of the covenant. If you were born a child of Israel, you were a child of God under the covenant, and you were bound by the Law as a sign of the covenant. Following the Law demonstrated your commitment to the covenant that made you a child of God. You sacrificed at the temple in Jerusalem. You followed the dietary law. You kept yourself pure and apart from pagan idols and offered your worship to the Lord alone. If you were male, you were circumcised. All this showed that you were a participant in God's covenant with Abraham. When you followed the Law, God's blessings fell on you and yours in abundance. When you strayed from the Law, it was His wrath that fell instead. Because of the Law, the covenant was limited to Israel. But God's covenant-promise to Abraham included the promise to make him the father of many nations. Therefore, the covenant was never meant to be Israel's alone forever. It took the death and resurrection of the Word made flesh to open Abraham's family to the Gentiles. 

Paul reminds us, “. . .through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.” So, what does it mean to be a “child of God in Christ”? None of us were born a child of Israel under Abraham's covenant with God. But we are all nonetheless children of God in Christ. We do not follow the Law to show our participation in the covenant; rather, we live in faith, trusting in God's promises, thus making us His children in Christ. All the work necessary for us to become children of God under the Law was accomplished for us by Christ. He fulfilled all of our obligations: he took on all of our sin debts; made all of our sacrifices; washed us clean and keeps us pure. Faith in him is the New Covenant and by faith we are participants in all he has done. All that is left for us to do is believe, trust, and never forget God's mercy. When being a child of God through Christ becomes difficult, remember: the Lord will remember His covenant forever. You need only remember it until you see Him face-to-face. You have heard the Word of God, observe it and live as a child of God, the One Who died so that you might live. 

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12 October 2012

The promise of the Spirit through faith

27th Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

With a black or white/do or die rhetorical flourish, our Lord lays out an austere choice for those who hear the Good News: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” In case the choice before us isn't clear enough, let me break it down for you. If you are with the Lord, you gather with him. If you are against the Lord, you scatter away from him. What causes Jesus to present us with such a stark choice? The Pharisees accuse Jesus of exorcising demons in the name of Beelzebub, implying that the Lord is a demonic agent. Jesus makes the logical objection: why would Beelzebub send me to expel his demons? “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” It makes no sense to say that Satan wants his angels exorcised. How could his kingdom stand? Apply this logic to the Church: can those who gather with Christ stand against the devil's offensive if our forces are divided? Though Christ has already won his final victory over sin and death on the cross, we are not yet living with him in eternity. While we remain in this world, the struggle against sin and death demands from us a unity of heart and mind, an allegiance to the center of our faith: Christ Jesus. 

While the kingdom of Satan maintains its unity through pride and deceit, the Kingdom of God holds us together in humility through faith. We know that Christ became sin for us and died for us on the cross. Why? So “that the blessing of Abraham might be extended to the Gentiles. . .that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Any obligation that we might have had under the Law—whether a duty to sacrifice or a punishment for sin—has been fulfilled by Christ on the cross. By fulfilling all of our religious obligations under the Law, Christ made it possible for us to receive the blessing that God gave to Abraham. How do we receive this blessing? We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. In other words, by our persistent and determined trust in God through Christ, we receive as a gift all of the promises made to our ancestors in faith. Paul writes, “Realize that it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham.” All of us here—Gentiles all—are members of the tribe of Abraham in virtue of our faith in Christ. And it is this good habit of trusting in Christ that gathers us to him and keeps us gathered with him when the forces of darkness attack. Our spiritual survival as individuals and as a family depends on our faith, solely on our faith. 

While we remain in this world, our struggle against sin and death demands a unity of heart and mind in faith, a single purpose and a single plan. If the heart of the Church is divided against itself, then her purpose is divided as well. If the mind of the Church is divided against itself, then her plan is divided as well. What is the purpose of the Church? The Church has no other purpose than to be the sacrament of salvation for all God's children, to signify and make present the mercy of God in the world. What's the plan? To preach and teach the Good News as it has been handed on by the apostles; to celebrate the sacraments diligently; and to do good works in the world for the greater glory of God. Christ Jesus dwells at the heart of the Church and occupies her mind; therefore, he directs her purpose and governs her plan. If we will gather with him, we will throw ourselves into the work of his Church, trusting absolutely in the Father's covenant-promises, healing our divisions. Discord, deceit, dissension are the demonic agents of that other kingdom. Our faith is in the name of the Lord. 

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USCCB document on preaching

A cmte of the USCCB is reviewing a document on preaching.  It's titled,  “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily."

Here are two excerpts from the notice:

“The ultimate goal of proclaiming the Gospel is to lead people into a loving and intimate relationship with the Lord, a relationship that forms the character of their persons and guides them in living out their faith.” It added that “by highlighting his humanity, his poverty, his compassion, his forthrightness, and his suffering and Death, an effective homily would show the faithful just how much the Son of God loved them in taking our human flesh upon himself.”

This is a good summary of what a homily should be. 

“The homily is intended to establish a ‘dialogue’ between the sacred biblical text and the Christian life of the hearer,” the document said. It added that “apt stories that illustrate human experience or the realities of contemporary culture help enliven the homily and open avenues for understanding the meaning of the biblical text….”

I really wish that the word "dialogue" could be stricken from the Church's magisterial vocabulary. More often than not used as an excuse by dissidents to keep the Church talking while they do what they please.  In my experience, a "dialogue" is always a scolding monologue that assumes its righteousness and never allows itself to be questioned. 

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Your Year of Faith

Today marks the beginning of The Year of Faith!

Catholic Culture has a comprehensive list of web resources for your clicking pleasure.

Here are three suggestions from Yours Truly:

1).  Commit to making more and better use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I hear confessions daily and can tell you that too many Catholics allow themselves to remain "stuck" outside God's loving mercy b/c they falsely believe that God cannot or will not forgive their sins.  Your sins are already forgiven!  Go to confession and receive the forgiveness God has freely given you.

2).  Make Sunday Mass a priority.  Not only is Sunday Mass attendance a precept of the Church, it is also the best way to start your week off right.  Don't allow football games, shopping, "family time," etc. prevent you and your family from spending (at most) an hour and a half of your Sunday at Mass.   While I'm here, let me rail against "parish shopping."  Go to your parish church for Mass.  I know, I know:  the choir at your parish is awful; the pastor is a heretic; they have chubby, middle-aged liturgical dancers. . .none of that will change if you aren't there to encourage change.  How do you think the Spirit of Vatican Two Peace Bong crowd managed to take over and ruin your parish in the first place?  Hint:  they didn't all run to St. Bozo's b/c they liked the hootenanny Mass better.  They stayed where they were and worked from the inside.  Follow their example.

3).  You knew this one was coming:  Demand better preaching!  I won't flog this.  Suffice it to say, preaching in the RCC will not improve until Catholics demand/expect/reward better preaching.  I'm heartened to read accounts from all over the world of good preaching.  Things are improving.  But we have a long way to go.  

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11 October 2012

Two. . .count 'em. . .TWO classes!


Scored two classes at Notre Dame Seminary in the spring:  Intro to Modern Philosophy and Intro to the New Testament.

So, it'll be Descartes/Nietzsche/Kant in the morning and Jesus/Paul/John in the afternoon.

Whew.  That's a loooooong day.

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10 October 2012

Prayer as a tool for sinners

27th Week OT (W)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

The disciples say to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray. . .” He responds by giving them The Lord's Prayer. Because he gives his disciples The Lord's Prayer in response to their request for instruction in prayer, we assume that the prayer he gives them is how we ought to pray. And so, we recite the Lord's Prayer at every celebration of the Eucharist; many times while praying the rosary; and pretty much anytime we feel the urge to talk to God. It's the perfect prayer. We praise God. We petition Him for our needs. We beg forgiveness. And we ask to be spared the trails of temptation. Not only is it the perfect prayer, it is also an excellent summary of Christian teaching, focusing squarely on the necessity of humility, the need for us to acknowledge our total dependence on God in our daily growth toward holiness. Notice that Jesus doesn't give us a particular posture for prayer. He doesn't tell us to sing the prayer or chant it or rush through it like an auctioneer. There are no special garments or hats or jewelry to wear. In fact, the perfection of this prayer rests in its comprehensive simplicity, its all-encompassing restraint as a means of talking to God. If prayer shapes the one praying, how does The Lord's Prayer mold a Christian into a saint? 

Let's be as clear as possible here: prayer does nothing—absolutely nothing—to God or for God. He doesn't need our prayer. Our prayer cannot change His mind or influence His disposition towards us. The promises He made to our ancestors in faith have been fulfilled in Christ Jesus and every grace we will ever need has already been bestowed. To believe that prayer elicits a response from God implies that we have some kind of control over His will; that we—His creatures—can alter His will. This idea turns faith into magic and a prayer into a spell. Prayers are not incantations that guarantee us the results we desire. Let's remove from our way of thinking about prayer any notion that we are capable of generating or procuring or guaranteeing a gift from God through prayer. True humility—the basis of all prayer—is achieved through perfect surrender, through total detachment from any thought, word, or deed that suggests we are in charge of the blessings we are given. St. Augustine puts it succinctly, “Man is a beggar before God.” If all of this is true, why pray at all? Why petition God for our needs if every gift we will get has already been given? Why bother? 

Prayer is a tool for turning sinners into saints. Think of prayer as a carving knife, whittling away sin to reveal the saint underneath. Think of prayer as a hot bath, soaking away the grime and ache of sin to produce a freshly scrubbed and relaxed soul. Think of prayer as a visit with God where you receive all the gifts He has to give you. Though He is always with us, we are not always with Him. So, everything about prayer is designed to put us fully, consciously in His presence. Words, images, gestures, posture, touching all the senses so that we are fully, consciously engaged in giving Him thanks and praise for His graces. The more we carve, the harder we scrub, the longer we visit, the more acutely aware of His presence we become, and the more fervently we receive His gifts, the better able we are to say, “Thank you, Lord!” Prayer is how we learn to be better beggars before our God. Not b/c God needs us to be beggars, but b/c beggars are truly free to enjoy every gift they are given, every gift they receive. Pride cannot beg. And pride cannot gratefully receive a gift. Saints are sinners who have learned to beg God for His mercy and receive His mercy with thanksgiving. 

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09 October 2012

Monks and friars. . .oh my!

Monks of Clear Creek Abbey

Third from the left is a former U.D. student of mine:  James Garrity

Dominican student brothers in Oakland, CA (below)

 Back row, second on the left is a former U.D. student of mine, Thomas More Barba


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Prayer request. . .

Received some VERY good news this morning. . .can't share just yet b/c it's not official and may not be for some time (or ever).

However, I ask for your prayers that all turns out for the best!

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Just got word from the provincial that Fr. Aaron Arce, OP died this morning.


P.S. Fr. Aaron was the cheeky friar who coined the term, "Ample Friar" to refer to those of us--like himself--who are less than Gym Bunny sized.

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08 October 2012

Fr. Kappes heading home. . .

from IndyStar.com:


12:10 PM -- Family: Missing priest has left Greece


The Rev. Christiaan Kappes is safely out of Greece and will return home to Indianapolis, his family said this morning.

Kappes' sister, Nadia Kappes Charcap, said she received a call from her brother this morning saying he left Greece and was in another country, which she would not disclose.

The Indianapolis priest and his Greek translator disappeared around Oct. 1, after he called his family to say he was concerned for his safety.

The priest's father also said the interpreter was safely out of Greece.

[. . .]

More here:  IndyStar.com


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A gospel of life

27th Week OT (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Paul admonishes the Christians in Galatia for forsaking the gospel of Christ and embracing a different, perverted gospel. Some of the leaders in the Galatian church were teaching that Gentile converts must be circumcised before they can be baptized. These so-called “Judaizers” were, in effect, requiring Gentiles to become Jews before they could become fully Christian. Two thousand years later, and in the light of contemporary controversies, the Judaizing controversy seems obscure, maybe even a bit silly. So, imagine Paul's reaction if he were to visit the Church in 2012 and discover that life-long members of the Church have embraced as morally good some or all of the tenets of the gospel of death—abortion, euthanasia, same-sex “marriage,” artificial contraception, torture. I daresay we'd see him left the roof of this church building, “. . .if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!” The gospel of Jesus Christ, the one we have received from the apostles, is a gospel of life, unapologetically, unashamedly, enthusiastically, a gospel that proclaims the essential goodness of all life and celebrates the freedom that comes with a life lived serving with mercy the least among God's children. 

Pope John Paul II coined the phrase “culture of death” in the 1995 encyclical, Evangelium vitae. He describes “structures of sin” that suppress the conscience and allow evil to flourish disguised as mercy. These structures filter in the daily lives of communities and form a “culture of death,” that is, a way of living based on economic efficiency, a system of efficiency that always privileges the strong against the weak. This system looks to death as a solution for the inevitable problems of being human. He writes, “. . .a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another”(12). Unplanned pregnancies, children with disabilities or diseases, the terminally ill, the elderly, the incurably criminal—all are seen as weak, useless, intolerable burdens and put to death to insure the efficient operation of society for the benefit of the physically, mentally, and financially strong. The culture of death preaches and practices a perverted gospel that no follower of Christ can embrace. 

The scholar of the law wants to know how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus asks him to recite the Law. He scholar says, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says, “Yup, that's it. Do it and you will live.” When the lawyer asks Jesus to define the term “neighbor,” Jesus tells him the parable of the Good Samaritan and then asks him which of the passers-by acted as the injured man's neighbor. The lawyer says, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.” That's the Gospel of Life. Because you love God with your whole being, treat those most in need with the same mercy that God has shown you. There is no mercy in killing an unplanned child. There is no mercy in killing a child who will be born with a disability. There is no mercy in killing someone who is terminally ill. There is no mercy in killing the elderly. There is no mercy in killing a criminal.* Every abortion, every act of euthanasia, every execution is a failure to love God and neighbor, and a repudiation of the mercy we ourselves have received. Not only do we reject God's mercy in these acts, we lend spiritual support to hopelessness and foster despair. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of life. “If anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!” 

*Before I am admonished in the combox for drawing a moral equivalency btw abortion and capital punishment, let me say:  there is no moral equivalency btw the two.  Abortion kills an innocent life and can never be called good.  The Church allows an execution to be called good under very restricted and rarely occuring circumstances.  My point here is that executing a criminal--no matter how richly deserved--is still an act of despair precisely b/c it denies it possibility of repentance and forgiveness.

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07 October 2012