Wednesday, December 30, 2009
"I have some concerns about the church's position respecting a woman's right to choose," Pelosi responds. "I am a practicing Catholic, although they're probably not too happy about that. But it is my faith.""I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that is that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions," she continues. "And that women should have that opportunity to exercise their free will."
2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.74
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.
2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"76 "by the very commission of the offense,"77 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.78 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."79
"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."80
1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.
Monday, December 28, 2009
"...I decided it was time to explore places of worship. Being a secular Jew, my first step should have been a temple. However, the synagogues around here are practically recruitment stations for Obama (aside from the Orthodox ones, but I don't speak a word of Hebrew). So I decided to experience church on Christmas Eve.
Checking out churches online, I found almost none that offered political neutrality. Most heralded their progressive credentials, welcoming the transgendered, but not conservatives.
I was pleased to find an Episcopal church whose website focused on religion, not ObamaCare. I left a message for the priest that I was looking for a church that didn't press a political agenda because I wasn't a liberal.
I received an icy reply from the priest, the Reverend Lucy, who said with barely-contained disgust, "I don't think you should check us out."
Her response left me shaken and angry. I understand that leftists despise conservatives. I have seen that creepy look of pure hatred when I naïvely told a leftist friend about my political conversion.
But an Episcopal priest rejecting me during the holiest time of year? Isn't anything or anyone sacred?"
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
I also had a great conversation with my brother-in-law, who is dating a Catholic. My husband's family attended the Lutheran church when they were growing up, but my brother-in-law really loves Latin and the more traditional approach to church. I suspect I may see him some Sunday in 2010 at my own parish. I would be thrilled. He has a beautiful tenor and would make a great addition to our choir. He was asking questions about our choir, so you never know.
I don't know what order of nuns these would be, but we have a small group of them visiting our TLM lately. They wear a simple long white veil, and (I think) have something cinched around their waist, almost like a Franciscan. They sat behind me during Christmas Mass and I felt blessed. There is a sweet spirit about each one of them.
I have fond memories of midnight Masses. As a child, we used to visit my Italian grandmother and great-grandmother in downtown Cincinnati. We'd walk a few blocks to Old St. Mary's to attend midnight Mass, they walk back afterward where my Italian grandmothers would feed us again a very early breakfast! Very fond memories. We wouldn't get home usually until around 4 or 5:00 AM, but then we could sleep in and then wake up a little before noon to open up our presents. How I cherish those memories, now!
What are some of your favorite Christmas memories? Any of the midnight Mass? I got home at 2:00 AM last night but it was worth it. I think I just instituted a new tradition within my own life. I like thinking about the birth of our Lord and Savior while it's dark outside. :-)
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I am not minimizing the tragedy of those who have sinned horribly against children. But I do think that priests overall have been painted with a broad brush of guilt, the Roman collar becoming the modern day "scarlet letter." However, the point of this post is to highlight why I think priests are so awesome. The more I become re-acquainted with the faith of my youth, the more impressed and humbled I am by the priesthood.
I've likened the Catholic faith to "the grown-up's religion." It's a mature faith, tough, and holds a high standard for her followers. It is higher education, not elementary school. It is to me the Marines of all spiritual disciplines. If this is true, then my illustration would extend to the priest being an accomplished PhD (And many priests hold such a degree.) or a "special ops" in the field of faith. I have experienced a true sense of security since returning to the Catholic Church and I attribute this to the dedication and pastoring gift of my parish priest.
Protestants criticize Catholics for calling priests "Father." yet they have no problem addressing someone with a PhD as "Doctor." I've also heard many non-Catholics address their pastor as "Pastor Bob" or "Reverend Carrington." We acknowledge "fathers of the faith" such as Abraham, Moses and Elijah. Jesus wasn't referring to those titles when He said "Call no man 'father.'" He was referring to the pride that can creep in when someone is given a title and also; misplaced honor that excludes the superiority of our heavenly Father.
Fathers are important. They help guide and challenge. And whether some want to admit it or not, our society is in greater need than ever of true fathers - men who will sacrifice themselves for the betterment of others. Just take a look at gang culture. Those young boys are looking for male leadership. Sadly, they don't have it within their own homes.
Priests are not perfect, nor without their own set of faults and weaknesses. However, they have taken vows to serve the Church and shepherd their people. To set aside their own opportunities for getting married and having a family is an amazing act that cuts across cultural and the "me-focused" trends.
There is such substance in a priest. They go through years of training after discerning their vow and apply their mind, heart, and soul toward helping people grow in their faith. They often endure loneliness since they do not have a family. However, because they don't have a family, neither is their attention torn between that and the Church. I know some will disagree with me on this, but I support priest celibacy. After watching many pastors try to juggle the demands of serving a busy, thriving church with the demands of being a husband and parent - I believe celibacy wins. A single man can focus his energies upon the needs of his parish.
There are other types of priests, of course, other than the parish priest. They serve within the government of the church and throughout the institution. But within the Catholic Church, there is continuity and safeguards that strengthen the foundation of the faith. Within a non-denominational church, for instance, there is no guarantee that a senior pastor will remain with a church after a 5-7 year period. And because a non-denominational church's purpose fluctuates with a senior pastor's vision, the church is constantly re-inventing itself.
This may sound ideal but can lead to a fragmented faith. Children, for example, are taught "the basics" by their parents - saying "please," "thank you," and showing respect to parents and elders. Obedience is being instilled in small increments until the child grows into an adult, knowing how to conduct themselves with discretion. Church is the same. As a new believer, our priests are instilling in us "the basics" of our faith, over and over again. The point is to produce the Body of Christ that will work together seamlessly and represent Jesus Christ to the world. If these "basics" are not ingrained in us, we run the risk of becoming like the seeds that failed to grow deep roots. When the harsh winds of adversity come, we'll topple over.
Obedience gets a bad rap and too often, priests are accused of being "rigid" or unyielding. But who wants a wimpy faith? I don't. I know how hard the devil is working to undermine the Kingdom of God and to attack His Church. This is why we need our fathers. They help prepare us for such battles.
It took me a long time to see this. For years I was involved with what I call a "feminized faith." It was soft, nurturing, accommodating. There was much creativity within it but also, a permissive spirit that surrendered to emotionalism. When I was accepted within a ministry school, I could see that they were "tough." It's interesting to look back and realize that what I was attracted to was the clear directive of a ministry, which really is what the Catholic Church has in abundance but took me years to finally recognize it.
I remember when I arrived at the ministry school, thinking, "So far, I've been 'mothered' by the church. Now I will be 'fathered.'" A believer needs both, just as a child does. This is why it saddens me when I hear about nuns who think they should be priests. I'd like to say to them, "Don't you understand how important your role is within the church? You're the balance and right now, you're seeking to unbalance a divine pattern simply because you've been duped into thinking your role isn't enough."
Priests impart the fathering that we as the Body of Christ so desperately need. They watch out for us and tell us when we're messing up. They put their arms around our shoulders and console us at times, but exhort us to aim higher. They love but can give us the tough love we need because it's a hard world and soft won't cut it. There is an inherent protection within the guidance of a priest, an understanding that our faith will be tested but if we get the basics right, we'll not only survive but overcome. A priest's calling is to make sure we receive that understanding.
Although I spent many years within non-denominational churches, the one advantage it did give me was a new appreciation for our Catholic priests. As part of these churches' leadership teams, I had a unique vantage point to observe the constant pressure a pastor faces. Without a governing body, it is much harder than most people can imagine. A pastor of a church without a hierarchy is always questioning himself, asking God to reassure him that he's going in the right direction. He has to depend upon networking to find other leaders for support. And if there are any misunderstandings within his church, he has no one to turn to for mediation.
We have an awesome Church, founded by Jesus Christ, continued by His apostles and the priesthood. In this "Year of the Priest," I give thanks more than ever.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Because leftist, Marxist, Communist, one-worlders, climate-change Chicken Littles, islamofascist, feminazi, Maoist-worshipping radicals won't leave the rest of us alone.
Friday, December 18, 2009
One caller admitted he really, really disliked a certain phrase that I heard in my non-denominational churches waaay too often: Seeker-sensitive. The caller likened it to "politically-correct" talk for churches. The host wasn't sure what he meant so he tried to explain it, but it's tough to explain what "seeker-sensitive" means to someone who doesn't usually attend church since the objective of a "seeker-sensitive" church is a strategy to reach the "unchurched."
I laughed aloud in my car as I realized I would never, ever hear the phrase "seeker-sensitive" in my parish, especially regarding the Traditional Latin Mass.
I remember the first time I heard the phrase and immediately disliked it. Being a "seeker-sensitive" church meant that you were sensitive to either non-believers or people who hadn't been to church in a long time, and you offered them Gospel-Lite. Which usually meant that expository teaching from Scripture didn't occur as much as a pop-psychological take on current cultural events that was meant to sidle up to a newcomer and say, "Hey, we're just as friendly and emotionally accessible as Dr. Phil!"
There are other "churchspeak" terms such as "the emerging church," "deep church," "reinvented Christianity." There are always developing phrases and lingo to describe whatever new fad has captured many non-denominational and even denominational churches. If you visit some of them, you'll see that a shift has occurred. No longer are many churches teaching about sin, Hell, and repentance. These doctrines of our faith are seen as "too offensive" for those investigating Christianity. (Hence, the "seeker-sensitive" mission.)
True story: I used to be involved heavily with the prayer teams at a "mega-church" Vineyard Christian Fellowship church. (Mega-churches usually have membership in the thousands.) When I first stumbled upon the Vineyard, I was intrigued by the prayer ministry that often opened an opportunity for deliverance prayer. During such times, the person who we would be praying for would manifest demonic behavior. Instead of being frightened, I knew that this was one of the reasons Jesus Christ came to earth - to set the captive free. I felt excited to be a part of it. Plus, I just liked knowing that the devil was getting pounded.
I went away to ministry school. When I returned, I asked the new pastor of prayer if they still conducted deliverances. "Oh, no," she said. "We stopped."
Stunned, I asked why. Her response: "It was just too messy and could be intimidating to new people." I still was in shock. Did Jesus ever stop helping people because it was "messy" or could possibly offend people? From what I've read of His experiences, it looked like He didn't care what others thought, only in reaching and saving the person who sought His help. Since when does His Body choose the easy route so as to not offend man?
Anyway. You won't find such apologies within the Catholic Church. There are priests who do pray for deliverance although it's not dealt with in the same manner as a non-Catholic church may do it. But Biblical standards are upheld and there isn't much "politically-correct" terms thrown about to make the truth more palatable. In fact, the Catholic Church is a pretty tough bunch. If anyone gets offended, they'd be as likely to be told "offer it up" (a Catholic way of saying "get over it") than anything else.
Some people think that church should be constantly "re-imagined" or re-packaged to appeal to the masses. However, I didn't see Jesus use such an approach. In fact, He made it rather difficult to embrace His message. He spoke tough words and challenged the societal norms of his day. He didn't try to please everyone. He only sought to please His Father and bring honor and glory to Him.
This is why I have such issues with "churchspeak" and church fads and trends. They seem to be focused more on gaining the acceptance of man than pleasing God. And to please God is pretty clear, explained in Scripture. Love God and love your neighbor. Simple, but not easy.
But then again, that doesn't sell a lot of books and expensive speaking engagements.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Just weeks after the visitation of American women religious congregations was announced, the Leadership Conference of Women's Religious (LCWR) learned that it would be the subject of a doctrinal assessment by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
The 44-year-old LCWR has 1,500 members who represent about 95 percent of U.S. women religious. It is a resource to the leaders of congregations and it also provides a collective voice on issues of justice.
The CDF met with LCWR's leaders nine years ago to inquire how they were receiving and promoting church teaching in three areas: ordination of women, interfaith relations, and homosexuality. According to the National Catholic Reporter, the CDF prefect, Cardinal William Levada, informed LCWR leaders of the need for the current assessment in a 2009 letter: "Given both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present."
Whoa! Now that's being crystal-clear. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with these women nine years ago to discuss, yes - problems. When the Vatican appears and says it has a problem with your doctrine, wouldn't you think it wise to listen and perhaps mend your ways? I'm not getting that impression, here. In fact, I get the impression that the women religious who advocate the ordination of women as priests and acceptance of an active homosexual lifestyle are fighting the Vatican on all fronts. Gosh, that's so like Jesus. Oh, wait...
I can only imagine what the "interfaith" issue is about. (Blending a little Wiccan with your morning devotions, Dorothy?)
The LCWR Website
For a real eye-opener, visit the LCWR site and poke around. Prominently featured on their home page is "Social Justice." Check into the issues that they support and you'll see a list that suspiciously looks like the same list of a leftist. The usual suspects are there: Support for government-run healthcare, the old "global warming" issues, activism against the war in Iraq and any military action against Iran, the legalization of illegal immigrants, etc., etc. But what really amazed me was a downloadable paper on "systems thinking." Egads.
If you want to download it and read it in its entirety, go for it. I couldn't bear reading the entire piece of drivel. Here's a snippet to give you an idea of their approach. I've emphasized certain words and phrases that to me, are "red flags.":
With its precision, Western thinking also succeeded in separating science from religion, science from ethics, and theology from spirituality. Philosophy, theology, and scientific, political, and social theory continued to develop and reinforce the rightness of this way of interpreting life’s meaning. Theologians, for example, tried to deal with the dismissal of theological knowledge as less provable and therefore less important than scientific knowledge by attempting to design theological study along the lines of scientific “proofs.” Little by little, dualistic and hierarchical distinctions grew from being descriptive of the physical world to being definitive not only of the physical world but of social relationships as well.
The ultimate result was a learned inability to think in any other than linear, dualistic, and hierarchical ways when dealing with problems, organizing ideas or work, and in structuring society, church, or our religious congregations.
This way of seeing reality thus became an unconscious filter for the Western mind, a filter that made it easy to judge immediately what fit or did not fit a particular situation, to distinguish and define what was good, true, and right from what was bad, false, and wrong. The world was stable and sure, a machine-like structure of predetermined and fixed relationships. The human mind could comprehend the universe in its entirety. (Oh, brother. Who has ever claimed to comprehend the universe?) People accepted this explanation of the order they could see in the physical universe and in the natural structures of family and community. They designed other organizations on the basis of this same “rightful order.”
Furthermore, people of faith saw in this “rightful order” the will of God. In this world, the sacred and the secular, the church and the state, science and religion, lived consciously at odds with each other. But it was this worldview unconsciously held in common which gave both the sacred and the secular spheres the rationale for their respective interpretations of life, and at the same time fostered their mutual sense of hostility. (!!)
Pretty amazing, no?
As for me, I've studied my share of philosophical writings while in college. As I read and half-skimmed parts of this document, I kept looking for Jesus. Where is Jesus in all of this? Where is His commandments and teachings that He gave us? Yes, we're to love one another and this loving is expressed in many different ways; such as feeding the poor and caring for the needy. But this "Opportunity to Act for Systemic Change" is to me no more than an attempt to cloak the desire to rebel against the Church and embrace what - chaos? Anarchy? As far as "systems" go, what is the alternative to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? A good alternative, I should say. I think none. God is a God of order. We see it in nature and know that order brings peace and security. In Scripture, as the newly formed Church began its mission, it was clear that Jesus Christ Himself had instilled in it God's divine order. There were twelve Apostles who were given authority to teach and preach the Gospel.
Then there were deacons and bishops who were added to the structure in order to help define leadership and allow the Church to communicate and work together. This "system," if you will, has lasted over a thousand years. But have no fear - this "systemic thinking" is going to 'correct' that which never was broken! It's ridiculous. God made His message clear and simple. Not easy, but easy to understand. One does not need a Ph.D to read the Bible, pray, and respond to the world according to their faith.
Here's their statement on social justice:
Working for a more just and peaceful world is an integral component of LCWR's vision and goals. While many member congregations are actively engaged in efforts promoting social, economic, and earth justice, LCWR provides opportunities for addressing issues of concern with a corporate voice by taking action on resolutions approved at the national assembly. Resolutions are kept before the members through the work of the Global Concerns Committee and periodic publications of Resolutions to Action.
Yes, it reminds me of Marxism. Whenever anyone tries to pit one side of anything - be it a group or structure - against another, know that they are setting up the scenario of class struggle. There is always a conflict and it must, in the eyes of a Marxist, be defeated by destroying the "oppressor" or oppressing structure. This is going on in America right now with the attacks on capitalism and insistence on universal healthcare. It is tragic that women who entered into the religious life have been duped into thinking that their life is to be given to "causes" and activism instead of promoting the doctrine of our faith. When I think of my childhood, I remember the nuns who obviously loved Jesus Christ, their Spouse. They passed along that beautiful curiosity and desire for spiritual intimacy. It was from them that I understood there was something deeper to life than getting all the toys I wanted or to be popular.
I am not sure what the CDF will accomplish. As far as "systems" go, all I can see is a complete dismantling of the LCWR and a reconstruction from the ground up in order to get it back on track. If these women want to be Marxists, then leave the religious communities and do so. Don't try to fool the Catholic Church into thinking you're religious when in truth you're not.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Chicago (CBS) - A father has been hit with an unusual restraining order: Keep his daughter away from any religion that is not Jewish. After the girl's parents split up, the father went to a Catholic church and had the girl baptized, CBS station WBBM-TV reports.
Rebecca Reyes says she wants her daughter raised Jewish, and that her husband pledged to do so, even going so far as to convert to Judaism himself.
"That's not accurate," he responded. "I'm not going to call her a liar, but … at the very least she's mistaken regarding that conversation."
But Rebecca Reyes says it's her estranged husband who made the mistake when he had their daughter baptized. In her petition, she argues that if he's allowed to raise the child in any faith other than Judaism, he will cause their daughter irreparable harm.
Reyes' divorce attorney, Joel Brodsky, said when he first saw the petition for a temporary restraining order against his client, he couldn't believe what he was reading.
"I almost fell off my chair," he said. "I thought maybe we were in Afghanistan and this was the Taliban. This is America. We have a First Amendment right of freedom of religion."
Now. Contrast this situation with this one, where a Christian homeschooling mom was recently ordered by the court to send her daughter to public school because the little girl's beliefs were "too rigid." (emphasis mine):
The court order stated: "According to the guardian ad litem's further report and testimony, the counselor found Amanda to lack some youthful characteristics. She appeared to reflect her mother's rigidity on questions of faith." The guardian noted that during a counseling session, Amanda tried to witness to the counselor and appeared "visibly upset" when the counselor purposefully did not pay attention.
The guardian also noted that Amanda's relationship with her father suffered because she did not think he loved her as much as he said he did due to the fact that he refused to "adopt her religious beliefs."
According to the court order, the guardian concluded that Amanda's "interests, and particularly her intellectual and emotional development, would be best served by exposure to a public school setting in which she would be challenged to solve problems presented by a group learning situation and...Amanda would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior."
I suppose it didn't count in the homeschooling case that the girl attended public school anyway to learn Spanish, art, and take phys-ed classes. No. The point was to take her away from her mother's "rigid beliefs."
I recently commented on The Creative Minority Report's site about the craziness of these two cases. You can't have it both ways. The multi-culturalism crowd has rammed its agenda through our society, insisting that we acknowledge, and even experience to a certain point, other faiths. This is why we have kids in Virginia learning about Ramadan in a public school. (Wouldn't you love to see them do the same thing with Jesus and learning the Our Father prayer?)
But yet the judicial system wants to step in and say, "Oh, we believe in diversity. Just diversity about other faiths, except Christianity."
If I were Reyes' attorney, I'd argue from the standpoint that the daughter needs to be exposed to the different religious beliefs of her parents, even if they conflict with one another. Because if one parent insists that only their point of view is taught, that's not really fair. Both parents should have been able to compromise on this but unfortunately, the Jewish mother is the one being "rigid." Meanwhile, the father's right to raise his daughter according to his convictions is getting trampled. It is yet one more development in the government saying to parents, "I know better than you what the child needs."
The whole Joseph Reyes' scenario is crazy, and compared to what just happened in New Hampshire with the homeschooled girl - especially loony. If you have some legal precedents to send to Reye's lawyer, Joel A. Brodsky, here's his information. I sent to Mr. Brodsky the link to the New Hampshire case. Although I was saddened by the homeschooled girl being forced to attend public school, perhaps it could be used to help Joseph Reyes' retain the right to take his little girl to church with him. Keep them in your prayers.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I'm including a bad photo of his vestments, which were the traditional rose color. The chasuble also had pale yellow in the front.
Hope your Gaudete Sunday was a lovely one. Rejoice!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
The great religions have long pursued different goals through different means: Christians sought salvation through faith or works (or some combination thereof), while Buddhists sought nirvana through meditation or chanting. So a century ago jumping from a Catholic Mass to an evangelical revival to a Buddhist retreat would have felt like leaping across vast chasms. But contemporary Americans know almost nothing about their own religious traditions and even less about the traditions of others. Most Americans cannot name any of the Four Gospels, and an overwhelming majority admit to being wholly ignorant of Islam. So we shuffle from one to the other with little sense of what is being lost (or gained) in the process.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands,like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (1 Pet. 3:3-6 NIV)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
December 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Some groups of American Catholic sisters are continuing to defy the Vatican's attempts to assess their lifestyles and choice of mission. Many say they are simply refusing to fill out the questionnaire for the Vatican's Apostolic Visitation, an investigation into the lives and work of the remaining US religious orders.
Others have complained that the Vatican has not been forthcoming about the reason for the investigation and say they fear being forced back into more traditional patterns of religious life.
Sister Elizabeth Ohmann, a Franciscan nun who works for Humane Borders, an immigration lobby group, noted that the investigation is focusing on active sisters rather than those cloistered in monasteries. She told the Arizona Daily Star that she believes the Visitation is targeting those communities that dissent from Catholic teaching, especially on sexuality.
"I think - and this is my opinion - that they are saying they believe it's the active communities that are really encouraging, say, women priests and are also upholding the rights of homosexuals and even homosexual marriage," she said.
Ohmann admitted that she and some of her fellow sisters were among these, saying, "Are we going contrary to Rome's teachings? I say, 'Yes, it is contrary to Rome's teachings.' But it is not contrary to my own conscience."
I am certain these women religious are aware of the investigation's purpose. It's already been shown that vocations in the United States have suffered a decline since 1965. It also has been made clear that the older communities who abandoned tradition and embraced feminism and Marxism are shutting down. The religious communities that are flourishing are the ones who live in community and wear the habit.
My point about this article is that it raises several questions I have that I'd like to pose to my Catholic readers: When is it time to question one's decisions made with a "Catholic conscience?" When is it right to disagree with the Magisterium? From the Catholic Church Catechism:
In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord’s Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church. (Catechism, Part Three, Article Six no. 1785)
I ask because these sisters seem to think that going against the Church teaching of homosexuals living chaste lives is wrong. They also misunderstand the role of the masculine within the priesthood, instead embracing a philosophy of "equality" that has as much to do with it as an apple with an orange.
I am glad for this investigation because the women religious who are dissenters are now showing their true colors to the Vatican. They don't care about their dwindling numbers and the very justifiable reasons that the Vatican should be concerned. They aren't looking at this investigation as an opportunity to explore together what they might do to improve vocations. No. Instead, they are banging the "Me-Me" drum. It's all about them. Not about the future of vocations and the continuity of our faith in the world - but them and their radicalism.
This, more than anything, should show the women religious an important lesson. If they have truly died to their own desires in order to fully serve Jesus Christ, would they be putting up such a fight? If they examined their own conscience "before the Lord's Cross," meditating upon what He has sacrificed and what was given to us as a gift, would there be any change in their hearts?
I wonder. Because it's obvious they have no intention of being "guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church." It seems they've already placed themselves as the higher authority, answering to no one.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Yesterday was the feast day of St. Nicholas, who has a wonderful legacy of being generous to those in need.
One of the most famous stories of the generosity of St. Nicholas says that he threw bags of gold through an open window in the house of a poor man to serve as dowry for the man’s daughters, who otherwise would have been sold into slavery.
The gold is said to have landed in the family’s shoes, which were drying near the fire. This is why children leave their shoes out by the door, or hang their stockings by the fireplace in the hopes of receiving a gift on the eve of his feast.
St. Nicholas is associated with Christmas because of the tradition that he had the custom of giving secret gifts to children. It is also conjectured that the saint, who was known to wear red robes and have a long white beard, was culturally converted into the large man with a reindeer-drawn sled full of toys because in German, his name is “San Nikolaus” which almost sounds like “Santa Claus.”
I suppose there is an extra connection there for my mother and her family. According to history, after the Muslims conquered Turkey in 1807, St. Nicholas' relics were taken to Bari, Italy. Bari, is the hometown of my great-grandmother on my mother's side.
I was ill yesterday and totally forgot about St. Nicholas, but perhaps he left a little something in your stocking. :-)
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Present text:The day before he suffered he took bread in his sacred hands and looking up to heaven, to you, his almighty Father, he gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT IT: THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.
On the day before he was to suffer he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT: FOR THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.
I confess to almighty God,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned
through my own fault,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done,
and in what I have failed to do;
and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin,
all the angels and saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
Washington D.C., Dec 4, 2009 / 03:54 pm (CNA).- Responding to a report which claimed that the majority of women religious are not complying with the apostolic visitation, the Apostolic Visitation Office has said that “some congregations” have sent incomplete responses but the effort is moving ahead as planned. The National Catholic Reporter in a Nov. 24 article cited unnamed sources who claimed a significant number of religious congregations were not cooperating with the Apostolic Visitation.
The Apostolic Visitation’s assistant for communications, Sr. Kieran Foley, FSE, responded to a CNA inquiry about the reported boycott.
She said the office continues to receive responses from major superiors to the questionnaires and has not yet completed its review of these responses.
“In a spirit of confidentiality, as I am sure you will understand, we are not at liberty to disclose how many we have received or from whom,” Sr. Foley told CNA. “While some of the congregations did send incomplete answers to the questionnaire, the Apostolic Visitation will be moving ahead as planned with the phases as described on the Apostolic Visitation web site, that is, at the completion of the data collection from the questionnaires (Phase 2), we will proceed to Phase 3, conducting selected on-site visits to congregations.”
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Women Religious Not Complying With Vatican Study"There's been almost universal resistance, we are saying 'enough'"
The vast majority of U.S. women religious are not complying with a Vatican request to answer questions in a document of inquiry that is part of a three-year study of the congregations. Leaders of congregations, instead, are leaving questions unanswered or sending in letters or copies of their communities' constitutions.
"There's been almost universal resistance," said one women religious familiar with the responses compiled by the congregation leaders. "We are saying 'enough!' In my 40 years in religious life I have never seen such unanimity.Many women, instead of filling out the forms, replied by sending in copies of their Vatican -approved orders' religious constitutions. A religious order's constitution states its rationale, purpose and mission. (Because after all, that's what the Vatican needs as the yardstick of measurement. Forget about Catholic identity - these women religious constitutions trump everything, such as loyalty to the Magisterium or the the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)
The Vatican initiated the study in January, saying its purpose is to determine the quality of life in religious communities, given the decline in vocations in recent decades. From the outset, the women have complained they were never consulted before Vatican officials announced the investigation and there is no transparency in the process. Some have called the effort demeaning and intrusive. (And I'm sure if they were consulted, they would have responded with kindness and full cooperation. I suppose somewhere along the way to their "communities," they forgot that they were accountable to a higher authority. And besides, if individual women religious communities were contacted while others weren't, we would have been hearing the high screech of outrage from those who were targeted. It's obviously a better choice to do an 'across-the-board' evaluation of all women religious. Nothing like fairness!)
By contrast, according to the source, congregations representing, by far, the greater majority of women religious decided not to comply and answered only a few, or none, of the questions. Many of the 340 U.S. apostolic congregation heads instead sent letters to Millea stating that what they were sending was what the Vatican was looking for. (Um. No. The Vatican is looking for answers to their questions. All the questions. Otherwise, they wouldn't have asked.)"Cover letters [to Millea] have been respectful and kind," one woman, familiar with the responses, told NCR. "Many of the letters have essentially said that what we have to say about ourselves has already been said in our religious constitutions." (Back to their constitutions. Get the feeling that they have some issues with the Magisterium?)
The Vatican questionnaire is divided into three parts. Part A attempts to collect quantifiable information about such things as membership, numbers, living arrangements, health, and retirement conditions. Part B and Part C (bottom of Part B) aim to gather detailed information about community governance practices, vocation efforts, spiritual and liturgical practices, ministry and finances. (An interesting side note: The Vatican withdrew several questions from Part C that asked for individual ages of the women, assets belonging to the congregation and recent financial statements. In light of this situation, I think that's not a good idea. [mantilla nod to Cathy of Alex and Vincenzo] Now, looking at Part B, I'm wondering if they're constitutions fully cover the areas of vocation efforts, and spiritual and liturgical practices. Somehow, I doubt it.)
Several women religious said that, in discerning their responses to the questionnaire which they felt were intrusive, there emerged a new sense of identity and resolve. One said that for years women religious have focused on the needs of others. This time they had to focus on themselves. (Let me see - the Vatican asks questions, which if one were faithful to the Magisterium, should prove to be no problem, why would you feel those questions are intrusive?)
She said women religious have been virtually unanimous in spirit that they have been living out their missions, as directed by the gospels and by the Second Vatican Council, which called upon religious communities to go out in the world to work among the poor and to build more just and peaceful structures. (Whew. This is where I have to start to put duct-tape over my head to keep it from exploding. "Build more just and peaceful structures" raises several questions: 1) Is not the Vatican a 'just and peaceful structure?' 2) Did Vatican II specifically issue a mandate for the Roman Catholic Church to go out and build new structures? and 3) Who has defined what a 'just and peaceful structure' is to be? The Vatican? Marxism? Hinduism? Marianne Williamson?)
She explained that in the process church prelates lost the control over women religious congregations they once had. She said many women religious believe the investigation is part of an effort to regain that control. (Alright. This is just getting downright funny. "Lost control?" Let me see if I can explain it in their terms. You have a commune. Everyone shares everything. Then there's a small group of people who want to move away to Gary, Indiana because they feel "called" to serve there. The commune sends them there with their blessing, expecting to still maintain a relationship. Team Gary-Indy group takes the commune manifesto with them, promising to stay true to it. Years go by. Suddenly, the commune realizes that Team Gary-Indy has gone off the deep end and became a training ground for clown terrorists. They are concerned. They send out an investigative team who promptly gets pummeled by water balloons. Is it an issue of "lost control" or rather, staying true to the commune's manifesto, which is the identifying image to the rest of the world? You make the call.)
"Vatican II took us out of the ghettos and into ecology, feminism and justice in the world," she said. "The Vatican still has a difficult time accepting that." (I think the Vatican has a difficult time accepting that women religious have become Marxists. Social justice, class and gender warfare, and now the "new kid on the block," ecology - are all tools of Marxism to change our society, which is founded upon free choice. It's also important to note that Marxism also slams religious institutions and that Marxism is an atheist view of human liberation, which sounds more and more like what these women religious want.)
Some of the women interviewed by NCR cite an irony involved in the investigation. One said that it is "unlikely the Vatican wanted us to come out of this being more confident of our identity as self-defining religious agents, but that is exactly what has happened."
Another said: "At first, many women were asking, 'How do we respond? Then we were asking, 'How do we respond faithfully in keeping with our identity?' And soon we were asking, 'What is that identity?' " (Notice that no one is talking about Catholic identity?)
Several women said canon lawyers told the women they were not required to answer all the questions. Religious, unlike bishops, priests and deacons, who make up the clergy, are not officially part of the church's hierarchical structure. According to this reasoning, women religious are responsible to their congregation leadership and to their constitutions. (Okay. I admit this is an area that I do not understand. If women religious are not officially part of the church's hierarchical structure, what is the justification for jurisdiction over them? The Vatican must have some level of jurisdiction, otherwise they couldn't conduct the investigation. Somehow, though, I'm suspecting the Vatican has more authority over them than they want to admit.)
NCR contacted several canon lawyers consulted by women religious communities. These canon lawyers declined to be interviewed for this story. (Gee. A lawyer who doesn't want to talk to the press. Who'd have thunk it?)
All along, said one woman religious, the challenge has been to respond to the Vatican in a way that breaks a cycle of violence. (Are you kidding me? Violence?!) She said that the women religious communities have attempted to respond by using a language "devoid of the violence" they found in the Vatican questionnaire and within the wider study. She characterized the congregation responses as "creative and affirming," and part of an effort to set a positive example in "nonviolent resistance." (Oh. My. Gosh. This is that awful, convoluted pseudo-intellectual-speak they teach in universities. All the Vatican is doing is asking questions. Obviously, these women don't like being asked questions, but it's a huge stretch to say that the asking is "violent." That is just crazy-talk and I refuse to accept the premise.)
"On the one hand we didn't want to roll over and play dead," she said. "So the question was, "How do you step outside a violent framework and do something new?' That was the challenge that emerged." One congregation, she said, cited a U.S. bishops' statement concerning domestic abuse in its response letter to Millea. "The point is, there have to be more than two choices: Take the abuse and offer it up, or kill the abuser." (!!!!!)
Women religious, she said, are asking if there is a "Ghandian or Martin Luther King way" to deal with violence they felt is being one to them. (Ladies, the questions aren't violent. I'm sure they're straightforward. From Part B, question 1.F. "What are your hopes and concerns about the future of your religious institute in living its charism in the Church?" Wow. Get out the human chain protests. That question is just over the top.)
At issue, according to several women religious, is the role women religious are to play in the world today. As much as any other element in the church, women religious claim Vatican II's documents as a call go out in the world, loved and blessed by God, and to serve within it.
During the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Benedict the XVI the hierarchy, many church observers say, has pulled back from these directives, seeing the world as a more hostile environment. They view the church as a bastion of light and love within this world and want the women religious to work more directly from within church structures. (The world is a more hostile place. If people can't see that, they're blind. With Islamofascists wanting to kill us, labor unions wanting to destroy nationalism and dismantle capitalist societies, and radical liberalism seeking to undermine traditional values in schools, universities, and institutions - I'd say yes, we're under attack. "We" being those who love freedom and God. So if the Vatican isn't peachy with a bunch of aging hippie-women marching to the drumbeat of those hostile groups, I say rock on, Papa Ben & Company. As far as I'm concerned, these women don't deserve to be affiliated in any way whatsoever with the Catholic Church. In fact, I think kicking them to the nearest multi-culti, diversity spiritual enterprise, like say, oh - I don't know, it's a stretch but let's just say the Unitarians - would really be a great idea and save the Vatican and us a lot of time and money.)
Well, I'm spent. I need to break for dinner but feel free to add your own thoughts. This investigation is revealing more and more how absolutely out-of-control these women are when it comes to being Catholic. I may add more thoughts later about the issue of submission, which I'm sure is a favorite topic for these types.