Saturday, November 28, 2009

Women Religious Tell Vatican To Pound Sand: They're "Breaking the cycle of violence" #Catholic

This entire article is simply breathtaking in its arrogance and level of outright rebellion. Below are snippets from the article and my comments in red. From the National Catholic Reporter:

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.)

Full Article

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.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I Know You Want to Work Off That Thanksgiving Dinner But...

Please go easy on yourself.

#FrFriday: Rev. Fr. Donald Kloster, Traditional Latin Mass Educator #Catholic

I am just discovering Rev. Fr. Donald Kloster, who has YouTube videos available that explains some aspects of the Traditional Latin Mass. I remembered discovering him a few months ago and bookmarked his videos for future viewing. Finally, I got around to watching some of the videos and was immediately grateful. Fr. Kloster delivers clear content regarding the TLM, and is humble, quietly joyful, and very knowledgeable about Catholic history. He is a joy to watch.

He celebrates the TLM at least 3 times weekly at St. Pius X Catholic Church (in the Archdiocese of San Antonio) at 3907 Harry Wurzbach Road, 1/2 mile south of Loop 410 in San Antonio, Texas. There is a beautiful website, The Traditional Catholic Latin Mass, which includes photos, videos, links, and information.

Below is one of the videos where Fr. Kloster is teaching. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Let Us Be Thankful For...

Let us rejoice that we are still free to speak and work and act to undo the harmful policies that have been imposed upon us.

Let us honor our forefathers for having the courage, the vision, and the values to take on the mightiest military power on earth and win an astounding, world-changing victory for freedom. The founders faced far worse odds than what we face today, and they suffered hardships that we can barely imagine to secure for us the blessings of liberty.

Let us be thankful for the countless profit-seeking businessmen, famous and obscure, who took advantage of our free-enterprise system to enrich the lives of generations of Americans.

Let us be thankful for those we love, and for the innumerable acts of kindness done every day by people of all religious (including nonreligious) beliefs.

Let us be grateful for the enormous progress we have made at curtailing the curse of racism from this republic, and for a level of prosperity that even now is far beyond what was dreamt of just a few short generations ago.

Mostly, let us be grateful to God on high and remember what those who have consecrated their lives to Him have accomplished.

From Catholic Exchange, "Let Us Give Thanks"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To Men Who Are Anti-Military #tcot #sgp #marine #army #airforce #navy

(Note: This post is pretty snarky, more firewater than soothing honey...)

This is a response to "Mark," who brazenly entered the lion's den over at "The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen" and defecated in the combox. Vir Speluncae Catholicus posted an entry over the low attendance for the TLM at Camp Lejeune. I certainly understand how the TLM is strong meat and some are immediately put off by what it demands of us. I left a comment saying as much.

But within the twentyplus comments came this gem from an anonymous poster, "Mark," who explained why the numbers were dwindling:
Maybe it's because they are required to check their brains at the door as they enter the Marines, or for that matter, any branch of the U.S. military.

Well, dem's fightin' words for a woman who has a stepson in the Army, and a host of family members who fought in WWII, The Korean War, and Operation Freedom. (And yes, an uncle who was a Marine.) I can't tell you how my blood boiled as I thought about punks like "Mark" who felt anonymously free to trash the military as though they had absolutely nothing to do with his life. Forget the fact that our country hasn't suffered a major terrorist attack in eight years (finally succumbing to a dirtbag terrorist at Ft. Hood because of PC-poison). Our military are fighting the enemy over there so they don't come over here - but hey, "Mark" knows better.

Mark is a classic example of a man who has been emasculated. Shrouded in a cloak of anonymity, the "Marks" of the Internet can freely roam and take potshots at the real men of the world. In my comment on the LCC blog, I remarked that it was because of men like Mark that the Virginia Tech shooter was able to prolong his rampage. When one guy (yes, one guy who is armed), lines up a bunch of people - and there are men in that line-up - and not ONE of those men says, "What the hell are we doing? Let's rush this *ssh*le and bring him down!" well then, Houston, we have a problem.

The sad fact is that for quite some time, men who serve our country, (and our states and cities within the fire department and law enforcement) are what I call "real men." Someone like Mark would love to simply dismiss them as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, but to me that just sounds like sour grapes. Something happened to these "Marks" in our country and I place most of the blame on our public school system. For many years, our young boys were punished for being boys. They were corrected for acting upon their God-given maleness, and sadly - brainwashed into thinking that there is never a moral case for war. I also blame feminism, which has ruined our men, women, children, and our country.

We live in a dangerous world. We're seeing this reality each day in the headlines. We're also seeing more death as politically-correct thinking tightens its noose upon our society. I would bet money (if I was a gambler) that Mark is a big believer in multi-culturalism, diversity training, social justice, egalitarianism, and either an atheist or agnostic. When your mind is full of lies, it's tough to recognize truth when it smacks you upside the head.

And the truth is this, Mark: there is a place in our world for nobility, bravery, honor, integrity, sacrifice, perseverance, and most definitely - victory. I don't know what happened to take the fight out of you but someday, you may be looking up at the wrong end of a sword.

And at that moment, you just may wish that someone who took an oath to serve and protect this country, was by your side.

My full comment to Mark is below:

Now, if I may, I'd like a word with Mark, if the coward is still reading.

Mark, it seems you feel quite comfortable criticizing our military. This reveals something. Basically, a huge sense of inadequacy. I'm not sure if your mother stopped breast-feeding you before you were ready, but let me be clear: the military has kept this country safe. Perhaps you tried to enter the military but didn't have what it took to be a Marine. Who knows.

Your responses made me think of this: The wussified men at Virginia Tech who wouldn't know what a "bum rush" was if it sat on their face. You are the product of an overly feminized culture with no backbone because its been throttled out of you. There's no need to slam men who still have one.

Since you are obviously a beta man, I invite you to visit my blog some time and bring it. Because as much as I'm aiming toward heaven, I don't suffer fools gladly and when needed, wield the wisdom stick. And instead of hiding behind a blank Blogger name, it would be nice to see if you had a blog, too, so we could visit and leave all sorts of nice little comments.

I'm Thankful For... #tcot #sgp #Catholic

If you're wondering what's up with the hashtags above, I'll explain. When I post a new blog entry, I have it automatically posted to Twitter through TwitterFeed but I forgot to add the hashtags and haven't gotten around to editing my feed line. So, yes, I'm being a bit lazy but intend on fixing it soon. (really!)

But it's also a good way for me to express my thanks for each one of those hashtags.

#tcot is Top Conservatives On Twitter. Now I don't view myself as a "top conservative." The hashtag was started by someone else as a way to help group the "tweets" of conservatives so we could stay informed about conservative issues. I love that hashtag and especially get a kick out of all the liberals who had to admit that conservatives out-tweeted them on Twitter. And if you believe some reports that blogging has taken a backseat to "tweeting," that development is especially delicious.

I've learned so much while on Twitter and following the #tcot hashtag. Most of all, I learned I wasn't alone in my frustration. I learned there are many, many other people who are just as frustrated and they're doing something about it other than tweeting. They're getting together. They're marching. They're protesting. It was because of Twitter that I realized we could make a difference and we are.

It took me a little time to figure out what #sgp meant. It stands for "Smart Girl Politics." And what a bunch they are! The site was started by Teri one year ago and already has almost 13,000 members. Hot diggity! If that's not enough to excite you, think about their first convention that featured guest speakers such as Michelle Malkin! If I hook up with some SGPers here in Columbus, I just may attend the "Smart Girl's Summit" to be held in Washington, DC in September 2010. I think it's very exciting because we are witnessing "regular Americans" getting mobilized. Although I've been saddened by the ignorance and arrogance of some of our politicians, we can actually thank them for reminding us of our awesome Republic - and, who works for whom. A battle is looming that hasn't been seen for hundreds of years and the Smart Girls (and Smart Guys) are going to be in the thick of it.

Finally, last and certainly not least, is the #Catholic hashtag - which really is self-explanatory. Whenever I've used that hashtag, I've always been followed by some great Catholics on Twitter. It's also helped me find some good folks to follow, too. I have felt a beautiful kinship with my fellow Catholics on Twitter as I've talked about Mass or seen others mention important Catholic issues in the news. And any "trad" Twitter stream would be incomplete without following our beloved Fr. Zuhlsdorf!

It's all in fun, and also encouragement and education. This year has been another wonderful year with many new appreciative revelations regarding Catholicism. My newest: I did not realize that the high altar represented Jesus Christ. Something clicked in me when I read about it because it explained why I really disliked the concept of an altar being a "supper table." Something didn't seem right about that view. In fact, the altar is something I'll be writing about a little more but will say this: altars are for sacrificing. In Mosaic Law, the altar was where the animal was sacrificed by the high priest. It wasn't this "touchy-feely" spot where they enjoyed a cup of tea and a slice of bread with jam. Something very profound and significant happened when they were at the altar, with the animal that was slain. It was a very vivid reminder that God required the loss of something in order to gain something better.

Anyway... lots of good stuff and I know the Lord has more on the way! God bless you this Thanksgiving and I pray all of us will be with family and friends, giving thanks for the true blessings our heavenly Father has bestowed upon us. Deo Gratias!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What Some Catholics Have In Common With Prophetic Flakes

I was involved with "the prophetic movement" for years when I was attending non-denominational churches. I could tell you stories (and yes, some may just appear on this blog occasionally) about the excesses. I was there, for instance, at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship when it was the Toronto Vineyard Christian Fellowship and they were in the very beginning of "The Toronto Blessing." Although I was open to experiential worship, I still evaluated everything through the lens of Scripture. Others, however, gave in to some wacky behavior and as such, were dubbed "flakes" by those more skeptical.

I never thought I'd find some of these folks in Catholicism, but I was wrong. Just this past week, our pastor notified us in our bulletin about a "ministry" in Ohio that is definitely on the flaky side. A woman claiming to have daily visions of the Blessed Mother, started her own ministry while rebelling against Catholic spiritual authorities. Just recently, the Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon, Bishop of Cleveland condemned the ministry, with the full support of the Vatican. (The link has the story about Holy Love Ministries and a copy of the Bishop's letter at the end.)

Interested, I started to do some research. It seems as though this woman, who was married (and her husband was skeptical), ended up hooking up with some other guy who believed her - which led to her leaving her husband and starting this ministry. That, my friends, is a huge red flag.

Any prompting from the Holy Spirit is going to support God's laws, which includes the sacred fidelity of marriage. I found it sad that although she didn't receive confirmation from her local pastor, she went ahead with establishing the ministry.

Whenever there is a deviation from God's Word, a ministry is on shaky ground. It's also on shaky ground when it refuses the guidance of spiritual leadership. I can't tell you how many times I heard prophetic people insist they were "hearing from the Lord" even though more spiritually mature leaders were warning against deception. Deception is one of the devil's most powerful weapons, especially when it's draped with the robes of "spiritual wisdom."

So, I found out that just as with the prophetic movement, I need to be just as alert within the Catholic Church, guarding against excess and distractions. On the other hand, I'm thrilled whenever I see anyone seek a deeper spiritual faith through devotions. Devotions are a beautiful way to draw us closer to God. It's just when someone decides to venerate a worn-out piece of carpet or a stray hair that we need to be careful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Miracle of Sarah Palin #tcot #sgp

Today, I was amazed to see this reported in our local daily newspaper, The Columbus Dispatch:

With their lawn chairs and sleeping bags, Gwen Martin and her daughter Addie camped on the sidewalk outside the Borders bookstore on Sawmill Road for 20 hours to be among the first in line for Sarah Palin's autograph on Going Rogue.


"Ask the 15-year-old," said Gwen, 51, of Lockborne, nodding to her daughter as they left the store last night, books signed.

Like a long-ago 15-year-old seeing Elvis or the Beatles for the first time, Addie broke into tears.

"Because no matter what Sarah says, she can back it up," Addie struggled. "She's a great person to look up to because so many people say bad things about her and she doesn't let it get to her. In her, you can see that self-confidence matters, yourself matters, and you can achieve anything you want to."

The Right's 'Rock Star'

I wanted very badly to attend the book-signing event with Sarah Palin at Borders last night, but since I hadn't purchased my book at Borders, and since I had to work (and no way was I going to spend Thursday night outside the bookstore for a coveted spot), I realized I wouldn't be given the opportunity to have a book signed anyway. Plus, it ended up that the promised bracelets given to the first 1000 people weren't going to guarantee anything. Sarah's press folks gave the word to Borders that only 500 people would be allowed to go through the line, after those 1000 bracelets had already been distributed.

But I was there in spirit. One of questions I often hear from pundits, radio news personalities, and newspaper reporters is this: What's the big deal? Why does Sarah Palin cause such a ruckus? Well, aside from the fact that Hillary Clinton created her own brand of "ruckus" and President Obama caused people to faint or feel a shiver going up their legs - I'll take a shot at why I think people are gaga over Sarah Palin.

The 15-year-old nailed it. Everyone knows that teenagers are full of uncertainty and struggle with self-esteem. They can spot "real" a mile away. It is at precisely that point in their lives when everything is magnified - a friend's loyalty, a clique's inclusion, the embrace or rejection of a love interest. They are looking for heroes and as often is the case - heroes are hard to find. Perhaps more so than ever.

It seems as though everyone, especially politicians, are looking for an angle or gaming the system. Very few seem to have principles worth fighting for. This, is what I see as the miracle of Sarah Palin. She has come from "the wrong side of the tracks" political-wise. She wasn't raised a blue-blood Republican, her family didn't belong to an expensive country club, and of all things, she hunts wild animals! In fact, as I read her book, she sounds like many average Americans. She started early in life working and doing jobs that quite frankly, I don't think I could do. (Cutting open fish, for instance, and retrieving the roe for caviar. Aptly called working on the "slime line." Ick.)

Sarah Palin was basically raised in a town that had little use for phonies and social climbers. She didn't care about impressing anyone with anything other than hard work and character because that's what rural Alaskans care about. So it's no surprise that once she landed on the national and international scene, she operated from the same blueprint she drafted in Alaska. Work hard. Play nice. Love God and your family. Serve your country with honor.

And most Americans in this country looked at each other in shock and said, "Wow. When did they let one of us into the hallowed arena of inside-the-beltway Poli-Olympics?" Because there are no gold and silver medals but payoffs and bribes; events held on Senate floors where Olympian old lions throw big words around, taking great gasps of air to impress the judges. Meanwhile, the American people are on the side saying, "Hey there. We're over here."

The miracle of Sarah Palin is that she is us. She is that 15-year-old who yearns to stand up to her condescending 'mean girl' classmate. She is the middle-aged white man who just lost his job to cheap computer labor in India. She is the black conservative who feels ignored and belittled by her own race. She is the crowds of tea party protesters who are tired of Washington's politics-as-usual games.

Sarah's (and I love how people refer to her as "Sarah," as though the former governor of Alaska is their best friend) enemies try to relegate her popularity to looks alone. Which is such a hoot because they howled to the moon when Hillary Clinton wore a low-cut blouse and was, in their eyes, unfairly dissected for such a move. Sometimes a blouse is just a blouse and sometimes a fortysomething woman looks gorgeous in a pair of running shorts. But did the media continue to hammer on Clinton's looks? (Well, some of them did.) For the most part, they focused on what Clinton was saying.

Sarah Palin is saying something, too. But the media, blinded by their hatred of someone who refuses to bow down to their rules for conduct, is attempting to strike back by sniping about Sarah's looks or her family. It is delicious payback that Sarah has ended up outselling Hillary Clinton's book by 100,000 on her first day - without pimping the book on tons of TV shows or strong-arming supporters to buy her book for outrageous amounts of money at fundraisers.

Sarah Palin is the real deal. Not an airbrushed magazine cover. She wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to showing the love for her country and many Americans are blown away by it. That's why we love Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Believe, Help My Inner Critic!

Or at least kidnap my inner critic and drop her off at Mt. Everest...

My friend, Kimberly (Catholic Family Vignettes) has a wonderful post, "Bigger bolder..." where she talks about faith and the knowledge that to have faith, one must be tested in it. Faith, she says, is a gift. This is so true and she says it so beautifully. It reminded me of this:

And one of the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able." And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has he had this?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us." And Jesus said to him, "If you can! All things are possible to him who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again." And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, "He is dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. (St. Mark 9:17-27)

I always loved this story because it is so real. At a certain level, we know that Jesus can do anything He wants. However, there is this inner critic that constantly comes around when we're at our most vulnerable and whispers, "Really? Is He really going to pay any attention to you? Truly?" For some reason, that inner critic seems to trump everything else. That's why I love the response of the father: I believe, help my unbelief - help me get rid of this inner critic that says You can't or won't do it.

Jesus lovingly and compassionately answered that request by delivering the boy of an unclean spirit and setting him on a new path with his father. I know sometimes I forget to ask Jesus for that help to believe. Sometimes I feel as though after all these years, I should know better and shouldn't have to ask. But the inner critic is strong and the spiritual battle, I suspect, will continue until my last breath. This is why I will always need to ask for faith boosters. We have been given an opportunity to humble ourselves before God in our need, knowing that when faith comes, it indeed is a gift.

One last thing. Be careful about praying for patience. We learn by experience and I discovered that when I was younger. I asked for patience and by golly, I was thrust into the most exasperating situations that left me no choice but to be patient. (And waiting until I was 39 before marrying for the first time was just part of it...) Still, I learned lessons that strengthened my spirit and matured me in surprising ways. Asking, and submitting to His will - will help us conform to the image of God's Son.

And along the way, I do believe that inner critic is going to be left out in the cold.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ever Have One of Those Days?

Where you wish you could just ram your car into the inconsiderate lame-hole who boxed you in?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Response to the National Catholic Reporter's Editorial: Nostalgia Is Not a Path to the Future

I just spent the last hour reading The National Catholic Reporter's editorial and the diverse comments that followed. Quite a bit of sniping, as you can imagine. I'm not interested in going to the mat with Novus Ordo-ites. Their spiritual life is between them and God and if they are growing deeper in their faith, that is a beautiful thing.

However, I can't help but wonder how a Catholic newspaper can justify slamming a Cardinal because he was the one chosen for what I'm sure is the unpleasant task of evaluating [some of] the women religious in America. The NCR goes on to make further digs at those who love the Traditional Latin Mass. How charitable of them.

Although most of the comments occurred between November 10-12, I decided to post mine. I'm not sure if anyone is still reading it or, if my comment will be approved. For what it's worth, my post is below:

You don't want to go down that road...
If you saw the film "The Matrix," there is a scene where Trinity is imploring Neo not to leave and forget about his quest. If he left, he only would have dead-end streets that would hold no answers for his questioning mind. Well, I had questions about the Roman Catholic Church, which is why I left it when I was 20 years old. I was "bored" by the Mass, no matter how "friendly" it tried to be. I ended up in the non-denominational church for almost 20 years and believe me, this is what many Catholics are so yearning to have: vibrant worship, the laity performing the work of the church, and a deeper commitment to spiritual growth; among other things.

You may (or may not) be surprised to know that there is a great deal of confusion in these churches. What some progressive Catholics desire to have has resulted in nothing less than the dilution of Christian faith in these non-denominational churches (of which many ex-Catholics are now members). There has been a two-pronged attack on the Church for decades, both from the radical elements of feminism and homosexuality. Show me a church that has given in to these radical elements and I'll show you a church that is more irrelevant to the world today than they could possibly imagine. The Kingdom of God has been hijacked by the fickle whims of man.

This editorial speaks of a "nostalgia." Why is it considered nostalgia to prefer the traditions of the Church? There are so many assumptions made with this editorial that it's tough to decide which to tackle. But I'll take the "dressings of royalty" paragraph.

Has it ever occurred to those who slam the vestments that there is a reason for them? Do these detractors believe that the Vatican just pulled it all out of a hat? I've read the comments and yes, Jesus Christ came from a very humble family and certainly was not wealthy. However, He also stated that He did not come to destroy The Law but fulfill it. Do you think He avoided attending Temple? The celebration of the Feasts? The traditions of Judaism? Of course not. All of it held meaning, just as our liturgy holds meaning for us today. The Traditional Latin Mass, (which yes, I've fallen in love with) is filled with "types" and "shadows" having to do with Jesus Christ and His mystical union with His Bride, the Church. Just because there's not a group of twentysomethings rocking it out on guitars and drums doesn't mean this more traditional rite is "dead."

"Facing a wall, with his back to the people" is one of my hot buttons. The truth is, the priest is facing East, as prescribed by Mosaic Law. The priest is facing the High Altar, which is symbolic of Jesus Christ, and also facing the tabernacle, a sanctuary where Jesus Christ dwells. Why would a priest not face Jesus Christ? When he faces "the people," several things usually occur. 1) The celebration of the liturgy becomes personality-centric and 2) the congregation loses focus of where their attention should be. When ever another Catholic says to me, "Oh, you attend the Latin Mass? Isn't that where the priest has his back to the people?" I immediately say, "No. He is facing Jesus Christ and is leading everyone else to do the same."

Whether you like the "New Mass" or Latin, whether you want to see Vatican II continue to "speak" to the current culture around us - the bottom line to ask yourself is whether you're growing as Christian to the point where you will be willing to be a martyr. If so, great. Because ultimately, that is what is required of us - the willingness. Whether some want to recognize it or not, the world is becoming darker. And the world hated (hated... like crucifixion-hatred) Jesus Christ. Jesus told us the world hated Him and would hate his followers. Are you willing to be hated by the world?

To me, editorials like this and some of the comments are nothing more than rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic. As Christians, we're going to have more opportunities to stand for truth. Not the world's "truth" regarding equality, social justice, and solidarity with the poor. The truth that says Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Not politics. Radical Islam is bent on destroying all who will not submit to them. Ever hear of Knights of Malta? We're about to relive it.

So have your "tit-for-tat" debates, NCR. But in the end, ask yourself if you're really doing your beloved progressives a favor by not telling them what the real spiritual battle is about. Because somehow I doubt that women ordained as priests and gays being allowed to marry is really going to make one bit of a difference when either a radical Islamofascist or a dictatorship government comes knocking on our door.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reminder: Ronald Reagan on Socialism and Healthcare

I originally heard this remix through the Glenn Beck radio program. It's very good and brings up some powerful points. Pass it on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Freedom Through Christ

From today's reflection (One Bread, One Body)
In fact, on Judgment Day, Christians will be judged more strictly; because, "when much has been given a man, much will be required of him" (Lk 12:48). We Christians have been given more. We have been given salvation, new life, freedom, peace, power, forgiveness, mercy, Holy Communion, God's word, the Church, the indwelling of the Trinity, everlasting happiness, etc. Because more has been given to us, more will be asked of us.

I've been thinking about freedom, lately. Most of my thoughts have been focused on the freedoms I enjoy as an American citizen. However, recent events have left me feeling very unsure about the availability of these freedoms, witnessing more often a curtailing of certain ones such as free speech and religion.

But what is true freedom? Is it a series of laws or is it something more? Can any law of man make me free? If my idea of freedom is only limited by what I can do in my mortal body, is that all there is? Or is there something more?

God gave all of us free will. At times, we many not be able to fully exercise that free will with corresponding action - but we will always have free thought. And as long as we are able to think, we can choose to be free in the most important area that we've been given - our soul.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2 NKJV)

The "law of sin" is what kept me locked into an existence of fear, shame, and lies. Before I was blinded by an attitude of rebellion and a belief that I could steer my own ship. Not surprisingly, I often steered that ship into a barrier reef. Bad choices, unhealthy patterns that I couldn't seem to escape, unable to resist the temptations that I knew would only bring me back to places I didn't want to be - Jesus Christ set me free from all of it.

Today I could be hauled away and thrown into prison, but the glorious thing is - it wouldn't matter! I would still be as free in there as I am out here because my freedom does not depend on the whims of man. It's already been decided by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and by the power of the Holy Spirit, my submission to Him!

Focusing on what true freedom is reminds me that whether certain "freedoms" are taken from me or not; real freedom resides in Jesus Christ and His love-gift to me. Eternal life is ours, and we will always, always be free to choose that life. Praise be to God!

Monday, November 9, 2009

For Our Citizenship Is In Heaven...

What a depressing weekend. Between our congress selling out America's freedom to a madman Muslim extremist killing thirteen people on a military base and wounding 30 others - I was discouraged in a big way.

I headed for Mass yesterday morning, grateful for the opportunity to worship God, who I knew could handle all of my emotions. The Epistle from St. Paul to the Philippians was perfect and immediately shifted my perspective to a Kingdom-focused one:

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, {that they are} enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is {their} appetite, and {whose} glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long {to see,} my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in {the cause of} the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 3:17-21, 4:1-3 NASB)

As soon as I heard the word "citizenship," I knew the Lord was speaking to me. I cannot put into words how much I love my country. My great-grandparents on my mother's side came from Italy "on da boat" to make the United States their new home. They were so proud to be citizens and quickly found jobs as migrant workers, picking vegetables. My great-grandfather eventually started his own produce company, which still is in existence today, servicing many of Cincinnati's finer restaurants.

My husband can trace his family's lineage all the way back to John Adams. We both are filled with admiration and a strong sense of responsibility when we think of what our country's founding fathers accomplished. We also wonder if indeed we are in the midst of a "refounding" of our country and what part we play. So for me to recognize that my country's citizenship is not the only one I should be thinking about (let alone the most important) was a welcome wake-up call for me.

We are witnessing evil multiplying itself at an alarming rate. But instead of being alarmed, as heaven's citizens we know it has been foretold. Our free, peaceful nation has been an anomaly in the history of the world, not the norm. The world hated Christ when He came because He exposed the darkness. It is no different for His followers.

Today I read an excellent post by The Anchoress on the fabulous site, First Things. In The Shadow of the Jackboot is an excellent reminder to not be discouraged. In fact, the times that we now live in are providing profound opportunities to grow stronger in our faith, relying more than ever upon God's grace.

The post also links to our Holy Father's address at the Opening of the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. It is beautifully comforting. Enjoy and remember.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What I Love About #Catholicism: Prayers for the Dead

I know this will sound really weird. Some people don't like to think about death let along prayers for the dead; but surprisingly, this is a source of comfort for me.

At our parish, our pastor will mention requests for prayers before the homily and at times, mention those who have passed on. After the announcements, if there was a death, he leads us into praying a "Hail Mary" and then:

Eternal rest grant unto them (him, her), O Lord.
And may perpetual light shine upon them (him, her).
May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

It's a short prayer. But said together, as a community, reminds me of our faith and what we believe about life everlasting. It makes me feel bonded. It also reminds me that, Lord willing, I will have a group of Catholics pray this exact prayer when it's my time to pass from this world into the next.

This tradition is a bittersweet one, but beloved by me because it says no one is forgotten. Within Catholicism, every major part of our lives - from birth, to marriage, to death, is branded by our faith. It says that even in death, we are connected.

This morning, I was doing my ironing near our front window. I could see cars going down the main street, with small flags on their hoods. It took me a moment to realize it was a funeral procession. Instantly I stopped and said a "Hail Mary." I've been doing this for awhile, now, not certain when I started. But every time I hear of death, I pray and ask for God's comfort for those who have lost someone dear. I know that as a Catholic, I'm not alone in doing this, that there are many who do the same thing.

It's amazing that these types of prayers used to strike me as being nothing more than lifeless rituals. Now they have a new meaning to me and are anything but lifeless. They are small channels of God's grace, flowing through us to those who are most in need. That to me, is a two-fold blessing - both for those who need it, and for myself - as I respect both life and death.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vatican Visitation of Women Religious to Issue Public Report

That's good news. I know many Catholics will be curious about the discoveries. I almost wrote "conclusions" but I'm not sure that's accurate. I know there have been evaluations, perhaps more data was collected, but I suppose we'll just have to wait to see if anything has been concluded from the report and more importantly, what will be done about it.

Orders such as the Sisters of Life seem to be doing well. And more women who have a vocation are drawn to the more traditional orders.

A new study of Roman Catholic nuns and priests in the United States shows that an aging, predominantly white generation is being succeeded by a smaller group of more racially and ethnically diverse recruits who are attracted to the religious orders that practice traditional prayer rituals and wear habits.

The study found that the graying of American nuns and priests was even more pronounced than many Catholics had realized. Ninety-one percent of nuns and 75 percent of priests are 60 or older, and most of the rest are at least 50.

They are the generation defined by the Second Vatican Council, of the 1960s, which modernized the church and many of its religious orders. Many nuns gave up their habits, moved out of convents, earned higher educational degrees and went to work in the professions and in community service. The study confirms what has long been suspected: that these more modern religious orders are attracting the fewest new members.

The study was already well under way when the Vatican announced this year that it was conducting two investigations of American nuns. One, taking up many of the same questions as the new report, is an “apostolic visitation” of all women’s religious orders in the United States. The other is a doctrinal investigation of the umbrella group that represents a majority of American nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The new study, being released on Tuesday, was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, for the National Religious Vocation Conference, which is looking for ways for the church to attract and retain new nuns and priests. It was financed by an anonymous donor.

“We’ve heard anecdotally that the youngest people coming to religious life are distinctive, and they really are,” said Sister Mary Bendyna, executive director of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. “They’re more attracted to a traditional style of religious life, where there is community living, common prayer, having Mass together, praying the Liturgy of the Hours together. They are much more likely to say fidelity to the church is important to them. And they really are looking for communities where members wear habits.”

Of the new priests and nuns who recently joined religious orders, two-thirds chose orders that wear a habit all the time or regularly during prayer or ministry, the study found.

New Nuns and Priests Seen Opting for Tradition, New York Times
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I believe women have a tremendous amount of influence in our society. It is women who usually teach their children responsible behavior. (I know there are more "stay-at-home" dads than ever before, but I believe women are still the majority in this role.) When I was a young child, I was taught more by Catholic sisters than priests or men. I can only imagine how our society will be affected if we have more Catholic sisters who return to the traditions of the Church. It will certainly be interesting to watch. It does seem as though we're witnessing a change in the tide.