Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New #Catholic Blog: Orkney Catholic (Scotland)

Scots lady, "Coffee Catholic" just started a new blog and I wanted to invite my readers to check it out. If anything brings a smile to my face, it's a proud Catholic who wants to share their joy of Catholicism with others. Precisely the type of "new media use" our Holy Father would endorse!

Welcome to the Catholic blogosphere, Orkney Catholic!

Nancy Pelosi: Deaf, Dumb, and Blind to #Catholic Doctrine

A famous quote, allegedly from the Chinese, says, May you live in interesting times. If that isn't a good description of our current age, I don't know what is. I also believe that Nancy Pelosi, with all of her arrogance and misunderstandings of what it means to be Catholic, has reached her public apex at the exact moment the Church needs her the most. Need? Yes, need. I'll explain.

I read part of the story last night about Pelosi's interview with Newsweek's Eleanor Clift. The interview is filled with hubris and misplaced priorities. At one point, Pelosi has the gall to say that the "free will" of women outranks the Church's teaching on pro-life issues.
"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."

Difference of opinion? No, Madame Speaker, it is not a "difference of opinion." It is an issue of either believing life has value or not. If you belong to the Catholic Church and call yourself a Catholic, you are saying that you believe the doctrines of Catholicism, which according to Catechism of the Catholic Church, says quite a bit about abortion. (And by the way, this is the Catechism created as a result of Vatican II. From Pope John Paul II: "[the Catechism] is to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will.") Below are the specific doctrines:

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

Pelosi has defended her position by claiming women have a "right to choose" and at one point, even boldly showed her ignorance of Church teaching by claiming that the Doctors of the Faith "weren't sure" when life began. I have heard liberal Catholics defend their belief that abortion is acceptable by saying they are acting according to their conscience. (Part Three: Life in Christ, Article Six: Moral Conscience in the CCC.) I found an interesting section under IV Erroneous Judgement:

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.

Pelosi is blinded by her devotion to the Democratic Party's platform and it has guided her more than the Catholic Church. She has placed the Democratic Party as her god, and as such, is now experiencing the consequences of her divided allegiance. She claims to be a Catholic, but obviously, she is not a Catholic first.

I say that she has come at a perfect time because I believe in the United States, we are undergoing a fierce battle for Catholic identity. For many years, those who adhered to the teachings of the Magisterium were mocked and the Pope derided. Many Catholics who worship at the altar of the Democratic Party have consistently bashed the Catholic Church for her stance on abortion, homosexuality, and the priesthood. This is now coming to a head.

The more Nancy Pelosi tries to unsuccessfully defend her erroneous Catholic doctrine, the more opportunity faithful Catholics have to state exactly what the Church teaches. The more Pelosi tries to bend the faith to her own "opinion" and preference, the more opportunity the Church has to show the integrity of its doctrine. Pelosi is, to a certain degree, a gift to Catholics who are asserting Catholic identity within the public square. I now am reading the Catechism more than ever when these issues come up and am humbled by the wisdom of our spiritual forefathers.

Yes, Nancy, there is such a thing as moral absolutism and you are clearly on the wrong side of it. It is my prayer that God will give me the grace to beseech His throne to give you eyes to see and ears to hear. Because at the moment, you are deaf, dumb, and blind.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Politics Mixed With Religion Is a Bad Idea #tcot #sgp #Catholic

From the ever-thought-provoking The American Thinker, a great article: The Hypocrisy of the Left by contributor, Robin of Berkeley.

"...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?"

No, Robin, nothing is sacred. At least when it comes to leftists whose only focus is to destroy anyone who doesn't agree with them.

This is exactly what happens when politics control religion. The life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ gets drowned by the social justice crowd. Notice I said "when politics control religion." This is different than when religion controls politics. It may seem confusing or splitting hairs, but I see the Catholic Church's commitment to defending the rights of the unborn as an example of the latter.

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, encouraged U.S. Catholics to express our faith when debating politics. I know Catholicism has not shied away from continuing to uphold the dignity of life whether arguing the case for the unborn's rights or rejecting euthanasia as a valid option for a person in ill health. These issues are a perfect example of how a thinking Christian allows their faith to direct their actions in society.

The same could be said for a liberal Catholic who believe in pro-choice and same-sex marriage. However, there is a difference. Liberalism has taken the place of God within these "diverse" churches. And as far as being "tolerant," they fail miserably, showing an amazing level of intolerance toward those who do not share their views. When you get right down to it, those who are more traditional usually show a great deal of restraint toward those who differ with their beliefs. Leftists only show visceral hatred such as "Robin of Berkley" experienced.

The Church of Jesus Christ has been created to preach the gospel and save souls. That is its first and primary role. Liberals will twist the gospel and claim it's about "justice" but yet conveniently forget that God, who is holy and just, extended the gift of grace to us by judging the sin of the world and allowing His holy and perfect Son to pay the price. And it was a raw, bloody, nightmarish judgement of death by crucifixion. One way you know you're in a leftist church: they either minimize or deny the crucifixion and its meaning.

I don't have a problem with churches caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, or working to help those in need. I believe we are called to minister God's love to this world. But I do have a problem when a church makes those activities its primary purpose for existence. I definitely have a problem when such a church condemns a soul searching for salvation as "undesirable" because they don't hold the same leftists views. In fact, I'll come right out and say that such a church is no church at all but an auxiliary organization of socialism.

When politics trump religion in a church, the process of sanctification goes out the window. Instead of focusing on becoming holy, that church focuses on egalitarianism - which is a warped way of saying that life should be fair for everyone.

When did Jesus Christ say that life was to be fair? What I remember more than anything are His words, "The world has hated Me. It will hate you, too, if you follow Me." He and His disciples both experienced and spoke about suffering. Where are the lessons in a leftist church about redemptive suffering? Zilch. It's all about a sense of entitlement and avoidance of personal responsibility.

Look, if I'm a drug-addicted prostitute, it's no one else's fault by my own. If I'm a victim, I'm a "victim" of my own stupid choices. Period. I believe in churches encouraging such a person to seek God and turn from a sinful life but I don't see how it would help if she was given money and yet no Biblical counsel or challenge to seek first the Kingdom of God and receive the Sacraments.

When the Samaritan woman approached Jesus at the well, did He give her training on how to recognize abusive personalities or a class on boosting her self-esteem so she didn't hop from man to man? No. Instead, Jesus gave her first what she really needed: the Water of Life. Only after the conversation about the Water of Life did He ask her about her living situation.

This is a pattern with our Savior and Lord. He was more concerned with the state of someone's soul than with their finances, their homes, or their social status. What was paramount to Him was ministering first to their need for salvation. Healing or feeding crowds were only vehicles in which to transport a person to behold God and notice their need for His forgiveness. I've noticed over the years that churches get in trouble when they deify the vehicle, not God.

Robin later wrote an email to this Episcopalian priestess. "In this holiest of seasons, I wish for you a change of heart, an opening of the heart, to those who come to your door. Because when someone makes a phone call to you -- which isn't easy -- they are in need of God. Don't you, as a minister, have a sacred duty to respond with God's infinite love and mercy?"

There was no response. Because when you're a leftist, Robin, the liberal ideology takes precedence over everything else. Including a soul in need of salvation.

Oh, and by the way - Robin ended up celebrating Christmas eve in a Catholic church.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In Praise of Real Men #tcot #sgp #Catholic

I deliberated over whether to title this entry "In Praise of Men" or "In Praise of Real Men." I chose the latter because "real men" are men not only born with the obvious sexual identity of a man, but those who possess the rock-solid pursuit of being honorable, loyal, hard-working, and true to self. Women know the type of men I'm talking about. They're not Alan Alda. They're John Wayne.

In my early twenties, I flirted with feminism, drawn by the idea of equal pay for women. It didn't take long, however, to observe how many feminist books immediately attacked Christianity (as a male-dominated religion) and promoted a sneering condescension toward men in general. Some feminists loathed men so much that they consciously made the decision to become a lesbian. (Which is one of the reasons why I will never believe there is such a thing as a "gay gene.")

You Say Superiority Like That's a Bad Thing...

As I started to pray and ask God to give me His understanding of male and female roles, my eyes opened to "real men" and how difficult it is for them to persevere in our overly-feminized culture. One of the more successful attacks by feminists was to accuse men of being a "male chauvinist pig." (Notice how authoritarian figures such as police officers were also called "pigs?") Here are some interesting facts about the word, chauvinist. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it came from a French character in a play, Nicolas Chauvin, noted for his excessive patriotism and devotion to Napoleon in Théodore and Hippolyte Cogniard's play La Cocarde tricolore (1831). It also describes an attitude of superiority toward members of the opposite sex.

If this is true, then there are certainly a group of female chauvinists running around since they quite openly profess women being better than men.

Let's examine this concept of superiority. Would not an Olympian athlete be considered superior when he or she earns a gold medal? Would a student not be considered superior to her fellow students if she earned an "A" while most of the class earned a "C?" And would not a man be considered superior in strength in football? Superior is not a political concept. It is a comparative fact when dealing with intellect and physical prowess. However, we now live in crazy-land, where school sports have done away with keeping score so that the losing team doesn't feel so bad.

Do you remember the outrage some women had when they wanted to become firemen? The test, they claimed, was discriminatory. Brenda Berkman filed a lawsuit saying that the physical strength section (which kept women out) was unnecessary. She won and that part of the exam was removed. Excuse me, but I'm half-German and full of muscle. If I'm unconscious in a burning building, I don't want some female firefighter pulling half of me out because that's all she can handle. This is a clear case of a man being superior to a woman. A man's upper body strength will always trump a woman's and is a good reason why men should be firemen. Firefighters must have incredible strength and endurance, able to hold a hose full of water with 150 lbs. per square inch of pressure. A petite 130 lb. woman is not going to cut it.

So I happily concede that men are superior to women physically. Sure, there are some exceptions, but overall, men are simply stronger than women. And although there may not be as many of them, there still exist men who will throw themselves on a bomb to save others. Men like Jasper Schuringa realize that time is of the essence and that part of being a man is taking action. These are the "real men" in my book. Men who are acting upon something deep within themselves, a knowing of who they are and a clear definition of right and wrong.

Let's Hear It For Men Of Action

I suspect Jasper Schuringa and others like him had a sense of strength instilled in him at a young age. Decisions such as throwing oneself on a Islamofascist terrorist doesn't come from having the masculinity beaten out of you by a feminized school curriculum. It comes from having true masculinity modeled for you and realizing that our world needs men of action.

I will never forget how stunned I was when the Virginia Tech killer, Seung-Hui Cho, easily mowed down a number of students in their classrooms. At one point, he lined up a group of students and then shot them execution-style. My first thought was, where were the men? Were there no men who would rush this killer, tackling him to prevent further carnage? And then I thought about what our schools have done to young boys, penalizing them for being boys and beating any desire to take action against evil out of them. Because as far as our wimpy schools go, there is "no such thing as evil." Those who commit such horrific crimes are instead "victims" and must be given understanding, not judgement.

Well, real men know how to deal out judgement, in my book.

Real men don't sit around, waiting for some nutjob to aerate their bodies with a .22-caliber Walther P22 semi-automatic and a 9 mm semi-automatic Glock 19 handgun. Real men don't wait until a group of Islamofascist terrorists crash their jet into the U.S. Capitol building. Real men take the bull by the horns and say he who hesitates, is lost. Real men usually wear uniforms and don't care who they tick off. Real men will protect a woman, even if she's Hillary Clinton. Real men rock my world.

Are there any real men left? Yes and I believe more are on the way. It is my hope that fellow Catholic blogger (The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen), "Vir Speluncae Catholicus," is wrong on why we'll lose the war. Real men have saved the world before. I'm hoping they'll save it again.

(Video below: Harsh Language Involved!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I attended a beautiful midnight Mass last night, and a Traditional Latin Mass, at that! It was awesome to see so many new faces. I think we had around 400!

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

What I Love About Catholicism: Priests Are Awesome! #Catholic

Despite all attempts from the devil to destroy Catholic priests, the fact remains that their spiritual leadership and guidance are still in high demand. Whenever someone complains about "those priests" or throws all of them together as though talking about one nameless, faceless, monster-pedophile; I have to admit that I wonder about that person's experience with authoritative figures in their life.

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

Why We Will Always Have War #tcot #sgp #teaparty

Because leftist, Marxist, Communist, one-worlders, climate-change Chicken Littles, islamofascist, feminazi, Maoist-worshipping radicals won't leave the rest of us alone.

And we will always have to fight to get them to go away.

Bishop Tells Parishioners to Kneel During Consecration #Catholic

When I was thirteen, I visited a few Catholic all-girls high schools, taking examinations and evaluating their facility. One in particular was ultra-modern - even for 1976. The classrooms were "mobile," with movable wall separators and the courses were categorized as "modules." There seemed to be a very loose, transient flow to the educational schedule, which I imagine appealed to some. But for me, the deal-breaker was the chapel.

I walked into a spartan, large room that could easily pass for a multi-purpose room within a YMCA. A simple, modernistic altar was in the front and behind it was a cross that really looked more like a "plus" sign. There was no image of Jesus on the plus sign. What further concerned me was that there were upholstered chairs scattered around the room, missing something that I thought was pretty important. There were no kneelers. And yes, the irony is not lost on me that I ended up leaving the Catholic Church at age twenty to worship in some of the blandest "multi-purpose" rooms around, courtesy of the non-denominational church.

Since my return, I've visited several other parishes in my hometown. (I'm up to 9.) One, which not surprisingly, is the "university" parish, also did not have kneelers. When the time came for the consecration, I knelt and was touched to see a man and his son kneel in front of me.

What I would like to know is this: what is the justification for not kneeling during such a somber and holy moment? If a parish removed the kneelers, what was the reason why? I've heard that the Catholic Church in the early days had all the parishioners standing during consecration, so I realize it may not have been a consistent practice in our history. But still, my thought is if we have the resources now to retain kneelers, why aren't they in every church? Was this a part of the "wreckovation" some refer to when some of our most architecturally beautiful altars were destroyed in the 60's and 70's to make way for the abominable, ugly, altars that were supposedly the result of the "new life" that Vatican II brought?

All I know is that I still get teary-eyed when the consecration occurs and am in awe of God's provision for a Perfect Sacrifice. To be honest, if there was room, I would rather bow low, prostrate on the ground than kneel. It is that holy and in my opinion, we're on hallowed ground at that point in the liturgy.

What do you think? Catholic apologists, I especially appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What I Love About Catholicism: Not Having to Hear PC Churchspeak

I was listening to our local radio station's afternoon show and the topic was, "Phrases That Annoy You." We all have those certain, trendy phrases of speech that others think are cool but drive us nuts. For my husband, it's "24/7." He always says something about it if I use it in a sentence. (i.e. "He lives for the Buckeyes, 24/7.") For me it's hearing people say "fiddy" instead of fifty (as in "Fiddy Cents").

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

Vatican Investigation of Women Religious Extends to LCWR #Catholic

From U.S. Catholic:
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."

Full Article

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.

Marxist, Much?

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

Dad Barred From Taking Daughter to Church: Welcome to Americastan #tcot #sgp #teaparty

I just read about this case this morning and my jaw dropped (emphasis mine):
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."

Full Article

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."

Full Article

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

Gaudete Sunday

I just came home from a beautiful Gaudete Sunday. "Gaudete" is celebrated on the third Sunday of Advent and the word is taken from the first word in the Introit, meaning "rejoice." (source: Catholic Encyclopedia) Fr. L made us laugh with his wise insights into marriage and relationships. From what he said, I could tell he has counseled many married folks! I liked his "24 hour rule" which is: if your spouse did something that bothered you, address it within 24 hours. Otherwise, it's forfeit. Don't bring it up again, let it go. Pretty smart stuff from a man of the cloth.

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

What The Second Vatican Did To Catholicism: Blurred Identity Leads to Confusion #Catholic

Since returning the the Catholic Church, I quickly noticed the ongoing debate about the strengths and weaknesses of the Second Vatican Council. For those who have been reading my blog over the past year, you know my opinion. I have fallen into the camp of those who believe that the Second Vatican Council, for all its good intentions, has failed in its mandate to propagate the Catholic faith to her children.

I am one of what may be thousands who wandered from Catholicism into the transient world of non-denominationalism. Because a strong identity was never instilled in me, I tried to find it elsewhere. Because I didn't know what my faith stood for, I searched to find the truth that in essence, was already within me. The more I learn about my Catholic faith, the more I mourn the loss of what I was denied. The cost of implementing a strategy that stripped Catholicism of its sacred role was high. Too high. Not only has the Second Vatican robbed many "Cradle Catholics" of their birthright, it opened the door to political thought and action that has led to the ruin of the United States of America. (video) "Catholic" politicians who are really CINOs (Catholic In Name Only) repeatedly fail to represent Catholic doctrines such as pro-life and the sanctity of marriage.

Worse, some of our spiritual leaders, our bishops, have also failed to declare Catholic doctrine and hold Catholics accountable for supporting abortion and gay marriage. Of all religions in the world, Catholicism should never capitulate to fear. We are the religion that others love to kill and stood strong in the face of martyrdom. When I think of those saints who were fed to the lions as a roaring crowd approved - and then think of how some Catholic politicians cave like a house of cards to pressure from certain groups; my stomach turns. The CINOs weak acquiescence to evil shames the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Months ago, my twentysomething cousin and I were talking about men and dating. She was exasperated over the difficulty of finding decent men to date. "Where did all the 'real men' go?" She asked. My answer: "Feminism killed them off." Of course there are still "real men" around, but not as many as there could be if feminism hadn't infiltrated our classrooms, continually punishing boys for being boys. But the same question could be applied to our Church - where has "Real Catholicism" gone? Because as I read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I can vouch with certainty that its not found in "diversity" churches that celebrate active homosexuality, abortion, and Marxism.

What have we lost? In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, pinpointed the problem (emphasis mine):
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.
How I resonate with that last sentence! In the course of the years I was away from the Catholic Church, I was a member of: a Presbyterian church, a Baptist church, the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and a charismatic, prophetic church. Within each church, I sought to deepen my faith, grow closer to God, and serve others. I did gain much, but yet was I really gaining something new or simply acquiring what my Catholicism already possessed, unbeknownst to me? I believe now it was the latter.

I struggle with feelings of bitterness toward the Second Vatican because I know I'm not the only one who has been affected negatively by it. So many Catholics my age left the Church in the 70's and 80's because what we were given was a pale representation of our true faith. Think of this: our Catholic faith, which had stood firm for hundreds of years - providing spiritual nourishment to some of the greatest individuals who ever walked this earth, creating amazing institutions such as schools, universities, and hospitals, this faith that has such an honorable heritage in history; has been relegated to a political machine. Those of us who know our faith understand that this world is passing away - including all the political machinations it has borne. True security only lies within our relationship with God. That sacred relationship is protected and educated by the Catholic Church. Take the word sacrament. It is a Middle English word, from Anglo-French and the Latin word, sacramentum, which means: oath of allegiance, obligation, from sacrare to consecrate.

So not only do we revere and worship the consecration of the bread and wine into the Real Presence of Christ, we ourselves are being consecrated through the sacraments of the Church. We are taking an oath of allegiance to our God and accepting an obligation to be the Body of Christ on earth. When you really, really think of the profound meaning of this sacred relationship, it should give you pause.

Now where has this understanding been taught? Within a Mass that has huge puppets bouncing down the aisle? From rainbow banners thrown festively around "the supper table" altar? From Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion dressed as devils and witches for a Halloween Mass? No, no, and no.

We have lost the sense of the sacred relationship we have with God through the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This is why I believe there is a resurgence with the Traditional Latin Mass. There are more and more Catholics who are starting to wake up and say, "Wait a minute. I need the sacred in my life. My relationship with God isn't the equivalent of attending a circus. What is needed is reverence, silence, and pauses to ponder the greatness and awesome glory of God." What the Second Vatican Council did was bring the worship of God to the level of consumerism instead of lifting us up to the level of holiness. Only when we behold God in all of His glory, are we transformed. This doesn't happen when a priest is dressed as a clown.

Style will always be up for grabs and fodder for endless committee meetings. What the Catholic Church needs now more than ever is clarity, a strongly defined identity, and a re-embracing of our clear mission. Jesus Christ never said that making disciples would be easy. But He was clear on this: We are to teach what He has commanded. Not what godless political machines think we should teach.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fear and Loathing In Bimboland: Tiger Woods' Harem #tcot #sgp #Catholic

When I was in my mid-twenties, I was working at a temp job in a local beer company that was on its way toward closing. One of the guys who worked in production was funny and adorable. He was also married. He would flirt with me constantly and I would happily flirt back. Then my assignment ended and we agreed to meet for a drink after work. Even as I drove to the bar, I thought, What am I doing? Is this a danger zone or what? Luckily, he never showed up. I remember driving away thanking God profusely for giving me a break in spite of my blockheadedness.

That was the first near-collision with a married man. There were others. "Scotty" (not his real name) was another married man who half-pleaded with me at a company outing to be open to having a relationship. He insisted that his marriage with his wife was more like "brother and sister" and if I didn't say yes, someone else would. He had children with her. Appalled, I firmly told him he needed to talk things over with his wife, get counseling if needed, and if not - it would definitely be someone else because I didn't fool around with married men.

"Sean" was the toughest. When I worked at an insurance brokerage firm, Sean would visit frequently, wooing me with his dark Irish good looks and alluring Irish accent. He was also married. His co-worker, who often accompanied Sean on these visits, tantalized me with these words, "Sean is quite fond of you, you know..." I was very, very glad when work-related developments took him elsewhere.

Finally, there was "Mike," the cop. My girlfriend was a city police officer at the time and we would usually hit the downtown popular bars and dance spots on the weekends. Although she was off duty, she would immediately chat up the many police officers who would patrol the area, either driving slowly in their police cruisers or walking the beat. Mike was one of the regulars on patrol. My girlfriend told me how he thought I was cute and wanted to get to know me better, but admitted he was married.

"Married? Ack! Why on earth would I want to be with him?" I was both shocked and annoyed that my friend thought this was okay.

"He's a nice guy. Besides, you're not dating anyone else, I mean, he's somebody..." She trailed off, thinking that was all the justification I needed.

I told her under no circumstances would I be fooling around with a married guy. And didn't. Although tempted many times, I never went through with doing anything with a married man. There were several reasons for this. First, it's a well-known fact that when you're "The Other Woman," you will never have the full attention of your guy. Secrecy is paramount. No showing up at public events canoodling with each other. No romantic, intimate dinners in local restaurants. It's always about keeping the secret.

Second, I have a true-believer solidarity with women. Although I'm not a feminist (I prefer to define myself as "pro-woman"), I have a deep kinship with other women and could only imagine how I'd feel if as a married woman, found out another woman was sleeping with my husband. In fact, if faced with such a scenario, I'd probably go after the woman first.

When I think of my responses to each of those circumstances; and then think of what women did when offered the opportunity to sleep with Tiger Woods, I wonder why I chose to do one thing and they, another. What is it that persuades a woman sleep with a married man?

Hence, the "fear and loathing." My girlfriend nailed it when she pointed out that because I was single and with no romantic prospects, being with a married man would be better than being alone. Many women fear being alone. One of the strongest status symbols in our culture (and many cultures) is to be involved in a romantic relationship and most women will do whatever it takes to have it. This includes putting up with jerks, abusers, weirdos, and all manner of ill-matched men. It also is why bookstores will never run out of How to Make a Man Fall In Love With You and Declare You His Goddess manuals.

The loathing part may go even deeper. My theory is that when a woman fools around with a married man, deep inside she doesn't think she's worthy of being loved fully by an unmarried man. This could also be part of the mix when women stay in abusive relationships. It's an interesting twist that some women who fool with married men turn the tables on their accusers and say, "You're just jealous," as the porn star Joslyn James claims. (Scarlet Woman #10)

The reason this sordid tale of Woods cheating on his wife got my attention is because it reminded me once again about the truth and sustainability of God's purpose for women. When I was eleven-years-old, I asked my parents for a Bible that I could understand as part of my Christmas gifts. In fact, it was a Bible and small TV, to be specific. (Interesting combo, no?) I received both and was thrilled to have "my own" Bible. It was the Catholic English version, "The Way." One of the first passages I read that I felt was given to me by the Holy Spirit was this:
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)

From that point onward, I was determined to cultivate the kind of beauty that pleased God. I'm certainly not claiming to have achieved it, but I realize that this proved to be a pivotal point in my life, setting my internal compass of principle toward the kingdom of God. I don't think anyone would say cheating is okay, no matter how much it looks like "true love." I personally boycotted the movie "The Bridges of Madison County" because it showed a married woman having an affair with a man while her husband and kids were away. What was worse (in my eyes) was how the audience was swayed toward desiring that the woman abandon her family so she could embrace her "true love," the wandering photographer. I hate having my emotions manipulated by movies, especially when they trash my values. Most of my co-workers thought I was being too harsh. I didn't care. If you fall asleep at the wheel, don't be surprised when you crash.

It saddens me that so many in our society have abdicated their roles as honorable, self-assured women who would as soon sleep with a married man as they would throw themselves in front of an oncoming train. Because in essence, that's what has happened. When you become a citizen of Bimboland, you might as well paint a big "L" on your forehead for "Loser." Bimbos lose respect, lose friends, lose trust, and frequently lose themselves. It's a huge lie to think "this isn't hurting anyone." Everyone gets hurt when someone cheats - the wronged spouse, the cheater who doesn't want to admit there's a problem, and "the other woman" who is lying to herself that it's acceptable.

When you think of what God calls women to be (and there is so much), the perfection of it becomes more and more evident. Women are the keepers of civility in our society. When they live according to God's purpose for them, they hold others accountable for loutish, selfish behavior - whether it's their children or their men. They are the soft places to land, the compassionate, the generous watchers who notice when someone is feeling excluded or unloved. We as women have a high calling upon our lives and relinquishing it for a few minutes of cheap, phony intimacy is not a good trade. Not only do we deserve better, we're capable of better.

If I could wish for anything in the soap opera world of Tiger Woods, I would first wish for all the women who fooled around with him to repent, go to confession, and then start to go to church on a regular basis and read the Bible. I wish wholeness and healing for them. But if one is blind, they usually continue to stumble in the darkness, making the same mistakes again. For Tiger, I hope this is his "bottom." It would be good to know he's been given a huge wake-up call and has an opportunity to straighten himself out. I doubt his wife will continue the journey with him but he can make the choice to change. Everyone can. The question is, will they?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Women Religious Dissenters Show True Colors to Vatican #Catholic

From LifeSite News, emphasis mine:

December 8, 2009 ( - 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."

Full Article

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

Fond Memories of the Feast Day of St. Nicholas #Catholic

When I was a child, I remember looking forward to December for several reasons. Of course, we had Christmas, but we also had a special day early in December called "St. Nick's Day." On that day, my brother and I would return from school to find a stocking near the door, filled with fruit, candy, and perhaps a small toy or two. My Italian mother explained to us that "St. Nick" left it there for us to enjoy. I admit at times that "St. Nick" would meld with "Ole' St. Nick," which was a common nickname for Santa Claus, but I didn't really understand the difference until I was older. (And mom no longer made stockings for us.)

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.”

St. Nicholas, the 'Original' 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

To Rev. Michael G. Ryan on the New Roman Missal Translation: What If We Said Go For It? #Catholic

I've said it before and will say it again: did I return to the Catholic Church at an exciting time, or what?!

Rev. Michael G. Ryan wrote an article entitled "What If We Said 'Wait'? The Case for a Grass Roots Review of the New Roman Missal," published in America Magazine. I found the article "fisked" hilariously by Fr. Zuhlsdorf. His comments in red were so funny that I found myself several times bursting into laughter.

Some of the changes in the liturgy can be seen here. Below are a few examples:

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:


New Text:

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:


Present Text:

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.

New Text:

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.

I for one, cannot wait for this beautiful new translation. Fr. Ryan seems to be blind to the effects of the bland liturgy that was given to us after Vatican II. When I think of the words, "he took the cup" versus the new translation, "he took this precious chalice into his holy and venerable hands," there is simply no contest.

What our current translation of the Roman Missal did, at least for me, was strip the Mass of any sense of awe and mystery of what we were experiencing. It rendered the power of the gospel almost impotent and about as interesting as reciting a grocery list.

I know I may come across as being harsh. But after years of being involved in the "touchy-feely" auditoriums of non-denominationalism, I can attest to the fact that when you water down the sacred, you get weak faith. Church, in my eyes, should be like a spiritual "boot camp" of sorts. It should help me develop my faith so I can take a lickin' in the world and still keep on tickin'. There are hard issues in our world but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Those who imagine that our life "today" is so much more complicated than those who were living "yesterday," miss the point that humanity never changes. We may have electricity and a bunch of overpriced gizmos to collect, but anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, and sloth - hasn't changed. Selfishness hasn't changed. Cruelty still exists.

What can equip us as believers against such a sinful world and our sinful nature? The lulling words of insipid praise songs and the rousing calls to join Marxist organizations that promise "justice for all?" And how would that help a believer if indeed they were to face a firing squad to be martyred for the faith? Would such a believer try to remind their oppressor that they supported the power coup all along? Would the issue of faith, sacrifice, and submission play a part in the conversation?

This is why I love the idea of a newer, beefier, translation. St. Paul said there was a time to move from milk to meat and sadly, many Catholics have only had milk to drink. (And watered-down milk, at that.) The new liturgy will challenge many, yes - but instead of being viewed as a "threat" to one's prayer life, why can't it be viewed as a challenge to grow? Why can't the new translation be received as a call to go deeper in our faith? Because that's how I'm viewing it.

Over the year, as I've spoken to a few people about why I returned to the Catholic Church and in particular, fallen in love with the Traditional Latin Mass, I've used the illustration of the "tough teacher" in schools. I think if we were all honest, we would admit that it was those teachers that we "loathed," the ones who continued to harp on us and claim we could do better - who actually did get our best. We may have given it to these teachers grudgingly, but we gave it to them. And secretly, we had to admit to ourselves that we were the better for it.

The TLM demands something of me. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this more than ever. Who demands anything of me, other than my boss? Who requires that I show up, giving it my all, my everything, in order to acquire something so precious as my spiritual growth, as the TLM does?

I've always felt a little hesitant about referring to the Mass as a "celebration." It is, of course, a celebration of our Lord's victory over death, but it is a somber, more serious matter to ponder. Puppets and sappy liturgical dance are inappropriate during such a time of reflection. Such creative expressions of the faith are fine for special events outside of the Mass but during Mass, we are remembering something profound. Puppets and liturgical dancing only serve as distractions.

I think the new translation is going to mix it up wonderfully, and for those who balk at change can be reminded that most of them voted for a President who made "hope and change" his motto. Change, we've been told, is good so that we can progress. I think the new Roman Missal is going to help the Church get out of a rut, a sad, barren rut - in order to move us forward into rich fertile faith that will mean something again. I don't think I'm the only one saying to the USCCB: Go for it.

Vatican Apostolic Visitation to Women Religious: We're Not Going Anywhere

Well. Although some women religious have not met the deadline for their response, and some have sent in incomplete responses, the Apostolic Visitation Office says they are moving ahead as planned.

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.”
Read the article

So get your No. 2 pencils sharpened, New Age crystal-mamas. You're not getting a pass with this one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The 'Twilight' Series: Chivalry, and Chastity #Catholic

I admit I've read the entire "Twilight" series, written by Stephenie Meyers. I've been interested in vampire stories ever since the wacky soap opera, "Dark Shadows," drew me in with its Gothic moodiness and creepy characters. My interest eventually led me to Anne Rice's vampire novels, which I later stopped reading as I realized they were just too doggone seductive.

Vampires have never been "good guys" in my eyes. There may have been unfortunate reasons for their "birth" as an immortal bloodsucker, but overall, I'd say they were nasty characters - until I read Meyer's portrayal of them and specifically, her main hero, Edward Cullen. I never expected to appreciate a fictional vampire but I found myself glad for the author's background (She's a Mormon.), which I believe found it's way upon the book's pages. It's not so much that her Mormon doctrines were included in the storyline, but rather her portrayal of relationships (they are respected) and topics like the state of one's soul, which is honestly discussed. I can only think such considerations would come from a woman of faith.

It's been awhile since I did anything with "Castitas," my videos focused on promoting chastity, especially for younger people. But reading the Twilight series has reminded me of how badly our culture needs chaste characters, and how much so many of our young people hunger for them. Obviously, they are no longer common. Turn on any sitcom and it will feature premarital sex as though it's the norm. Even Christian characters who seem to promote chastity, as the outwardly-beautiful-but-inwardly-ugly Quinn on the hit series "Glee," end up pregnant. The clear message is that no matter how hard someone promotes chastity - in the end, it's a farce, a fool's errand - because everyone knows that all teens have sex.

Those who desire chastity have an uphill battle. There are few celebrities who promote it, few educators who believe in it, and few government officials who want to include it in sex education. Those who want to preserve their virginity until they are married are typically mocked for being hopelessly out-of-touch with reality.

But now the chaste have a new, unlikely hero - a fictional vampire. Edward Cullen meets the heroine, Bella Swan and informs her that although he looks seventeen, he is actually more like 109-years-old. His polite and respectful manners are from another era, and goodness, how this makes him even more attractive. Unlike the twenty-first century teenage boy who expects to bed immediately any girl he meets - Edward uses incredible restraint to resist Bella. There are two reasons for this: First, Bella has the type of blood that seems to be the perfect match for Edward's vampiric thirst. Second, because Edward loves Bella, and because his incredible strength would kill her if he released his passion for her, he chooses to avoid any situation that would lead to intimacy.

Both choices show something that as Christians we know but rarely see reflected in entertainment - self-sacrifice. In this series, we have a man who truly loves a young woman enough to say no to his own desires. In fact, all throughout the story, we see Edward's character time and time again either save Bella from harm or save her from his own kind's killing instinct. Above all, he wants to keep her safe. Of course Bella, in her typical teen-angst way, doesn't see this. She only knows she loves Edward and doesn't want to be separated from him, not focusing on the truth that they already are separated by mortality.

But back to the chastity bit. I know for a fact that women yearn for chivalrous men who will put a woman's well-being above his own. Our culture has almost destroyed such men. After years of feminism and the degradation of masculinity, it is no surprise that most young men have been stripped of treating a woman with respect. And I know women have played their part in this unfortunate development. With female celebrities who dress like hookers and talk like salty sailors, it's no wonder they're mistreated, either by the press or their boyfriends.

I like how this article in The Catholic Herald, "Why Girls Love Chaste Edward Cullen," pinpoints one of the most persistent memes in teen-hood and eventually adulthood: the attraction women have for the "bad boy." I am thrilled to see this assumption finally get challenged. Years ago, when I taught workshops for single women over 40 who wanted to find love, I remembered a middle-aged woman saying, "I'm attracted to the "bad boys." I can't help it, though, they are just so sexy!" I responded by saying that getting a broken heart or feeling used isn't really sexy. I said it then and will emphasize it now - women get what they allow. No one deserves to be mistreated, but if a woman allows anyone to mistreat her, that's what she'll get.

If my male readers will forgive me, I pose the following theory: when women start to respect themselves, men will respond accordingly. When women carry themselves with the dignity and wisdom that God intended for them to have, they may be surprised to find that it awakens within a man an innate desire to win her affections. Long ago, chivalry included a man fighting for the affections of his beloved. Thankfully, it isn't extinct and in fact, may be experiencing a resurgence. Many women are realizing that treating men as contemptible objects and then expecting them to cater to their every whim isn't exactly going swimmingly well. Radical feminism's extreme hatred and revulsion of men has left many women lonely and excluded. "It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a contentious woman." (Prov. 21:9) How true.

Edward Cullen has brought the ideals of chivalry and chastity to a new generation and it couldn't have come at a better time. As older women teach the younger, they can include a modern version (if slightly unusual) of a man who loved a woman enough to say no - to both himself and her, so that she would be saved. And it wouldn't be a bad idea for young men to study some of the attributes of Edward. Selfless devotion hasn't had such an advocate for quite some time.