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A resurgence of Christianity in Russia? August 9, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Ecumenism, General Catholic, Society.
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I found two interesting articles today concerning the resurgence of Christianity in Russia.  President Dimitri Medvedev and his puppet master, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, recently inaugurated a state holiday marking Russia’s first embrace of Christianity in the year 988.  This is the first time a major new religious holiday has been recognized by the state in Russia in centuries.  In addition, both Putin and Medvedev both publically attend Orthodox Mass every week, going so far as to be photographed kissing icons and visibly wearing crucifixes.   There is a major, governmental effort to encourage Orthodox Christianity and to reinvigorate the Church.  $100 million was recently provided from state coffers in order to refurbish many churches and monasteries that had fallen into disrepair and were vandalized during communism’s terrors.

This is all pretty cool.  I am gratified to see Christianity resurgent anywhere, but it is badly needed in Russia, where alcoholism, drug abuse, HIV, abortion, and numerous other social ills remain epidemic.  There is the beginnings of a resurgence there, but it is somewhat top-down, not bottom-up in its nature.  I am certain that Putin is invigorating the Orthodox Church to his own ends, even as he tries to stamp out evangelical efforts – I do not doubt that this man would not mind being made Tsar and Autocrat of All Russias.  But, on some level, it does seem genuine – he could easily manipulate the Church without being so very frequently seen in church, and without involving the Church in many aspects of official life.  Such a thing would be unthinkable in the US, all the more so as our society slides into neo-paganism.

Interestingly, nonetheless.  Russia has massive problems,and a return to God would help nearly all of them.  It will be interesting to see how genuine this seeming resurgence is.  While many young Russians are returning to church, and vocations are blossoming, it remains to see how long this will last.  And when will Orthodoxy embrace a more fully Marian theology and the role of Authority, and return to the One, True, Fold?  I pray for that every day, but I am not holding my breath.  Not for now, anyway. 

Would you have any interest in a Catholic President living his Faith without any reservations or shame, or do you think that would violate Church and state?  Would crossing himself in a Marian shrine be too “scary.”

Not for me! 

Stingy confession schedules August 9, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
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I’m a lucky guy.  I happen to go to two parishes in the Dallas Diocese that offer very generous confession times.  St. Mark in Plano is one of the best parishes in this regard, as they have about 4 hours of Confession a week with 3 priests in attendance each time.   The other parish has about 6-7 hours a week, with one priest.  I’ve argued for generous Confession schedules in the past, stating that my experience has been that “if you build it, they will come.”  At St. Mark, I think the number of confessions has exploded as more time has been added. 

This latter point is critical: a parish with 30 minutes of Confession one day a week is saying to the parishioners that a) Confession isn’t very important, and b) you probably don’t have many sins to confess, collectively.  Were that were true!  But with so many Catholics missing Sunday Mass for no grave reason, using contraception, aborting children, etc., it is unreasonable to think that parish X just doesn’t have many sinners.  Due to Original Sin and our fallen nature, that is just not possible.

Fr. Z had a post on this recently discussing this subject.  It seems that it is not rare for parishes to have as little as 30-60 minutes of Confession per week.  I know of a number of such parishes locally. The St. Joseph Richardson website indicates Confession is only available by appointment!  I know they’ve been waiting on a new pastor, but wow!  Many times, this 30-60 minute window is immediately prior to Mass, where the one priest hearing Confessions will have to excuse himself well before the 30 minutes is up to prepare for Mass.  As such, there are a number of local parishes where the parishioners have gotten the message – Confession is not important.  And so, they do not avail themselves of this Sacrament.  Is this a good thing for the salvation of souls?

I pray more pastors will prayerfully consider adding substantially more Confession time.  Emphasize the need to confess one’s sins verbally, to a priest, as St. James recommends in his book of the Bible, on a regular basis.  This should be done during homilies.  Also emphasize that to receive Communion unworthily is a grave sin, an act of great repugnance to our Lord.  My own personal experience, and that of several local priests, would seem to support the notion that stressing the need for Confession, and making it available, will lead to far more people in line during Confession times.  I have seen this at several parishes.  I pray the good priests who read this will consider adding more time for this very important Sacrament.

More evidence – sex abuse not a ‘Catholic problem’ August 9, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, scandals, Society.
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New research has emerged that puts the priest sex abuse scandals in the Church in a radically different light.  Dr. Thomas Plante of Stanford University has concluded that sex abuse among the general population of men is several times higher than that of the priests in the Church.  In addition, research shows that sex abuse in public schools, nationwide, is also several times more likely than at the hands of a priest.   In fact, a number of municipalities, like New York City, are becoming increasingly nervous that they, too, will soon face an onslaught of sex abuse cases, many stretching back decades, just as in the Church.  Municipalities, after all, have even deeper pockets than the Church, and will make very attractive defendants to contingency fee lawyers.

There would be some definite irony if some of the institutions that have attacked the Church over sex abuse wind up getting hoisted on the same petard.  Sex abuse has been an infinitely convenient club for those who wish to attack the Church – it’s indefensible, so one can hardly leap to the Church’s defense, and it accomplished the mission of many of the secular elites of silencing one of their most effective critics.  I’m not one to let the Church off the hook for priest sex abuse, nor am I one to instantly castigate those who seek restitution from the Church for whatever crimes were perpetrated against them, but I do think the Church has been made everybody’s favorite whipping boy on this subject for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with protection of children.  Many of the same folks castigating the Church would dearly love to expose children to pornographic sex ed in elementary schools, have them engaging in intercourse, possibly with contraception, at roughly the same ages, and continually foster a culture that is hostile to both a healthy childhood and family life.  So, I have taken most of the strident attacks from the likes of the NYT for what they are: partisan hostility that is seeking to advance a certain socio-political agenda antithetical to the doctrine of the Faith. 

I wonder how many young NYT copy editors have been the subject of harrassment at that august institution?  Or those of the Washington Post?  Could there have possibly been systematic harrassment, back in the dark days of the 60’s or 70’s?  Jesus, did, after all, caution us about casting stones.

For priests – how to quickly and economically convert your altar to Ad Orientem use…. August 9, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
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…….and it works for EF Mass, too!  I bet these guys didn’t have to spend $1000 to do this conversion!

h/t http://www.orbiscatholicus.org/

Would that we heard this in every parish regularly August 9, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, General Catholic.
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More great catechesis, in the form of a homily, from Fr. Larry Adamcyzk.  Mortal sin means death, death of the relationship between God and man.  Mortal sin is terrible, beyond description, really.  We need to be reminded that many things are mortal sins, and can put a self-constructed wall between ourselves and our Lord.  So few people today are cognizant of sin, so few accept the Doctrine of the Faith.  Fr. Corapi had one very good piece of advice this weekend – read the Catechism.   Ignorance of our Faith, since we are baptized and confirmed Catholics, is not an excuse.  We are required to know our Faith. 

All of Fr. Adamcyzk’s homily below:

One of the scariest words in the English language is “Cancer” because it reminds us of our mortality and that no one lives forever.  The love of God is planted deep within our being and serious illness gives us time to sit back and listen to that voice of God calling out to us.  But what about that Hopkins research student who was robbed and murdered recently?  Was he spiritually prepared to die?  This is what the Gospel for this Sunday is asking us?  Will we be free from sin when the Lord comes knocking at our door?  Today’s Gospel talks about two kinds of sin.  “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely.”  This is can be compared to mortal sin.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us thatMortal sin requires [grave matter],  full knowledge and complete consent. . . .Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.” And that “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.””  This is certainly a severe beating.  But the Gospel also says, “the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.”  This is similar to venial sin. The Catechism explains that “One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.”  Venial sin does not deserve hell but charges the person be punished only slightly.  But I also got to thinking about the part of the Gospel that said, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.”  As I began thinking, what kind of food allowance is Jesus talking about and what is the proper time?  “The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world,” Jesus tells us in St. John’s Gospel.  And when is the proper time for distributing this food but at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, especially on Sundays.  When the master comes will he find us doing so?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us in paragraph 2181The faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.”  So I began thinking.  How can the murder-robbery of that unsuspecting Hopkins students and missing Mass on Sunday, both be considered grave matter.  How can missing Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation be on the same moral level as murder, so that either, if committed with full knowledge and full consent of the will, could place the soul in hell, if unrepented?  How can murder and missing Sunday Mass deserve the same punishment?  The murder of the Hopkins’ student took the life of an innocent man for the sake of a few dollars; the sacrifice of Jesus took the life of an innocent man for the sake of our salvation.  Since Jesus was sacrificed for our sins, it was our sins that nailed Him to the cross. Since the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass makes that saving mystery present for us, refusing to worship the Lord, is one of the sins that nailed Jesus to the cross.  Those who deliberately fail in this obligation, without adequate justification, commit a grave sin.  The murder of the Hopkins student and willfully and knowing missing Mass without sufficient reason both involve the death of an innocent man.  God wanted to show us how much He loved us so he asked Jesus to give up His life so that God could show us how much He loved us.  It was not enough that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ.  God was not satisfied with loving only half-way.  God loved us unto death.  Because Jesus is true God, God loved us unto death.  Jesus accepted the Father’s will in total obedience.  What held Jesus on the cross when He could have walked away, as He did when the crowds wanted to crown Him king after the miracle of the loaves and fish?  What held Jesus on the cross when He could have walked away, was more than just the nails.  What held him on the cross was His love for you and me.  When we sin, we are telling God that we refuse to accept His gift of the life of His Son.  When we sin, we are telling Jesus that those nails in His hands and feet do not mean anything to us.  When we do not come to Mass on Sunday and Holy Days, we are saying that the cross of Christ is in vain, because we don’t care how much God loves us.  When we refuse to come to Mass, we are pounding those nails into Christ’s hands and feet as surely as a murderer plunges a knife into his victim.

Nashville bishop investigating dissent-spouting priest August 9, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in foolishness, General Catholic, sadness, scandals.
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I really don’t  like the word dissent, but heresy is so unfashionable these days.  We need a new word. 

That Nashville priest I blogged on last week who rejected a huge swath of Church doctrine (saying, as well, that “the people” of the Church rejected it as well) is being investigated by his diocese.  If disciplined, this will be the third time for saying essentially the same things over two decades.  Pray for his parish.  And pray for his conversion, to see the light of Faith fully and without corrupting it with his personal preferences, as we are all so wont to do. 

I’ll add this.  He may be right that a majority of Catholics, so poorly formed and under the influence of wayward shepherds such as this priest for so many years, do reject Church doctrine.  So what?  The Church is neither a democracy or a popularity contest.  It is the Truth!  It is the Fullness of Truth!  Christ prophesied that many would reject His Truth, as did St. Paul, who warned of those in the Church who would try to corrupt and bastardize the Gospel to their own ends.  I believe he called them wolves in sheep’s clothing. Fr. Breen may be no wolf, but he has been led severely astray, either by his own culpability or due to just being poorly formed and exposed to frequently unchecked heretical influences in the Church.  And he continues to lead very many more away.  I’m sure there are people in the Church reacting to his words like I react to Michael Voris.  That does not make them right.  One Savior, One Church, One Truth.  And it’s not up for debate or a vote.

Pray for them, in your charity, if you would please.

Fr. Corapi conference report August 9, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, General Catholic.
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So, I went to see Fr. Corapi down in San Antonio this last weekend.   Fr. Corapi doesn’t travel like he used to, and just came off an extended period of no travel, so when the notice of the conference came out almost a year ago, I eagerly bought tickets.  We have attended Catholic conferences of one type or another for three straight summers, so this seemed to fit right in.  My only mild reservation was that this would be an all day conference at an arena, and not in a hotel or convention center as before. 

Well, how was it?  Fr. Corapi was very good.  The conference organizers, Greg and Judy Alexander of the Alexander House had asked that Fr. Corapi speak on “Life, love, and the purpose of our existence,” so he wasn’t doing quite the same level of firebrand denunciation of the culture that has been common in alot of his talks lately.  But, it was really good to see him in person, and it was good that about 1/2 of the talk was material I had not really heard before, or didn’t recall having heard.  It was very cool to see Fr. Corapi celebrate Mass, which was a very beautiful, reverent Mass – incredibly, even in an arena with 10,000 participants.

However, about that arena.  I know San Antonio is not quite as affluent as Dallas, but the home of the Spurs, AT&T Center, is not nearly as nice as Dallas’ American Airlines Center.   The seating was cramped, more so than at AAC or even the old Texas Stadium, and we happened to be in a completely sold out section.  So, my wife and I and our baby boy, who was not cooperating, had to deal with the very cramped environs for the first half of the conference, then we gave up and moved to an empty section behind the stage where we could still see the video screen and had some room to move.  Another annoying aspect was that you were not allowed to leave.  Now, this was an 11 hour conference, not a 3 hour basketball game, and they searched bags thoroughly so it was hard to sneak anything in.  So, we wound up going through $80 in concessions, and even then, the concessions seemed to not anticipate the crowd, because at lunch there were lines of an hour or more at most of the stands.  I have to also add, unfortunately, that while Adoration was available, the Chapel was way too small and there was an hour line for that, too, and a two hour line for Confession. 

So, the setting was not ideal, but with Fr. Corapi only signing to 6 or so dates a year now, it was pretty much unavoidable with the unfortunate restrictions insisted upon by the arena.  I don’t think I’d repeat this particular type of conference – Fr. Corapi was very good, but I think I like the more free flowing Fullness of Truth type conferences to this huge scale single speaker type.

UPDATE: Terry Nelson at Abbey Roads has some thoughts on the subject of uber popular speakers and conferences.  Interesting.  I loved the painting – very apropos to me right now.