jump to navigation

My man Voris – he’s done it again August 10, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, General Catholic.
comments closed

Not much to add – I agree totally with his description, diagnosis, and prognosis.

This man truly loves the Church and those in it.  To those that can’t stand him – I’m sorry, he speaks the Truth that has always been spoken.

Some thoughts on renovating Churches August 10, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
comments closed

An interesting post at New Liturgical Movement discusses how to make many of our ultra-modern, and now often ultra-dated, Catholic Churches look both less dated and more fully Catholic. 

The sanctuary walls are, as a rule, made of flat wood, concrete and glass wrapped in metals with an industrial look — often matching the furnishings on the stark altar. The windows are frosted or tinted in muted tones of sky blue, lavender, amber or pink. If there are stained-glass images, they are ultramodern in style, to match any art objects that make sense in this kind of space. The floors are covered with carpet, which explains why there are speakers hanging in the rafters. The final product resembles a sunny gymnasium that just happens to contain an abstract crucifix, the Stations of the Cross and one or two images of the Virgin Mary.

“The whole look was both modern and very bland,” said Matthew Alderman, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s classical-design program who works as a consultant on sacred art and architecture.

“It was a kind of beige Catholicism that was ugly, but not aggressively ugly … and these churches looked like they were in a chain that had franchises everywhere. It was that whole Our Lady of Pizza Hut look that started in the 1950s and then took over in the ’60s and ’70s.”

The problem is that many Catholics believe that this look that represented an urgent response to contemporary culture — especially after Vatican II — has now gone painfully out of date.

Few things age less gracefully than modernity.

The article goes on to state that, unfortunately, very few parishes have the resources to destroy the current sanctuaries and build new ones.  Helpfully, then, the article gives some guidance on how to remodel/redecorate sanctuaries to sharpen their Catholic identity, heighten the sense of worship, and convey more of a sense of the sublime mystery and connection to the Heavenly Sacrifice that is re-presented during Mass.  An accompanying article gives more explicit examples of how to, relatively cheaply and quickly, modify existing Church structures to uplift and inspire in a very reverent, faithfully Catholic manner.  Simple changes can lead to rather impressive results:



UPDATE: A reminder from Orbis Catholicus that Catholic art lives:

More problems at Seton – ‘gay friendly’ parish using questionable materials August 10, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.
comments closed

I sadly continue to have to report on things going on at St. Elizabeth Seton parish in Plano.  I have reported in the past that Seton has been rated as “gay-friendly” by the Vatican- and USCCB-condemned New Ways Ministry.   One might wonder how one gets rated as a gay-friendly parish?  Well, one way is by having a ministry, Outstretched Hands, that ostensibly offers some kind of ‘Catholic counseling” for the parents and family members of homosexuals.  The basis for this Outstretched Hands group is a set of lecture materials called “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality,” and therein lies the problem.

“Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” seems innocuous enough on the surface.  It was put together by the father of a gay son named Jerry Furlong.  However, in reading through the materials, which are available online at the Seton link, I immediately saw a number of items for concern.  First and foremost, as a matter of theme, the entire set of “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” is totally oriented, and I mean totally, toward dismissing legitimate traditional views of homosexuality as sinful behavior, and instead tries very hard to get family members and friends to “accept” the homosexual orientation of their relation.  In fact, while the document does, in Section 5, discuss the Church’s proclaimed doctrine on this subject, it offers severe criticism of that doctrine within Section 5, as well as dedicating Sections 6, 7, and 8 to dissenting views that seek to take apart the doctrine established by the Church.   I must note again for the record, that the teaching the Church gives on homosexuality is definitive and unchanging, and must be accepted by all in the Church as an act of Faith.  This teaching states that the homosexual orientation is objectively disordered and that homosexual acts constituted grave sins

Second, it is in its sources that “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” is most revealing.  It is a veritable who’s who of dissenting or outright heretical Catholics over the past 30 years or so.  Much of the material is based on that drawn up by the discredited Fr. Robert Nugent and Sister Jeanine Gramick, two extreme proponents of homosexual acceptance and even reverence by the Church. The work of Nugent and Gramick was specifically condemned by the Vatican in 1999 after repeated attempts to engage with them and convince them to modify their stance on homosexuality in light of the declared doctrine of the Faith.  They refused.  Thematically, “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” draws deeply from the work of Nugent and Gramick, and repeatedly cites quotes from both.  In addition, there are numerous other “dissenting” Catholics cited in the 8 part “Let’s Talk” series, including:

  • Bishop Raymond Lucker
  • Msgr. William Shannon
  • Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (who repeatedly compares active homosexual Catholics to those in the military – both are wrong, apparently, but while claiming he is no one to judge, he plainly makes it known who he thinks is more sinful)
  • Patricia Schoelles
  • Fr. Richard McBrien (is anyone surprised?)
  • Archbishop Rembert Weakland (ditto)
  • Charles Curran

Well, the list goes on an on.  Strangely, I can’t find any quotes from Bishop Sheen, Fr. Groeschel (who deals with issues of homosexuality very frequently), or anyone else faithful to the Magisterium of the Church.  Virtually all the quotes are from well known dissenters and regulars in the NCR/Call to Action circuit. In addition, while the “Let’s Talk” series dedicates 10 pages to the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality, about 40% of which consists of arguments against that doctrine, it spends the next 34 pages largely trying to take apart that doctrine.  It is clear where the emphasis lies: Church doctrine is not definitive and unchanging, but is up for debate and can be bent to suit whatever particular group happens to be favored by the progressives at the moment.

And so we see another problem with the “Let’s Talk” series, where there is not just tolerance for those with a homosexual orientation and help to get them to lead a chaste life dedicated to continence in accord with the Truth revealed by Christ, but an expressed acceptance not only of homosexual orientation but also of homosexual acts.  In Section 7, stories are told about homosexuals in the Church.  All of these stories involve those in homosexual relationships, and there  is no reason to believe, given the stories told, that these people are leading lives of chastity.  Quite the contrary, the stories include descriptions of partners and even quitting jobs when being encouraged to lead a chaste life.  Although other parts of the “Let’s Talk” series are less specific, the message throughout the series is clear: not only is the homosexual orientation to be tolerated and accepted as a Cross to bear for Christ, but, to the contrary of clear Church doctrine and over a dozen Biblical prohibitions, homosexual acts are to be accepted and treated as not only normal, but some glorious gift from God by the people of the Church.  In essence, this profound misdirection in the materials of the “Let’s Talk” series at times subtly, but at other times openly, encourages both homosexuals, and their Catholic families and friends, to believe things contrary to the proclaimed doctrine of the Faith.  Throughout the series, references to chastity and continence are, at best, incidental; the entire series is based on changing thinking of faithful Catholics towards acceptance of homosexual acts.

As such, one will find few, if any references, being made to the numerous Catholic bishops, priests, theologians, and lay people who DO accept Church doctrine – they are as marginalized by the “Let’s Talk” series as any group has been.  As I stated earlier, there are no references to Fr. Benedict Groeschel, to the dedicated COURAGE ministry, to Terrence Cardinal Cooke, to Fr. John Harvey – in short, to any of those Catholics who work to aid those with a profound homosexual orientation in striving towards a chaste life, towards offering up the use of their sexuality as a great gift to God.  In contrast, at times the “Let’s Talk” series seems to be arguing in favor of a completely equal acceptance of active homosexual relationships, up to and including gay marriage. 

There is more, such as confused interpretations of Dignitatus Humanae which seek to make personal conscience trump all doctrine of the Faith, but this is a blog post, not a dissertation, and I don’t want to bore you, my dear, sweet readers, so I must conclude.

I am quite certain that the very good people of Seton who instituted this program of Outreach towards gays and their families have done so from the best of intentions.  Unfortunately, perhaps in their zeal to overcome past maltreatment of homosexuals, they have chosen to use materials which are problematic on a number of fronts.  My only concern is that the doctrine of the Church be presented as fully and faithfully as possible.  After having read through all of the “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” materials, I cannot conclude that this material is Faithful to the declared, inviolate doctrine of the Faith.  I also know that there have been complaints about the materials used for some time – at least for over a year that I am directly aware of.  I am not the first to raise these concerns.  Fortunately, there are today groups like COURAGE dedicated to helping those Catholics with a strong same sex attraction to lead lives consonant with the Faith.  I would ask that Fr. Petter and the other staff at Seton reconsider their use of the “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” materials and the current direction of their gay outreach program. 

One final note: I don’t like having to repeatedly bring things up about St. Elizabeth Seton.  I know some there think I’m some wrathful man with a ridiculous sense of self-righteousness, casting down judgements on those whose Faith doesn’t reach my exalted heights.  In actuality, the opposite is true, I’m very aware I’m nothing more than a poor, repeatedly failing sinner.  It’s because I know the self-inflicted pain of sin, ongoing, heart-wrenching pain, that I cling so tightly to the Truth revealed by Christ through His Church, and I care deeply not only about the Church in general but about all of our local parishes and the people who belong to them.  It pains me to see that people may be being led, the best of intentions notwithstanding, away from the doctrine repeatedly made clear by the Church.  That is why I bring this up.  That is why I pray these materials will no longer be used, and that the direction of the gay outreach at Seton will change.

Phil Lawler jumps on the bandwagon August 10, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, Society.
comments closed

Want to be able to provide for extensive old age social welfare programs?  Have more children.  What is the best insurance for a growing economy?  Have more children.  Want to encourage innovation in every respect?  Have more children.  Unfortunately, our government pursues policies that are hostile to families and discourages having children

I’ve argued in the past that the only way to pay for programs like Medicare and Social Security is to have large families.  That way, the number of young people supporting the older generations (which we should do, out of charity, but I would rather see individual families do more multi-generational cohabitation and care) is kept at a reasonable ratio.  As Lawler concludes:

Policies that discourage child-bearing also discourage saving and investment. Without saving and investment, the economy won’t grow. Without economic growth, tax revenues will falter. Without rising tax revenues, we can’t continue making those entitlement payments to the elderly.

Oddly enough, the best way to ensure security for the elderly is not to expand their entitlements, but to encourage young parents to have more children.

Due to chronically low birth rates in the US over the last 40 years (they have averaged slightly less than 2.0 children per woman, below replacement rate, only unconstrained immigration has made up the difference), we now face a situation where we cannot possibly afford the elder care benefits promised to the baby boomers.  That generation being the one, by the way, that most directly contributed to the collapse in the US fertility rate.  Whereas their parents averaged almost 4 children per woman, the boomers, native born US citizens, averaged about 1.7.  And so, there will not be nearly enough young workers to care for them. 

But, the US government continues to pursue policies that discourage having children.  High confiscatory taxation and very modest tax credits for having children have had a strong effect on many people, discouraging them from having children at all, or one or two at most.  The culture also emphasizes this: we are constantly presented with images of a “normal” family consisting of a mom, a kid or two, and perhaps a dad, doddering old fool that he is.  The present path of the government and culture is one of long term economic decline.  Witness Japan – yes, they had a real estate bubble, but why will their economy simply not grow?  Two main reasons, aside from structural problems – lack of children, and very high (and increasing) expenses for caring for a very rapidly aging population.  This same probem is prevalent in Europe, where real economic growth in many countries is stagnant.  Again, the reason?  Lack of children. 

As Robert Samuelson, the only sensical writer for the Washington Post, says:

In poor societies, people have children to improve their economic well-being by increasing the number of family workers and providing support for parents in their old age. In wealthy societies, the logic often reverses. Government now supports the elderly, diminishing the need for children. By some studies, the safety nets for retirees have reduced fertility rates by 0.5 children in the United States and almost 1.0 in Western Europe, reports economist Robert Stein in the journal National Affairs. Similarly, some couples don’t have children because they don’t want to sacrifice their own lifestyles to the time and expense of a family.

We need to avoid Western Europe’s mix of high taxes, low birth rates and feeble economic growth. Young Americans already face a bleak labor market that cannot instill confidence about having children. Piling on higher taxes won’t help.

Notice that 0.5 children figure.  I have no idea how it was computed, or if it is accurate, but if the US had averaged 2.7 children per woman over the past 40 years, as opposed to slightly less than 2, we would not have any difficulties paying for social security, Medicare, and all the other goodies people want.  It is ironic that the very safety net that is supposed to save the elderly, is driving a situation that makes paying for that care impossible.  As the saying goes, the Lord sure works in mysterious ways.