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The saints and mortification August 31, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic.
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Nowadays, mortification seems to have gotten a bad rap.  Not many people advocate that Catholics should practice it, except perhaps in some occasional fasting.  It is amazing to me that this seems to be the case, because so many of the great saints of the Church from past practiced mortification regularly, and not just a little bit, but very painful, onerous mortification.  St. Rose of Lima wore a hairshirt studded with sharp metal barbs and slept on a bed of broken tiles (ouch).   But some today seem to think that practicing mortification can actually be a sign of love of self, of wanting to elevate oneself to a higher plane of holiness and thus look down on others. 

St. John of the Cross was a big proponent

If……..someone, whether he be a superior or not, should try to persuade you of any lax doctrine, do not believe in it nor embrace it; even though he might confirm it with miracles.  But believe in and embrace more penance and detachment from all things, and do not seek Christ without the Cross.

OK, so he seems pretty much in favor.  Any more?

Things that do not please us seem to be evil and harmful, however good and fitting they may be…….Now, until God gives us this good in Heaven, pass the time in the virtues of mortification and patience desiring to resemble somewhat in suffering this great God of ours, humbled and crucified.  This life is not good if it is not an imitation of His life.  May His Majesty preserve you and augment His love in you, as in His holy beloved.  Amen. 

Both aforementioned saints, and others (like St. Catherine of Siena), probably dramatically shortened their lives through their practices of mortification.  In a sense, they had such a burning desire to be close to God, to suffer for Him, that they burned their bodies up and shortened their lives, hastening the day when they would receive their Crown of Glory.  Their mortifcation played a part in that.  I have been counseled by some that mortification is bad, and certainly the dominant culture hates such self-sacrifice and feels that it is crazy.  But it has a strong tradition in the Church – even Pope John Paul II practiced it periodically.  I wonder, can it be an effective remedy for temptation?

One final quote – if anyone thinks I’m hard on them with my blog (Hi, Fr. Petter!), be glad I haven’t the strong spirit of St. Catherine of Siena:

You have abandoned the counsels of the Holy Spirit to listen to the Evil One; you were a branch of the true Vine, and you have cut yourself off with the knife of self-love.  You were the beloved daughter of your Father, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, and now you have abandoned him. 

We’re such tenderfoots nowadays.

Some great news – UPDATED TWICE! August 31, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic.
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Some good news on goings on in the Diocese:

The Cistercians in Irving had three men make their professions of solemn vows on August 15, and two men ordained to the priesthood, and two to the diaconate, on August 20.  There are now 28 brothers at their monastery.  This is a great grace.  Pray for them. 

Last week I had the priviledge to be at a luncheon for two new diocesan priests, Fr. Marco Rangel of St. Mark and Fr. John Szatkowski at St. Elizabeth Seton.  They informed me that there are 12 men entering seminary for the diocese this year.  In addition, three men should be ordained next June, followed by six (six!!) in 2012.  Pray God that these young men continue in their vocation, are extremely well formed, and will emergy as wonderfully holy, orthodox priests for this diocese so in need of such good men.  I do not know how many years it has been since this diocese ordained six priests in a year – 30 years, more?   

There is a welcoming party for the seminarians being held at the Fairmount Hotel in downtown Dallas on October 5th.  Holy Cow, tickets are $150 each!  Well, if you loves you some seminarians and don’t mind the Fairmount getting a healthy cut, go sign up for the party here. 

Otherwise, you can make a donation to the seminarians at Holy Trinity Seminary here.

UPDATE:  Commenter ‘Dallas’ offers the following:

The Trinitarian Auxiliary sponsors a variety of projects including the “Seminarian Welcome Gift Packs,” Christmas gift and “Secret Prayer Partners” programs, designed for spiritual and moral support of the seminarians throughout the year. Auxiliary members also assist with the annual Seminarian Welcome Dinner. Annual membership dues are $25. To become a member of the Auxiliary or for additional information, contact Rita Backus, 972 438 2212.

UPDATE 2: Fr. Cliff Smith from St. Mark in Plano wrote to tell me that the last time 6 men were ordained in the Diocese was 1996, when he was ordained.  So, 16 years will have passed.  Pray to God that 16 more years don’t pass before we see 6, or more, men ordained in one year!

A scholarly deconstruction of women’s ordination August 31, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.
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Fr. Phillip Neri Powell, O.P. Ph.D, pretty much demolishes all the arguments in favor of women pretending to be priests women’s ordination.  It’s a very long post, so just a few excerpts

First, notice the origin and ground of the objections. All of them are based on one or more of the following mistakes:

a) Priesthood is about power
b) “Access” to the priesthood is about rights and justice
c) The “exclusion” of women from the priesthood denies humanity of women. . .
d) . . .and it denies their proper place as potential “Christs for others”
e) All exercises of Church authority are excluding
f) Tradition is always about male privilege
g) Women would make better priests because of their natural empathy and compassion
h) Jesus’ exclusion of women from the priesthood was culturally based and therefore reformable
i) Scripture is silent on the nature of the priesthood b/c it is a third century invention of males
j). Women report feeling called to the ordained priesthood, therefore the Church ought to ordain them.

Let’s answer (briefly) each in turn.

Priesthood is about power. No, it’s not. Priesthood in the Catholic Church is about service. Do priests often mistake their office of service as a privilege in the use of power? Yup. But that’s an abuse of the office and in no way changes the actual nature of the office. Men are ordered to Christ, Head of the Church, to serve his people as he did: sacrificially in leadership. When supporters of women’s ordination (WO) claim that women must be allowed to share in the governance of the Church as priests, they mistake the office for a political one.

Access” to the priesthood is about rights and justice. Wrong again. The only right a Catholic has as a Catholic in the Church is the right and duty to serve others. Justice is getting what one deserves. No one–not even men–“deserve” to be ordained, to serve as ordained priests. To claim that ordination is a right is bizarre given that men are called by God and confirmed by the Church to be priests. This use of democratic rhetoric is attractive but misplaced. You cannot be the subject of an injustice if you have no right to that which you have been denied. I am not being treated unjustly b/c I cannot vote for the next Italian presidential election. 

The “exclusion” of women from the priesthood denies their humanity. In fact, the Church’s teaching on ordination reaffirms the humanity of women by clearly laying out what it means to be human, male and female.

It goes on quite a bit.  Read the whole thing, as it’s a very handy resource on one of the biggest points of confusion and misinformation in the Church today.
I do disagree to one degree, however – the priesthood is about power.  To the women.  They want that power they see the priesthood as encompassing.  And their allies among those in the Church who want to see it as a lay-run organization with, naturally, themselves as the key leaders, again, an exercise in obtaining power.  Acts of the Apostasy recently had a post on the very heretical and impertinent “Voice of the Faithful” sending an incredibly rude, condescending, and sophmoric letter to Pope Benedict XVI, urging him to adopt the whole leftist program – pro-contracept, pro-gay marriage, pro women’s make believe ordination, etc.  The way VOTF talks down to the Holy Father is truly mind boggling – again, power.   To wit:
This cancer is the clerical culture. It sprang up, as we all know, in the Rome of Theodosius, when Christian leaders began to develop a cultic priesthood modeled on that of pagan Rome. This gave newly recognized Christian priests a privileged status in society and the requirement of abstinence from sexual activity the night before officiating at the public ritual. Over the centuries, the clerical caste took on more and more of the feudal structures and trappings of power. Today the Roman Catholic Church looks like a large, wealthy, highly organized multinational corporation, curiously dressed in the pompous trappings of an ancient feudal monarchy. Its princely bishops and priestly vassals encircle their papal monarch pledging unconditional loyalty and obedience, while many of the faithful serfs continue to pay, pray and obey their exalted leaders.
And some say I’m too big for my britches.  My only words to the Holy Father would be “Yes, Your Holiness.” 

Should you stay or should you go? August 31, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
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I have been asked by people at times, when I blog on something about a given parish, perhaps, whether they should leave their parish or stay there after they learn about things that may not be so great.  The issue seems to devolve down to – should we stay and continue to try to witness and change that particular parish, or should we leave and go find a home more conducive to what Christ seems to be calling us to?  This is a very difficult issue to decide, very personal.  I have counseled in the past that it is really up to the individual or family to make this call.  However, a few thoughts on this topic:

  • If you wish to stay and witness, how do you plan on going about that?  That is to say, can you find some specific things you can do that might help bring a greater reverence, or abandonment to Christ, in your parish? 
  • It may be possible to both leave, and stay.  One big factor for people is not giving money to causes that their sensus fidei has revealed to them to be antithetical to the Faith.  They are concerned about where their donations go.  In this case, you could switch parishes on Sunday, making your tithe at a place where you don’t have such concerns.  You could maintain a presence in your current parish via daily Mass and/or involvement in organizations.  I know to some, however, that feels like “cheating.” 
  • If you do decide to leave, know that you’re unlikely to find a parish that is all beer and skittles, all the time.  There will likely be some things that are “not perfect.”  Having said that, there are demonstrable differences in parishes in this diocese.  You can likely find what you’re looking for.
  • As a former protestant, I am somewhat perplexed by something I see as more of a cradle Catholic thing, this sense of loyalty to a given parish even when there are all kinds of problems there.  Then again, we sort of moved around from church to church when I was growing up, so I never developed that kind of allegiance.  Nevertheless, it is such a strong phenomenon that it’s a bit surprising, to me. 
  • If you decide you can’t leave your current parish for whatever reasons, will you continue to support that parish financially, even if you’re worried about where some of that money might go?

As I said, this is a very personal decision.  I have been asked for advice on this topic by some, so I thought I’d share some of the thoughts I’ve had on the topic.  Perhaps my considerations are facile.  If you have some opinions, or think my considerations have missed the point, let me know.  I’d be interested to hear how different people approach this issue.

A proposal for reforming CCHD August 31, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, scandals, Society.
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Over at Catholic Key, a blog tightly associated with the Diocese of Kansas City, MO and Bishop Robert Finn (generally quite a good guy, IMO), there is a post by a Jude Huntz, an official with that diocese, regarding how they have attempted to “reform” CCHD in their diocese.  The recommendations made in the post are fine, in so far as they go.  I’ll highlight them briefly:

  • Eliminating grants to almost all “community organizing” groups, since virtually all such groups have a Marxist outlook and the large majority advocate for a society that is hostile to the Church.  They also directly counter Church dogma on a number of subjects.
  • Focusing grant money on economic development.  The organizations cited seem to be oriented towards aiding the poor to develop virtues that lead to success and stay away from vices that lead to a life mired in poverty.  That’s fine.
  • Carefully targeting a few “politically active” organizations that are thoroughly vetted, such as an anti-death penalty group and a place for recovering addicts. 

All of the above is fine.  I think it’s laudable, and I think it’s generally a good direction in which to take CCHD, in so far as it goes.  I still have reservations regarding CCHD – I think the kind of political action towards which it has always been oriented is bound to be problematic.  You can reform and make changes that may hold for years, but eventually the leftward bent that tends to dominate almost all such politically active organizations will re-surface, and we’ll be back to where we are today, with the Church’s image seriously compromised and a boatload of howling mad parishioners.  Seeing how not just CCHD, but Catholic Charities, CRS, and even much of the USCCB bureaucracy have come to be dominated by those with a profound leftist political outlook, it becomes difficult for me to see a way forward for CCHD, the most radicalized of the bunch. 

But, that may be too harsh.  What I have been trying to point towards with my angry rabble-rousing (not really angry), is a move towards a more de-centralized, locally focused form of Catholic charity.  I am uncomfortable with groups like Catholic Charities and CRS which receive a majority of funding from the federal government.  These agencies then tend to become beholden to the government and its onerous regulations, and, worse, they tend to become advocates and agents of continual government growth, something this nation can no longer afford.  I think this approach by the Diocese of Kansas City is far better, far more localized.  I still have some concerns about whether CCHD as an institution can be reformed to an extent that it is no longer problematic, but if it can somehow be broken down into a far more locally focused, locally run organization, then I would have fewer concerns. 

One more thing.  One of the commenters at the Catholic Key post accused Voris, Deal Hudson, and others critical of CCHD of just being greedy and parsimonious.  I pray this is not correct.  I do not believe it is correct – I have found that those most driven to be as orthodox and true to the Doctrine of the Faith as possible, and who view the Church more as the Mystical Body of Christ and less as an instrument of social change, tend to be very generous.  I can only speak for myself when I say that the commenter is completely wrong when it comes to our family.