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Catholic Church to welcome 50 Anglican clergy November 15, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Ecumenism, General Catholic.
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And this is just the beginning.  Awesome.

Praise God!

Lent is coming, and that means New Age speakers! November 15, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.
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Ah, Lent……..that time of penitential offerings, self-denial, mortification, and New Age centering prayers.  Yes, nothing is more Catholic than channeling your inner Zen and engaging in that time honored Hindu practice of discovering the wonder that is…….you. 

There is a group of local Catholic churches that call themselves the Collin County Catholic Churches Association, which is odd, because not all the churches in Collin County belong, and one of the churches that does belong isn’t even in Collin County, but I digress.  These churches consist of St. Elizabeth Seton in Plano, Prince of Peace in Plano, St. Mark in Plano, Our Lady of Angels in Allen, and St. Joseph in Richardson.  Every year, these churches get together to bring in a, ahem, Catholic speaker at Lent.   Last year, it was Sr. Joyce Rupp, who has numerous New Age connections/influences.  In the past, they’ve had other New Age influenced speakers, including Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr, Macrina Wiederkehr, etc.  This year, they’ve invited Sr. Maria Schwan of the Sisters of St. Joseph to speak on the subject of “Living Centered in an Uncentered World” to speak at St. Mark in Plano in February.  Or maybe it’s in August, I won’t tell.  But, while Sr. Schwan may not have as long a paper trail as Sr. Joyce Rupp in the area of New Age practices, her work does draw deeply from New Age influences and centering prayer in particular (I think the title of the talk sort of gives that away).  Why should a Catholic care about centering prayer?  Well, first, the Vatican has specifically warned Catholics to stay away from New Age practices as being contrary to, and even dangerous for, the devout practice of the Catholic Faith.  Secondly, centering prayer in and of itself can be a dangerous practice, as Fr. John Dreher of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Rhode Island, explains:

Many people assume centering prayer is compatible with Catholic tradition, but in fact the techniques of centering prayer are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.

Centering prayer differs from Christian prayer in that the intent of the technique is to bring the practitioner to the center of his own being. There he is, supposedly, to experience the presence of the God who indwells him. Christian prayer, on the contrary, centers upon God in a relational way, as someone apart from oneself. The Christian knows a God who is personal, yet who, as Creator, infinitely transcends his creature.

Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a “mantra,” a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one’s will to go deep within oneself.

In Catholic teaching, all men are creatures, called out of nothingness to know God. All men are also sinners, cut off from God and destined to death. A Christian is one whose life has been reconstituted in Christ. He is no longer in the place and stance of a sinner, that is, apart from God, acting as if he were the ultimate source, measure, and goal of his own behavior. He is in Christ. Henceforth, his life is supposed to originate in Christ and to be directed to God the Father. I say “supposed to” for it is a possibility that must be acted upon. It is not automatic.

Eastern religions, in contrast, lack revelation of God as a personal Creator who radically transcends his creatures. Though possessing many praiseworthy elements, they nonetheless seek God as if he werepart of the universe, rather than its Creator. This is because they are monistic, seeing all reality as one. Thus, God is a dimension, though hidden, of the same reality of which man is a part. The goal therefore is to peel away the exterior world to get to the spiritual reality beneath it. God is conceived of as an impersonal state of being. In contrast, for Christians, God is the Real, and the whole of the universe exists by God’s free choice; creation is a second, contingent reality—and, in Christian thought, did not need to exist. Moreover, this contingent universe is the result of a God who is vastly more than mere being; he is a loving Father.

The danger of New Age practices, as analyzed from an orthodox Catholic perspective, is that it is inherently focused on the self, on turning one’s gaze inwards to try to focus on one’s own views, preferences, wants, desires, etc., and trying to harmonize them, in some way, with one’s exterior environment.  The Christian gaze must turn always to God, recognizing our fallible natures but always striving through prayer and sacrifice to die to ourselves and live for God, through Christ.  It is a subtle, but hugely significant, difference. 

In addition to Sr. Schwan speaking at St. Mark, Fr. Bill Sheehan is reprising a speaking engagement at St. Joseph in Richardson, also during Lent.   Fr. Sheehan’s connections to New Age are far more direct – he has served in an organization specializing in centering prayer founded by Thomas Keating since 1983.  From the description on the announcement:

The WELCOMING PRAYER is a holistic practice that involves mind, body and spirit. It embraces the reality of what is happening in our lives in the present moment. It is a companion practice to Centering Prayer and a contemplative practice of “letting go” in the ordinary routine of our daily life.

The purpose of the WELCOMING PRAYER is to assist in healing the wounds of the human condition as they emerge in the midst of daily life. It is a practice of letting go of feelings, emotions, thoughts, commentaries and body sensations, and welcoming the present moment, and all it can bring, in the here and now.

Sound like the self-hypnosis described above?  Again, I cannot overemphasize how dangerous many of these practices can be in terms of one’s relationship with the Lord.  Sharon Lee Giganti has vast resources on this subject, and I dug up quite a bit during my research on Sr. Rupp last year.  More worringly, in his now-pulled book Exorcism and the Church Militant, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer makes clear that he has had to perform exorcisms on people who dabbled in the occult and/or New Age practices and thus opened themselves up to demonic influences.  Some may say that’s an outrageous claim, but Fr. Euteneur’s descriptions of the events read very compellingly.

So, what to do?  I don’t know….my experiences of a year or so ago indicate that once a speaker like this has been selected, getting the talk cancelled is virtually impossible.  But this year it is even more upsetting, as, one, no one can claim ignorance of the fact that New Age speakers are repeatedly coming into the diocese, and, two, one of the parishes involved happens to have one of our auxiliary bishops as pastor (St. Joseph!).  How much confusion will result from the fact that a church with a bishop as pastor has no problem bringing in New Age speakers?  Are New Age practices, in spite of all the warnings from some clergy and bishops and clear denunciations from the Vatican, part of the “fabric” of Catholic teaching in the Dallas Diocese?  I pray that is not the case, but the evidence is difficult to refute. 

I’m going to put some contact info below.  If you want to contact these folks, fine, but please don’t cuss or say things like “you’re evil, you’re demonic, etc,” because that does not help.  Let them know that you are opposed, that you think this kind of activity is wrong, and feel free to ask pointed questions about how practices like this help strengthen our collective Catholic Faith and identity. 

Mary Edlund   Chancellor, Dallas Diocese   chancellor@cathdal.org 214-379-2819

Elsa Espinoza, Secretary, Bishop Kevin Farrell: eespinoz@cathdal.org 214-379-2816

St. Mark Parish
Father Cliff Smith – cgsmith49@aol.com or 972 423-5600

St. Joseph Parish

Pastor – Bishop Doug Deshotel (972)231-2951
Anyone have an e-mail address?  The St. Joseph website is very cagey.
Commenter Mary helpfully shared the e-mail address:

pastor@stjosephcc.net

The main thing is to pray.  Pray that speakers like this will no longer come into this diocese on an annual basis.  Pray for the souls of those who will attend, and for those who continually insist on hosting events like this.  Pray for a miracle, that these events may be cancelled.  Based on my prior experience, when it comes to human agencies, once a deal like this has been set up, it’s almost impossible to stop.  So prayer is the only alternative.

Loaves, fishes, and the Real Presence November 15, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals.
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I teach a small apologetics class with my friend Steve B.  For our current class, which is winding down, we’re using John Salza’s excellent Biblical Basis for the Eucharist to help form some folks (including ourselves!) in Catholic Doctrine on the Eucharist, and why protestants are wrong in seeing the Eucharist as a symbol, at best.  The scope and breadth of the Biblical support for the Catholic Doctrine of the Real Presence is amazing, but it must be admitted that by far the most important bit of Scripture on the Real Presence is John chapter 6.  This is where Jesus lays out the fact that one must consume bread and wine transubstantiated into His Body and Blood, in no uncertain terms.

But before this, Jesus once again established His Divinity in fantastic fashion.  In John’s recounting of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus fed 5000 adult males (between 20 and 30,000 people total) on 5 loaves of barley bread and a couple of small fish (delta smelts, if I recall).   There was enough left over to fill 12 wicker baskets full of scraps.  Later in John 6, as the Apostles are trying to cross the Sea of Tiberius/Galilee to get away from the swarming throngs of Jews who want to go install Jesus as their King, the Apostles see Jesus walking on water – further proof of His Divinity. 

But, not so fast, say some modern theologians.  Jesus didn’t feed 5000 people.  “The latest research” clearly shows, they explain to us disdainfully, that every  Jew of that time would have carried at least a weeks worth of food while on pilgrimage.  Thus the “true” miracle of loaves and fishes was not Jesus converting a small meal into a huge amount of food to feed thousands, no, it was an indicator of man’s generosity, because everyone shared what they brought, and even put some food into the pathetic basket Jesus’ disciples passed around, surreptiously acting as if they had took some, and actually depositing some of their own food into the basket, resulting in the 12 baskets in excess.  Once again, the human spirit triumphs!  Gaia be praised.

This novel recounting of Biblical history is a major problem for Catholic theology.  When Jesus goes into the “bread of life” discourse later in John 6, he is once again surrounded by a throng of Jews.  He immediately begins to challenge them, telling them that they aren’t seeking a true Messiah, but someone to fill their bellies again.  Hmmm…..that doesn’t seem to match what the theologians say went on.  But wait!  Jesus then goes on to state that the ONLY way to come to the Father is through Him, and not only that, but one must literally eat His Flesh and drink His Blood in order to “have life within you.”  This totally grossed the Jews out, as their culture was extremely opposed to cannibalism and even more opposed to consuming any kind of blood.  Jesus quickly corrected the Jews and said, thinking of the protestant heresies of centuries later…..”Wait, I’m kidding!  I only mean that you must remember a SYMBOL of My Body and Blood!”.  No, he actually didn’t do that, Jesus throws down the gauntlet and says that the Jews must chew, gnaw on, etc,. His Flesh.  Not His Body, but His very Flesh. He actually points to His Body and says “I am the Bread which came down from Heaven.  If any man eat of this Bread he shall live forever, and the bread that I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world.”   He then appeals to that Divinity He had just established in the miracle of the loaves and fishes by stating “Does this saying scandalize you?  If then you see the Son of man ascend up where he was before, will you believe?  For the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. My words are Spirit and Life.”   Jesus specifically refers to a miracle, His Ascension, tying in the earlier miracle of the loaves and fishes.  The loaves and fishes were no accident – just as Jesus showed He had the power to feed a great throng, He goes on to state that the coming miracle of the Eucharist will feed far more – if they are called by the Father and believe. 

Many priests today, sadly, have chosen to accept this novel view pushed by theologians in the mold of Dr. Rick Gaillardetz, including some of our wonderful, hard working local priests.  This is more than unfortunate, it borders on the scandalous, for, wittingly or not, they are perpuating a view that originated in revisionist protestant theological circles and are potentially fatally undermining some of the theologoical basis for the Real Presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.  For if the miracle of loaves and fishes wasn’t, if it was just plain ‘ol human generosity, then maybe Jesus was just speaking figuratively in John 6 regarding His Body and Blood (and let the vast majority of His disciples leave Him on a false pretense, since so many of the Jews were offended by their correct, literal interpretation of Jesus’ words that they never came back – they were not called by the Father to be His followers).  Maybe all of this “Catholic stuff” is just a bunch of hooey, and the “old men in Rome” just like to keep women and gays down, among many other things.  Maybe Luther was right.

It’s a short walk from a fashionable theological theory to outright denial of core tenents of the Faith.  I am not saying that is necessarily the case with any priests in this diocese, but I think it would be wise to keep the novel theological theories in the journals until they are proven to be in line with established Catholic doctrine.   Or better yet, stick with what the Church has taught for centuries.

Late breaking news from 1978 – “New Mass” opposed November 15, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, Latin Mass, North Deanery, scandals.
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No, the Church is not a democracy.  What “the people want” does not really matter.  But, while we were down in God’s Own Country, my charming, beautiful wife was digging through some books at my father-in-law’s former abode and found a clipping from a newspaper from 1978.  It’s from the San Francisco Chronicle, dated April 15, 1978, and it is an op-ed concerning complaints by Catholics regarding the New Mass, the Mass according to the 1970 Missal, the Novus Ordo, whatever you want to call it, it’s now the Ordinary Form of the Mass and what is celebrated in 97% or so of parishes in this country.  Why is it interesting?  Because it references a Gallup Poll of Catholics, and bear in mind, this is 1978, after the New Mass had been in use for a decade, and it finds that 70% of Catholics would have preferred, at that time, to have gone back to the “Old Mass.”  They seem to be saying “Yes, thank you, we appreciate your liturgical innovations disconnected from organic development, but we’ll be having no more, thanks, and can we please go back to what the Church celebrated for many centuries?”

But, but but……I thought we had been assured that all Catholics hated the “old” Mass and had been desperately relieved to finally have a Mass they could “understand,” one celebrated in the vernacular?  I thought virtually all the “old” Masses had been celebrated irreverently in 20 minutes by a mumbling priest who was so beaten down by the Latin he could barely stand to get through the liturgy?  Why, after 10 years of “liberation,” would the vast majority of Catholics have wanted to go back to the “old” Mass?  How can this be?

I can see, now, why there were such onerous restrictions placed on the celebration of the Mass of the 1962 Missale Romanum.  I had often wondered about that – it’s one thing to have introduced a “new” Mass, but why be so draconian in eliminating access to the “older” form?  Now I understand.  It seems, if those restrictions had remained in place, the “new” Mass may have been largely ignored and remained largely an exercise in “liturgists run wild.”  It would have died a quiet death.

And we just couldn’t have that.

And, yes, I am now an official “rad-trad” rabid traditionalist foaming at the mouth with sedevacantist conspiracy theories regarding usurped papal elections and the fact there has been no valid Pope since Leo the Great!  So……….I have that going for me.

Yay me!

The USCCB election/Bishop Kicanas issue done blew up November 15, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, sadness, scandals.
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And there I was, happily hunting deer and sadly seeing a very good priest get fired, down in God’s Own Country, and the story I reported on a couple of weeks ago, about the rather poor qualifications of the presumptive next head of the USCCB, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, blows up like crazy.  I’m glad the story has gotten very wide coverage, but I think the sudden concern may be a bit tardy.  We’ll know today.  The bishops are choosing their next dear leader on this Feast of St. Albert the Great.

Anyway…the problems with Kicanas are principally two:

1.  He was in charge of priestly formation for the Archdiocese of Chicago back in the 1990s, and let a man be ordained with a very questionable past.  That priest later abused several two dozen boys, was defrocked, and is in prison.

2.  He’s a Bernadin liberal, and is the darling of the progressive “wing” of the bishop’s conference.  Thomas Reese speaks dotingly of Kicanas, and Kicanas has cozied up to numerous pro-abort politicians.

Thomas Peters has all the details here.  Pray that the bishops will make a better choice, although the elevation of vice-president to president of USCCB is normally essentially automatic.

The great Matt Abbot has more here.