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The Catholic war September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.
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Is there a war ongoing in the Catholic Faith?  There almost always has been, and almost always will be. 

Why does Church leadership tend to almost invariably side with the ‘progressive’ or accomodation crowd?   Why do they frequently lash out at the lay faithful who try to practice the timeless Faith of Tradition?  It all comes down to that dirty word………..faith.

Orthodox leader to Vatican – capitulate! September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Ecumenism, foolishness, General Catholic, Papa, sadness, sickness, Society.
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There have been suggestions of closer ties between the Roman Church and the schismatic eastern churches, especially the Russian Orthodox Church.  Proper ecumenism should always have union with Rome (and acceptance of all Church Doctrine) as its goal.  But it seems there are frequently strings attached to Russian offers of rapproachment.  A case in point is the Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Catholic Church (of which we are graced to have one in our Diocese).  During communist times, Stalin squashed the Catholic Church and gave over 500 parishes to the Orthodox Church.  Since the fall of communism, those communities have reverted, rather naturally, to being Catholic.  Now, the Orthodox are apparently demanding them “back” as evidence of ‘good will’ towards Rome:

In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan (Archbishop) Hilarion, urged the Vatican to show “some signs” of readiness to resolve a decades-long conflict between Orthodox and Catholics in Ukraine that has been blocking a meeting of the two world religious leaders.

An unprecedented meeting between Benedict and Patriarch Kirill could begin to heal the 1,000-year-old rift between the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity, which split in the Great Schism of 1054.

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the Russian Orthodox Church has accused Catholics of using their new freedoms to poach souls from the Orthodox, a charge the Vatican denies. [Good grief, ever hear of evangelization?  Are Russian Orthodox unable to defend themselves from rapacious Catholic evangelizers?  Given the pathetic state of evangelization in North America and Europe, I find it incredible that there are hordes of charismatic Catholics converting legions of Orthodox.  Is Metropolitian Hilarion admitting that Orthodox cannot compete?  Of course, the Catholic Church does have an unfair advantage – the fullness of Truth.]

But the biggest bone of contention concerns the fate of many church properties that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered confiscated from Eastern Rite Catholics, who worship in an Orthodox rite but owe their allegiance to Rome.

Stalin gave the property to the Russian Orthodox Church but after the fall of communism, the Eastern Rite Catholics took back more than 500 churches, mostly in Western Ukraine. [There has been a resurgence of all religious expression in the former Soviet Union.  It is my understanding that these churches just reverted to what they always were – Catholic churches populated by Catholics.  Hilarion seems to be asking that the Vatican simply abandon Ukrainian Catholics to a false ecumenism, allowing the properties to be ‘re-stolen’ by the Orthodox in the hopes that might somehow placate them.  This is bad.  ]

“Not very much was done or is being done in order to solve this problem,” said Hilarion, who is head of the external relations department of the 165-million-member Russian Orthodox Church and one of the closest aides to Patriarch Kirill.

There is much I admire in the Orthodox Church.  I admire their liturgy, the beauty of their churches, their chant, and their adherence in many respects to traditional Christian dogma.  But there are aspects I do not like, such as their intransigence and one-sided view of ‘compromise.’   I do not like their national identities, and their theological/ecclesialogical development seems……glacial.  In past attempts at ecumenism, the Vatican has tried to give much, always to be rebuffed by some further, ridiculous demand.  I believe this latest situation  is yet another in the long, slow game played by the Orthodox in rejecting the Primacy of the See of Peter.  Don’t hold your breath with regard to any reunion. 

There is also a political element to all this.  The Russian government wants to totally dominate the Ukraine, and seeks to expunge all Western elements from that country – this could be a related effort.


Dr. Ray Gaurendi speaking at St. Gabriel’s in McKinney Sept. 19 September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, Virtue.
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I’m not a fan of the psycho-babble types, having been exposed at some length to their ministrations, but Dr. Ray Gaurendi, at least on the radio, seems to have more than his share of common sense.  He will be speaking at St. Gabriel’s in McKinney on Monday, Sept. 19th at 7pm.   There will be a lecture, a meet and greet, and a Q&A session.  The event is free but donations are gratefully received.  You can RSVP by e-mail to mangolecture@stgabriel.org.

If I did not have another engagement, I’d attend.  Dr. Ray is actually very funny.  He’s a good guy.

America headed for “310 million people with 310 million religions” September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, General Catholic, horror, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society.
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My friend Steve B apprised me of this article at USA Today, which shows that religion in America continues to fragment and splinter, with mainline protestant sects declining and a seemingly infinite number of ‘evangelical’ churches sprining up in their place.  The main reason for this seems to be the tailoring of Christianity to suit exactly what each individual wants:

The folks who make up God as they go are side-by-side with self-proclaimed believers who claim the Christian label but shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices. Religion statistics expert George Barna says, with a wry hint of exaggeration, America is headed for “310 million people with 310 million religions.”

“We are a designer society. We want everything customized to our personal needs — our clothing, our food, our education,” he says. Now it’s our religion. [It’s also the predictable end result of the infection of modernism and it’s indispensible twin, religious indifferentism, in our society.  Modernism says the only truth that matters is the “truth” that matters to you.  We don’t know what Truth is anymore.  It’s amazing how many people think they REALLY REALLY KNOW Christianity, and then you scratch the surface and they know nothing]

Barna’s new book on U.S. Christians, Futurecast, tracks changes from 1991 to 2011, in annual national surveys of 1,000 to 1,600 U.S. adults. All the major trend lines of religious belief and behavior he measured ran downward — except two.

More people claim they have accepted Jesus as their savior and expect to go to heaven. [‘once saved always saved’ is one of the vilest heresies ever visited on ostensibly believing Christians.  More on this later] 

And more say they haven’t been to church in the past six months except for special occasions such as weddings or funerals. In 1991, 24% were “unchurched.” Today, it’s 37% . [Wow.  More than a third]

Barna blames pastors for those oddly contradictory findings. Everyone hears, “Jesus is the answer. Embrace him. Say this little Sinners Prayer and keep coming back. It doesn’t work. People end up bored, burned out and empty,” he says. “They look at church and wonder, ‘Jesus died for this?'” [Again, the reductionism of Christianity – it’s just a way to get a cosmic goodie bag when I die.  But the evangelical protestant way, it’s ethos, is a vehicle for people exiting Christianity, by and large, not coming in.  The fervor and emotionalism is not sustainable.  It lacks the dying to self, interior life, and commitment of the will that engenders true faith, not bare emotionalism]

The consequence, Barna says, is that, for every subgroup of religion, race, gender, age and region of the country, the important markers of religious connection are fracturing.

When he measures people by their belief in seven essential doctrines, defined by the National Association of Evangelicals’ Statement of Faith, only 7% of those surveyed qualified.

Barna laments, “People say, ‘I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want.'”……….

……….Sheila says: “I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice. … It’s just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself. [This Shiela is heavily influenced by new age rhetoric] You know, I guess, take care of each other. I think God would want us to take care of each other.” [I found this incredibly surface depiction of religion repeated frequently by the friends of the ‘Catholic ramadan fasting girl’

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).  This phenomenon described above affects the Church to a sad degree, too, of course.  Far too many Catholics want a ‘pick and choose’ religion.  When they hear Jesus say “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6),” they ask, like Pilate, “What is truth? (Jn 18:38)”   Fundamentally, its about not submitting oneself to the yoke of Christ, but continuing to serve the world (and self) first. 

So  many Saints indicate that the vast majority of humanity is lost, that they are damned.  St. Louis de Montfort saw the fates of every person who died on a particular day in the entire world – out of tens of thousands who died, 1 went to Heaven and 4 to Purgatory.  The great Carmelite Saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross despaired that even a handful of humanity would be saved.  The Bible is full of types.  A type is an Old Testament precursor to a New Testament event.  The Exodus from Egypt and travel to the Promised Land is a type of our life on earth and our hope for our heavenly home.  The Jews had the manna in the desert which came down from Heaven, we have the Real Bread which comes down from Heaven and is True Food indeed.  How many Jews left Egypt?  Six hundred thousand.  600,000.  How many arrived in Israel?  Two.  Not Two hundred thousand, not two thousand, 2.  And that is a type for our salvation.  But everyone expects to be saved.  

 Cling to the See of Peter, cling to the established Doctine of the Faith, receive the Sacraments frequently, perform regular examinations of conscience, and practice the virtues to the best of your ability.  Make your Faith in Christ Jesus and His Church an irrevocable act of the will.  Make your practice of the Faith the most important aspect of your life, by far.  All of the above is predicated on being sent the Grace to be drawn to Christ, so strive always to remain in a state of Grace.  If you do all the above, you should be in pretty good shape when your particular judgment arrives.  Forsake them, and you are dependent entirely on God’s Mercy. 

May God have mercy on us all.

Fr. Frank Pavone steps down from Priests for Life, or not……UPDATED September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, episcopate, foolishness, General Catholic, religious, sadness, scandals, sickness.
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….and is suspended from ministry outside his own Diocese of Amarillo:

Father Frank Pavone, the president of Priests for Life, has been suspended from ministry outside of his Amarillo, Texas diocese.

Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo revealed, in a letter to other American bishops, that he has recalled Father Pavone to the Texas diocese because of “deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life organization” and Father Pavone’s resistance to ecclesiastical authority.

Father Pavone has indicated that he will obey his bishop’s order. He will remain a priest in good standing in Amarillo, but will not be available to continue his leadership of Priests for Life. In recent years he has traveled extensively, giving speeches and conducting retreats, in his capacity as leader of the pro-life group.

Bishop Zubek disclosed that he had taken action in response to persistent questions about the financial affairs of Priests for Life: an organization with a $10 million annual budget. Father Pavone, he said, has “refused to subject the PFL to a transparent and complete auditing of all expenditures.” Bishop Zubek encouraged this fellow bishops to “inform the Christian faithful under your care to consider withholding donations to the PFL until the issues and concerns are settled.”

The Amarillo bishop also expressed concern about Father Pavone’s “incorrigible defiance of my legitimate authority as his Bishop.” He said the priest’s prominence as a national pro-life leader had encouraged him to “see priestly obedience as an inconvenience to his unique status and an obstacle to the possible international scope of his ministry.”

We used to give money to Priest’s for Life, but stopped when they always seemed to be demanding more (and constantly seemed broke).  But, that doesn’t mean he’s done anything wrong.  However, I think that very public, TV based ministry is very hazardous for the interior life and practice of virtue.  It’s very hard to be in the world constantly, living the high life, and not become of the world.  Razing the bastions as a philosophy is disaster.

UPDATE: Fr. Pavone responds:

For the past several years, my Ordinary, the Most Reverend Patrick Zurek, Bishop of Amarillo, has given me permission to do the full-time pro-life work that I have done since 1993. In 2005, I made a public promise in a Church ceremony in Amarillo, presided over by a Vatican Cardinal, that this full-time pro-life work would be a lifetime commitment. That’s a commitment I promise to fulfill without wavering.

This past week, however, I received a letter from the Bishop insisting that I report to the Diocese this Tuesday, September 13 and, for the time being, remain only there.

I am very perplexed by this demand. Despite that, because I am a priest of the diocese of Amarillo, I will be obedient and report there on the appointed date, putting the other commitments that are on my calendar on hold until I get more clarity as to what the bishop wants and for how long. Meanwhile, I continue to retain all my priestly faculties and continue to be a priest in “good standing” in the Church. The bishop does not dispute this fact. Rather, he has said that he thinks I am giving too much priority to my pro-life work, and that this makes me disobedient to him. He also has claimed that I haven’t given him enough financial information.

Now, although Bishop Zurek is my Ordinary, he is not the bishop of Priests for Life. Each of our staff priests has his own Ordinary, and the organization has an entire Board of Bishops. We keep them all informed of our activities, and of our financial audits.

I want to say very clearly that Priests for Life is above reproach in its financial management and the stewardship of the monies it receives from dedicated pro-lifers, raised primarily through direct mail at the grassroots level. To this end, Priests for Life has consistently provided every financial document requested by Bishop Zurek, including annual financial audits, quarterly reports, management documents—even entire check registers! Priests for Life has been completely transparent with Bishop Zurek and any other bishops who have requested information regarding our management and finances. Indeed, we have 21 bishops and cardinals who sit on our Advisory Board, and they are kept fully informed about our finances. 

I pray God’s Will is done.  On a related note, I have heard certain criticisms of the Bishop of Amarillo.

UPDATE 2:  More input from Jill Stanek.  She quotes an anonymous source that puts Bishop Zurek in a bad light:

Fr. Pavone’s ministry necessarily conflicts with church hierarchy, because they understandably want to control the message on the Life issue. This is not wrong or a bad thing, but lay Catholics view bishops as weak on the Life issue, not strong enough. Then, in steps Fr. Pavone, and there is a power struggle. This scuffle is definitely a manifestation of that struggle.

It’s not that Fr. Pavone wants to take over the church. It’s simply that he wants to end abortion,. That is his sole desire. Everybody who knows him knows this is true.

Have you seen his bedroom? It’s the size of a bathroom. There’s a bed, and there’s a closet, and that’s it. Father Pavone does not live in a mansion and he does not ride a Harley-Davidson. His favorite restaurant is McDonald’s, for crying out loud.

I saw this story and was so angry. It is ridiculous. If there is a  real charge, then prove it. Don’t give me this mealy mouthed, “I’m very concerned where all this money is going to.” I know for a fact the opposite is the case. I thnk the blowback from lay people is going to be severe. I think the bishops are going to find that out.

I’ve seen several ‘inside sources’ in the last few hours making this action against Pavone out to be the USCCB and certain bishops wanting to reign in and squash any successful independent ministries (of a certain outlook and political bent – others are of course free to do as they want ,including reject Church Doctrine).  I pray that’s not the case, but it looks like Pavone intends to fight.  But the system is gamed to always favor the bishop.

UPDATE 3: Read this.  This seriously undermines all the assertions made by Bishop Zurek, coming not from Priests for Life but from one of its Board of Directors.  Some are claiming certain bishops cannot stand to see successful ministries (read, revenue sources) outside their control. You should read Eponymous Flower for a full on frontal attack along this line.  I don’t know enough to comment, but I pray this all will just go away and Priest’s for Life can continue it’s INDEPENDENT ministry.  The most successful pro-life ministries have all been independent – now, why would that be?

Fighting against same-sex simulation of marriage will do not good….. September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, General Catholic, horror, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society.
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……until we, as a Church, fight against the ultimate root cause for the reduction of marriage to just a conference of benefits from the state to various groups of people who claim an emotional/sexual bond.  And what are the root causes of the collapse of understanding of what marriage really is?  Divorce and contraception, according to Dr. Jeff Mirus:

[After noting that the bishops of Scotland have taken a rather strong stand against same-sex “marriage,” Mirus goes on:]

What the bishops in Scotland are saying is good; it is very good. But we need to remember that all this was predictable. It could have been foreseen. Yet very few bishops in Scotland or anywhere else in the world took any significant steps to strike at the root of the problem.

Now what would striking at the root mean? It would mean confronting contraception and divorce with exactly the same vigor as the bishops are now showing in their rhetorical opposition to gay marriage. Contraception has facilitated the myth that marriage need not intrinsically or ordinarily have anything to do with children. Divorce has facilitated the myth that marriage depends for its existence on the emotional connection between the parties concerned. This mythology leads straight to same-sex marriage.

The corrosiveness of these myths on both personal life and the social order as a whole is nothing less than staggering. We now live in a world in which huge numbers of men and women lack anything like the deep inner security which is absolutely required for fundamental contentment, fruitful relationships, and positive social development. This deep inner security is shattered when men and women treat each other as objects, as they do routinely in contraceptive marriages, and when the commitment of spouses and parents depends on the mood of the day rather than on an unalterable act of the will.

[This next paragraph really gets to the essence of marriage] Yes, an act of the will. This may seem like an inversion of love, but the security of love does not come from the emotions commonly associated with romance. These emotions may be wildly pleasant, but by themselves they actually breed insecurity, possessiveness, and the fear of loss. [because they are fleeting, and it is not always easy to maintain exciting romance over many decades.  We live in a Hallmark card culture that tells people they need to be emotionally enraptured at all times, rather than a stable culture that looks on husband and wife as an eternal union] The security of love comes from the willed essence of love, the irrevocable commitment to act for the good of another. The husband and wife who know they will be true in good times and in bad, and who are willing to give themselves to each other unreservedly to bring forth new life, gain from their mutual gift that precious security—a security rooted in the very character and commitment of the beloved, a security expressed in a resulting community of love.

Mirus concludes with “Only a miracle of Grace can save a culture that does not know where to look for love.”  Indeed.  Marital unions founded on a deep faith in Jesus Christ rarely fail – the statistics show that couples that pray together and keep other active practices of faith virtually never divorce.   But our modern culture, and the evil agents that run rampant in it, have done all in their power to drive God to the very edge of existence, if He is allowed in many lives at all.  This is the essence of modernism – to define God in relative, culturally defined ways, so that there is never any core Truth, never any belief that must be held.  The practical consequences of this trend have been shattering – our culture is broken in almost every measurable sense. 

And Mirus is also quite correct is asking – when will we get better leadership from our shepherds on these two seemingly unmentionable issues – divorce and contraception?  These are quite possibly the two least talked about topics in the Church, at least in this country.  They are also the two on which the fewest number of Catholics accept and practice what the Church believes.  A great deal of catechesis is needed, but we also need it to be stressed by leaders in the Church that all Catholics must adhere to what the Church believes on these subjects, and this must be proclaimed over and over again with great conviction, in order to counter the constant cultural drum beat that is at odds with Catholic Doctrine. It’s going to make many people mad.  It  may result in donations dropping.  But the alternative is far worse, a culture continuing to slide into the abyss, taking many souls with it.

Great wisdom from St. Bernard of Clairvaux September 13, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, priests, religious.
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Doctor of the Church St. Bernard of Clairvaux, as quoted in Divine Intimacy:

No one is so presumptuous that he thinks his justice or holiness is enough to assure his salvation. [Written, interestingly, 400 years before the protestant revolt. In spite of what some protestants claim, Catholics do not feel they can ‘work their way to Heaven.’] For this reason I hasten to You, O Jesus; Your Passion is my supreme refuge and sole remedy!  It comes to help us when our wisdom fails, when our justice is weak, and the merits of our holiness are useless.  When my strength grows weak, I shall not be discouraged. I nknow what I must do: ‘I shall take the Chalice of Salvation and call on the name of the Lord.’ Open my eyes, O God, that I may always know what is pleasing to You and then I shall be wise. Pardon the faults of my youth and ignorance, and I shall be just. Lead me, O God, on Your path, and I shall be holy. For if Your Blood does not intercede for me, I shall not be saved!”

The Mellifluous Doctor!