Archive for April 2010

Speaking truth to power

April 29, 2010

That’s a phrase I have heard over and over the past several weeks in discussions with some of our more liberal ‘Catholics.’  That phrase is presented sometimes as an almost unalloyed good, in and of itself.  Usually, people who have this phrase in their lexicon have vastly different ideas of what ‘truth’ is.  More on that later in a doozy of a post I’m ruminating on.

Today, the St. Louis Beacon published a ten page Memo form the Lay father of Three Chancellor of the Diocese of Bellesville IL to his Bishop, then USCCB president Wilton Gregory.  It’s a doozy too, all about ‘Speaking truth to power.’  The Beacon is calling it ‘The memo that changed the Catholic Church.  That’s probably a bit of hyperbole, but one can understand once you’ve read it.  I won’t quote much of it here as I want you to read the whole thing.  It is important to note that even in this dark hour of the church (2002) there were sane voices in the Chanceries advising the Bishops.

You should know by now that our children are more important to Sharon and me than anything in the world. Let me repeat that in bold Italics: Our children are more important to Sharon and me than anything in the world. With all due respect, though you probably come as close to understanding the significance of that statement as any bishop in the Church, you don’t. You can’t. No priest, no religious, no lay person who is not a parent can truly appreciate the incredible weight of that single sentence any more than I could before Erin was born. Three children later, I’m not sure I fully grasp it yet, and I know I can’t adequately articulate it for you in a simple memorandum. Similarly, I could never hope to fully comprehend how your pastoral ministry is the most important thing in the world to you. I can witness your vocation and try to appreciate the extraordinary commitment you have made to the Church, but I am not and will likely never be a priest. I may work in your chancery, but I am, above all else, Sharon’s husband and Erin, Jonathan and James’ dad.

Read the whole thing here

The memo screams out for penance on the part of Bishops.  I found this article on a Deacon’s blog, The Deacon’s Bench where he posited another great idea from the Deacons:

So here is my question for you. What if our bishops chose to do public penance? What if they lay prostrate or knelt in front of their cathedrals as penitents before each Mass on the weekend closest to the feast of St.Peter and Paul or on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or some other appropriate day or days? Or, even better, on the first Friday of every month for the next year starting with the feast of the Sacred Heart or Sts.Peter and Paul? And what if we, as their deacons, as an order in the Church, in all humility, not only called on our bishops to do public penance, but offered to join them in it?

As deacons we invite God’s holy people to pray for mercy in the Penitential Rite. As deacons we call God’s priestly people to pray for the needs of the Church and world at every Mass. As deacons on Good Friday, it is our part to invite our bishop and priests and all the faithful to kneel in prayer.

Just as I think it is our part to call our bishops to do public penance, I think it is also our part to join them in penance as well. Clearly, our place is with our bishops: we stand at the side of our bishop during every celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments, ready to assist them. We lie next to them every Good Friday as we prostrate our selves before the mystery of the Lord’s death on the cross. And I think that if we, as deacons, are willing to stand (or kneel or prostrate ourselves) at the side of our bishops, they might say yes to doing public penance

What do you think?

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Catholic Underground on May 14th

April 28, 2010

Catholic Underground PA will present “CSI – Jerusalem: A Shroud Encounter” at Annunciation Church (formerly St Gabriel’s) in Hazleton on Friday, May 14th. The evening will begin in the church at 7:00 pm with a Holy Hour in Adoration of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It will be followed by the “Underground” coffeehouse where you will explore the world’s most analyzed artifact, The Shroud of Turin, via a video presentation. A free-will donation will be taken to help continue the Catholic Underground in Hazleton. For more info call 570-403-3094. Here’s the promotional flyer in pdf:
May 14th Catholic Underground

Evensong in Scranton

April 27, 2010

This Sunday, May 2nd, at 5:00 pm, the St Thomas More Society will present a service of Evensong, which combines the offices of Vespers and Compline, followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  Here’s the flyer in pdf with all the details:
May 2nd Evensong with the St Thomas More Society

Prayer, fellowship and teaching in Scranton

April 26, 2010

Starting this Wednesday, April 28th, The St Thomas More Society in Scranton will present a 4-week adult education series on “The Priesthood” taught by Fr Eric Bergman.  The details are in this pdf:

Adult Ed with St Thomas More Society

Having the proper perspective

April 24, 2010

After discussing world events with an atheist friend of mine recently, he referred to me as a “chicken little.”

“There is a difference,” I wrote him, “between the Catholic who openly declares that the sky is falling and the atheist who silently does the same.  The Catholic notices it and announces it as a matter of fact which no more disturbs his day than it disturbs his eternity.  After all, the sky is only the sky and he knows this. Let it fall.”

“The atheist, on the other hand, proclaims much more even while giving the impression that all is well.  An atheist is confined to the restrictions of his denials.  He too knows that the sky will someday fall, and homo sapiens will one day be eliminated.  But the atheist has no other recourse than to see the impending doom, whether that doom be a comet, a cancer, or a car crash, and submit to its complete and utter domination over his whole being.  For the atheist, the sky is everything.”

In the latest issue of the Catholic Light, Monsignor Grimalia quotes Pope Paul VI, who in his Apostolic Exhortation on Christian Joy, says something similar, but much better:

Let the agitated members of various groups therefore reject the excesses of systematic and destructive criticism! Without departing from a realistic viewpoint, let Christian communities become centers of optimism where all the members resolutely endeavor to perceive the positive aspect of people and events.   “Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth.  There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure.”  The attainment of such an outlook is not just a matter of psychology. It is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

On the Fatima Prayer

April 23, 2010

While praying the rosary I was thinking about the Fatima prayer, specifically the line “save us from the fires of hell.”  For those familiar with the story, naturally the brief glimpse of hell granted to the Fatima children may come to mind.  I was meditating on another vision which I read about in Fr. Gabriel Amorth’s “An Exorcist Tells his Story” ( it is not nearly the snesationalist book that some make it out to be.  Very level headed).

One day Father Candido asked a 13-year-old girl, “two enemies, who hated each other all their lives, hated each other to death, and both ended up in hell.  What is the relationship that they will share now, since they will be with each other for all eternity?”  And this was the answer: “how stupid you are!  Down there everyone lives folded within himself and torn apart by his regrets.  There is no relationship with anyone; everyone finds himself in the most profound solitude and desperately weeps for the evil that he has committed.  It is like a cemetery.”

Kind of reminds me of chapter 2 of Jerry Pournelle’s “Inferno” – a modern retelling of Dante’s Safari through hell.  The narrator finds himself in a void with no sensation no sound no sight and only his thoughts, which quickly lead to madness.  Hell is the absence of God, where we choose to send ourselves.  While through our love for others we can make a bit of the kingdom of Heaven present here on Earth; likewise through our selfishness and living folded within ourselves we can bring about a little bit of hell on earth too.  May God grant me the courage to continue to step outside of myself.

Habits and change [Car Wash]

April 22, 2010

Recently an old friend (John Rozycki) sent me this analogy:

I am convinced that our lives change when our habits change, and I have been convinced of the power of regular Reconciliation in my own life. So I would like to encourage you to make reconciliation a spiritual habit in your life.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a friend speak about it in relation to washing his car. He explained it in this way; if you wash your car every couple of weeks, you tend to take very good care of it. You don’t throw food around in it, and if you see a puddle of mud in the road you go around it. But after a few weeks without a wash, it gets messy on the inside and dirty on the outside, and you become less careful with it. You just throw another piece of trash in the back seat because there is already so much that you won’t notice the extra piece.

Your soul is the same. You go to Reconciliation and it becomes clean and sparkling. But after a few weeks, the little sins begin to pile up, and before you know it, a big sin doesn’t look so bad on top of a pile of small sins. And once you add the big one to the pile, you figure you’ve made a mess already so you might as well really make a mess. Little by little you begin to lose your sense of sin. Before you know it, you are very unhappy, and you don’t really know why. You begin to experience certain restlessness and an anxiety, but you don’t know what is causing it.

 — “Rediscovering Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly, p. 172