Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ponderings.

Today we had the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of the Catechumenate. First, why are the exorcism and the renunciation of false worship optional? (Strike that, I probably don't want to know.) Second, dismissing the catechumens is a pointless archeologism. Most of them have been attending the whole Mass for years.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Avoiding Liturgical Disaster.

I was asked on Facebook: FatherErik, how do you priests navigate disastrous liturgical directives?

Here is my answer:

It is relatively easy. 1) Don't listen to the so-called experts unless they can point to chapter and verse in the directives. Even then, read them yourself in the context of the whole liturgy.

2) Know the difference between required, recommended, and optional. Remember that no one has the authority to require what the law declares as optional.

3) Know the hierarchy of authority. The Conference only has liturgical authority as specified by law and then only when ratified by Rome.

4) The bishop's office of chief liturgist mean that he is to ensure that the norms are obeyed, not that he can decided to adapt whenever he feels like it.

5) Be willing to take heat for not following the crowd.

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Evangelization.

For far too many "The New Evangelization" seems to be a process aimed at creating a modern version of Rice Christians. Instead of bribing them with material comforts, they are bride with phony spiritual comforts by watering down the Faith to suit their comfort level. Watering down the Faith is how we got into this situation. And I will have no part of it as I don't want to go swimming with a millstone.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

On the Fixation with Moderation.

One of my former bishops was described, even by himself, as an extreme moderate. It would have called him a pathological moderate, but, hey, that's just terminology. He was and is a nice fellow and a good man, but he made the mistake of assuming the the middle ground was always the truth. He also made the mistake of thinking that he was always in the middle ground. (Often his positions were liberal/progressive.)

This is a common way of looking at the world. Heck, I looked at the world that way during my stupid liberal college days. You just find what you consider to be two opposite and extreme positions, create a continuum and stake out a mid-ground between them, and then you are safe. Except, that it makes a lot of false assumptions.

The first falsehood is that is assumes the things are opposites, like good and evil, male and female. Good and evil are not opposites. That view is heretical. Evil is a privation of good. It is nothing, a defect. Moderation between a thing and its privation is just less defective. Male and female are not opposites. The are complementary sexes of the same species. Neuter or androgyny aren't are virtuous middle between two extremes, but rather something else entirely.

The second falsehood is to assume that the extremes are natural opposites. Consider fascism and Marxism. They are opposites, right? Wrong, they are both versions of socialism. They differ but that doesn't make them opposites. Much of the time, the moderate will just pull two relevant things or positions out of a cocked hat and say, "Look at these two extremes. I am in the middle, so I must be right." But the secret is that there is no middle between the two positions.

Where does this come from? Ultimately, I thing from a misunderstanding of Aristotelian ethics. Aristotle framed virtue as a mean between two extremes. It works in his systems, but that does not mean that it is valid as a universal principle. From Aristotle, it passed into a cliche. "Virtue is found in the middle." Usually said by people who don't know a damned thing about Aristotle. A little philosophy is a dangerous thing.

So here we find ourselves with a bunch of well meaning folks who think that moderation is ipso facto position to take and compromise is always the thing to do. Except that they aren't!

Sorta true is false and sorta false is false. Compromised truth is always falsehood.

But, but, but, what about conversion isn't that moving along a continuum from falsehood to truth, evil to good? No. Usually, what it is is trying to live out the truth and failing a lot while doing it. Or trying to change one aspect because trying to change everything at once can be too overwhelming. Doesn't that make the sins you are not working on not sins? No. All it means is that most of us can't do everything at once.

Compromising on the Gospel in not possible. What is arrived at is something else with no power to save. To try, to present a watered down false Gospel does nothing but earn the presenter a great big millstone. Stick with the truth, wherever it is perceived to be; left, right, up, down, or dead center.

An aphorism I like to use is: the only thing you will find in the middle of the road is a dead rabbit and a yellow line.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mercy.

God is merciful and He wishes all to go to heaven. BUT He will not force anyone to go there. We must cooperate with His grace/mercy. We need to open ourselves to It. The way we do this is through repentance. To ignore the call to repentance or refuse to issue it closes the path to Mercy. God's choice to save us has been made. Our choice to accept that salvation remains and we must accept it all to gain Heaven.

Further more, we know how it is done We have 2000 years of history to show us how. To think that we moderns know how to do this better than the Apostles, Fathers, and saints is the height of pride and stupidity.

The Church is the servant and steward of the Gospel. She can neither add to, subtract from, or change Her. Leave the Hopey-Changey crap to the secular servant of Anti-Gospel/Anti-Church/Anti-Christ. 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Once Again, TRUTH DOES NOT CHANGE!

The original presentation of the Gospel was, "Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Awfully judgmental, no?

Friday, October 03, 2014

Falling Away.

Why has there been a falling away from the practice of the Faith? There is no easy answer to this. However, I don't think it is because the Faith is too hard and unyielding. Rather it is because we have made things too easy. We have lowered the benchmarks so far as to make it appear that the Faith is of little importance. Some minor examples are the Communion fast and days of penance. “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods." (It appeals to my sense of humor to quote the atheist Paine in support of the Faith.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cult of Personality.

What is one of the most destructive things from our culture infecting the Church today? The cult of personality and celebrity. The first thing you see on a parish or diocesan website should not be a picture of the pastor or bishop. Dear brother priests, don't imitate the protestants and put your name on the church sign. Don't hang your own picture in the office or even worse the church vestibule. Just remember who it is supposed to be all about.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Company Men.

Company men. The company men are revealing themselves. You know the guys who change their positions and behaviors based on who is in charge. (A subspecies of this is the brown noser.) You will find them in any business. They are in academia and I saw them in the Air Force. And yes we have them in the Church. Company men are not obedient. They exploit the ego of the supervisor for their own advantage. They want to be part of the in-crowd and ride the dominant wave. I have been tempted to be a Company Man, but I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror. A Company Man is not a disciple. A disciple is one who follows because he knows he is being taught the truth. I suspect that Judas Iscariot was a Company Man.

The Company Men always make me think of the Vicar of Bray:

In good King Charles's golden days,
When Loyalty no harm meant;
A Zealous High-Church man I was,
And so I gain'd Preferment.
Unto my Flock I daily Preach'd,
Kings are by God appointed,
And Damn'd are those who dare resist,
Or touch the Lord's Anointed.
And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
That whatsoever King may reign,
I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!
When Royal James possest the crown,
And popery grew in fashion;
The Penal Law I shouted down,
And read the Declaration:
The Church of Rome I found would fit
Full well my Constitution,
And I had been a Jesuit,
But for the Revolution.
And this is Law, &c.
When William our Deliverer came,
To heal the Nation's Grievance,
I turn'd the Cat in Pan again,
And swore to him Allegiance:
Old Principles I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance,
Passive Obedience is a Joke,
A Jest is non-resistance.
And this is Law, &c.
When Royal Anne became our Queen,
Then Church of England's Glory,
Another face of things was seen,
And I became a Tory:
Occasional Conformists base
I Damn'd, and Moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was,
From such Prevarication.
And this is Law, &c.
When George in Pudding time came o'er,
And Moderate Men looked big, Sir,
My Principles I chang'd once more,
And so became a Whig, Sir.
And thus Preferment I procur'd,
From our Faith's great Defender
And almost every day abjur'd
The Pope, and the Pretender.
And this is Law, &c.
The Illustrious House of Hanover,
And Protestant succession,
To these I lustily will swear,
Whilst they can keep possession:
For in my Faith, and Loyalty,
I never once will faulter,
But George, my lawful king shall be,
Except the Times shou'd alter.
And this is Law, &c.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Some Things to Consider:

Some things to consider:
1) We are not Donatists. The authority of a bishop or priest does not depend on his personal holiness, wisdom, or prudence. So we need to obey them in all matters they have authority and as long as the command is in accord with Divine and ecclesial law.
2) Only the Apostles were chosen directly by God. Since then, we have had to rely on those with Apostolic authority. We hope that they act with wisdom and prudence, but this has not always be the case; for example, Weakland and Ziemann. Only the overly pious think every Pope and bishop is selected by the Holy Spirit.
3) Clergy don't have to be perfect, which is a good thing since they are not. We make a grave mistake when we pretend they are. However, this does not detract or invalidate the office. Respect and reverence the office even if you can't the man.
4) We are not called to be lemmings or mind-numbed robots. This is why we have a Church not a cult.
5) You never know what an office will do to a person. St. Thomas Beckett was no great shakes before being made a bishop. God's grace did remarkable things to him. Conversely, your perfect candidate for bishop of X may turn out to be a dud. I can think of a retired west coast Cardinal who seemed to be the very incarnation of orthodoxy but turned out to be very different.
6) Pray. Pray often and pray hard. We can't make other people orthodox or holy by waving a magic wand or coming up with the perfect pastoral plan. Certainly we can hold them to account and give them good example, but they have to make the choice themselves. Some will and some won't. Only the Modernists think they can build the City of God here on Earth. Our home is not an earthly one.
7) This too shall pass.

(Update) I need to add one more.
8) The Gate of the Netherworld shall not prevail against Her.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

On The Arizona Shooting.

To those who question Fr. Walker owning a gun and Fr. Terra attempting to use for protection, let me offer the following observations. First, self-defense is a natural right. This right entails the means of its exercise. A firearm is a great equalizer. It makes it possible for the small, old, and weak to stand in the face of brute violence. Christianity is not a pacifistic faith. I cannot speak for my brother priests, but for my own part, I am willing to die for the Faith. I am not however willing die so that a criminal can pad his pockets or a druggie can get a fix. I am also unwilling to do nothing and allow him to move on to someone else.
Second, to those who say Fr. Terra should simply have called the police, let me ask what he should have done for the 10 minutes or so until they arrived? Allow the perp to continue beating him to death with an iron rod? Police do not prevent crimes, they clean up after them.
Third, well the gun was taken away and used to kill Fr. Walker. If there hadn't been a gun, they would have lived or at least survived. Well, a gun isn't a magic wand that works every time. The perp had so injured Fr. Walker that he was unable to use the gun. Ill fortune. But it well could have been different and if he had been able to pull the trigger, it would have been a different story.
Each one of us has the responsibility to see to our own safety. We can't wait for the police or other people to do it. The worst thing we can do is to stand passive in the face of evil.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pastoral or Not?

As a pastor, my greatest responsibility is the celebration of the Church's liturgy in my area of responsibility, the parish. I either do it myself, most of the time as I am the only priest, or ensure that someone else does it, a visiting priest or one of our deacon, in the areas that they are able. Of particular concern are Sundays and the 'High Holydays' to borrow a term from our Jewish friends.

Now suppose I decided that on some Sundays, rather than celebrating Mass publicly for the whole parish, I decide to celebrate a Mass for a particular group privately and the rest of the parish has to do without. Would or should this be allowed? I doubt I could do this without being called on the carpet for it; Sunday obligation and all that.

Now suppose that it wasn't a day of obligation, but still one of the central days of the Church. Should I deprive the whole parish of the celebration of part of the mysteries of our Faith for the benefit of a particular group, however praiseworthy or needy? Now, I could delegate another priest to do it, but does that really fulfill my role as 'universal pastor' of my parish? Does it show my concern for the whole flock? Does it show the public and universal nature of the Church's Faith and Worship?

You have probably guessed where I am going with this. Pope Francis will again this year privately celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper, which commemorates not only the institution of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders but is the liturgical beginning of the Paschal Triduum, the celebration of the central Mysteries of the Faith. He did this last year by celebrating the Mass in a youth prison and was accustomed to a similar practice in Buenos Aires. Do you think this is an appropriate practice? (Not really interested in feeling.) If so or if not why? I am aware of many bishops doing something similar by saying Masses for prisoners on Christmas or Easter Day after the public celebrations at the Cathedral.

Please no name calling or Pope (or anyone else) bashing. Anything disrespectful will be deleted.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

You Can Keep Your Simplicity.

Simplicity did not attract me to the Catholic Church. Truth did. I read myself into the Church. History made it evident that the Catholic Church is the church founded by Christ.

But beauty and pomp were a close second. From a young age I was fascinate by the the ceremony of the Church. The funerals of Paul VI and John Paul I as well as the election of Bl. John Paul II caught my attention. In the ceremony and vesture, my mind was directed to something not of this world. Truth brought me to the Cathedral of the Madeline on that fateful day in late December 1980, but it was the ornate beauty of that church that set the hook.

If I was looking for simplicity, I would have become Amish or a Quaker. Instead in liturgy, beauty, iconography, in complexity my mind and heart have been lifted to heavenly realms. I suspect my experience is not unique.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nope, Not A Saint.

I just read a Facebook post by a friend now living in Iowa lamenting the bad taste that a MLK, martyr homily. I suspect that this is not an uncommon experience today.

Let me be frank, not Pope Frank, but just frank and say that Martin Luther King, Jr. was NOT a saint. Being a saint is not being a hero or doing great things. Dr. King did those things. He did our country a great service and likely prevented a second civil war. But these thing do not a saint make. Being a saint is about holiness. Certainly, many saints were once sinners and turned from their sins. Being a saint is about having heroic virtues. Dr. King's life gives no evidence of this. A close look at his life reveals unsaintly action, from adultery to dishonesty (plagiarism). These things do not prevent him from being honored as a secular hero, but they do prevent him from being honored as a saint within the Catholic Church.

And yet, today panegyric homilies are being preached and Masses said in his honor. This needs to stop. Only the canonized and beatified are to be honored in the liturgy. Everyone else is prayed FOR not TO. So perhaps instead of falsely canonizing Dr. King, today we can pray for the repose of his soul and the furthering of the cause of civil rights, which he ably served.

One more thing. He was not a martyr. A martyr dies in witness to the faith of Christ. It would be quite a stretch to say that Dr. King was killed because of his faith in Christ.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Anaheim Congress? No, no, no.

The annual Anaheim Religious Education Congress is coming soon. Religious educator and other Catholic from all over the west will be coming. But not from my parish. Sure they can go if they want to, but the parish won’t pay for it. Why you may ask. They have some good speakers. Yes, this year Fr. Barron is giving the keynote address, but there is still an awful lot of heresy and dissent. And while I would trust my catechists use good judgment in who they listen too, I will not give them money until they get their house in order. (I had hoped that Archbishop Gomez would have handled that by now.) Here are problematic ones that stand out without any further research on my part:

Sr Dianne Bergant, CSA
Fr. Donald Cozzens (Dissenter on sexual issues.)
Sr. Fran Ferder (Dissenter on many issues. Enduring a conference by her at the sem.)
Dr. Thomas Groome. (Ex-priest, dissenter who had a hand in the wretched catechetics of the last half-century.)
David Haas (Purveyor of crappy music.)
Marty Huagen (The other half of the infamous duo.)
Fr. John Heagle (Fran Ferder’s sidekick.)
Carey Landry (Ex-priest. What the hell is an ex-priest doing speaking on pastoral care of the sick?)
Fr. Bryan Massingale (Dissenter on sexual issues.)
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP
Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ (Former editor of “America” removed at the insistence of the Vatican.)
Rev. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

And don’t get me started on the liturgies that celebrate US!