Monday, February 27, 2017

Lord, how many will be saved?

I recently read an account of a well-known theologian privately speculating that the percentage saved is 98%. Speculating is historically common among theologians, but this is the first time I have heard such a precise number. But whether one thinks that it is many or few, it is only speculation.

What do we know? The Lord tells us that the gate is narrow and the road is difficult. He also tells us that with God all things are possible. Scripture makes it quite clear that Hell is not empty, but neither is Heaven. In the Apocalypse, we read of 144,000 from Israel and an unnumbered crowd of every nation gathered around the the Throne. Some will be saved and some will be damned. That is all we know.

We should worry less about how many are saved or damned. The Lord Himself refuses to answer the how many question. Instead, we should worry about getting to Heaven and helping others to get there too.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Why lawyers make life suck more

So, got an email from our insurance company regarding Pokemon Go. Seems that if people are injured on our property Pokemoning, we can be held liable. Their solution? First, put up no trespassing signs. Yeah, that is welcoming. Not going to happen. Second, fill out the forms to have Pokemon sites removed from the property. Also, not going to happen. This brings folks near the church who would never come here otherwise. The sad thing is that I can see the insurance people's point. Torts in this country have gotten entirely out of control. In a sane world, unless I had Burmese Man Traps and Punji Stakes on the grounds, the should be no liability for injuries. We need to stop rewarding stupid.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Fishwrap and Seminarians.

Last week, there was an interview with a Sulpician, who is involved in seminary formation, on an alleged Francis Effect among seminarians. He claims that the new guys are 'less rigid', you know don't cassocks, are open to fuzzy theology, and stuff like that. Don't know whether it is true or not. It was in the Fishwrap, so I of course view it with suspicion. I suspect that it is wishful thinking on the part of a certain generation and certainly shouldn't be tied to the Holy Father.
One thing that he said that really raised my hackles was, "They are less likely to view psychological counseling with suspicion." Dear Father, have you ever asked yourself why seminarians viewed and continue to view counseling with suspicion? Could it be that all too often psychology was and is used in formation in a way analogous to how psychiatry was used in the Soviet Union? How many seminarians and religious were sentenced, and yes I use the term intentionally, to counseling not because of any pathology but because they actually believe in the Faith?
All in all I think that interview sad far more about those involved in formation in many places than it did about seminarians.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

St. Mary Magdalene.

Today is the feast day of the patroness of our diocese and the titular of our cathedral, St. Mary Magdalene.

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal or perhaps not--I hope it is true, that our first bishop, Lawrence Scanlon selected the name as a response to the Mormons. Historical and still officially the Mormons teach that the Catholic Church is the Church of the Whore of Babylon. "They call us the church of a whore, do they. Well, we will be the church of a whore."

"But Father wait a minute. Mary Magdalene wasn't a whore. That was just an evil patriarchal plot to denigrate a strong woman!" Admittedly, Sacred Scripture is silent on her profession as it is silent on her identity with Mary of Bethany. However, it is present in tradition. I will go with tradition every time over the fads of academe. And I fail to see how it lessens her. Did St. Paul's pre-conversion persecution of the Church lessen him? Did St. Augustine's former wild life lessen him? No. It makes God's grace even more wondrous. It also gives the rest of us sinners hope. If God can make great saints of them, what can he do for us?

"Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give Me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give Me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing My feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

Friday, June 26, 2015

It is Evident That We Haven't.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, as Benjamin Franklin left the hall in Philadelphia, he was asked, “What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?” He replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I am not a big one for acting on what I see in the news. However, the Emmanuel shooting hit too close to home so I sent them this letter.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Words cannot express the deep sorrow that I feel after hearing of the horrible and tragic crime visited upon your congregation. My church too experienced a shooting several years ago and while not nearly as awful as what happened at Emmanuel, I know the deep pain that it caused us. I also know the great comfort and grace God showered out upon us. I am confident that the Lord will be present to comfort and heal you too. That is my prayer for you. Know that your brothers and sisters of many denominations and in many places hold you in their prayers and hearts!

Yours in Christ,

I have been very impressed by their response and the response of the whole city of Charleston. No one has to tell them to stay classy!

Friday, February 27, 2015

"But It Isn't Easy!" They Whined.

There are several ways I could fault my seminary formation, which is not to say that there wasn't plenty of good stuff. We did not receive nearly enough instruction on how to celebrate the rites of the Church. (Our 'pastoral' classes were mostly a joke.) However, the most glaring omission was the failure to emphasize that living the priesthood is sharing in the Cross of Christ. Surely, there is much joy and many consolations, but there is also misery. As a priest a man will experience severe (and sometimes undeserved criticism), calumny, be the object of gossip, and be under-appreciated (and this is just from his brother priests and bishop. :) ) And this is as it should be for all of this happened to Our Lord. We needed to be taught to know that it was coming and accept it as such. I see this as being responsible for most of the defections from the priesthood of men I have known.

The same also should be said of married life. When people get married they have all sorts of foolish and wonderful romantic notions. There are lots of warm fuzzies. But eventually reality will set in. There will be arguments. There will be 'a failure to communicate'. One or both parties will 'fall out of love', which is really just a lull in emotions and not a failure in the act of the will which is real love. And then someone will realize that they other party is bald, fat, saggy, and/or wrinkly. "I have a right to be happy!" "I deserve a trophy spouse!" (It is a good thing that I have self-control when I hear such bullsh*t.) Marriage is a share in the life of Christ so it is a share in His Cross as well as His Resurrection. Love which is worthy of the name does not seek greener pastures when the consolations are withdrawn. (This does not mean that a person must endure an abusive situation.)

It also may be said of the Christian life as a whole. Don't expect warm fuzzies at Mass. Don't expect that following the Lord will be smooth and easy. (That road leads to a different place.)

As Christians we need to embrace His Cross and do it daily.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


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


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


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!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Podcasting Homilies.

Yup, I am starting to podcast my homilies. Here is the link: They should also be available via iTunes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

There Is A Reason That The Pope Is Called the Holy Father.

And that relationship is particularly dear to priests. That relationship is also supposed to exist between priests and their bishop. However, like so many parents, all too often bishops are friends or brothers to their priests. Worse they are business managers who play favorites and are only heard from when there are problems. But during my priesthood I have always had the feeling that the Pope was there covering our backs. That we were his priest sons even when we needed to be challenged and corrected. Now, not so much.

There is this commentary over at the register about anxiety over Pope Francis. Here is the relevant section on priests.

Pope Francis is capable of speaking with great tenderness about those far from the Church.
When discussing his brother Jesuits, even those who sent him into exile and were active obstacles to the mission of Jesus Christ and the Ignatian charism, the Holy Father speaks with nuance and delicacy. Yet when he speaks of the parish clergy, his remarks are almost always critical, inveighing against the lazy priest in his rectory, unmoved by the suffering of the afflicted in need of mercy, reduced to a functionary who has become an obstacle rather than a conduit of God’s grace.
Priests need to hear that to be challenged and corrected, but fallen men that we are, it is not easy.
The Holy Father intends his criticisms — as he made clear recently in Assisi — for the whole Church, not just the priests and bishops. Yet, often, the clergy feel singled out for criticism or feel underappreciated. Perhaps they ought to stop feeling sorry for themselves and “man up,” but the phenomenon is real and explains part of the uneasiness.

The feeling I can't seem to shake is that Pope Francis really doesn't like priests. Now we priests are not perfect. And yes some of his criticism is justified. It may not go far enough. But perhaps some of the 'great tenderness' could be shared with the clergy, who received poor formation and poor leadership from his brother bishops. In the face of the poor leadership, and lets face it dissent, at the diocesan level, many of us can be tempted to despair. The various scandals haven't helped. Priests are guilty until proven innocent and subject to the whims of their ordinaries who seem more concerned with liability and PR than justice. But at least we felt that if ignored, opposed, or even persecuted, the Holy Father still had our backs. Now not so much.

 A father can be tough and expect a lot if he has and shows love for his children. If not, all he usually does is provoke resentment and rebellion. With all respect to Fr. De Souza, the admonition to "man up" doesn't help one bit. Perhaps the Holy Father needs to listen to his own words concerning caring and compassion and realize that the clergy are part of his flock too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hermeneutic of Continuity, St. Paul Style

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!" 

Tell me again how the Church is going to fundamentally change.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Memorial of St. Jerome.

Peter Venkman: Alice, I'm going to ask you a couple of standard questions, ok? Have you or any of your family ever been diagnosed Schizophrenic? Mentally incompetent?
Librarian: My uncle thought he was St. Jerome.
Peter Venkman: I'd call that a big yes.

(Funny the things that come to mind at Mass.)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Idolatry of the Poor.

The Gospel reading this weekend is the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man from the Gospel according to Saint Luke. I suspect that throughout the world many homilies and sermons ended up saying something to the effect of, “Rich people bad. Poor people good.” This like all heresies is the result of a gross simplification of the Gospel, a deliberate misreading of the message of Jesus, and an imposition of a foreign ideology.

The sin of the unnamed rich man was not that he had wealth. Rather it was that he did not pay attention to Moses and the prophets. As is evident from the parable, he paid no attention to Lazarus. Even from Hell, he views Lazarus as at best his servant. Was this his only sin or greatest sin? Likely not. Was Lazarus' virtue the fact that he was poor and sick? No. It was that. His virtues are not specified. But we know from Moses and the prophets that God commanded all rich and poor alike to obey His commands. We can infer from Lazarus' presence in the Bosom of Abraham that he had walked in God's path.

This would have amazed the Pharisees of Jesus' time to whom the parable was addressed. They held to a version of the Gospel of Prosperity. How do you tell who God likes? The are healthy and wealthy. This is heresy in view of both the Old and New Covenant. Yet it remains. We find in among the TV preachers as well as among those who view poverty, sickness, and other misfortunes as a punishment rather than a share in the Cross of Christ for the salvation of the world.

But today there is also a mirror image heresy. It is rooted in a distortion of the Gospel. It is also rooted in envy and jealousy with more than a pinch of Marxism and Socialism. This view holds that the wealthy are wicked and evil because of their wealth and the poor are virtuous because of their poverty. There is more than a little bit of romantic idealism here. It makes a idol out of poverty and the poor.

There are and have been saints and sinners among the rich as well as the poor. Wealth poses unique opportunities for sin as well as paths to virtue. Remember that while Jesus said that it is difficult for a rich man to enter through the Needle's Eye as it is for him to enter into the Kingdom of God, He also that for God all things are possible. The prime temptations of the rich are pride, self-sufficiency, and a hardness of heart. But poverty presents its own temptations; jealous, envy, and greed. Both the rich and the poor are called to holiness and holiness is possible for both. Demonization of one and idolization of the other must be avoided.

The will of God is that all men be saved. The Gospel is for both the materially poor and the materially rich. Christ died for all men. It is the job of the Church to work for the salvation of all.