Monday, May 20, 2002

Tim Drake's Account of His Visit to the White House and President Bush last Friday
From a reader of this blog:

I appreciate your blog and all the other authentic catholic blogs for informing the laity. An informed laity will insist on change, and prayer for the laity to have the courage to speak up would be good too.

My friends and I are making copies of the Open Letter to the Bishops from the Catholic World News site to send to all the Bishops in this country along with a letter saying who we are and why we are concerned.

A list of the Bishops can be found on their site, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,, then clic on either bishops or dioceses, We hope that if they are flooded with mail before their June meeting it will help.


Here are some points made in the Open Letter;

First, this is crisis is not the creation of the secular media:


The severity of this crisis should not be underestimated. This scandal has not been created by the mass media; secular reporters have merely exposed the unhappy truth, uncovering a frightening pattern of abuse and corruption within the Church.

Secondly, it is a problem of widespread acceptance of active homsexual activity among clergy:

In the vast majority of cases, the priests' victims have been adolescent boys or young men. Emerging evidence makes it impossible to ignore the widespread toleration of homosexual activity among American priests.

This widespread acceptance of homosexual activity is a grave problem in itself because it causes disdain for Catholic doctrine and fosters a climate of hypocrisy among those who are the official representatives of Church teaching.

We believe that the current scandal is a direct consequence of a failure to uphold and promote the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding sexual morality. When bishops do not accept, understand, and boldly proclaim the necessary link between sexual intimacy and procreation, they cannot expect the faithful of their dioceses to uphold that magisterial teaching.


Third, a new "policy" is not the solution:

The problem that you must now confront cannot be solved simply by adopting new procedures and guidelines for the handling of troubled priests. Still less can it be solved by setting "boundaries" for the clerical behavior, as some commentators have suggested. Guidelines and procedures are useless if they are not enforced; "boundaries" will soon be crossed by clerics who lack the habits of chastity and self-discipline.

The resolution of this crisis will begin, we respectfully suggest, when you, our bishops, firmly insist that the teachings of the Church must be upheld, and the discipline of the Church must be enforced, in the seminaries, parishes, and schools under your authority.


Finally, a plan of action is laid out:

1. NO ONE SHOULD ASSUME ANY POSITION OF AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH (INCLUDING ADMISSION TO HOLY ORDERS OR RELIGIOUS VOWS, APPOINTMENT AS RELIGIOUS SUPERIOR OR DIRECTOR OF FORMATION, OR EMPLOYMENT IN ANY DECISION-MAKING POSITION WITHIN A DIOCESAN CHANCERY) WHO DOES NOT WILLINGLY ACCEPT AND PUBLICLY DEFEND ALL THE TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

2. EVERYONE WHO UNDERTAKES A POSITION OF AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH MUST RESOLVE TO ENFORCE THE TEACHING AND DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH, AND DEMAND THE SAME RESOLVE FROM THOSE WHO ARE UNDER HIS AUTHORITY.

3. CHURCH LEADERS MUST MAKE A FIRM COMMITMENT TO BE DILIGENT IN INVESTIGATING ANY CREDIBLE EVIDENCE OF DISSENT FROM DEFINED DOCTRINE, OR VIOLATION OF MORAL NORMS, WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THEIR AUTHORITY.


I think the letter is strong and makes very good points, until you get to the conclusion where it seems to state the obvious. Perhaps some stronger sense of "enforcing" such a plan should be part of it, as well as cleaning house.




It is freezing here today--48 degrees but feels way colder.
Terrorist Threats

Against the water supply in Orlando, FL.

Also against the water supply in New York City.

Against apartment buildings.

Stolen truck with 10 tons of cyanide found, with some cyanide missing.
From Snopes.com, someone has way too much time on their hands:

A properly folded U.S. $20 bill reveals images of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
E-Mail the Pope

Remember to write formally. He should be addressed as "Your Holiness." Humbly present yourself to him.

Here is is: Pope John Paul II's Email
Mallon's Media Watch has an interesting run down of who will be speaking at various "Catholic" colleges and universities for commencements. One wonders what the Bishops are doing on any front these days (I say this mindful that there are good bishops who are doing plenty--and deserve our support).
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 32th step:

(32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.

There is an image that comes to mind when I read this counsel. It is the image of a bishop (no one in particular) walking up the aisle in procession at the beginning of Mass or at the conclusion of Mass, turning from side to side and blessing all those in attendance. What he is doing at that moment (no doubt every bishop has more than their share of people who are cursing them), is what we are all to do--at every moment of everyday.

I'm not real good at this, as anyone who knows me well will tell you, I'm more apt to criticize those who curse me, not bless them. So I certainly need God's help in this regard.

One might wonder what benefit blessing those who curse us could possibly have. Here is a hint from Scripture. In the Second Book of Samuel, when David had been overthrown by his son Absalom and is fleeing the city of Jerusalem, a man comes out and curses him. Shimei, throwing stones and "saying as he cursed: 'Away, away, you murderous and wicked man! (2 Sam. 16:7). In response to this outrage one of David's guards says to the king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, please, and lop of his head," (2 Sam. 16:9)

David's response to this is interesting and not at all what one would expect (if you are an avid reader of the Old Testament that is). Here is David's response, "Suppose the LORD has told him to curse David; who then dare to say 'Why are you doing this?' (2 Sam. 16:10). So they went on and Shimei "kept abreast of them on the hillside, all the while cursing and throwing stones and dirt as he went," (2 Sam.16:13).

"Perhaps the LORD is telling him to curse me." An interesting thought, and again one that can only lead to a deeper relationship with God. To at least admit to seeing God's hand in all things.

Most of the curses that I receive are from those who don't like the way I drive (and they are usually right to offer a gesture of displeasure) or those who don't like what I write (again they are often right--things are seldom one way or another but grayer). May I bless them all.

A blessing is only possible when we see ourselves as blessed by God, then we share the abundance of what God has given us with those who wish us evil. We acknowledge God as the final judge and we are selves are not to quick to judge (as David wasn't in the above). Interestingly, when David is restored to the throne in Israel, Shimei (the cursing stone thrower) is brought before the king and does have his head lopped off.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

Check out Steve Mattson's blog at In Formation. Steve is a currently a seminarian and can tell you what it's like being there right now (well not right now, since they are out for the summer).
Feast of Pentecost

May the Holy Spirit flood your hearts with the Love of God!
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 31th step:

(31) To love one's enemies (cf Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27).

Of course, St. Benedict is merely giving us the teaching of the Gospel here, but it helps to have it isolated for our reflection and to internalize the meaning of loving the very ones who seek to harm us or those who we feel are out to get us.

I have heard this same injunction given by people advocating the practice of Eastern religions or self-help gurus to adoring listeners who would scowl if they were hearing it from a Christian pulpit. They say our "enemies" are our best teachers.

Either way whether we should just love our enemies because they are our brothers and sisters or if we should love them because they can aid us on our endless egotistic search to really "know" ourselves--there seems to be universal wisdom (as everything that Christ taught proves in the end to be) to the maxim.

When we view people as enemies we drink in their hatred, their warped vision and sometimes we merely inflate our own warped vision on people that would be shocked to find out that they were even considered enemies by us.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus has something to teach us here. There was a particular sister in her community who got on her nerves. She went out of her way to be even nicer to this sister, so that the sister after Therese death was convinced that she was one of Therese's most loved companions. In the end she really was--after all what is love if it isn't putting to death our false self that is threatened and insecure?

Saturday, May 18, 2002

Happy Birthday to Pope John Paul II --82 today!

I sent the pope a birthday card almost 20 years ago, and included in it a passage from Scripture in Polish that I copied out of a Polish New Testament that was my Great-Grandfathers. The pope's secretary responded to my letter by including a crucifix blessed by the pope. Here in English was the Scripture that I sent the pope in the Card:

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go. (John 21:18)

Of late, I am in almost daily contact with a Jewish woman, a close friend of the pope's. In a private audience with him this past January she had him write in a book that I had written the Preface to--there is a picture of what he wrote here.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 30th step:

(30) To do no injury, yea, even patiently to bear the injury done us.

Injury literally means "injustice." Giving that as a backdrop to this counsel, I think we see that it has a wider application than simply commanding us not to physically hurt someone. To do no 'injustice" and to even to bear the injustice done to us is nothing more than perfectly imitating Our Lord.

The Christian has the life of Christ within them by the grace of their baptism, but for many of us that life is dormant, asleep. We do not call on Christ at every moment of the day to aid us and to help us in our dealings with others and the way that we view our own treatment from the hands of others.

Like every counsel before it and to come--this one calls us to conversion. We are to treat everyone with the utmost respect, not injuring them physically or emotionally, nor showing treating them with any injustice. At the same time when someone treats us harshly, whether physically or emotionally, even unjustly--we are to "grin and bear it."

Our guide is Christ. Who stood before Pilate and did not say a word to defend himself even though he was being accused of crimes he had not committed. He pointed out the Pilate that Pilate himself had no power at all except that God was allowing this to happen.

Ultimately this counsel is about faith. The first part of it deals with our faith that God has created everyone on the face of the earth and they each have the image of God within them. To harm them is to harm God Himself.

The second part is faith in God's providence that whatever mortal princes can do to us--God ultimately will reign victoriously. Jesus told his disciples not to fear those who could harm our bodies, but rather to fear He who could throw us into Gehenna. By bearing injustices committed against us patiently we show our faith in God's power to overcome all evil.

The First part of the counsel also commands us to speak out and to stop the injury that may be suffered by someone else. If we are to bear wrongs done to us patiently, we are not to bear the wrongs done to others patiently--in such a case our lack of action would make us part of the problem.
Day # 9 of 9 to pray Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


Friday, May 17, 2002

Now Cardinal Ratizinger is Also Saying the Pope Would Resign if his Health Becomes to Much for Him:

Makes one wonder if something is in the works? From CNS:

Just before the pope's May 18 birthday, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and subdean of the College of the Cardinals, became the highest-ranking Vatican official to break the taboo and answer a German reporter's question about papal retirement.

The reporter from the Munich archdiocesan newspaper asked if the cardinal knew what the pope thought about resigning.

"I have not yet asked him about that, but if he were to see that he absolutely could not (continue), then he certainly would resign," Cardinal Ratzinger responded.

"As long as the cost is only suffering (for himself), he will continue," the cardinal said. "We are always impressed by his iron will."




A Passage that Won't be Much Quoted by Fundamentalists:

From this morning's Office of Readings comes this verse from the Second Letter of John,

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink, but I hope to come to see you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

My original thought, which I still think as valid, is that you wouldn't hear anyone knocking on your door quoting this passage.

Strangely though later this morning, I remembered the passage and it spoke to me, not as something written by John but something that God is saying to us--that God longs to talk to us--"that our joy may be complete."
From a truly great book on spirituality, Sensing Your Hidden Presence:

As long as the battle of life continues, it is impossible to look upon the Lord face to face. It is only possible to get a glimpse of Him fro the fleeting traces, moving from the effects to the Cause, walking along the path of deductions and analogies, in shadows, indirectly; in short, "from behind."

"Then I wll take my hand away and you will see my back; by my face will not be seen," (Ex. 22:23).
Now for the rest of the story...

Emily Stimpson, the author of Fool's Folly, one of my favorite blogs has devoted a fair amount of attention to the subject of celibacy over the past few weeks. Unfortunately, some of what she has bought into this discussion is a new and completely ahistorical view of celibacy, that no one has ever held or taught until very, very recently.

Celibacy has become a "issue" sort of like female altar servers were a few years ago--when the Vatican finally said female servers were okay, a lot of well meaning people felt betrayed. But for those who know Church History there was no shock and subsequently no crisis of faith. Celibacy, like it or not is akin to "no meat on Fridays" and other such church disciplines.

It is not at all on the level of real doctrines like Jesus' Divinity, the virgin birth and the resurrection.

Now, what makes Ms. Stimpson's fixation with defending celibacy truly strange, is her flaunting what a great priest, she is blessed to have over there in Steubenville. To quote her from her blog today under the heading "Dispatches From A Healthy Part of the Body":

Father Ryland rocked again last night. He delivered a fifteen-minute homily on the power of papal infallibility and the beauty of true Christian unity in the Roman Catholic Church. How many priests do you know who stand in the pulpit, holding the Documents of Vatican II in their hand, and, almost jumping up and down with excitement, exclaim, “Oh I just wish we had hours together so we could keep reading this”?

Lord I’m a lucky girl.


This isn't the first time she's mention Father Ryland. He is a great priest. He wrote the original version of a pamphlet that we publish called "Top Ten Reasons to Come Back to the Catholic Church."

But guess what....

He's married, that's right. He is not celibate.


Now I'm not saying that is what makes him such a "great" priest. I just wonder how Emily can hold him up as the model and wish we all had someone like him and at the same time argue that celibacy is the greatest thing since "sliced bread."

Fr. Ryland is an Anglican convert who was allowed, like many others, to be join the Catholic Church be ordained again (since the Vatican doesn't recognize Anglican orders) and remain married.

Fr. Ryland probably thinks celibacy is great too, in fact that is probably where Emily receives her drive to defend it, but he's married and if he really believes in it, he'd dismiss his wife or live as brother and sister.
Meanwhile, the aged don't want to age. In Florida they are now having "Botox Parties." The thought of a bunch of old people gathering on a Friday afternoon to have poison injected into their face so that they have a few less wrinkles is sickening to me--not to mention that people who have face lifts etc. generally look like freaks. Read about it in the Tampa Tribune today:

``Botox Party! May 20'' reads the marquee of Guggino Family Eye Center on south Tampa's Swann Avenue.

The group Botox experience - in which friends gather for company, refreshment and little Botox shots around the eyes to erase brow furrows - has swept from California to Florida.
A New Blog on the Block,Oremus: Adventures in Orthodoxy, check out the May 15th entry--a poem by Joyce Kilmer.
The Non-Story of the Year

Within over 15,000 pages of security briefings, CBS's David Martin located one reference to a "possible hijacking," that as one FBI agent said was more of a CYA statement than any real intelligence lead. Now we have to listen to the Tom Daschle express outrage as though he thinks this is significant and not a good time to attack the Republican President who is enjoying tons of popularity in a Congressional election year.

"Yawn"

How stupid are Americans? Plenty or maybe its just that most of us find it unbelievable that 9/11 could have happened to us. If that's the case than we are in for some rough days ahead--not just in dealing with tragedies that are sure to occur but also in dealing with our wounded pride--that we don't know it all and we're not all powerful.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 29th step:

(29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).

St. Benedict references two Scripture passages with this counsel. The first is from Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians, "See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all," (1 Thess. 5:15). The next is from the First Letter of Peter, "Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing," (1 Pet. 3:9).

The motivation for this is clearly stated in Peter's letter when he says that the Lord is against those who do evil. Get it?

If we return evil for evil, then we are evildoers.

If we are in God, then we will only have love and peace to give. Like Christ we will forgive our enemies, we will return their hatred with God's love.

Doesn't it sound humanly impossible to do this? It is, but for God all things are possible.

These steps continually make us aware, like a mega examination of conscience that we need to pray continuously. Prayer is essential because in order to live out the Gospel message, God must be in our every breath.

Our prayer should always be for the other's good.

Is there anyone that could make heaven hell for you? Then you'd better pray for that person. Pray that good will happen to them, that their heart will be touched, and that in the process your heart may also be changed to accept them.

Often love and hate are flip sides of the same coin.

Our Lord's cross is for a sign of victory, for the world it is a sign of defeat. Jesus told his disciples that he has overcome the world, how we respond to evil in our lives shows who we belong to---Jesus or the world.
Day # 8 of 9 to pray Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


Thursday, May 16, 2002

How's this for a translation of Scripture?

Jedus say, `Ain't nobody gwine light a lamp and den hide um someweh weh day cain't shum. Needa e ain't gwine pit de lamp ondaneet a bushel baskut. E gwine pit de lamp on top ob a table so dem wa come een de house kin see de light.'"

No, this is not "The Gospel According to Br'er Rabbit", nor a quote from an old Amos and Andy radio show. It is the official rendering of Luke 11:33 according to the recent "Gullah" translation of Luke's Gospel, titled, De Good Nyews Bout Jedus Christ Wa Luke Write, published in 1995 by the American Bible Society, the Protestant organization which has for decades produced translations of the Bible in hundreds of the world's languages. De Good Nyews Bout Jedus Christ Wa Luke Write is the first book of the Bible to appear in this tongue.


From De Good Nyews Bout Translayshun? by Helen Hull Hitchcock at Adoremus.org

scandaltohope.jpg Here is the cover of the new book
by Father Benedict Groeschel that will be available from Our Sunday Visitor in June.




Breaking News

Trappist Abbot M. Basil Pennington, the monk known worldwide for his books and ministry on centering prayer, has resigned as head of Our Lady of Holy Spirit Abbey in Conyers.
Twelve Ways to Know God by Peter Kreeft

Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God (Jn 17:3). What are the ways? In how many different ways can we know God, and thus know eternal life? When I take an inventory, I find twelve.

1. The final, complete, definitive way, of course, is Christ, God himself in human flesh.

2. His church is his body, so we know God also through the church.

3. The Scriptures are the church's book. This book, like Christ himself, is called "The Word of God."

4. Scripture also says we can know God in nature see Romans 1. This is an innate, spontaneous, natural knowledge. I think no one who lives by the sea, or by a little river, can be an atheist.

5. Art also reveals God. I know three ex-atheists who say, "There is the music of Bach, therefore there must be a God." This too is immediate.

6.Conscience is the voice of God. It speaks absolutely, with no ifs, ands, or buts. This too is immediate. [The last three ways of knowing God (4-6) are natural, while the first three are supernatural. The last three reveal three attributes of God, the three things the human spirit wants most: truth, beauty, and goodness. God has filled his creation with these three things. Here are six more ways in which we can and do know God.]

7. Reason, reflecting on nature, art, or conscience, can know God by good philosophical arguments.

8. Experience, life, your story, can also reveal God. You can see the hand of Providence there.

9. The collective experience of the race, embodied in history and tradition, expressed in literature, also reveals God.You can know God through others' stories, through great literature.

10. The saints reveal God. They are advertisements, mirrors, little Christs. They are perhaps the most effective of all means of convincing and converting people.

11. Our ordinary daily experience of doing God's will will reveal God. God becomes clearer to see when the eye of the heart is purified: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."

12. Prayer meets God—ordinary prayer. You learn more of God from a few minutes of prayerful repentance than through a lifetime in a library.

Unfortunately, Christians sometimes have family fights about these ways, and treat them as either/or instead of both/and. They all support each other, and nothing could be more foolish than treating them as rivals—for example, finding God in the church versus finding God in nature, or reason versus experience, or Christ versus art.

If you have neglected any of these ways, it would be an excellent idea to explore them. For instance, pray using great music. Or take an hour to review your life some time to see God's role in your past. Read a great book to better meet and know and glorify God. Pray about it first.

Add to this list, if you can. There are more ways of finding and knowing God than any one essay can contain. Or any one world.

Read more of Peter Kreeft's takes at his web site.



More Disturbing News about the Tennessee Volunteer football team from the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Bob Gilbert, a syndicated columnist whose writings are published in six newspapers in Tennessee, is scheduled to meet today with Southeastern Conference investigator Bill Sievers. Gilbert says he has evidence of academic misconduct involving several players on Tennessee's 1998 football team, which won the SEC and national championships.

Tennessee, the SEC, and the NCAA have investigated the claims over the past three years, but the SEC is apparently taking another look at the allegations, which were first made public by Linda Bensel-Meyers, an English professor at the university.

''A blind man couldn't miss a lot of the manipulation that was going on with those (academic) transcripts,'' Gilbert said. ''The SEC didn't want to see it. The NCAA didn't want to see it. The president of the University of Tennessee didn't want to see it. They're all in denial.''

Gilbert said SEC commissioner Roy Kramer called him Tuesday to voice concerns over his column published Monday. In the column, Gilbert wrote that the SEC ignored ''compelling and incriminating'' evidence when it first looked at the allegations two years ago.

Gilbert, 65, is a 1960 graduate of Tennessee and worked 29 years as the university's director of news operations until retiring in 1996.

Gilbert's allegations include:

A Tennessee football player was expelled at the end of the fall semester in 1998. Under university regulations, the student-athlete should have sat out a full year before re-applying for admission, but he was reinstated the following semester and participated in spring football practice.

A football player who was on academic probation for four semesters had eight grade changes to remain eligible under SEC and NCAA requirements. In the fall semester of his last year of eligibility, the student-athlete flunked four courses.

On several transcripts of football players, failing grades were changed to incomplete marks and then changed back to failing after football season.

Bensel-Meyers complained in 1999 about plagiarism and grade changing involving student-athletes. Tennessee conducted its own investigation in the fall of 1999, but the school said it found no improprieties. The NCAA performed a follow-up audit and informed Tennessee in March 2000 that it was discontinuing its inquiry.

The NCAA looked into the matter again in August 2000, but again found no wrongdoing. However, following the investigations, Tennessee took its tutoring program out of the hands of the athletics department and turned it over to the provost's office.

''According to (Bensel-Meyers), the NCAA has never looked at this evidence,'' Gilbert said. ''She offered it to the investigator, but he
wouldn't take it.''

Gilbert's accusations come less than two weeks after Wayne Rowe, a sportswriter with the Mobile (Ala.) Register, said he sent $4,500 to former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin while he was still playing for theVolunteers. A Mobile businessman said the money was embezzled from his insurance company by an employee who wrote Rowe two checks. Rowe resigned from the newspaper on May 10 and has yet to provide the newspaper with wire transfer receipts that prove the money was sent to Martin.
Words from the Shepherds of the Church

First Cardinal Mahoney (May 14th):

My Brother Priests: We have all been overwhelmed for many weeks now with the constant publicity highlighting the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests all across the country. These news reports have been very distressing for us all, but these reports have helped us turn our prayers and our focus to reaching out to the victims with all available spiritual and pastoral assistance.

It is quite likely that very soon the public media will highlight the case of Michael Baker, a former priest of this archdiocese. You need to be aware that such a story could come anytime now, and you need to be aware of the seriousness of his case.

Sometime in late 1986, Baker disclosed to me that he had problems in the past of acting out sexually with two minors.

Baker was sent to a treatment center for evaluation and recommendation for his future. Following treatment, it was decided that he could do specialized priestly ministry not related to children and youth. He was subsequently given various ministries, such as special outreach to our retired priests. All during this time, we had no reports of abuse.

Early in the year 2000 we learned that two men in Arizona were preparing to sue Baker for past sexual abuse. Once we became aware of that situation, he was removed immediately from all priestly ministry in accordance with the policy in effect at that time. Baker agreed to petition the Holy See for laicization, which was granted shortly thereafter. We have now learned that further allegations are being made against Baker.

As your archbishop, I assume full responsibility for allowing Baker to remain in any type of ministry during the 1990s. If I had known in those years what I discovered in early 2000, I would have dismissed him from all ministry and requested his dismissal from the priesthood in the late 1980s.

I offer my sincere, personal apologies for my failure to take firm and decisive action much earlier. If I have caused you or your parishioners additional grief by my handling of the Baker case, I ask your forgiveness.

Such situations illustrate vividly and clearly the reason why our archdiocese now has firmly in place a "zero tolerance" policy--past, present and future. No one who has been determined to have sexually abused a minor can be allowed to serve in any ministry in the church.

I ask your continued prayers as we move through this time of purification.

From Bishop Joseph Imesch (Joliet):

Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch seemed unfazed as a lawyer questioned him in 1995 about bringing in a priest who had been convicted of molesting an altar boy in Michigan.

"If you had a child," the lawyer recalled asking the bishop during the deposition for a civil suit, "wouldn't you be concerned that the priest they were saying mass with had been convicted of sexually molesting children?"

Replied Imesch, "I don't have any children."

Bishop Joseph Hart (retired):

Hart referred questions to his attorney, who issued a news release Tuesday stating that Hart welcomed the investigation because he wants to "put an end to these false allegations.

"I state clearly, without any equivocation, that I have never engaged in any improper sexual behavior involving minors in my more than 46 years as a priest," Hart said in the statement.






This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 28th step:

(28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue.

St. Benedict's counsel here is geared toward a conversion of feelings, so that the truth I speak with my mouth, I also feel in my heart. Of course, such truth will be spoken with conviction.

Many of us know instinctively what is true, we just don't feel like paying any attention to it. Conversion of "feelings" is an important part of opening oneself to God.

If you don't feel like converting to the truth, it is because some untruth has grabbed your heart. Opening your heat to God's love will have a surprising result--you will literally feel the truth.

Too often we look toward those who should model religious faith but instead wear their faith for all to see. Jesus condemns the Pharisees and hypocrites of his day because they keep the tax collectors and prostitutes from coming to the Kingdom of God by their example. In other words they make religious belief in God seem unattractive.

Our eyes should always be focused on Christ. We shouldn't look to anyone else.

The people who encountered Him were drawn to Him. So will we be.

Then speaking the truth will be a matter of allowing the tongue to proclaim what the heart feels.
Day # 7 of 9 to pray Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Two more search engines to try:

Vivisimo Combines several search engines.

and,

Daypop This search weblogs. Add your site if it doesn't come up.
Alan Keyes is Making Sense

Here is the quote about what the bishops should be about:

First, truth. First, you do what corresponds to truth and right and justice and integrity. And then I think it‘s quite obvious that you leave the rest in God‘s hands. We‘re supposed to walk by faith, not by some calculation of our assets, whether as individuals or as a church.

And I think we need to start showing the courage of that faith, to simply look for truth, acknowledge it, act according to it. I think God will take care of the church‘s assets if the most important spiritual and moral assets are preserved. The rest of them won‘t mean a thing if we destroy that which is the heart of our faith. And I feel it very strongly. And I think there are some prelates who aren‘t showing that priority right now. And that‘s part of what‘s damaging the church.


The transcripts for the show are posted here.

The conclusion of a very good piece by Michael Sean Winters in The New Republic:

In studying the long history of Catholicism, one realizes that as bad as things are, they have been worse before. And yet the Church survives because the life of faith, in a man or in a people, is an unpredictable thing. As Monsignor Albacete recently told me, "If, in addition to all the terrible things we have learned, if tomorrow it was revealed that the pope had a harem, that all the cardinals had made money on Enron stock and were involved in Internet porno, then the situation of the Church today would be similar to the situation of the Church in the late twelfth century ... when Francis of Assisi first kissed a leper." Saints, not bishops, will remake the face of the Church, and the making of saints is God's work. It would be wonderful indeed if every bishop were a saint. But the current crisis could have been avoided if the bishops had merely remembered they were human beings.

Also check out Tim Drake's blog at:

Tim Drake

If you haven't read his book There We Stood, get yourself a copy, it is a great read!
Check out Peter Vere's blog

CLOG -- Blog for Catholics and Canon Lawyers: Pete Vere's Blog bringing together many of the loves in his life such as family, horror fiction, canon law, Eastern Christian ecclesiology, Latin liturgy, romance novels, fantasy writing (particularly elves and dragons), professional wrestling, French cooking and folklore, and Canadian female vocalists....
My wife has linked to a Mona Charen column about the terrible accident that has her 11 year old son in a coma.

Please offer a prayer up for the boy's recovery.

I too remember the funeral of which Amy speaks, but what I remember about it was a young woman playing a violin and swirling around as she did so which struck me as terribly inappropriate. But alas, people do strange things when confronted with terrible events.

I also remember another funeral of a young boy, 10 years old, who was struck by a school bus. He died and even to this day I can't even begin to imagine the grief that the parents felt then or still feel these many years later.

Again, offer up a prayer. It may seem like a simple thing, but that is a temptation--reject it and offer the prayer to God.
Some things to look forward to from Our Sunday Visitor Publishing:

From Scandal to Hope by Father Benedict Groeschel (available in June)

Miracles of St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Audio Book) (available in June)

The Catholic Answer Bible (available in July)

We Believe in the Holy Spirit by Father Andrew Apostoli (available in September)

Why Matter Matters by David Lang (available in September)

And for fans of C.S. Lewis and Mere Christianity, we have:

More Christianity by Dwight Longenecker (available in September)
As we enjoy a nice 70 ish day in between days where the highs are in the 50's and 40's, let me give thanks that we are not in India where the highs are reaching 120!
Nancy Nall writes about the title of Alan Keyes MSNBC show:

Dan Kennedy on Alan Keyes: "The folks at MSNBC call it 'Alan Keyes is Making Sense,' but it's pretty obvious they'd have come up with another title if he really was. It's not likely, for instance, that there will ever be a show called 'Christiane Amanpour is Making Sense.' This is packaging as desperate denial of reality, sort of like 'Mike Barnicle is Telling the Truth' or 'Jim Lehrer is Driving Viewers Into a Frenzy With His Wild and Crazy Antics at the Anchor Desk.'"

Which inspired the following:

"Ozzy Osbourne is Speaking Clearly"
"William Donahue is Speaking Softly"
Catholic Writing Festival

The Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Steubenville, OH, will be hosting a Catholic Writing Festival on the weekend of September 13 -15, 2002. Over 35 of some of the most published Catholic authors will be presenting including Ron Hansen, Scott Hahn, Barbara Nicolosi, Bert Ghezzi, Ralph McInerny, Joseph Pearce, Michael Dubruiel and Bud Macfarlane.

Lectures and workshops will be presented on topics including playwriting/screenwriting, poetry,fiction, non-fiction, journalism, mystery writing, publishing, spiritual/apologetics, and children's literature.

Special events include a dramatic presentation of "Tamara L", a new play by Polish playwright Kazimierz Braun, multiple presentations on Catholic Art; poetry readings; book signings; a Publishers Roundtable, where publishers will discuss what
they want in a manuscript; an Authors Roundtable, where authors will offer insights on how to get published; and a Publishers Mart, where publishers will be marketing their wares (we are still looking for more CatholicPublishers that might want to join us).

New York Times bestseller, Ron Hansen, will give the keynote address: "Religion and Art" on Friday evening.
Visit the website for information on events and speakers, a detailed schedule of the weekend, and registration information. For more information contact Shawn Dougherty .
Alan Keyes is Making Sense

They haven't posted the transcipt for last nights program yet, but as soon as they do--I will post Alan Keyes comments on the current crisis. In a nut shell he said it all.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 27th step:

(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.

To "swear" in this case means to take a vow. St. Benedict warns in this counsel that we should not take oaths out of fear that we might do so falsely. Why would this be the case?

Jesus commanded his disciples not to swear. In the Gospel of Matthew, he says, " But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil," (Matthew 5:34-37).

Our Lord knows well that we do not know ourselves very well. When He told his disciples that one of them would betray him, they all denied it. Peter spoke the loudest and Our Lord warned him that he would betray him before the cock crowed twice. Notice what Peter does at the crucial moment:
"Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, 'I do not know the man.' And immediately the cock crowed," (Matthew 26: 74). He swears falsely.

Unfortunately people continue to swear oaths that they may humanly incapable of fulfilling. It is interesting that within Christianity this command of Jesus has slowly been abrogated. But the truth of what Jesus said and here St. Benedict counsels remains.

None of us knows what the future holds. None of us knows if we will be able to fulfill any vow five or ten years from now. We can promise, ask God's blessing upon our promise and go where God leads us. But as Jesus says anything else is from the evil one.
Day #6 of 9 to pray Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Thanks to Mark Shea for this link to the Grassroots renwal project. The book I'm working on with Father Benedict Groeschel grew out of a meeting with this group connected to his community. Check out the animation on the first page.
Note from a good therapist:

Perhaps I'm being a bit sensitive on this issue--and it doesn't bother me that much--but all this carping about psychologists is hitting a little close to home. Both you and Mark Shea talk about Cardinal Law consulting with lawyers and psychologists.

The problem, it seems to me, is that Law did not listen to the advice of the therapists that was received. In one case, Bishop Daley called the Institute for Living to complain that the discharge summary for Shanley was not as positive as he thought it would be, and in Geoghan's case, they did not go by the reports of a therapist, but by his family physician.

I am the first one to point out the stupid, unprofessional, politicized rubbish many of my colleagues spout as fact, but it doesn't seem entirely fair to me to pin this one on the psychologists. Law's deposition seems to make it pretty clear that he and his episcopal cronies chose to either ignore good professional advice or seek it where they knew it would already confirm their bias. They want to hide out behind plausible deniability, but it seems to me that the records from the Institute for Living speak for themselves, "We cannot guarantee that this will not occur in the future." I don't think you need to be a rocket scientist (or an Archbishop) to know that probably means bad news for the future of the priest in question.

Correct me if I'm wrong about this.


My answer:

Of course, you are correct. Bishops often see what they want to see and reject the rest.

One case that highlights this in my experience, is of a friend who was sent for a psychological review and the report back to the seminary and the bishop was that my friend's libido was through the roof. The therapist said he doubted seriously that my friend would ever be able to live a chaste celibate life.

The rector wrote a letter to the bishop attached to the report dismissing it, saying that the psychologist did not share our faith (the therapist was Jewish). They ordained my friend, who shortly thereafter was having sex in the Church parking lot among other places (with various adult women, I should add) for the next three years. He finally left marrying a woman, who sang in the choir.

Had the Church listened to the good therapist, they could have saved everyone a lot of headaches, not to mention money.

I apologize, consider this a retraction of sorts.

Of course there are bad therapists, just like there are bad priests and bishops.

Today is the Feast of the St. Mathias the Apostle.

Mathias was the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. I found what St. John Chrysostom said about the way the Apostles exercised their episcopal power interesting. It is from the Office of Readings for the day:

And they all prayed together, saying: You, Lord, know the hearts of men; make your choice known to us. “You”, not “we”. Appropriately they said that he knew the hearts of men, because the choice was to be made by him, not by others.

They did not trust themselves to make the decision but rather relied on the Lord. Would that our bishops would operate in this manner, again!
Newsmax.com has a page devoted to Catholic Scandal.
The Need for Reform

Catholic Education: Both Amy and I have taught in Catholic schools over the past twenty years. In a very elite Catholic school that I taught at, the department head of the Theology had no accademic background in religion of any sort. He had a master's degree in science (but was hated by everyone in the science department) so was shifted to theology. He was the only teacher in the department to have no background in theology. He was confused (to be charitable)--pro abortion but almost tridentine when it came to the words of the Eucharistic prayer and what constituted a "valid" mass.
Anyway the point here, is that Catholic education is a colossal mess!

Catholic Hospitals: Most Catholic hospitals were founded by good religious who sought to relieve the poor. In a major city where I lived for a number of years and had friends who were EMT's, one told me once that they had a list in the ambulance of where they could take indigents that they might pick up. Out of seven hospitals on the list--the Catholic hospital was the last resort. This is the first scandal--that the hospital that should welcome the marginalized as Christ, doesn't want him.
The second scandal is all of the other stuff that goes on in the name of being eligible for government funds.

Liturgy: This past Easter, Amy and I sat through a mass where the priest performed the remarkable feat of never once saying anything that was in the ritual--changing every word from the start until communion (after which we left). I sat in a committee meeting for a renovation project recently where the "liturgical consultant" hired for a hefty fee lied repeatedly to the members of the committee with such fables as "Vatican II declared voting, unChristian." When I inquired which document of Vatican II declared that, I was brushed off. One wonders why people with agendas that are not Catholic continue to dominate the American scene.

Religious Life: I have written elsewhere on here about the ruins of monasteries and convents that dot the countryside here in the midwest, perhaps even sadder are those that are still populated with what can only be termed as "lost" souls. I recently visited one community of religious women who seem to have lost any sense of what they exist for and equally confused about their faith. One sister remarked in a prayer "and for whoever the father of Jesus really was." No joke, if she doesn't know that, God knows what is keeping her in that community.

Catholic Spirituality: I have a masters degree in Christian Spirituality. While attending school and working toward that degree I was surrounded by some very confused people. Prayer services were often to the four winds or in imitation of some other world religion. A Congregational minister who attended one semester in hopes of getting a taste of Catholic spirituality asked me once what the hell was going on? I shrugged my shoulders. Demonic activity, would be my guess.

Truth telling: Unfortunately the last straw, perhaps the fruit of all the above is the loss of the ability to tell the truth that has plagued the church. The laity (pyschologists and attorneys) have greatly contributed to this mess. When one looks at Cardinal Law's frequent "I can't recall" one thinks of a well coached by attorney client. The so called "church" is worried about losing money and its place.

I once witnessed a cover-up of major proportions where an Archbishop read a two page hand written statement, to those who were angry about the cover-up, which stated without reserve that those gathered were not to discuss among themselves, or even think about the charges that were being levied against a certain priest. He concluded his statement with, "now, I think I'll have a drink."
The priest in questions was quietly removed a few months later after those in attendance at that meeting refused to "obey" the Archbishop. The Archbishop continues to rule and speak out about all that he is doing to be open and honest.

Seminaries: I have written elsewhere on these pages about my experiences as a student. I will add one incident. Recently while visiting a seminary in the south, I asked the Rector of that seminary why a certain priest who lives openly with another man (off campus--something that no other faculty are allowed to do, unless they are in a parish) in an obviously gay relationship is allowed to be a faculty member there. HIs answer was to shrug his shoulders and abruptly end the meeting. It will be interesting to see if in the next few months this man is let go--as of now he is still teaching. What are seminarians supposed to think when they see a priest openly living with another gayman in a house where the rooms are wallpapered with mirrors? Is this good formation for celibacy?

Father Groeschel's book will offer hope, God knows we need it!
Day #5 of 9 to pray Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 26th step:


(26) Not to forsake charity.

There are times when our hearts can grow cold and we can close ourselves off from either accepting love or giving it. Often this is because of some evil that we have either had done to us or have experienced in some way.

No matter how bad it gets, St. Benedict here wisely counsels us to never forsake charity--love.

When our hearts grow cold, we need to open the door to the Lord's love and ask him to burn away anything that keeps us from being vessels of his charity both to ourselves and to others. It is His Love that conquers all and it ultimately is His Love that heals all wounds.

If we feel at anytime that we really do not feel like being loved or loving--we need to examine ourselves and to see what has crept into our lives and is taking the place of God. A coldness of heart is always an indication that we have put something else in God's place in our lives.

"Not to forsake charity" applies in all circumstances in life. Charity as a translation for caritas, which can also be translated "love", is a good way to remind us that love is always requires "giving." When we do not wish to give, it is often because we feel we have nothing to give. But if we allow ourselves to be filled with God's love, we will always have more than enough.

One need only think of a Mother Teresa, frail and old, walking and greeting all that cross her path. Or a Pope John Paul II bent over with age, ignoring no one. It is not physical strength that allows a person to act in this manner but Divine Love.

It is available to you, in the same way as it is available to them.

Do not forsake this great gift that God wishes to give you, nor to share it with all who cross your path this day.

Monday, May 13, 2002

A great journal, with an online presence--Mars Hill Review. Dr. Peter Kreeft says about it--"I find the fiction and literary criticism in Mars Hill Review to be especially valuable... I know of no published Christian equivalent."
America Magazine has devoted an issue to Liturgy (May 6th edition). Among other articles is one on Renewal and Renovation: The Politics and Principles of Liturgical Design. An interesting paragraph in this is the following:

Any attempt to design implies an interpretation of these principles. But the texts can be misused and manipulated to justify almost any design based on personal preference and piety. Pastors must guard against people of various interest groups using the texts in this way. Those texts are meant for instruction and guidance, not for weapons for bludgeoning opponents in liturgical warfare.

Since, I perceived that this was the set-up for the renovation that was being guided by a litugical consultant at my parish, I resigned from the committee on Friday after meeting with the Pastor of the parish and sharing my concerns. The consultant no less than four times lied to those on the committee who weren't knowledgeable enough to question her. I questioned her and each time she backed off of her original claim. But I could see that as far as I was concerned this was going to be nothing but a colossal waste of my time.

Words of Pope John Paul II yesterday, encouraging the use of the internet to spread the Gospel:

The most recent advancements in communications and information have put the Church in front of previously unheard-of possibilities for evangelization. That is why this year I thought to present a very-current theme: "Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel."

We must enter into this modern and every more replete communications network with realism and confidence, convinced that, if it is used with competence and conscientious responsibility, it can offer useful opportunities for spreading the Gospel message.

There is no need, therefore, to worry about "putting out to sea" in the vast informational ocean. One can also reach the heart of men and women of the new millennium through the Good News itself.
My wife Amy has linked the parochial vicar (associate pastor) of the Cathedral in Boston who now has his own blog at From the Middle of the Storm. Here is your chance to get all the inside scoop of what is taking place behind the scenes--if he cares to share it with us.
Two new search engines trying to rival Google (which itself was new not so long ago):

Teoma didn't do anything great when I did several sample searchs. In fact, I was disappointed.

Wisenut has a feature which struck me as an improvement, you can preview the site without actually leaving your search results. This is a definite innovation.
From Fool's Folly a nice reflection:

And whenever I’m feeling helpless in the wake of Bishops who won’t lead and priests who prey upon little ones, I need to remember that the good that I do, my prayers, my suffering, my daily offerings, does help the Body. Every step I take towards holiness is a gift to the Church. Living my own quiet little life, loving the people around me, I can help in a way more powerful and more real than anything I can imagine.

And further down she writes:

These priests who substitute their own enlightened faith for the Catholic faith are not all evil. A few probably knowingly do the devil’s work, Paul Shanly for instance. Most, however, are decent, kind men who truly believe they are doing God’s work. But no matter how nice these men are, if they refuse to accept and teach what the Church teaches, they have no business remaining in the clergy. Through their arrogance and ignorance they are allowing rot to fester in the Body of Christ. I can understand why these men refuse to leave the priesthood, refuse to give up their personal crusades. But what I cannot even begin to fathom is why Rome does not shut them up. Why do they still wear collars? Why?

I wonder if Emily knows how many "good" priests have left because they could no longer put up with the hypocrisy, of the very priests (and bishops) that she writes about, that exists and just got tired of fighting it?


From a reader of this blog, concerning Cardinal Law's novena:

While, certainly, there are nine psalms that could do vastly more powerful service together as a novena in the face of such devastation of spirit, critiquing the elements of this particular novena seems pharisaical (i.e., "God, I thank thee that I am not like other men,extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector").

That many bishops are now undergoing the lash is living evidence the Holy Spirit loves his church beyond our capacity to grasp. The power of it we can't know because ultimately it is a call to holiness the likes of which collectively we've never known. Would that we come to know.

But we will all undergo such as this for our sins, whether in this life or the next. We suffer it even now.

Thank you for publishing the Cardinal's novena.
Day #4 of 9to pray a Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 25th step:

(25) Not to make a false peace.

This may catch us by surprise. We might reason, wouldn't some semblance of peace be better than war. But, again if we think about the ramifications of someone who we think is at peace with us but really isn't, we can see how damaging this "show" of peace can be in the long run.

St. Benedict isn't saying that we shouldn't be at peace with everyone, he is telling us not to make a "false" peace with anyone.

We are to be honest, as the previous counsel has instructed us. We are to make peace with our brother or sister that is genuine this step counsels us.

But what if we find ourselves incapable of being at peace with someone?

We must bring our warring heart to God.

People, from a distance, often are amazed at how certain groups of the same people can foster hatred toward one another over so many years. Sometimes it is religious belief (in the case of most religions, it is against the very belief that they fight over) that keeps people enemies. Military might is often used, sometimes by a third party to keep the peace. But as history proves time and again such peace is no peace at all. Soon the parties are warring with one another again often with a conflict that has inflamed while it was dormant.

What then?

If we hold peace with each other as a goal, then we must use every means to achieve that goal. Most of the time peace is achieved by simply acknowledging the others right to exist with dignity and to acknowledge their right to believe differently. What this requires for both parties to reach this goal mutually, is for both of their egos to die.

For the follower of Christ this is not an option.

"Love your enemies." "If they press you to go one mile, go two." "If they strike you on one cheek, offer the other." "Forgive seventy times seven."

Amazing how anyone who follows Christ could ever set out to make anything other than true peace.

Our Lord's parting words to His disciples was, "My peace I give you, not as the world gives do I give." He was probably referring to the fact that at the time (and even today in Israel) that people didn't say "Goodbye" but rather they said "Peace." The Romans said Pax Vobiscum, the Israelites said Shalom.

But did they mean it? It was a convention and very well often was said with no conviction.

Our Lord's peace is not a convention, it is true. We should follow His example and make true peace with all we encounter.

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Happy Mother's Day to my mother who has the great fortune of enjoying this day as every in the beautiful State of Florida. Amy's mother is deceased, please remember her in your prayers today.
Day #3 of 9to pray a Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 24th step:

(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.

Our Lord is the way, the truth and the life. Anything that tempts us toward falseness is not of Him. Again, St. Benedict warns us not even to "entertain" the idea of deceit in our emotions, symbolized by the heart.

Everyone deserves the truth. As Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and it shall set you free."

Unfortunately many people do not believe that the truth is helpful to others. To quote a phrase from the movie A Few Good Men, that was a favorite of students that I once taught Ethics to, "You can't handle the truth," seems to be most people's guiding principle.

Doctors are not honest with patients who come to them expecting honesty. Parents, sometimes keep the truth from their children, leading them to search for it elsewhere. Even bishops now are not known for standing for the truth but rather hiding and trying to conceal it.

The result of such deceit lives with us for years. It destroys our capacity to trust. One can see how it could destroy a tight knit community like a monastery, but we should not let that excuse us.

A meditation on the effects of deceit that we have been on the receiving end might help us to appreciate why as St. Benedict counsels us, we should not even entertain the idea of being that way to anyone.

Everyone deserves the truth. The truth is a good and valuable commodity. Whatever perceived good we might think that hiding the truth from someone might bring, usually back fires.

St. Thomas Aquinas argued that the natural purpose of speech is to communicate the truth. Can you imagine a bird warning of an intruder to another bird , if in fact there is no intruder? A dog barking out lies to another dog?

Yet we humans can abuse this gift of speech that we have at our disposal.

Ultimately, it is a choice to reject God and to make something else a god in our lives. Whatever we feel is more important than telling the truth is what we really believe in. Our reputation, our pride or our sins all can keep us from fulfilling this counsel.

The confessional, then is a good place to begin. Opening our hearts to God and not even entertaining the thought of deceiving Him. As St. Paul says, "God will not be mocked."

God not only can handle the truth about us, He can teach us the truth about ourselves. Something usually hidden from the deceitful person.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Regarding current info that is making the rounds about Communists infiltration into the seminaries sixty or seventy years ago:

First, I do not doubt that such an enterprise was undertaken--most likely in Catholic countries like those in Latin America and in Europe (places like Poland and Italy). In fact those familar with theological trends would not be surprised that the trends in theology in Latin America attempted to mix Marxism and Christianity (Liberation Theology).

Secondly, the current crisis (involving sexuality and Clinton-Nixon like cover-up) seems incredibly American. It is more likely that we have exported and infiltrated seminaries with our "democratic" views of morality throughout the English speaking world. The relativism that has become popular in American seminaries is often traced back to Josef Fuchs (a German Jesuit priest, who I myself was taught by). Fuchs historically was a parish priest in Germany during World War II. He had the sad tasks of trying to make sense of the hiddeous complicity of the German people in Hitler's war and holocaust. In doing so, he greatly questioned the culpability of people in almost any circumstance. But it was Americans like Charles Curran and Richard McCormack who popularized his views and even took them to new depths in this country. None of these people could hardly qualify as communists-rather than bringing people to work for the good of all--they are largely responsible for just the opposite--the rise and glorification of the individualism (which is hardly compatitlbe with the goals of communism).

A mirror is probably a better instrument to analyze the current crisis in the Catholic Church.
Day #2 of 9to pray a Cardinal Law's Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 23rd step:

(23) Not to foster a desire for revenge.

One of the genius' of St. Benedict's steps is that he teaches the monk to pay attention to what it in his heart. In the previous step it was anger that he counseled we should not give "way to, now it is revenge that we should not "foster a desire" for. If you have been hurt by someone you have a choice how you will respond to that hurt. Our Lord counseled us to forgive, forgive, forgive.

Forgiveness is more than just saying, "I pardon you," to those who hurt us. It also requires an act of the heart that we actually wish the best for our enemy--who may very knowingly and willfully have hurt us.

This usually shocks people.

"Why should I?" "Isn't doing so, making what they did to me right?"

No, in doing so you are not making them or what they did "God" in your life.

Too often we are motivated by anger and desires that have nothing to do with God but everything to do with what other people have done to us. We are not free as a result, but merely puppets of those who have hurt or harmed us in the past.

Not fostering a desire for revenge may seem impossible in some cases--but everytime that we are faced with a task that seems impossible to us--there is a new opening to our great need for God.

That's why these are "steps" toward communion with God, because they make us face our great need for Him at every twist and turn of our lives.

In the same way that "lust" can lead one to commit acts of infidelity--so too in this case fostering a desire for revenge can only lead to the victim becoming the perpetrator of an evil act themselves. Better to cut the growth of something evil at the very roots and "fostering the desire" of something evil is the root of an evil act.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Cardinal Law is calling on all Catholics to pray a Novena during this period between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost, I will post the prayer for the next nine days, to make it easier for you to join in:

''Almighty and merciful God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you raised Jesus Christ, your Son, from death and filled him with new and abundant life.

''Then, in accordance with your loving plan, you sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, that by his mighty gifts they might be joined to the Risen Lord in his Body, the Church.

''By a fresh outpouring of the Spirit's gifts give new life to the Church in the United States this Pentecost.

''We beg that the Spirit will bring healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families.

''We pray that the Spirit will warm the hearts of those whose faith has been weakened by this scandal.

''We ask that the Spirit will bestow mercy and repentance on the abusers.

''We earnestly desire that the Spirit will renew and reform the whole Church in the likeness of Christ.

''Fill every member of the Church with holiness so that, working together as the Body of Christ, we might be built up in faith, hope and love in order to proclaim the Gospel with joy.

''We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.''


I read this some years ago (in 1979). The book claims to be from 1938 and if that could be proved, I think you would definitely have something to look at very seriously. Anyway I offer for your review:

The Confessions of a Communist Agent On The Attempt to Destroy the Roman Catholic Church from Within

I would say that at the time, I felt it was a creation of someone who didn't like the changes in the church.
From another reader:

The "Spirit of St. Francis" award that was to be awarded to Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
by St. Francis hospital this Saturday has been rescinded. She is the State (NJ) Democratic Chair...endorsed and funded by Planned
Parenthood.She voted 2 times against Parental notification (a parent would have to be notified before their minor daughter went for an abortion...any adult can take a this girl for an abortion)

This campaign to rescind the award reached a national audience...People were outraged and every relevant office in the Diocese of Trenton received emails, letters and phone calls.

Please continue to pray and ask Our Lady of Victory to intercede in this "battle for the dignity, reverence and respect for Life"
Please pray for Bishop John Smith for courage in every situation...."We love him but we love our Church more"

A special thank-you to the "Annunciations" Web Page. He printed our request and received a national audience Check it out...Great!

Larry Cigniano "Catholics we vote" all the emails and especially... to Fr. Peter West "Priests for Life".. ..as St. Francis was
told by Our Lord "rebuild my Church" they have been told "rebuild the culture of Life" no thank-you's could ever be enough...we'll send prayers.

Remember evil happens when a few good people do nothing! Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say..."in the end God is not going to
ask us if we were successful...He's going to ask us if we tried!"


Good to know that items posted here are having a positive effect elsewhere.
From a reader of this blog..and my new book:

As a Catholic for six years now (former atheist, so I'm relatively new to the religion scene) - what's a poor box? I've never seen one in our Church. We do have a large box for St. Vincent de Paul item donations. And we have approximately quarterly donation envelopes for the same charity. And we have various other diocesan appeals for charities. But the idea of a poor box intrigues me! I like the idea of emptying my pockets for the poor before leaving Church. I would feel very good about that, if that's where the money would actually go.

By the way, thank you so much for your book on Archbishop Sheen! I am enjoying it immensely! Although it does cause me some distress - pondering your meditation questions is not an easy exercise. But the exercise is helping me learn and grow in my faith! Another distress is that the secluded life I lead prevents me from getting to Church as often as I would like. I live in the country, so getting to town more often than Sunday is a bit of a problem (and expense with gas prices these days). But the last time I came in, I made a point to go to our Adoration Chapel and pray the rosary and dwell in His Presence for awhile. I couldn't stay a full hour, because my husband was babysitting our pre-schooler, and really needed to be working. And he is still a bitter non-practicing Catholic, and HATES it that I have converted my heart and soul to Jesus! So I have to be careful (and secretive sometimes) about what I do, and how I do it. I am having to temper my zeal - which is hard, because as one priest put it last Pentecost, "I have the flames of Pentecost in my heart and on my head!" The torment in my heart is suffering I lift up to our Lord for the whole world. So I apologize to you and all that I am not able at this time to make a daily hour, or even a weekly hour to the Adoration Chapel. YET!!!!

You and Amy are so blessed to be able to share your faith with each other. I can't say that I am jealous (St. Benedict's rule: don't covet!), but I do pray that before I die, my husband will join me at the foot of the cross, God willing! (Appeals to Sts. Monica, Augustine and Jude!)


Poor boxes, see post below, are small boxes usually at the entrances of churches marked for the purpose of collecting money for St. Vincent de Paul Societies or the parish to help the poor. You have a clothing box, mention the idea of having a poor box to the pastor.
Thanks for your comments!


This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives. Here is the 22nd step:

(22) Not to give way to anger.

Whenever Christians think of anger, they usually think of Jesus cleaning house in the Temple. If Jesus got angry, then why is anger a bad thing, most reason? I could add a few more scenes from the Gospel. When Jesus' disciples awaken him during a storm, he stills the storm and then reacts in anger--rebuking his disciples for their lack of faith (this should not be lost on anyone who has ever been awaken from a sound sleep--which obviously Jesus was enjoying and is a sign of his deep trust in God). When Jesus confronts the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the religious leaders of the time, he does not refrain from reacting angrily to what they say and do.

So it is obvious that anger has a place in the perfect human life of which Our Lord's is an example. There are times when anger is the right reaction. When we see someone being abused or misled it is appropriate and even holy to be angry--as long as we do something about the anger. It should motivate us to act out in a righteous way.

But "to give way" to anger is another way of saying "to let it fester," or "to let it take over". We do nothing about it, but rather let it eat away at us. We allow it to grow into resentment and skepticism. This is neither healthy nor spiritual.

There is a certain school of spirituality that often counsels us to remain silent. Not to speak out but rather suffer silently. Of course, there is some truth to this and Our Lord's example before Pontius Pilate is an example of when such a practice is right. But there are other times when such silence would be sinful, not spiritual.

The early Christians called their movement not Christianity but "the Way." Jesus had given his followers a new path to walk. This path is a way of truthfulness and life. Reflecting on the previous step, "to prefer nothing to the love of Christ," in this step we reject making "anger" the way.

Anger has a place in creation, it was created by God for a purpose, but it's purpose is not to control us but to motivate us to act.

The imitation of Christ is the sure "way" to making sure that we do not give "way" to anger.
From the Tampa Tribune, another priest who once taught at the school where I once taught. Don't know him, though:

Abuse Charges Against Jesuit Teacher `Credible': From The Tampa Tribune

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Former Notre Dame Head Football Coach, Dan Devine has Died
Pipe Bombs Found in Indiana Mailboxes
Lawyers Argue that Shanley's Bail Should be Reduced
An Acid Cloud is Passing Over Grand Rapids, MI
Mail boxes are exploding in the State of Washington, today!
Janet Reno was involved in a car accident today.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week's archives. Here is the 21st step:

(21) To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

This is without a doubt the most quoted counsel of St. Benedict.

It an excellent guide for the spiritual life-- to prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

One might ask, are we to focus on being loved by Christ or the act of loving Him? I think it is both.

In Mark 10:21 we have the account of the rich young man. The Gospel says that Jesus, " looking upon him loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

Notice that when Christ loves the rich young man, He points out what the young man lacks. It is out of love, that Jesus tells him to get rid of all his possessions.

Being loved by Christ will reveal similar deficiencies in us.

Our Lord looks upon us and recognizes what we really need. We often come to him with our own ideas about what we need.
If we prefer our ideas to the love of Christ, we too will join the rich young man who walks away sad "for his possessions were many." We may possess the world, but without Christ it is nothing!

In John 8:42, Jesus is engaged in a heated argument with those who oppose him. He says to them "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me."

This takes us back to the first counsel of St. Benedict, to love God. Jesus is God and so we should prefer nothing to God and His love that Jesus has revealed to us perfectly.

How do we know if we truly love Our Lord? He addresses this in John 14:23-24 " "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me."

A concrete way to always prefer the love of Christ throughout the day when faced with countless other choices might be to adopt the phrase that Jesus spoke to Peter and to hear it addressed to ourselves--continuously: "Do you love me more than these? (John 21:15)"
Catholic Light (not Catholic Lite) is a very entertaining blog. I especially like his meditation on the size of poor boxes in churches:

My wife had an observation as we left choir rehearsal last night - "Why are the poor boxes here so dinky? You can hardly fit a folded dollar bill in the slot. At St. Mary's in old town, the poor boxes were huge! People were emptying their pockets as they walked out of the church. Our poor boxes look like the brick walls so you can't even see them." and she ended with the Lay Person's Call To Action: "I'm going to write the pastor a letter!"


She's right. The poor boxes at our church look like little bricks. It's certainly not a reminder of our responsibility. And it's particularly fitting the we have options for directed giving that might not necessarily end up applied toward legal fees or court settlements.

From this site:

"Was not Nagasaki the chosen victim," Nagai writes in Bells of Nagasaki, "the lamb without blemish, slain as a whole-burnt offering on an altar of sacrifice, atoning for the sins of all the nations during World War II?"
The Florida Marlins are in first place in the National League East!


Florida 18 15 .545 ---
NY Mets 18 15 .545 ---
Montreal 17 16 .515 1
Atlanta 16 18 .471 2 1/2
Philadelphia 14 19 .424 4
I watched A Hill of Redemption last night on EWTN--a description from the Catholic Treasures site:

This professionally produced video presents not only Our Lady's warning to the world of a coming chastisement, but a complete overview of Japan's Catholic heritage from the missionary activity of St. Francis Xavier through the 200 year persecution and banishment of Catholicism, the work of St. Maximilian Kolbe in the 1930's, and the atomic destruction during World War II of the largest Catholic community in the country. All the main participants in the church approved Marian messages at Akita are on this video, including the Bishop for Akita. English narration with some segments in Japanese with English subtitles.

I fell asleep before the warning of the world wide chastisement so I can't comment on that, but what struck me was talk that Catholic survivors of the the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki saw it as a sacrificial offering that they offered to end the war. I'd like to find a more coherent presentation of this (more coherent then what I remember).

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

More thanks for linking:

The Goliard Blog:Your destination for deep thoughts and alleged insights Kevin James gives us a glimpse of Catholicism in Atlanta. GA
Thanks for the link...

It's a Mystery: Faith Fantasy and Fact James Wood, describes his blog as the latest news from a loud-mouthed schnook, still Catholic after all these years.

Lethargic IITian, the musings of a 20-something lethargic IITian on India, secularism, chess, Catholicism and (occassionally) technology and life.