Monday, May 27, 2002

Happy Memorial Day!

Remember to pray for all those who have given their lives for our country.
Visit this page only if you have a sense of humor. Written by a priest who wishes ot remain anonymous, he has written a spoof of the Bishop's Pastoral Letter on Economics that was released a few years ago (though largely went unnoticed).
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 39th step:

(39) Not to be a murmurer.

I like how the dictionary defines a murmur, "a confidential complaint." Of course the complaint being offered confidentially is never directed at the person who is responsible for the complaint.

There are murmurers in the Gospel. When Jesus says to the paralytic "your sins are forgiven" the people present begin to murmur amongst themselves about what they perceive to be the presumption of Jesus to do something that is reserved to God alone, (this brings to mind the modern tendency for everyone to forgive sins or at least dismiss them as not really all that serious). Jesus hears the murmurs and addresses them directly.

If you have ever been caught murmuring by the person you are murmuring about--you probably know how they felt.

We should not murmur because we are not addressing the people that should be addressed. We should however speak out "unconfidentially" against injustices, against wrongdoing that harms others. But sometimes the things we complain about in whispered tones hardly rise to that level.

If God is God for us, there is less to murmur about. Many of the events of life that we might normally complain about will be seen to be part of a plan that is much larger than us. What we might perceive as the "wrong way of doing things" might actually lead to "God's way of doing things" being done in the long run.

Again the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis provides an excellent meditation for us on this issue.

Feel like complaining, go to the chapel instead and complain to the boss. He can do something to remedy the situation while your co-worker will only add to your misery.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

If you live in Kentucky, don't think about politics.
Papal Trips May be Cut

I was just reading in Amy's blog that to disuade rumors (which I belief to be fact) that the pope plans to retire (and resign) when he travels to Poland this summer, the Vatican is talking about a trip to Croatia in September (for the specific purpose of disuading rumors--so it seems in the story anyway). Now today, a new take. It turns out the Vatican may cancel the Pope's trip to Mexico, although he evidently will still travel to Toronto:

The Vatican acknowledged for the first time Sunday that it may have to curtail Pope John Paul II's future travel because of his feeble condition, suggesting that planned stops in Mexico and Guatemala in July could be dropped.

Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters the 82-year-old pope will go to Toronto to mark the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day, but suggested the other stops on the proposed 11-day trip could be canceled.
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 38th step:

(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).

The scripture passage that St. Benedict quotes from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. I expected it to be the passage "if a man doesn't work, he shouldn't eat," but its not that. The passage he quotes is "Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord."

Again, like in all previous counsels the motivation to not be slothful is to be animated by God's Holy Spirit. How do we receive this Spirit, by serving the Lord (I like to think of this as "working for the Lord").

Just as one might take a job with a certain company and enjoy certain benefits that the company offers, so too for the person who "works" for the Lord. The chief benefit that God provides to those who serve Him is that He gives them the power to fulfill the job. He also fills His workers with the desire and zeal to do the work.

Being lazy, or slothful is a sign that we have turned in on ourselves again; that we are "serving" ourselves and our own desires. So it is easy to see how this would stop us from being in communion with God.

What then of all the lazy Christians? Remember Benedict wrote these counsels for monks, men who had left everything to follow Christ in the life of the Monastery. But as Jesus prophesied the the "love of many will grow cold," so too in religious life, people can lose sight of the great need that they have for God and start slacking off in prayer.

Which brings us to the greatest danger of being slothful--neglecting prayer. Communicating with God is essential if we are to live--we must never give up prayer.

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Criticism, Unfairness, Blank Checks, etc.

When Moses tarried alittle too long with God on Mount Horeb the people down below got a little tired of waiting and built their own god. It was a golden calf made from all the donated golden jewelry of the people.

Jesus warned in a parable that when the Master was away and seemed tarry a bit too long that some of the servants reasoned, "'My master is delayed in coming,' and begins to abuse the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and an hour he does not know, and will punish him and put him with the unfaithful."

NOTHING will change if we allow the bishops to snowball us into thinking that a few policy changes are going to solve the present crisis in the priesthood of the United States. The truth is such policies have been in place since the late 1980's and one can see that nothing changed because of them.

A real to honest conversion to Jesus Christ is needed!

We need a St. Francis to rise up and to "rebuild the church that is falling into ruin" before our very eyes. We do not need accountants, public relations people, attorneys, psychologists and all of the kings men trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, because it is not Humpty Dumpty that we are concerned with here, but the Church--the Body of Christ!

REMORSE at what bishops and clergy may have done is what I expect other clergy to be remarking upon revelation of these allegations. SORROW at the horrible effect of their sins and our own on the BODY OF CHRIST is what I feel. But not remorse and sorrow about how these horrible revelations will effect fund raising.

God will not be mocked. The Holy Spirit is giving evidence that He is working through the Church right now, daily. I do not wish to stifle the Spirit. I embrace this call for reform, it is part of my prayer when I pray the Office, when I pray the Rosary, when I attend Mass daily, when I pray to God throughout the day.

Jesus said not to judge and I take that to heart. But Jesus made no bones about pointing out hypocrisy, especially in the religious figures of his day, when it kept others from knowing the compassion and mercy of God. So the way I see it that means that if a bishop or priest has personally caused me some harm, I wouldn't judge him--in fact I would bless him and pray for him.

But if I see that the actions of the same bishop or priest is causing harm to others--then I need to point that out. Silence about such matters is not Christian it is demonic.

I condemn no one here by my comments. I only point out that if we are not outraged at this continuous arrogance of not being concerned about victims and only concerned about money--then we might as well replace tabernacles in our churches with safes and start worshipping what we really think is God! When that happens, I'll find the remnant and join them.
Among the names of who might be the next archbishop of Milwaukee is:

Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Dolan, 52, of St. Louis, who served five years as secretary to two papal delegates to the United States in Washington, D.C., and later was rector of the Pontifical North American College, an elite seminary in Rome for men selected by their bishops.

I have an appointment with Bishop Dolan in two weeks, so hopefully he won't be named before then. For the complete list check out the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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 37th step:

(37) Not to be drowsy.

Several years ago, Amy and I attended the Easter Vigil Mass at a monastery. We arrived at the Abbey Church on Holy Saturday night at 9 when it began. The Blessing of the Fire was done, the Easter candle carried in procession, the Exsultet sang, and the readings began. Then they stopped after the fourth one.

There was an announcement. The readings would resume at 4 A.M. We both looked at each other. We were staying at a hotel about a half hour away. It was already 10:30. We rushed out the door and headed back to the hotel and after leaving a wake up call for 3 A.M. at the desk went to sleep.

Like zombies we took are place in the Church again at 3:45 A.M. The monks were all there, psalms were being read. They looked well rested, alert-awake. I was not, I was drowsy.

Monks get up at 4 A.M. every morning. Most of us do not but sleep is essential for all of us. St. Benedict's counsel reflects the rigors of monastic life but applies to us as well. We need sleep in order to give our full attention to life's demands.

There also is the memory of the Apostles and their failure to stay awake at the crucial moments of Our Lord's agony, "And he came and found them sleeping," (Mark 14:37). And of course the warning that he is coming again and how will Our Lord find us, "Watch therefore-for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning-lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch," (Mark 13:35).

A new Catholic blog to check out:

Mystique et Politique

Friday, May 24, 2002

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 36th step:

(36) Not to be a great eater.

Food exists to nourish the body, but I think that no one would be surprised to find that St. Benedict includes this in his counsels. Too often food can become an obsession for those who want to "bury" something that makes life unbearable for them.

Saying a blessing over the food that we are about to eat. Eating slowly and allowing our bodies to be nourished is good. Eating as though nothing can satiate our hunger points to a deeper problem.

I remember that once a friend of mine who is a counselor told me that he had noticed that the most difficult people to counsel that he encountered were those who were overweight. He drew no conclusion as to why this was the case but thought it might have something to do with a displaced focus on food as a remedy to all their ills.

Putting aside genetic dispositions for a second, we should ask ourselves how we approach meals. Are we like an animal who will continue to eat anything put before us with no regard to what we really need?

We should examine the true source of our hungers in life and turn to God. We should be great pray-ers, not great eaters.
I have never quite "gotten" Modern Art.

So every visit to any major Art Museum usually carries two experiences for me. One where I marvel at the quality and insight of artist (usually this happens when I encounter a piece done before the 1900's). The second experience is usually where I stand back and marvel at "A Slit in a Canvas" or a rough painted brush stroke on a canvas and wonder, how the hell anyone can consider this art.

Some, like Jackson Pollock are responsible for beautiful designs that show some level of transcendance at times, but in other pieces, like those that I witnessed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art about a month ago, one is faced with something that could easily have been painted by a child at a spin art booth, at some parking lot carnival.

Last night Amy and I watched Pollock-the movie. I had long anticipated seeing the film because the local Cinema Art house showed the trailer for the it over a period of six months B.J. (before Joseph) when we were still able to attend movies in a theater. I was not dissapointed.

Pollock the movie brought out something that I have long suspected about modern art--it is not transcendant. It is indeed a mess. But it is the mess, that is our lives without God or at least the mess that occurs when there is not some sense that there is a purpose to life.

Pollock's life with the peaks and valleys probably is mirrored in his art which at times screams with color that hints at hope in the midst of the chaos but at other times is drawn of "drips" of a dark that speaks of a gloomy void.

There is no doubt that Pollock was a "great" artist whose paintings reflect the age in which he lived--unfortunately the age in which we still live. Art imitates life. Whereas art from previous eras reflects "the something" subtly hidden in all of nature--from a piece of fruit, to the shade of a tree, to the glory of a human face; modern art reflects its absence.

Pollock said, at least in the movie, that his art reflected his inner life. I think that is a brilliant insight into modern art. When I look at an empty canvas with a slit in it (Milwaukee Museum of Art) something of the inner life (or rather the lack of inner life) of the artist is revealed (not to mention the curator of the museum). Pollock's alcoholism and inner rage shine forth in his art--but through it all there is a glimmer of "order" that presents itself as an invitation "that it doesn't have to be this way". Therein lies the beauty and the genius.

For more on Pollock visit this site. It is amazing how closely Ed Harris resembles the "real" Pollock. Also visit Amy's blog for an interesting item on the woman who died because of Pollock's alcoholic and suicidal last drive.
From a Reader of this Blog:

Well THIS is an issue that certainly isn't restricted to homosexuals. The unfortunate archbishop Marino of Atlanta who was having an affair with a choir director got into all kinds of financial trouble. The woman was getting money from him; there were LOTS of rumors of people in the chancery doing exactly what you're saying gay priests do to gay bishops, too. The last time I heard anything he's still living in "retirement" somewhere in the southwest.

I sort of remember the "blackmail" angle on that case. Archbishop Marino died several years ago. He was working in a convent somewhere in the New York area. Fr. Benedict Groeschel references the case in his new Our Sunday Visitor book "From Scandal to Hope" that will be available in June.

A Priest in Michigan Offers the Following Suggestion:

I am currently organizing what I am tentatively calling a "Prayer Vigil for Holiness" to coincide with the Bishops' meeting in
Dallas June 13-15. I'm trying to spread the word to priests and concerned Catholics across the country, to do something similar. The idea is this: two nights of prayer for our bishops and the Church in this country while the bishops are meeting to discuss the clergy abuse scandal and adopt measures to repair the damage. I am adopting several prayer intentions in general for the Vigil:

1. For the bishops themselves, that in their meeting they will be open to the Holy Spirit’s call to zeal and holiness, and that they will address the scandal and issues it has raised with courage, prudence, and fidelity to Catholic teaching.

2. That our bishops would be emboldened to act courageously as shepherds and speak out prophetically in defense of chastity and purity, in the face of a culture that belittles them.

3. For priests, for their encouragement in this time of difficulty, that theylive as counter-cultural signs of God’s salvation given to us in
Christ. That they might live in ever greater fidelity to the teaching of the Church and their own vows.

4. For the victims of abuse, that they know that Christ suffers with them, and that the Church reaches out to them with compassion and love, and that they might be healed of the injury and pain that they have experienced.

5. That God would call many young men to follow Christ in the priesthood, and that those men will be open to hearing the call and respond generously.

6. For Catholics everywhere, that they will support their priests and bishops when they speak in defense of Catholic teaching, and boldly live out that teaching themselves. That all Catholics would rededicate themselves to strive for the virtues of purity and chastity.
More Follow-ups to the Legal Questions (see posts below)

First from an attorney in Ohio who has a great quote in his signature that reads, "Your tour guide to Ohio's finest correctional accomodations! I can design a stay to meet your deeds!":

I'm not a Catholic employment lawyer, but I am a Catholic prosecutor, so I think I can offer a response that is either realistic,
or cynical, depending on how you view it, since similar situations can come up in a criminal context.

Sure, the writer offers an accurate statement. However, that's assuming the relationship ends well. If it does not, how difficult
might it be to imagine the situation turning nasty and alleging precisely the opposite (i.e. sexual harassment)? That is exactly
why that sort of sexual relationship is a risky affair.

Another offering from the Catholic Employment Lawyer:

After I sent my "legal" e-mail to you, I read the full text of Weakland's letter to Marcoux. I was wrong in agreeing with the "stunned" writer -- I felt very sorry for Weakland and came away believing Marcoux is a golddigger or worse.

Since I'd said in my now-posted e-mail that I agreed with everything else the letter writer said, I figured I'd better let you know for the record that I now agree with you. (Also with Catholic Blog for Lovers)

And From the Original Attorney who Disagreed with Me:

I have a law degree and three peer-reviewed publications on federal antitrust law, and spent 15 years doing little else but
civil litigation of all kinds.

The employment law on "hostile work environment" is not as cut and dried as the poster who criticized me suggests it is.

A corporate employee who is a lawyer and who has the power to write employee reviews of paralegals who report to him, and who carries on a clandestine adulterous affair with an employee he reviews, has created a hostile work environment. When his superiors let it go on despite their knowledge, they have ratified a hostile work environment.

Obviously, the case is more clear and easier to win when the lawyer makes advances on an employee who rejects him, and then she has a less than enthusiastic review next time around.

And you know what happens when a claim like that is asserted and investigated (at least in the context of well-run Fortune 500
corporations with lots to lose)? The perp gets fired or reprimanded, and the complainant gets a settlement, at the price of... a non-disclosure agreement. Where have we also seen that?

In regard to this last comment, I suspect the attorney means the church, except the perp in this case neither is "fired or reprimanded" but given a glowing recommendation--there in lies the problem!
No Time Wasted on This One

Yahoo! News - Pope Accepts US Bishop's Resignation

Thursday, May 23, 2002

From a female Catholic employment lawyer:

Misinterpretation of secular law is probably the least of your worries right now, but your "stunned" reader is wrong about "Wrong #1"(see post below). (Although on everything else, I pretty much agree with him/her.)

The law doesn't prohibit consensual sexual relationships in the workplace, even if between bosses and their employees, as the many lawyers who've "pronged" each other, their paralegals, and their secretaries very well know. Sometimes they even end up getting married.

The law does prohibit sexual harassment (non-consensual sexual behavior in the workplace) and does give rights to the co-workers who missed out on legitimate work-related opportunities because they either were not "offered the chance" to be harassed or because they rejected the unwanted sexual behavior.

However, if the co-workers lost out on these opportunities because they were not parties to a consensual workplace sexual relationship, they have no legal claim whatsoever. The courts call that "favoritism." Poor management, yes, but not illegal.

And you thought Canon Law was technical!

I enjoy your blog.
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 35th step:

(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).

Have you ever said and meant, "boy I need a drink"? This is exactly what St. Benedict is counseling us not to be given to…needing a drink. Benedict and of course Jesus both drank wine. It was a part of the daily meals of both. But what Benedict is counseling us against is feeling that we "need" an alcoholic drink to get by. Of course if we follow this counsel than what do we do, when we are having one of "those days"?

Turn to God. The very elements of a day that leaves us stressed out, are the items that we need to let go of in our prayer. Of course we need to turn to God before our day ever gets to the point of "needing a drink" to anesthetize ourselves.

Everything is given for our use in life and has a purpose. Wine has been shown to be a very healthy part of the diet of people who drink in moderation on a regular basis. But like every good, too much is not good.

If God is the Supreme Being, then we will approach the goods of this life with the right attitude. This would apply to all beverages from coffee, colas, and beer.

In regard to wine, which in the Eucharist becomes the Blood of Christ--we should ever desire to quench our thirst from the True Vine.
The stigmatic priest who has been on tour of the US left with a message that has upset some. I notice in the story that he was under the spiritual care of Father Andrew Apostoli while in the States. I'll have to see if Father Andrew can give me any other details that I can pass on to you. From the New York Post:

"I know there are many evil people who want to take a piece of this land away from you. Be very strong," he repeated several times at the outdoor Mass. "Be careful this summer."

"I am offering this Holy Mass for the protection of this land, your buildings, your airports, bridges, tunnels, your air and your sea," Sudac said at the beginning of the three-hour service.

He also added, "God does permit things during certain seasons." He did not elaborate.

Also read Rod Dreher's comments about Sudac in the Corner. A very moving story.

Finally, a day where the temperature will be over 70 degrees--dare we hope that Summer is here.

From the Lighter Side:

A couple goes on vacation to a fishing resort in northern Minnesota.

The husband likes to fish at the crack of dawn. The wife likes to read. One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a short nap. Although she isn't familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat.

She motors out a short distance, anchors, and continues to read her book. Along comes the game warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside her and says, "Good morning Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading my book," she replies, thinking "isn't that obvious?"

"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her.

But officer, I'm not fishing. Can't you see that?"

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with rape," says the woman.

"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden. "That's true, but you do have all the equipment."

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

New Search Engine--Kartoo

Different and rather entertaining. It uses as many search engines as you wish. The results are displayed in a unique way. Give it a try.
From Musings of a Catholic Seminarian:

I am now reading Goodbye Good Men. It is really making waves in the seminary because at last we feel the story is getting out. I can't comment as to whether each individual story is true but I can tell you that the general practices do happen in ways very similar to how they are described. I have either had similar situations happen to me personally or have seen it happen to others.

I don't attend any of the seminaries mentioned in the parts I have read, but I know their reputations amongst seminarians well. My only regret is that I know this will scandalize a lot of lay faithful. Two key points I have found helpful in dealing with scandalous situations in the Church are:

1)Christ promised not to let the gates of hell prevail against the Church. - In short we either believe him or we don't. I do. We will get through scandals and come out stronger and hopefully purified. Matt 16:18 and Sirach 2:1-11

2) Ex Opere Operato

From the lighter side:

While visiting England, Al Gore is invited to tea with the Queen. He asks her what her leadership philosophy is. She says that it is to surround herself with intelligent people.

He asks how she knows if they're intelligent.

"I do so by asking them the right questions," says the Queen. "Allow me to demonstrate." She phones Tony Blair and says, "Mr. Prime Minister. Please answer this question: "Your mother has a child, and your father has a child, and this child is not your brother or sister. Who is it?"

Tony Blair responds, "It's me, ma'am."

"Correct. Thank you and goodbye, sir," says the Queen. She hangs up and says, "Did you get that, Mr. Gore?"

"Yes ma'am. Thanks a lot. I'll definitely be using that!"

Upon returning home, he decides he'd better put some of his old friends to the test. He calls Bill Clinton and says, "Hi, Bill, I wonder if you can answer a question for me."

"Why, of course, Al. What's on your mind?"

"Well, your mother has a child, and your father has a child, and this child is not your brother or your sister. Who is it?" Clinton hems and haws and finally asks, "Can I think about it and get back to you?"

Gore agrees, and Clinton hangs up. Clinton immediately calls members of his old staff, and they puzzle over the question for several hours, but nobody can come up with an answer. Finally, in desperation, Clinton calls Colin Powell at the State Department and explains his problem. "Now look here, your mother has a child, and your father has a child, and this child is not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"

Powell answers immediately, "It's me, of course, you idiot." Much relieved, Clinton rushes back to call Gore and exclaims, "I know the answer! I know who it is! It's Colin Powell!"

And Gore replies in disgust, "Wrong, it's Tony Blair."
A brush with death.

I'm driving to work this morning when all of a sudden a car crosses the yellow line heading straight for me. Then the driver, a woman, lowers her gigantic coffee cup (must have held at least 40 ounces) and swerves back into her lane. Why do people need GIGANTIC drinking cups--are we the biggest gluttons ever in the history of the world?
Father Casey of St. Dominic's -- combines Wings and prayer, from the Detroit Free Press:

Father Pat Casey began seeing signs in the middle of Mass on Saturday. Nobody else saw them. They bore messages he felt a need to share with his parishioners. Urgent messages.

And so, in the middle of Mass, he intoned: "Red Wings 3, Avalanche 2."

And then, "Red Wings 4, Avalanche 2."

And then the Red Wings won Game 1.

And the crowd was pleased.

And Father Casey, wearing a winged wheel on his vestment, was pleased as well.

I'm a big sports fan of a number of teams, but this is inexcusable in my mind. It makes a joke of the liturgy which is for all people, not just fans of the Red Wings.
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 34th step:

(34) Not to be proud...

I do not think that it is a mistake that pride is mentioned right after persecution. There are tales that at the times in the early Church, when persecution was waged against the church, that some Christians actively sought to be persecuted and martyred. This was against Our Lord's command: "When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next," (Matthew 10:23), and here St. Benedict cautions us not to be proud.

This is a fundamental principle to the Spiritual Life. You can not be proud. Once you start to gloat over the spiritual gifts that you are blessed with, or how well you are doing in prayer, or how much better you are, or how high you are up on the spiritual ladder---you are right back at the bottom of the pit. Your ego has won again and God is very distant from you.

There is a prayer to pray when you feel "proud " of your spiritual accomplishments. Not surprisingly it comes from God Himself in the person of Jesus. Jesus tells his disciples, "when you have done all that is commanded you, say, `We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty,'" (Matthew 17:10).

We must avoid pride, because it is a great obstacle to be open to our great and unrelenting need for God. Pride at its root seeks to cut God out of the picture. It goes without saying then that pride is the greatest enemy to our communion with God, but it also needs to be said that it is a great temptation when we find our lives becoming so much better because of our communion with Him.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

A Great Idea Inspired by a Reader of this Blog:

In a prior blog titled something like "How Not to Lose Your Faith", you mentioned the Sheen - Spellman rivalry. I was totally unaware of this, although I had listened (not read) alot of Archbishop Sheen. So I go to the website for keep the faith and see the prayer for the Beatification of Abp. Sheen. I say that prayer, and throw in one asking Abp. Sheen to ask God to help "accelerate" the renewal / clean-up of the Church. Within a week, it looks like a modern-day Spellman is going to get a big opportunity to repent. To be honest with you, As a doubting-Thomas, this freaks me out a little.

Here is the prayer for the Beatification for Archbishop Sheen, I hope that you will recite it and ask the Archbishop to intercede for the Roman Catholic Church in the United States:

Prayer to Obtain a Favor Through the Intercession of Archbishop Sheen
(For Private Use Only)

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit. In every age, You raise up men and women outstanding in holiness, whose faithful service has contributed significantly to the mission of the Church. In this very way, You used the life and work of Your servant, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen. He inspired great numbers of Catholics and other people of good will to grow in virtue and lead lives pleasing to You and of service to their brothers and sisters in need. He encouraged them to embrace the 'Gospel of Life' by recognizing that in all its circumstances, 'Life is worth living.'

If it be according to Your Will, Eternal Father, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession (mention your request here). I make this prayer confidently in Jesus' Name, through the merits of His Passion, Death and Resurrection.


Interesting interview with Cardinal McCarrick in USA TODAY today. Here are a few samples:

Q: Some of your brother bishops and cardinals say they don't think homosexuals can be trusted in the priesthood. Others say you can't treat an entire class of people as if they're incapable of following the church's teachings. What is your view?

A: You want someone who can live a chaste life; that is key for me. If somebody who would like to go into the seminary says, "All my life, I've tried to be chaste, I'm a heterosexual, and I have tried to be celibate, and I have proven that I can be," I think you say "Fine." If someone says to you, "All my life I've tried to be chaste, I have a homosexual orientation, but I've always tried to be chaste," I think you do that one case by case. Probably beginning in this next school year, the question of admission to seminaries will be discussed. It might be that the overwhelming weight of opinion will say that homosexuals should not be ever admitted to seminary. I'm not there yet. But if that's what they tell me to do, then that's what we'll do. Certainly, I'm there if we say anyone who has been active in a gay life should not be admitted.


Q: Has the way you prepare yourself spiritually to do your job changed?

A: I'm praying more. We haven't been focused on the Lord; I'm trying to do that. As I see the bishops losing credibility in many areas, I want to try to be as good a bishop as I can be. I've got a long way to go.

From the Office of Readings today:

It seems to me that the birth referred to here is our salvation, as is suggested by the prophet Isaiah. This reaches its full term and is not stillborn when, having been conceived by the fear of God, the soul’s own birth pangs bring it to the light of day. We are in a sense our own parents, and we give birth to ourselves by our own free choice of what is good. Such a choice becomes possible for us when we have received God into ourselves and have become children of God, children of the Most High. On the other hand, if what the Apostle calls the form of Christ has not been produced in us, we abort ourselves. The man of God must reach maturity.

-St Gregory of Nyssa-
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 33th step:

(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).

St. Benedict references one of the Beatitudes for this counsel, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:10). If we are just and right in what people choose to persecute us for, then we should bear it patiently.

Many people suffer persecution for doing what is right and unfortunately often at the hands of religious people. Our Lord told his disciples that, "indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God," (John 16:2). One have only to open the papers and to read of crimes against human beings committed by people of every religious belief out of conviction that they are doing the will of God.

Jesus promised his followers, " Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you," (John 15:20). Therefore, again in imitation of Our Lord we should bear persecution when we are not at fault with patience.

One of the greatest examples of this patient endurance of persecution in our own day is the nonviolent civil rights movement of the late 1950's and 1960's. There are memorials and historical markers where horrible persecutions took place in various cities through the south. The test of time has proved the righteousness of the cause, but those who stood up suffered horribly at the time. They took their example from the Scriptures.

In more recent times those who have bravely protested nonviolently in front of abortion clinics, silently praying the rosary, are great examples of the just who are persecuted for righteousness sake!

We should do the same. When we stand up for what is right and just we should not expect accolades; in fact we should be weary of the applause. What is right is seldom popular; people seem to slip into a collective hypnosis from time to time that blinds them from recognizing the truth. But God is the truth and living a lie can only distance us from Him.
A reader of this blog sent along this link to a BINGO related story:

Priest, helper cleared in bingo theft

And the following comments:




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:




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, 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.


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

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.


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! 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!