Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Looks like the peace efforts are going well!

FromiWon News:

Pakistan's president traded angry accusations with his Indian counterpart Tuesday and then said having atomic weapons implies they might be used - stoking fears the conflict over Kashmir will explode into full-scale war.
Frank Bruni, co-author of The Gospel of Shame which is being rereleased with a new preface and epilogue was on IMUS in the Morning this A.M. When asked if the current crisis in the priesthood was a "homosexual" problem. Bruni skated all around the issue, saying that it was an issue of pedophilia. I found myself once again growing angry with those who are incapable of reporting anything factually, because it is politically incorrect. At some point they made fun of Bruni and his inability to tell the truth about his book.

IMUS has been tough on the Church throughout this crisis, but they were tough on Bruni this morning wondering out loud whether he were nothing but an opportunist trying to make a buck off of the tragedy of others sufferings. They made him vow to give some of his earnings to victims. He said that he would give some money, probably not to the victims of priests but to some other sexual victims.
Site to Check out:

Voice of the Faithful

Their mission statement:

To provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.
E-mail scam

I get a letter almost daily now, with some variation of this:

During our investigation and auditing in this bank, my department came across a very huge sum of money belonging to a deceased person who died on September 1999 in a plane crash and the fund has been dormant in his account with this Bank without any claim of the fund in our custody either from his family or relation before our discovery to this development. Although personally, I keep this information secret within myself as to enable my plans and idea be Profitable and successful during the time of execution. The said amount was US $25,000,000.00 (Twenty Five Million United States Dollars).

As it may interest you to know, I got your impressive information through my good friends who works with chamber of commerce on foreign business relations here in Lome- Togo. It is him who recommended your person to me to be viable and capable to champion a business of such magnitude without any problem Meanwhile all the whole arrangement to put claim over this fund as
the bonafide next of kin to the deceased, get the required approval and transfer this money to a foreign account has been put in place and directives and needed information will be relayed to you as soon as you indicate your interest and willingness to assist me and also benefit your self to this great business opportunity.


First of all who are these idiots? Secondly, I wonder how many idiots fall for this. Thirdly--I wish I'd stop receiving this kind of crap. I block the emails but the names and email addresses seem to be different everyday.
An incredibly accurate review of HBO's "The Wire" from Diane Werts of Newsday. I read about five other reviews before this one, all of which sucked up to HBO's ability to produce fine shows--well quite frankly that isn't reviewing anything. I review books for the Catholic News Service--I don't see this task as looking at a book and saying "gee, this publisher has really published some great books in the past and this one is no different even though the first 300 pages suck!" Anyway there are some "critical thinkers" out there and Diane Werts is one who captures everything bad about this new show which is almost a parody of an HBO drama series:

HBO's "The Wire" may be about a flawed process or a sick system - eventually - but it sure isn't about people, or their inner demons, or even an eye-opening environment to keep us transfixed till some motivation gets established. This new 13-part chronicle of the enduring drug war isn't even about The Wire itself for what seems like forever. Its "drama" unfolds, ever so sluggishly, in a succession of maddeningly disjointed, dispassionate, ultimately unpleasant strolls through a neighborhood you wouldn't go near without a darn good reason. And if that reason is here, it isn't clear in the first five episodes.

The set-up seems simple. A hard-charging Baltimore homicide detective (Dominic West) realizes that many of his cases radiate from a slick drug lord, who hasn't yet hit law enforcement radar. A skilled narcotics detective (Sonja Sohn) soon agrees. They will work together, unappreciated, under the self-aggrandizing eyes of superiors either too ambitious or too lazy to be effective. Their investigation turns into surveillance (the wire, get it?) of the drug lord's young nephew, who beats a murder charge to keep the projects supplied with smack.

With all the time whiled away on setting them up, these people should be palpable. But they're merely heavy-handed stick figures designed to signify something important in the drug war morass being scrutinized by writers David Simon and Edward Burns. This Baltimore- based duo - former crime reporter and former homicide cop - dazzled us with drug insight in the award-winning HBO miniseries "The Corner." But they had help that time from cop drama scripter David Mills ("NYPD Blue"), whose plotting precision is sorely missed here.


From today's Office of Readings, a treatise on "false spiritual peace" by St. Dorotheus:

Someone else asks why he should accuse himself when he was sitting peacefully and quietly when a brother came upon him with an unkind or insulting word. He cannot tolerate it, and so he thinks that his anger is justified. If that brother had not approached him and said those words and upset him, he never would have sinned.

This kind of thinking is surely ridiculous and has no rational basis. For the fact that he has said anything at all in this situation breaks the cover on the passionate anger within him, which is all the more exposed by his excessive anxiety. If he wished, he would do penance. He has become like a clean, shiny grain of wheat that, when broken, is full of dirt inside.

The man who thinks that he is quiet and peaceful has within him a passion that he does not see. A brother comes up, utters some unkind word and immediately all the venom and mire that lie hidden within him are spewed out. If he wishes mercy, he must do penance, purify himself and strive to become perfect. He will see that he should have returned thanks to his brother instead of returning the injury, because his brother has proven to be an occasion of profit to him. It will not be long before he will no longer be bothered by these temptations. The more perfect he grows, the less these temptations will affect him. For the more the soul advances, the stronger and more powerful it becomes in bearing the difficulties that it meets.
I had posted my thoughts on the Pope's possible plan to retire/resign in August some months ago. I hope that I am not the source of this rumor. From CNS:

Some people think the pope has in mind a one-way trip to his homeland. Under this scenario, he would announce his resignation in his former diocese of Krakow and retire to a Polish monastery to pray. In August, the number of voting members of the College of Cardinals coincidentally falls to 120 -- the upper limit set by conclave rules.

There's not much on the announced papal calendar after August, with the exception of a possible trip to Croatia in September. Vatican officials, aware of the resignation talk, recently emphasized that the Croatia trip was indeed in preparation.
From the proposed draft Charter for the Protection of Young People that has been prepared for the Bishop's meeting in Dallas:

''Regarding acts of sexual abuse of a minor committed prior to this date, if the cleric is a pedophile, or if he has committed more than one act of sexual abuse of a minor, there will be a request for the cleric's laicization, even without his consent if necessary. ...

What you may notice that "Zero Tolerance" is not being proposed but rather the "more than one" provision. This is a mistake and Catholics should voice whether they want to live with this level of distrust with their priests and bishops. By making this provision one would never know if their pastor has been involved with a minor in the past, i.e. if he has this sexual disfunction.

This policy by its very nature would put a pall over the entire priesthood. It would not cleanse the priesthood of predators and subsequently would besmirch the name of good priests who would be the victims of this policy should it be adopted.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 47:

(47) To keep death before one's eyes daily.

Momento Mori, "remember death" is an ancient spiritual maxim presented to us here by St. Benedict. Keeping one's end in mind helps us to focus on what really matters. Many self-motivators have picked up on this and while avoiding "death" have sought to get people to meditate on what is really important in life.

Of course what happens after death matters a great deal if we are to focus on death. If one believes that nothing happens after death that focusing on it could be a morose practice that would only depress the person. If on the other hand one believes in the after life and a judgment then every decision I make in the present is moving me along a road in one of two directions--either toward heaven or hell.

Many people believe in a after life for absolutely no good reason. Many of them do not believe in God, but reaping the harvest of Christendom continue to carry around with them a vague sense that death is not the end. But this belief does not come from science.
Others, nihilists, belief in nothing but the present but in a rather dark manner, since death is the end that the whole of life is rather meaningless and existence is a bore.

Then there are the Epicureans who "eat, drink and are merry" for tomorrow we die. Their focus is on death, but it is one where death is looked at as the great enemy that must be avoided at all costs by throwing as much pleasure as possible at the body while it is still alive. These are the saddest of people. Often their bodies are racked with pain from the abuse that they have subjected it to in pursuit of pleasure.

The final group is made up of believers. Our focus on death is to be hopeful. It is to help us to get through the present moment when it is difficult. It is to inspire us in the present moment when it seems meaningless. It is to keep our eyes on the gift that sin promises-death and the redemption that God through Jesus promises-life.

This focus is one of reality. We are all going to die. By facing it daily it will not catch us unprepared nor unready for God's judgment.

Monday, June 03, 2002

According to CNS the pope's trip to Croatia in September has been postponed to possibly sometime in the Spring of 2003 and the Mexico trip is once again in question.
Amy has a comment on the Time magazine piece about Bishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the pope's personal secretary and close friend. I have a very good friend who speaks to Bishop Dziwisz daily. She is a Jewish woman who grew up in Krakow and is a contemporary of the pope. Once when she told Bishop Dziwisz something that I had suggested to her, he said of me, "Who is this man? This man is a genius!" So it is kind of nice to know that the pope is being care for by someone as insightful as Bishop Dziwisz.

He and my Jewish friend are responsible for obtaining the pope's autograph in a book that I wrote the Preface earlier this year. You can view the pope's message to me on my homepage.
scandaltohope.jpg Now, I hate the press as much as everyone else.

After wasting over an hour of my time on Friday, the New York Times' journalist evidently felt it was easier just to write a piece that says "no one is publishing books about this scandal because scandals' don't sell." Now obviously we talked for over an hour about a book that we are publishing. Another publisher was also interviewed for about the same amount of time and they are not mentioned either--they also are releasing a book.

Since Groeschel has gone after the New York Times so much, I presume that when the journalist started checking around, he was told not to mention the book. What a crock!

Anyway we are publishing a book called From Scandal to Hope by Father Benedict J. Groeschel that will be out late this month. It addresses not only the scandals and their origin but offers concrete steps to take for the future.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 46:

(46) To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.

I think that this is one of those maxims that would have been a given in previous ages. But now it seems that no one is brought up with a great "desire" for eternal life with all spiritual longing.

I remember as a child listening to a visiting priest preach about the importance of eternity in light of the present moment. It left a deep impression on my young mind and from that day forward every action that I undertook was charged with "eternal" implications.

The type of "longing" that St. Benedict counsels us to have is "spiritual" longing. This is a little more complicated that the normal type of longing but it is an important distinction. Too often people in the past approached their desire for eternal life with an earthly register--keeping track of their good acts, performing prayers with certain types of indulgences--all with a keen eye on where they were on the spiritual maturity meter. This is all the stuff of this life and a pretty sad indication that one really doesn't trust in God at all.

A spiritual longing is much more focused on God and less on self. St. Paul desired eternal life with this type of longing when he wished if for his fellow men to the point that he himself would forgo it, if it would save them. Spiritual longing is always sacrificial and somewhat paradoxical.

Our Lord said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing." There is great wisdom in meditating on these words in light of St. Benedict's maxim to "desire eternity with a spiritual longing." We long to cleave to Christ, to imitate Him and to be united with Him, so to live with Him for all eternity.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

FromABCNEWS.com :

Bishop Suggested Concealing Abuse Evidence
The irony of this story is that it is a way to put the "scandal" on the front page of the paper and rehash all of the stories while presenting it as a negative critique of the what you're doing. By presenting all the people that are upset at you, you placate them and at the same time continue to do what they are accusing you of doing. Ingenious! Check out the story to see what I mean:

Local Catholics Upset By Media: From The Tampa Tribune
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spritual Communion with God. The previous posts are in the archives to the right. This is step 45:

(45) To be in dread of hell.

I think it is helpful to personally design our own notion of Hell. Jesus used Gehenna to describe it to the people of His day. "Gehenna" was the local dump (landfills were a long way into the future) for the city of Jerusalem. So when Jesus described Hell to the people they would have thought of Gehenna where a smoldering fire burned incessantly consuming the refuse of the people of Jerusalem.

Designing your own notion of Hell merely insists of imagining what the would be the worst possible experience that could happen to you and magnifying that by eternity. For most of this would involve pain and suffering that would never cease, but for some it might be an embarrassing situation. Sadly for many it might be an actual moment in their life that they play over and over again in their minds.

The point is that once you have some understanding of how horrible Hell would be for you that you should foster a "dread" of it. The only way we can end up in this eternal place of damnation is by rejecting the gift of salvation that comes to us from Jesus Christ. Accepting or rejecting that gift is a moment by moment yes or no, manifest by our actions.

Dread is a fairly good motivator. Most of us seldom do anything we dread. We keep putting it off. That is why so many people still mail in their tax statements on April 15th close to the stroke of midnight. To dread what is "really" evil is healthy. And what is really evil is "separation from God" which is the best definition of what Hell is.

It is true that if you take your own notion of what Hell is like and then place God in the picture that it become Heaven. I can imagine being quite happy in Gehenna if I was there with Jesus watching people dump their garbage. In fact I can imagine enduring the worst that life can give and being okay with it if I had a strong sense that God wanted me there.

We should dread anything that will separate us from God's love and Hell is the final separation. Fostering this dread will increase our appreciation for the availability of God's love in the present moment. The final judgment has not happened for us yet, there is still time. Time to confess and let go of past sins. Time to reform our lives and live in the grace of God in the future. Time to dread the fires of Hell and to live for the glories of Heaven.
Thoughts on the Feast of Corpus Christi

1. The Pope is writing an Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist. It my estimation this is long overdue. There perhaps is nothing that has been under attack as much as belief and devotion to Our Lord's presence in the Eucharist over the past 30 years.

2. Belief in the Eucharist is central to the Catholic faith, it is what enables Catholics to sit through horrible homilies, lousy music. The hunger that we feel is that of a starving person.

3. Devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament will renew the Church.

Saturday, June 01, 2002

More from the Palm Beach Post on the embezzlement case:

Under the terms of the 1994 settlement, Schattie agree to resign his position and make monthly payments to the diocese that started at $200 and gradually escalated.

The settlement, negotiated over five months, also called upon Schattie to return a sport fishing boat, a Rolex watch and a $42,500 vacant lot -- all bought with church money. The losses were covered by a self-insurance policy shared by all dioceses in the state, diocesan officials said in a statement Friday.

Schattie stopped making payments just nine months after his resignation.

He made at least one payment in October 1998, the diocese said Friday.

Schattie told the diocese that his divorce and child support payments left him unable to pay.


What did he do with the rest of the $400,000? Why didn't they have him prosecuted? What a bad joke! Is this how the hard earned money of people is cared for? Everyone who had anything to do with this should be fired!
This is a continuation of the the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God, the previous posts are available in the archives to the right. This is step 44.

(44) To fear the day of judgment.

A recent visit to a large Midwestern city was filled with moments where I paused to think about the tragedies of September 11, 2001 and what could happen again or as the United States government often relates-something worst. One of the buildings in this city, that towers over all the rest is especially impressive and the thought of it tumbling like the World Trade Centers was almost incomprehensible. Milling around the streets with thousands of others it was hard to envision some nuclear attack suddenly wiping out a million people in an instance.

Although the sun shone and it was a beautiful day there was a hint of an impending storm that post-9/11 seemed to hang heavy in the air. It made me think of the words of Our Lord when his disciples marveled at the size of the Temple in Jerusalem and its beauty (it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), "As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down," (Luke 21:7).

Driving home past abandoned motels and gas stations, I thought of the transitory nature of life. People that I once admired now lie cold in tombs, amusement parks that delighted me as a child now lie dormant, everything has a judgment day, everything!

St. Benedict says we should "fear" the day of judgment. It should be something ever on our minds. To keep "our" final end in sight has always been an important practice because it helps us to "order" our lives to that end. Most of us can point to our greatest lapses or sins as times when we had lost sight of our purpose in life.

Fear can be a horrible motivator or it can be a great one. When I was in basic training in the Army some years ago, I remember an incident where one of my fellow trainees was having difficulty producing urine for some medical procedure. He came out to the drill sergeant holding the empty container. The drill sergeant in response yelled in his face, "Go!" And he did, as the front of his fatigues darkened. I saw him a few minutes later squeezing what he could out of his pants into the container.

But Jesus also said, "Fear is useless, what is need is trust," and while fearing judgment day can help us to refocus on what truly matters and what the right thing to do is in any situation, ultimately it should always lead us back to placing our trust in God. Fearing judgment should always drop us to our knees and reconnect with God. Every moment is an invitation to prayer and every second has its own needs that require that special help from God.
Check out new Catholic blogger Maureen d McHugh's site:

A Religion of Sanity
More on Peoria

Thanks to Michael Shirley at I Really Should be Reading for sending along this link to a story on the priests dismissed from the Peoria diocese atThe News-Gazette Online
Body of cloistered nun who died in 1939 found "intact" with palm branch she was buried with still green! From Spirit Daily - Daily spiritual news from around the world

Friday, May 31, 2002

Another Catholic Book on the Scandals will be out this August. Author/Editor Paul Thigpen writes:

I also got a call from the Times today to discuss a new book I'm editing, coming out with Servant Publications, entitled Shaken by Scandals: Catholics Speak Out About Priests' Sexual Abuse. It will appear in August. In it, fourteen contributors from various walks of life (priest, parent, journalist, moral theologian, church historian, and so on) address various aspects of the crisis. They are all faithful Catholics, loyal to the Church and the Tradition, but outraged by the abuse and the cover-ups and insistent that it's time to cleanse the Temple.

I think it's critical that Fr. Groeschel's book and ours give a voice to loyal Catholics, because there's a spate of new books coming out in the next few months written by people who are hostile to the Church and who want to undermine the Tradition. So keep up the good work in providing thoughtful, faithful commentary. The worst revelations, I fear, are yet to come, but--as St. Augustine never tired of saying--our God is so great that He can bring great good even out of great evil.
Rare Blasts?

One of our staff just returned from New York, where he stayed next to the Empire State Building. While there he reported that manhole covers were blowing up in the street. Evidently this nerved up quite a few people. "Not to worry," city officials counseled.

Seems that the same thing has happened in Indianapolis now.
scandaltohope.jpg I did an interview with the New York Times today about From Scandal to Hope by Father Benedict J. Groeschel C.F.R. The story will focus on what publishing house's are doing in response the the current crisis within the Catholic Church. Our Sunday Visitor will be the first publisher to do anything that directly addresses this situation.
Amy has pictures of our Chicago trip posted. Sorry, though, there are not pictures of her!
Troubles in Palm Beach continue.

Now it's money embezzled that has gone unreported. The bishop (Symons--who was the head of the "treasury committee" when I taught at the seminary) worked out a very neat deal where the embezzeler could pay back over $400,000 at $200 a month. Now there is a loan that any of us would'nt mind paying off. Check it out in the Palm Beach Post.
The Diocese Report Has Posted the 1961 Vatican Document that spells out who cannot be admitted to the novitate. Now that I read through the document, I recall having read it before in Jerusalem in 1979 in a religious bookstore there. It was never used as a guide in the seminary that I taught at, in fact if it had we would have had to close down for lack of suitable candidates (which probably is a testimony of how bad things are). It forbids allowing:

1. Those who are weak willed or obsessed with sex. Think here the guy who preaches about it all the time or the guy who looks like he can's say "no" to a good meal even when the doctor tells him that its killing him.

A candidate who shows himself certainly unable to observe religious and priestly chastity, either because of frequent sins against chastity or because of a sexual bent of mind or excessive weakness of will, is not to be admitted to the minor seminary and, much less, to the novitiate or to profession. If he has already been accepted but is not yet perpetually professed, then he should be sent away immediately or advised to withdraw, according to individual cases, no matter what point in his formation he has already reached.


2. Those who have problems with solitary acts (masturbation). It is amazing how vague they are when they write these things (maybe they lose something in the translation.

Consequently, any candidate who has a habit of solitary sins and who has not given well-founded hope that he can break this habit within a period of time to be determined prudently, is not to be admitted to the novitiate. Nor can a candidate be admitted to first profession or to renewal of vows unless he has really amended his ways.

3.Those who sin with someone of the same-sex (homosexual acts). Unless they are seduced and penitent.

If a student in a minor seminary has sinned gravely against the sixth commandment with a person of the same or the other sex, or has been the occasion of grave scandal in the matter of chastity, he is to be dismissed immediately as stipulated in canon 1371, except if prudent consideration of the act and of the situation of the student by the superiors or confessors should counsel a different policy in an individual case, sc., in the case of a boy who has been seduced and who is gifted with excellent qualities and is truly penitent, or when the sin was an objectively imperfect act.

and:

Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tenencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.

4. Those of a "sensitive" nature.

Very special investigation is needed for those students who, although they have hitherto been free of formal sins against chastity, nevertheless suffer from morbid or abnormal sexuality, especially sexual hyperesthesia or an erotic bent of nature, to whom religious celibacy would be a continual act of heroism and a tryring martyrdom. For chastity, in so far as it implies abstinence from sexual pleasure, not only becomes very difficult for many people but the very state of celibaby and the consequent loneliness and separation from one’s family becomes so difficulty for certain individuals gifted with excessive sensitivity and tenderness, that they are not fit subjects for the religious life.

5. Then for the rest:

In addition, special attention must be paid to those who give evidence of neuropsychosis and who are described by psychiatrists as neurotics or psychopaths, especially those who are scrupulous, abulic, hysterical, or who suffer from some form of mental disease (schizophrenia, paranoia, etc.). The same is true of those who have a delicate constitiution or, particularly, those who suffer from weakness fo the nervouse syastem or from protracted psychic melancholia, anxiety or epilepsy (can. 984, 3) or who are afflicted whith obsessions. Similarly, precautions are needed in examinining the children of alcoholics or those tainted with some hereditary weakness, especially in the mental order (cf. Stat. Gen., art 33; 34, :1). Finally, those young men are in need of special attention who manifest exaggerated attachment to the comforts of life and worldly pleasures. Superiors should carefully examine all these types and subject them to thorough examination by a prudent and expert Catholic psychiatrist who, after repeated examination, will be in a position to determine whether or not they will be able to shoulder, with honor to that state, the burden of religious and priestly life, especially celibacy.

Lest this be seen as an attack on "just" homosexual candidates, I think a careful reading would exclude just about every candidate I've ever known which is probably why it never was enforced. Even for some very "celibate" priests, the last one which deals with the "comforts of life" and "worldly pleasures" would have gotten them--think of the priest with the big expensive car and the fine art collection.
Contemporary Art Still Sucks!

I was hoping that I could link to some examples of what I witnessed in Chicago. But evidently they don't take any of this stuff seriously either. So use your imagination (not much required here though):

1. "Red Blank"--a board painted red leaning against the wall.

2. A large Kleenix box with a pipe through it.

3. A string of lights plugged into a wall socket lying on the floor.

4. A pile of hard candy lying on the floor in the corner of the gallery with a spotlight overhead.
We saw Katie pawing through this "work of art"-to our horror. Amy told her to get away and Katie took her to the description of the piece with lo and behold encouraged the viewer to take a piece (the candy is replaced from time to time.


That's all I can remember right now and in another day I won't even remember these--which is the genius of this type of art--it is totally unrememberable.
Some notes of interest from our Chicago wanderings:

Soldier Field is in ruins.

John Allen of NCR thinks the Nicaraguan Cardinal will be the next Pope. (My vote--but I don't have one of course--goes to Cardinal Arinze or my #1 pick, Francis Xavier Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan) Click on Cardinal Van Thuan's name for info on his books detailing his 12 years of imprisonment, click on Cardinal Arinze's name for a book that I worked with him on.

Turns out that:
"the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil yet discovered" is smaller than an elephant.

Father Bernard Bro is writing a new book in French and there are plans to translate it in English.

John Foppe
is just as neat a guy in person as he seemed when I read about him and talked with him a few years ago on the phone.

There are people who read this blog outside of Indiana. One of them is associated with this site.

One diocese supposedly is doing exorcisms around the clock because of the problems you and I are reading about.

Campus Ministry is dominated by aged 60 plus nuns who don't wear habits and pray to the four winds--which in a round bout way fits because it harkens back to the Tridentine Mass (if they know that perhaps they'll stop).

Residence Inn is the place to stay if you are traveling with the family.

You can get a good meal at Harry Carry's in Chicago.

Contemporary art still sucks-(I'll give a separate entry to this above in a few minutes). But everything that came before it can help you to see life in a completely different light.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a great art museum.

The Daughters of St. Paul have nice Catholic Bookstores. The one in Chicago, typical of their stores has a Chapel inside.

Mary Louise Kurey has a new boyfriend who shares her views on chastity and religion. If you want her to come and speak at your school, visit her site for contact info--or visit it to buy her book detailing a former Miss Wisconsin who is a virgin.
Where Your Stewardship Monies are Going In LA

Nice to know that they have all the "right" concerns out there in Los Angeles. From the AP:

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles tapped Sitrick & Co., a Century City-based company that has dealt with high-profile cases.
The company's clients have included troubled energy company Dynegy Inc., Global Crossing during its bankruptcy, actress
Halle Berry following a traffic accident and comedian Paula Poundstone after her child-endangerment case.
Sexual Harassment at Peyton Place
or
Manning Sexual Harassment Suit Revealed (and I don't mean Cardinal Manning)

A Lakeland, Florida woman who used to work for the University of Tennessee is suing Peyton and Archie Manning for defamation, but the real clincher in this story is that she has already been paid $300,000 for a sexual harassment suit against the University that involved Saint Peyton. From the AP:

Jamie Ann Naughright filed suit in Polk County Circuit Court on Wednesday, seeking more than $15,000 in damages because Peyton Manning said she had a ''vulgar mouth.'' She said the comment in ''Manning'' hurt her career.

Manning, who wrote the book with his father, was speaking about a 1996 incident in which he exposed his bare backside as Naughright bent over to examine his foot.

Peyton Manning, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, was Tennessee's quarterback at the time. Naughright was director of health and wellness and associate football trainer at the school.

Although Manning said he intended to play the prank on another athlete, Naughright later received a $300,000 settlement after including the incident among 33 sexual harassment allegations she made against the university.
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 43rd step:

(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and charge it to himself.

This counsel follows from the previous one. If God has created us as "good" then any evil is from our free choice to do other than what God wills for us. We should understand that what is "evil" is bad for us, to the point that if we persist in evil it leads to our self-destruction.

If God has created us as good, then anything that is not good can not be from God, it must have another source, St. Benedict concludes rightly that it must come from ourselves.

There are many maladies in life that may seem evil but really are not. Someones genetic makeup may make the prone to an early death and on the surface that may seem like an "evil" but in fact it is only our perception again of what our idea of "good" is. A person whose life is limited by their genetic or physical condition still has been put on this earth by God and still has a mission. They can do much good with the talents that God has given them. To bury the talents because of their perceived bad condition is to squander the good.

A woman born in a physical condition that gave her little chance to live beyond her twenties, described an incident that she says happened to her on the day of her birth. "God," she says, "asked me if I wanted to do something special for Him." She says that she responded, "Yes."

Virginia Cyr spent her short twenty-something years praising God in a body racked with pain, in and out of orphanages after her mother abandoned her, sexually abused by a drunken priest who took advantage of her physical condition which prevented her from running away--through it all she thanked God for the mission, He had blessed her with on her day of her birth.

Now this Indiana woman lies waiting the resurrection in a grave in Lafayette. The orphanage where she lived in Fort Wayne, no longer is there. Perhaps an answer to some prayer that God answered because she had so faithfully carried out His mission.

No matter what, evil is our choice and the good is God's blessing.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

More of Chicago today....
Exorcisms?

Met up with a friend attending a campus ministry seminar at O'Hare who told me tales of exorcisms that are being performed in one diocese that has been hard hit by the recent scandals. No doubt there is a demonic element at work not only in the abuse cases but in the general state of confusion on the part of many in the Church.
Met up with John Foppe yesterday. John has a book out with Thomas Nelson that I originally wanted OSV to publish but he wanted it out sooner than we felt we could do it. I highly recommend the book---check out his site for more info. Below is a synopsis from his site:

What's Your Excuse?
Making the Most of What You Have

John Foppe shares his story of conquering the physical and emotional struggles of being born with no arms and teaches how attitude, self-respect, and faith in God can help anyone overcome obstacles.

John Foppe, born without arms, has faced obstacles - both physical and emotional - his entire life. While some see his condition as a debilitating handicap, John disagrees. "Our only handicaps are those mental and emotional ones that prevent us from participating fully in life." John is a creative problem solver, and his inspiring story will enable you to see that the only things preventing you from accomplishing your goals are self-imposed limitations. His education in clinical social work and his experience as a professional speaker give him unique insight on overcoming adversity. Here he reveals how to break through negative thinking and allow God to empower you to do great things.
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 42nd step:

(42) To refer what good one sees in himself, not to self, but to God.

If we have lived long enough, and are in touch with what motivates us, I think we will come to see the truth that there is a great good that is essential to who we are at our deepest core. God created us and as God says in the Book of Genesis when he looked upon his creation-He saw that it was "good."

God is responsible for the goodness that is at the core of every human being. It is there and we can both see it in others and in ourselves.

When God became Man, He had no problem recognizing the "good" that was in all of creation. Where some saw prostitutes or tax collectors, the Son of God saw precious creatures that had the same basic goodness as all who have been created by God.

When the rich young man called Jesus, "Good teacher," Jesus corrected him, "Why call me good? Only God is good." Here we have an application of this counsel by Jesus Himself.

Yes, only God is good, but He has shared that goodness in His creation. We are part of God's creation. Therefore when we worship Him, we come to know ourselves as we truly are and we come to see the goodness that is at the heart of who He has created us to be.

This original goodness has been marred by Original Sin, sadly people do not realize the great value that they possess. Often they are confused about their purpose in life and unfortunately many waste the talents that they have been blessed with because they take the definition of who they are from other people or from some other ideal of who they should be.

Jesus' death and resurrection make it possible for us to understand that God loves us. By being baptized the original goodness that is in us can come to the fore.

We are "good" because God created us. Our actions are good as much as we act out of the self that God created us to be. All is from God and God deserves all the praise both for who we are and the good that we do.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Off to the Windy City today.
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 41th step:

(41) To put one's trust in God.

As if to remind us what all this is about, in the middle of these counsels, Saint Benedict gives this counsel that refocuses on the real issue here. Going through the counsels we can lose sight again that almost everything that is negative, not to do this or not to be this is all about a positive to "do this," to put our trust in God.

Most of us probably would say that we put our trust in God. But our reaction to all of these counsels of Saint Benedict is like a giant mirror that reveals whether we really do or not.

There is a story that I have heard so many times that it has lost it's punch for me, but perhaps not for you-so here it is. A man is walking along a mountainside when suddenly he hits some lose soil and goes tumbling over a steep precipice. Luckily he grabs on to a tree branch as he falls down.

Looking down, he sees that if he hadn't grabbed the branch he would have fallen to a certain death. But looking up he can see no way to reach the safety of the path again, and he realizes that he can't hold on forever. He yells for help, "Is anyone up there?"

A voice booms, "I'm here, it's God."

The man says, "Thank God! Can you save me?"

"Of course," God says, "but you have to do exactly what I tell you."

"Okay," the man says, "what do I need to do?"

"Let go," says God.

"Is anyone else up there?" The man screams.

Putting our trust in God means more than just giving lip service to Him. It means, "letting go," and whether we do or not ultimately decides whether we live or die-forever.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Someone who works for Budweiser was here (reading the blog) a few minutes ago. Hey, this Bud's for you!
One thing you can say about President Bush is that he pretty much says whatever is on his mind. Apparently he was shocked by the Pope's condition:

As Bush was leaving the Vatican after 20 minutes of private talks, the Pope, whose physical frailty has led to speculation he may retire early rather than rule for life, said "God Bless America" and told Bush:

"I hope to be able to meet you again."


Of course it would be ironic if the Pope outlives him.

After the two sat down, the Pope smiled and brought his hands to his head, shielding his head from photographers' flashguns in a joking gesture.

"They'll make you look good, your holy father," Bush responded, combining the two phrases that are normally used to address the Pope -- "your holiness" and "holy father."


Sometimes you wonder what is on his mind.

For more on the visit, go here.



Following Amy's lead, I too have added a "Comment" link, so that you can post for all to see!
Pope says, "I feel GREAT!" He plans on visiting all the places he originally planned to this summer.
Papal Program OK'd for Trip to Canada, Guatemala and Mexico
From the Office of Readings today, available online at Universalis.com, from the great Saint Augustine and his Confessions:

Let me know you, O you who know me; then shall I know even as I am known. You are the strength of my soul; make your way in and shape it to yourself, that it may be yours to have and to hold, free from stain or wrinkle. I speak because this is my hope, and whenever my joy springs from that hope it is joy well founded. As for the rest of this life’s experiences, the more tears are shed over them the less they are worth weeping over, and the more truly worth lamenting the less do we bewail them while mired in them. You love the truth because anyone who “does truth” comes to the light. Truth it is that I want to do, in my heart by confession in your presence, and with my pen before many witnesses.

But the abyss of the human conscience lies naked to your eyes, O Lord, so would anything be secret even if I were unwilling to confess to you? I would be hiding you from myself, but not myself from you. But now that my groans bear witness that I find no pleasure in myself, you shed light upon me and give me joy, you offer yourself, lovable and longed for, that I may thrust myself away in disgust and choose you, and be pleasing no more either to you or to myself except in what I have from you.

To you, then, Lord, I lie exposed, exactly as I am. I have spoken of what I hope to gain by confessing to you. My confession to you is made not with words of tongue and voice, but with the words of my soul and the clamour of my thought, to which your ear is attuned; for when I am bad, confession to you is simply disgust with myself, but when I am good, confession to you consists in not attributing my goodness to myself, because though you, Lord, bless the person who is just, it is only because you have first made him just when he was sinful. This is why, O Lord, my confession in your presence is silent, yet not altogether silent: there is no noise to it, but it shouts by love.

For it is you, Lord, who judge me. No-one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him. And though in your sight I may despise myself and reckon myself dust and ashes, I know something about you which I do not know about myself.

It is true that we now see only a tantalising reflection in a mirror, and so it is that while I am on pilgrimage far from you I am more present to myself than to you; yet I do know that you cannot be defiled in any way whatever, whereas I do not know which temptations I may have the strength to resist, and to which ones I shall succumb. Our hope is that, because you are trustworthy, you do not allow us to be tempted more fiercely than we can bear, but along with the temptation you ordain the outcome of it, so that we can endure.

Let me, then, confess what I know about myself, and confess too what I do not know, because what I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me, and what I do not know I shall remain ignorant about until my darkness becomes like bright noon before your face.
We'll also pay a visit to the Field Museum tomorrow on our way there.
Amy and I will signing copies of our latest books tomorrow at the Religious Book Trade Expo near Chicago.
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 40th step:

(40) Not to be a detractor.

The Christian is to be someone who builds people up, not someone who tears others down. Often detraction is a sign of our own insecurity or feelings of inadequacy.

Someone who puts God first in their lives will recognize their own self in an entirely new light as well as all others.
If we see someone who seems less in our eyes, it is we who have the problem not them.

This of course does not mean that we turn our eyes from those who commit grievous sins against others. They should be confronted, and if personal confrontation does not work as Jesus said, the matter should be brought before the whole Church, and if that doesn't work they should be treated like a tax collector. Of course Jesus--welcomed tax collectors, so there is irony in the last part of his counsel.

Christianity is not a religion of castes. In Christ there is neither Greek or Jew, male or female--all are one. In order for that to be a lived reality we must see the importance of each individual and seek to build them up. In doing so we are aiding the Holy Spirit's work of building the Kingdom of God.

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.

Amen.



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.


And:

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:

THE WEBPAGE FOR THE READING, PA EAGLE THIS MORNING STATES THAT "MOST CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST PRIEST IN BINGO-RIGGING CASE"

I WORKED BINGO FOR 10 YEARS AND LET ME TELL YOU, ASIDE FROM THE SITAUATION AND THE MANORED EPISCOPACY, GAMBLING IN OUR PARISHES CRIES TO HEAVEN FOR
JUSTICE. WHY, IF OUR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS ARE SO SUPERIOR TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS, DOES THE CHURCH NEED TO PROSTITUTE ITSELF TO MAKE MONEY FROM NONCATHOLICS?
IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO YOUR CHURCH "SOCIAL", YOU OUGHT TO SEE IT AND ASK YOURSELF "WHY?"

I REMEMBER A NIGHT 18 YEARS AGO WHEN A YOUNG PRIEST CAME TO GET THE MONEY BOX AND WAS MOBBED BY ANGRY PLAYERS BECAUSE THE AIR CONDITIONER DIDN'T WORK. ONE
OF THEM SCREAMED AT HIM "YOU SON OF A BITCH!" I DON'T SEE HIM IN THE ARCHDIOCESAN DIRECTORY, SO I ASSUME HE QUIT........

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.