Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Cardinal George gets right to the point here in the Chicago Sun Times piece:

George said he'd also like to have specific guidelines for how bishops who have mishandled abuse cases should be disciplined by the church. The draft policy did not mention disciplining bishops.

One should expect the bright lights of the media to be turned on full blast tomorrow with the Church illuminated with all her warts and blemishes. Expect revelations that some have been sitting on for weeks, for just this moment. Chaos may ensue, but you the reader of this other Catholic blogs should remain at peace, "nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!"
Southern Baptists address the scandal in the Catholic Church, from the Las Vegas SUN:

Baptists Speak of Catholic Scandal At the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, some speakers warned delegates against passing judgment as Catholic bishops prepare to discuss what to do with sex-offending priests.

"We shouldn't enjoy this Catholic mess too much," the Rev. Bobby Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Fla., said Sunday during a service sponsored in St. Louis by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. "We're waiting on the other shoe to drop, and when it does, don't be surprised if there is more and more within our ranks."

The Conference of Catholic Bishops is scheduled to meet in Dallas later this week to discuss policies regarding priests who sexually abuse youngsters. The discussion is expected to focus on calls for zero-tolerance for priests who molest children in the future and a second-chance policy for those guilty of past abuse.

It is difficult to estimate the number of abusive Protestant ministers. While Catholic churches answer to a central authority, in the Baptist denomination and other Protestant faiths, each local church handles such allegations.

Southern Baptist officials expect some kind of resolution to be presented this week concerning sexual misconduct by clergy in the 16-million-member denomination.
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 52:

(52) To guard one's tongue against bad and wicked speech.

This counsel will be followed by another which was read while I was recently a guest at the monastic table of the monks at Saint Meinrad Archabbey-namely "not to love much speaking," which solves much of the problems that we might encounter with this counsel. Guarding one's tongue, catching oneself before one speaks, is a valuable maxim especially if you are an extrovert who speaks whatever crosses your mind. The same might be said for introverts who are apt to do the same in writing (and in the days of blogs, instant messaging and email--the dangers are plenty!).

What is "bad" and "wicked" speech?

If we look to the Gospels for an answer we might be surprised at what Jesus identifies as such--vows:

"Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, `You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' 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: 33-37).

It seems like this says pretty well what we are to avoid. Yet isn't it strange how this basic teaching of Jesus is ignored? How we still speak vows before God and man?

The teaching of Jesus is pretty clear that we are not God and we do not know what the future holds--God alone knows this. So any attempt on our part to declare that we will do something forever is actually rather unchristian--I know that this will be misunderstood so let me clarify. God is the source of our existence and our life. Every act that we do throughout the day should be dependent upon His Will for us. Anytime that our attitude is that we can do anything without his help we are as Jesus says doing something that "comes from evil."

Religious vows and priestly promises are always made with the caveat, "May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to completion," and in Christian Marriage, "What God has brought together, let no man put asunder." Both of these qualifiers show that the efficaciousness of the words of human beings is totally dependent upon God.

Our attitude should be one where we seek first the Kingdom of God in all things and ask God to bless our undertakings. But brazen speech is never from God and we should refrain from such evil and wicked talk. Whenever we are speaking like we "know it all" or we are the "judge of all" (both attributes of God) we are speaking evil and wicked speech. Sometimes even when we think we are doing so for good purposes.
Karen Marie Knapp posted a comment that was right on target about my quote from the Office of the Readings yesterday. Her blog which I had not visited before has some great reflections on it. Take a moment to visit her at:

From the Anchor Hold
Steve Schultz makes a good point about calling the problems/scandals in the Catholic Church "the situation," read his comments here:

Catholic Blog: Catholic Light
The Bus driver of Oak Ridge Boys is being sought by authorities:

A bus driver for the Oak Ridge Boys gospel and country music group is accused of beating and enslaving his 11- and 12-year-old nephews before fleeing his Linden, Tenn., home.
I had a Vanilla Coke when I was at St. Meinrad of all places. Like the person at the checkout said, "it tastes a lot like regular Coke with a hint of vanilla."
Vote for you favorite design for the Florida quarter here.

Personally I like the one "gateway to discovery" with the space shuttle and the Spanish ship in the design.
My baseball team the Marlins, may end up in my old backyard-Boynton Beach:

Sun-Sentinel: News Local

BOYNTON BEACH · When City Commissioner Mike Ferguson suggested building a stadium for the Florida Marlins in Boynton Beach last year, his proposal was met with laughter and ridicule. But Ferguson says the idea is no laughing matter, and now he's found a company to bankroll part of it.

The Florida Marlins won last night, by the way in the 14th inning 15-8 (it was 6-6 at the end of the ninth)!

Monday, June 10, 2002

Tim Drake has posted his National Catholic Register piece on his blog here.
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 51:

(51) And to disclose them to our spiritual father.

Having a trusted person to share our spiritual journey with is a fundamental aspect of the spiritual life. Catholics do this when they celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance to a degree, but it is done more completely when one chooses a spiritual director to guide them along their path to Christ.

This is no easy task for either the one giving direction or the one receiving it. It requires trust and openness. Above all it requires being open to the action of the Holy Spirit. There is always the danger in this process for abuse and one should never allow their "director" to lead them away from Christ.

But what if we are scrupulous and not trusting in the mercy of Christ? Then we should allow our spiritual mentor to direct us to the Gospels to encounter the Christ who forgives seventy times seven.

But what if our problem is a sin that we commit over and over again?

Then we should allow our spiritual father to point out to us that our trust is to be placed in God's power and not in our own ability to reform.

A trusting relationship with a spiritual father can greatly aid our spiritual growth, but we should never allow this "advice" to become anything more than that. Too often people have fallen greatly because they made their spiritual father into their "god" rather than as a means to grow closer to God.

Sinful thoughts can grow in the dark. By bringing them to the light to someone who is wise in the spiritual life we shed light on our darkness. This has the effect of causing the cockroaches to scurry back into their hiding places. Naming our demons makes exorcising them a possibility.
Breaking News:

Mo. Abbey Gunman Kills 2 Monks, Self

Evidently the gunman was 71 and one monk was in his 80's, the other in his 60's. Very sad, please pray for all.

Update:

The two monks killed were Brother Damian Larson, who was known as "the weather monk," and Father Philip Schuster. Larson posted daily weather information on the abbey's Web site. Schuster was in semi-retirement and was formerly a chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, sources at the abbey told the Post-Dispatch.

From the Chicago Sun Times, cached on Google:

To all you Roman Catholics out there suffering the slings and arrows of the church's pedophile-priest scandal, you might find comfort in the words of Carlo Carretto, an Italian spiritual writer in the latter part of the 20th century, who wrote these words in addressing his church. (Carretto's comments were reprinted in Winnetka's Sacred Heart Church bulletin last Sunday by the Rev. Bob Ferrigan.)

"How much I must criticize you, my church and yet how much I love you. You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe more to you than anyone. I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence. You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness. Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous and more beautiful.

"Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face, and yet, every night, I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms. No. I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even if not completely you.

"Then too . . . where would I go? To build another church? But I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my defects, and again, if I were to build another church, it would be my church, not Christ's church. No, I am old enough. I know better."

Cardinal George's column reflecting the upcoming meeting is interesting and worth a read. From The Catholic New World:

A certain hypocrisy permeates the discussion about bishops when the same people who denounce them for not controlling immoral priests also denounce them for trying to control anything at all. The real agenda of many who now control the public discussion about sexual misconduct by priests is the discrediting of episcopal authority, cheered on by Catholics who have become upset with the Church for various reasons, and the weakening of the Catholic Church’s influence in American life. That is why the discussion is now moving from sexual misconduct with minors over the past 50 years to homosexuality in the priesthood to sexual sin with adults to sexual abuse of children by Sisters. These investigations and stories will not end very soon. Sin and forgiveness are an old story in the history of the Church, and so is dislike of Catholicism. There’s a saying in the French language which roughly translates: the one who eats the Pope dies of a stomach ache. Bishops discredit themselves when they sin; but their office is integral to the constitution of the Church.
Not so fast...

I noticed on Tim Drake's web site that he posted this:

No Surprise
Despite what modern secular journalists might have us believe, Yahoo reports that John Paul II plans to remain Pope until he dies. This report comes from Cardinal Joachim Meisner, and is reportedly based upon a private conversation with the Holy Father.


I would only say, "not so fast," I think that there is a very good chance that Pope John Paul II will retire in August (unless of course he dies before then--God forbid). When Cardinals begin talking about it openly there is something going on in the background and we won't know for sure until it happens. If I'm wrong, I'll remind everyone in August when he returns from Poland.
Thanks to Tim Drake for mentioning both Amy and my blog in his front page piece in this week's National Catholic Register.

One tidbit though, he should have asked Amy how many hits she gets a day (2,000) which is way more than the the two bloggers he reports who are more in my range of hits.

The 73 Steps will resume this afternoon.
From today's Office of Readings:

For our Lord Jesus Christ, now that he has returned to his Father, has revealed himself more clearly. Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda; Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world.


St. Ignatius of Antioch

I wonder what Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Lynch think about their PR people when they read this today?
Amy has a great read on an article from the Weekly Standard here.
Cardinal Dulles has an opinion piece in the New York Times today . He mentions two schools of thought, this would be the one that I'm in:

The Bishops and the VaticanEarly reactions to the draft fall into two general categories. One school, adopting slogans like "zero tolerance" and "one strike and you're out," favors rigorous psychological testing of seminary candidates, the exclusion of homosexually oriented seminarians, perfect orthodoxy in the teaching of moral theology (especially on sexual questions), immediate reporting of all accusations to civil authorities, public disclosure of the names of accused priests, suspension of accused priests from the active ministry, and streamlined processes for the dismissal of those found guilty of serious or repeated offenses.
This school will have the support of bishops for whom the first priority is to shield the church against disrepute and liability. Draconian measures will also be welcomed by angry parishioners and by priests who feel betrayed by those of their number — too many, though proportionally few — who have brought discredit upon the clergy and upon the church itself.


But check out the other school of thought, which I presume the Cardinal is advocating as the "correct" one:

This school will wonder about what measures should be taken against a priest who committed a serious offense long ago but who has repented, reformed and given decades of irreproachable service. Should such priests be removed from ministry even if it can be shown that they pose no discernible threat to young people in the future? Should priests not be treated as innocent until proven guilty?

Should someone be free from consequences because their victim was too young to stand up and point out thier accuser? Why should perpetrators who are caught be excluded immediately and those who do a good job of convincing their victims to remain silent be able to remain years later when the truth is finally known? Plus there is the myth of "one act" which I would modify to say "one 'known' act," these things are almost never solitary events.

and:

To return a priest to the lay population is to obfuscate this theological principle. Is it not better, the second school will ask, for the church to take responsibility for its erring priests and continue to care for them as priests rather than dismiss them, as if expelling them from its ranks would protect society from them? There may be a need to limit a priest's ministry, even severely. He may have to be sent to a monastery for a life of seclusion and penance. But involuntary return to the laity should be very rare and (as the draft recognizes) should never be imposed without due process.

We do not want babies for priests. Grown men do not need to be "taken" care of. If they are criminals--there is jail and prison. If they are mentally ill--there are insane asylumns and politics. There is no "safe environment" where children and young men are totally excluded. I was at a monastery this past weekend and they hosts a youth training camp throughout the summer. They also have a seminary there, young men abound. This is where you are going to send someone with a track record of abuse? Fire them, just like you would fire a layperson or a priest who left to marry!

Yes, let me reiterate--"Fire them," either by excommunicating them, laicizing them, or just plain kicking them out on their can. Nothing to complicated about that theologically.




Sunday, June 09, 2002

Arrived home in Fort Wayne last night after a long day. I awoke at 5:15 and attended the monastic prayer at 5:30-8 a.m. Then had some breakfast before heading over to the library to find that it was closed. This totally destroyed my planned day of work on finishing up my book. But there were pictures to take and a bookstore to visit, so the day wasn't a total waste. But I sure was zonked when I got back home.

On Friday, I gave my talk at the NCCE Convention. It was well received. Everyone always wants to know how to get published but few want to do the work involved for it to actually happen. I was impressed by the people that attended and their questions.

Later, I met with Bishop Dolan at the Chancery in St. Louis. We had a pleasant conversation. Hopefully, he will be made bishop of a major see in the U.S. and soon.

Then it was off to St. Meinrad where I arrived just in time to have dinner with the monks. Normally an affair that is in total silence except for the table reading, this was not the case this evening because of it being the Feast of the Sacred Heart, so after a short reading from the Rule of St. Benedict about idle chatter--a bell was rung and I engaged in idle chatter with the monk that was next to me.

After dinner the abbot walked me around the grounds showing me some of the latest technology that has been intalled in a whole wing of classrooms. I was impressed! There must be a new springtime on the horizon for the church and the Holy Spirit is moving these communities to prepare for it.
The Blogspot site was down this morning so the posting hasn't been a possibility for awhile. Apologies to the regular visitors here!
Thanks to Jeff Hume-Pratuch for locating a web site for The Community of Saint John.!

Friday, June 07, 2002

Off to the NCCE conference where I am speaking this morning and then to a meeting with Bishop Timothy ADolan after which I will drive to Saint Meinrad Archabbey for an evening of monastic life.
I visited Archbishop Sheen's birthplace in El Paso, IL . His father had owned a hardware store and he was born in the family's apartment over it. The hardware store partially burnt while Sheen was still a boy and they never rebuilt it. Now a bar is where the hardware store once stood. Next to the bar is a State Farm agent who is a fan of Sheen's and turns out a fan of mine, along with the receptionist. The receptionist told me that they had bough 12 copies of Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton Sheen and they were sold as soon as they arrived. I autographed a several copies that I had with me and thanked them for their interest.

I visited Ronald Reagan's alma mater at Eureka College. There is a Ronald Reagan Museum there, but the most interesting thing that I saw was a large chunk of the Berlin Wall sent by the German government in honor of Reagan famous, "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall." It's part of the Reagan Peace Garden.
I visited Fr. Antoine Thomas of the Congregation of St. John yesterday. I was hoping that they would have a web site but my brief search did not yield anything. Perhaps a reader with some time will find a site and post it in the comments. Anyway, it was a good visit, among other things Fr. Antoine shared how their fledging community is now inhabiting large abandoned monasteries in Europe. I found that interesting. They have recently built a simple monastery near Peoria which their founder told them to keep simple because Christ is coming soon!

The community that Father Antoine belongs to, prostrate themselves when they pray. They are spreading this practice wherever they are. It is interesting to see friars praying like devout Moslems. More on this later.
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 50:

(50) To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one's heart.

St. Benedict's counsel is wise. Our Lord gave his disciples "power" and that same "power" is available to us, we should avail ourselves tof this powert when we most need it. We need it most when evil thoughts are at their very infancy within our emotions, when they "rise in one's heart." At that moment we should run like a little toddler to Our Lord.

Being a disciple of Our Lord requires this child like faith. In fact the greatest evil thought that can arise in our hearts is to start thinking that we are finally "mature" enough in the spiritual life and don't need to do this. As Our Lord said when his disciples returned from a very successful missionary journey, "I saw Satan fall like lightning!" Pride over the gifts that we have been given can quickly cut us off from the source of our salvation.

So with child like faith we move through life ever vigilant over our thoughts, scrupulously turning to Our Lord at every moment where evil seems to lurk.

Benedict's image of 'dashing against" calls to mind a clutching disciple, grabbing hold of Our Lord's garment lest we fall. It is a good image because the desparation that it suggests is what we are faced with in our daily lives. As St. Paul said, "Examine yourselves, lest you fall."

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Off to Peoria today to meet with Fr. Antoine Thomas who has a show on EWTN entitled "When Children Adore" (about teaching children to pray before the Blessed Sacrament). I'll make a short stop in El Paso to visit the birthplace of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Then its off to St. Louis for the NCCE conference tomorrow, plus a meeting with Bishop Dolan before dinner in the monastery at St. Meinrad in the evening.
Today is the Feast of St. Norbert.

From the Office of Readings, how St. Norbert inspired the reform of the clergy of his day:

He established a clergy dedicated to the ideals of the Gospel and the apostolic Church. They were chaste and poor. They wore “the clothing and the symbols of the new man; that is to say, they wore the religious habit and exhibited the dignity proper to the priesthood”. Norbert asked them “to live according to the norms of the Scriptures with Christ as their model”. They were “to be clean in all matters pertaining to the altar and divine worship, to correct their faults and failings in their chapter meeting, and to care for and give shelter to the poor”.

When Norbert was appointed an archbishop, he urged his brothers to carry the faith to the lands of the Wends. In his own diocese he tried unsuccessfully to convince the clergy of the need for reform and was confronted with noisy protests both in the street and in the church.
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 49:

(49) To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.

Almost all of us were raised with this notion, which was a useful tool that parents could use to insure that when they weren't around there was another, bigger and far meaner parent in the sky. The last part is the most unfortunate part of this. God is not meaner but far more loving than any human could ever be toward us.

Again because most of us were taught this as children it tends to immediately make us think of whether we are good or bad. But really another way to think of it is God is always there looking out for us. Always ready for us to call upon His name. That he watches over us and protects us.

Reflecting on this counsel, I think you can see is colored by your image of God. Does that image reflect what Jesus Christ showed God to be like or does it reflect what your parents, or some other religious figure revealed to you that God was like. More importantly, does whatever I was taught match to what the Gospels reveal about Jesus?

This is the "type" of God who sees us no matter where we are, a loving God. One who is not up there waiting to strike us dead and send us to Hell, but one who is willing to come down and become a man and walk in our midst and to suffer and die when we reject Him--and then to come back again to offer us forgiveness. "His mercy endures forever."

Today, and everyday be mindful of the presence of God, always with you no matter if you believe or not. In the words of an old Latin saying, Vocatus atque non vocatus Deus aderit, "Bidden or not bidden God is present."

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Peter Vere responds to my rant about Roman Law

My reply is this (read his remarks first):

"Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Anything else is from the evil one."

Jesus Christ
(neither American or Roman)


Rome is called the "eternal city" but hardly is, like I said the Roman Empire doesn't exist and hasn't for a long time.

While at first Peter's comments about the genius of Roman Law holding all the varied cultures and ideologies together may seem to be true--it isn't. The very reformations that he speaks about arose from Luther's inabilty to accept the hypocrisy of Roman Law and of course Henry VIII's marriage situation (and countless others since). So German Law and Anglo-Saxon Law did not fail Protestantism but Roman Law failed to keep them in the fold and could be said to be responsible for the fragmenting of Christianity in the first place.

It is the "Roman" church not because the Church because Peter was crucified in Rome. If Peter had been crucified in Byzantium we would be the Byzantine Church. Peter's death and burial in Rome have nothing to do with what philosophy the Church adopts. Jesus Christ was not a Roman, neither was Peter--so I hardly think that Roman Catholicism has anything to do with "having" to adopt roman law.
The Deal Hudson take on the Roman Curia is getting a lot of play on Catholic blogs. You can read the excerpt of his mass emailing at Tim Drake's weblog.

My take on this is that for the same reason that the Bishop's in this country are only paying attention to this because of the media and not because they are just discovering that this stuff is a problem--so too in the Curia, only the Curia isn't under attack by the Italian press so it can just do what the American bishops would like to do and blame the media. The problem here is that there is a basic hypocritical stance toward morality that is essentially Roman. Roman law held that the "law" is an ideal. The ideal should always be held high but no one should get too excited if the ideal wasn't meant or kept.

This has led to an acceptance of all kinds of behavior that most Americans would find as incredibly corrupt. Because American's believe the "law" is to be obeyed. I'm too much of an American to ever figure out the rationale behind all this Roman law stuff, but I think the Roman Empire is pretty much dead. So if the Church is going to move into the Third Millenium, it is time for them to universalize the notion of the Faith and get the hell out of Italy.

The Western Church has made a host of laws that the East has never even been concerned with. Yet if you really understand what the Western Church practices you find that the whole notion of "law" is not what Americans mean when they think "law." This creates endless confusion and problems here.

I remember a bishop, now dead, telling me once that while he was the head of the former Catholic Welfare Association that when he worked with the Phillipine clergy there wasn't a celibate one in the bunch. It kind of shocked me at the time (he was talking about the 1940's) but even more that it was just accepted. In Rome a lot is accepted. This drives Americans crazy and I think rightly so.

A reform of the "Roman" curia will be successful only, if we drop the whole "Roman" way of dealing with reality. Most of the international bishops who end up in the curia adopt its ways. This has to stop. This my friends will require a general council of the Church--which I pray is on the horizon.
Sean Gallagher has an interesting post on Charles Lwanga and his Anglican companions.

What he fails to mention is that Lwanga was martyred because he refused to give in to the homosexual advances of the tribal king. Check out Father O'Malley's book "Ordinary Suffering of Extraordinary Saints" for that taleNota Bene
Thanks to John DaFiesole for linking to me yesterday in his Blog called Disputations.

Bishop Norbert Dorsey of Orlando takes the tougher stance:


From the OrlandoSentinel.com:
Any priest accused of sexual abuse of minors is immediately suspended. If a single charge -- past or present -- is found to be credible, the priest will be dismissed.
Cardinal Maida hints at what else is needed. From the Detroit Free Press:

Maida acknowledged that changing church law on the subject would be difficult. Changing church law, said Maida, is "like changing the Constitution of the United States."

The American bishops must launch their own checks and balances, Maida said. "We would monitor each other and be accountable to one another -- accountable to the bishops and our people."
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 48:

(48) To keep a constant watch over the actions of our life.

We read in the Book of Wisdom "To fix one's thought on her is perfect understanding, and he who is vigilant on her account will soon be free from care", (Wisdom 6:15). Vigilance is a hallmark of monastic life, it is why silence has always been valued in that setting.

Vigilance requires attentiveness. Everyone has had the experience where they arrive home after driving the daily route only to discover that they remember nothing about the trip they have just made presumably awake. Much of life can become so routine that we are oblivious to those around us.

Monks have a practice of keeping "vigil." I once tried something similar when I attended school at a monastery. I decided that I would simply spend the night with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I took along a Bible, a rosary and sat in a small oratory. Just the Lord and me. The time passed rather quickly. There were no great revelations during that period of prayer, but what I did notice was that during the next few days everything seemed more intense. It was almost as though the world was suddenly in "high definition" vs. the black and white that it usually seems to be.


Unfortunately, for me it was a one time event. But I have noticed that the more I pray, the more vigilant I become. The more I notice others that cross my path. The less I travel through my day on automatic pilot.

Most of us might raise the excuse of there being too many distractions in life for us to be truly vigilant. But therein lies the distinction--distractions demand our attention. What we call distractions are things that we are ignoring that are clamoring for our attention. The vigilant persons pays attention to everything they are doing and thinking.

The image of a psychic who seems to see and hear voices that no one else hears seems an apt representation of the vigilant person. All of us carry with us intense memories of past experiences, these play a heavy role in the way we act toward others. The vigilant person will discern the "other" people in the room so to speak when they encounter their daily contacts.

Prayer and discernment are both necessary to be truly vigilant in our actions. We need to truly see what creates our reactions to people and events and bring them to God. To free ourselves from inordinate attachments. As the Book of Wisdom says to be vigilant will "free us from all care." No regrets, only gratitude.
Saw Frank Bruni on Fox News last night. From The New York Observer:

After ambling after ambler-in-chief George W. Bush, The New York Times’ Frank Bruni is headed to Rome. A former White House correspondent who’s worked for The New York Times Magazine since October 2001, the 37-year-old Mr. Bruni is set to become the Rome bureau chief, replacing the departing Melinda Henneberger, who quit to write a book.

Mr. Bruni, the author of the book Ambling Into History: The Unlikely Odyssey of George W. Bush, said his decision to cross the Atlantic was a difficult one. He said he loved working for Times Magazine editor Adam Moss, but felt if he was ever going to take on an assignment on the foreign desk, it would be now.

The Times’ deputy Washington bureau editor, John Broder, said that Mr. Bruni—who is both Italian and Catholic—is a good fit for the Rome job, which includes the Vatican beat. Mr. Bruni also co-authored a book in 1993 called A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse, and the Catholic Church.

Said Mr. Broder: "He’s uniquely qualified to cover this—the end of one papacy, the beginning of another one, the ongoing crisis in the church with priestly pedophilia."

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.