Sunday, June 30, 2002

Another vague terrorist warning, this time for the 4th of July

From the

Friday, June 28, 2002

The Florida Marlins should move to Fort Wayne

We attended a baseball game last night between the Dayton Dragons and the Fort Wayne Wizards. There were close to 4,000 people on hand. That isn't far off from what the Montreal Expos, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and my beloved Florida Marlins draw. Obviously some of the major league teams are in the wrong cities.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 59th step:

(59) Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).

This counsel of St. Benedict's is a quote from St. Paul's letter to the Galatians, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh," (Galatians 5:16). St. Paul saw the flesh and the Spirit at war with one another and one would suspect that so would St. Benedict. The flesh for Paul was an obstacle to being the person God had created us to be.

But less we project all of our own ideas about what the "flesh" means, let us look at what St. Paul means when he speaks about the "flesh": "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God," (Galatians 5:19-21). If one peruses the list one will find that the "desires" of the flesh are all the ways that our desires can go mad and lead to our own destruction.

Contrast the works of the flesh with the desires of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control," (Galatians 5:22). Notice the first three are all what the "desires'" of the flesh are motivated by, the desire to experience love, joy and peace, but of course they never lead to that, so we should strive to live by the Spirit.

How can w do it? St. Paul tells us, "those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit," (Galatians 5: 24-25). We need to subjugate ourselves to Jesus and to trust in the Holy Spirit at every moment of everyday, so that we seek to fulfill the will of God and not of our flesh.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 58th step:

(58) To confess one's past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.

One of the areas of spirituality, which has been under attack for the past forty years, is the "emphasis on sinfulness" that seems to have dominated spirituality of all religions from the beginning of time. Those who have bought into this notion have found that after awhile God seems to slip further and further from the picture.

Sin essentially is anything that breaks my relationship with God. Remove sin from the picture and you are essentially removing God from the picture--because you are admitting that it really doesn't matter if you are offending God or not. It would be like being in a relationship with your spouse and refusing ever to admit any wrongdoing or to even consider that you are ever wrong (I've been accused of this before but I humbly submit that I am almost always wrong when it comes to my faults in my relationship with my wife), one would expect such a relationship to be in grave trouble.

Admitting that we are not living up to our part of the relationship is a healthy practice of constantly trying to stay in communion with God. Doing it with "sighs and tears" means that we are not just doing some per forma but rather are emotionally feeling what we are saying. St. Ignatius of Loyola would have retreatants pray for the gift of tears when they meditated on their sinfulness and this is a practice that should be restored.

I remember during a pilgrimage to Medjugordje in what is now Bosnia in the late 1980's standing in a confessional line and watching people emerge from the outside confessional stations (a chair with a priest, while the penitent knelt beside him) wiping tears away. It was touching, because it gave me the sense that these weren't just a listing off of faults but a heart felt conversion from a life without God to a life that the penitent truly wanted to live with the help of God. We should all pray for the gift of tears for our failings.

My great-grandfather would always be wiping tears away when he returned from receiving communion. I found this deeply significant as a child and it is something I've never forgotten. Involving our emotions in our relationship with God is a great grace that we should strive to have in our relationship with Him.

The final part of Benedict's maxim is to amend our lives. Real contrition for our sins involves a firm resolve to involve God in those parts of our lives that we have excluded Him in the past. By being aware of God's presence at all times we likely will amend our lives in the future.
Vetatur Fumare

Holy Smoke! Pope bans puffing on job
The Knights of Columbus are Responsible--The Catholic Connection

How the words "UNDER GOD" came to be added to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States originated on Columbus Day, 1892. It contained no reference to Almighty God, until in New York City on April 22, 1951, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution to amend the Pledge of Allegiance as recited at the opening of each of the meetings of the 800 Fourth Degree Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus by the addition of the words "under God" after the words "one nation". The adoption of this resolve by the Supreme Board of Directors had the effect of an immediate initiation of this practice throughout the aforesaid Fourth Degree Assembly meetings

Later it was put before Congress and in 1954 it was adopted.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002


My latest book jumped 100,000 places due to the sales gained from this blog this week!

sheen.gifYou can purchase Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen now at Barnes and for $5.56--what a deal! I'll even send you a personalized autograph bookplate (you'll have to fill out a form here) that you can stick inside of the book if you'd like to give it as a gift (talk about an inexpensive gift--but a great one!).

If you have read it already and liked it, I'd appreciate a positive review on their site or at the Amazon site. Thanks!
If you wonder what Hank Williams would sound like if he were alive today

Check out Hank III's lates CD, it is very good. All the songs are written by him except the last track, Atlantic City (which of course is by Bruce Springsteen).

Also check out the Flatlanders, a great mix of voices and songs (if you're tired of the same old stuff--like I am).
A humorous tale of Amish life at today.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 57th step:

(57) To apply one's self often to prayer.

The word that is translated "to apply" can also mean to fall down in adoration (prostration). It is worth mentioning because if anything has been lost in modern Christianity it is the sense of adoration that preceded or indeed was a part of prayer in previous ages. One can still see the ancient method most noticeably in the prayer or Moslems who fall down bowing their heads to the ground whenever they pray.

This reflects the way Christians would have prayed during the time of Mohammed. It has been noted in several biographies of Pope John Paul II that when no one is around that he also prays using this posture. Yet most Catholics have been taught that "standing" is the ancient method of prayer (which quite frankly is nothing short of a lie).

Anyway, "applying" oneself in this manner involves the body in a way that forces one to "pay attention" to what you are doing (also causes the blood to flow to your head). The early Church Fathers recommended this posture whenever anyone was having trouble praying and later St. Ignatius of Loyola instructed pray-ers to find some way to acknowledge that they were in God's presence at the beginning of every prayer period.

To pray continually was an injunction of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, "pray constantly," (1 Thess. 5:17) and if we understand that prayer is communicating with God, we can see that there is nothing more important if we are to be in communion with God.

Every moment of our day is an opportunity for prayer. There is nothing that we do in life that can not be brought to God. But it is important also to set aside time where we are not active and God is the focus of our undivided attention. Ideally this will happen as least seven times a day. Traditionally this would be when we arise in the morning, in the mid-morning, at noon, in the mid-afternoon, in the evening, when we retire and in the middle of the night. Of course the last one, in the middle of the night may seem the hardest but if you find yourself awakened in the middle of the night-there is perhaps no time when you can give God more of your undivided attention. The early Fathers felt that in the night (vigils) the spirit world was more visible and there was less to distract us.

Be creative in finding ways to pray throughout the day. Take the Scriptures with you wherever you go. While waiting in traffic read a few verses, standing in line recite prayers, turn idle moments into opportunities for spiritual growth.
This is an excellent piece!

Dallas Not Last Word on Clergy Scandal
Finally, a book I worked on is mentioned in the New York Times!

Pope Chooses a Successor to Prelate in Milwaukee

"He's really a Catholic," said Al Szews, president of the Milwaukee chapter of the conservative group Catholics United. "There are some prelates in this country who don't act very Catholic, because they're more interested in trying to change the church to what they think it ought to be rather than what Christ intended it to be. I think he loves the church and wants to promote the Catholic Church rather than change it in his own image and likeness."

Bishop Dolan has a doctorate in church history from the Catholic University of America, in Washington, and has published "Priests for the Third Millennium" (Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2000), a collection of his lectures to his students at the North American College.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

I'm on the cover of a new OSV publication called Grace in Action. To see the cover click here. I have a light shining out of my head.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 56th step:

(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.

Another translation of this counsel has "to listen intently," both are correct but for a culture where "will" is a weak term, "intent" probably communicates the sense of the counsel better. St. Benedict was referring to the daily table reading that would be done and the fact that one has to be counseled to "listen intently" shows that even a monk's mind isn't freed from the clutter that we all find our minds filled with.

We all listen to holy reading every time that we attend Mass and there perhaps is no better counsel then to listen intently to the reading of the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are "living word" unlike much of what we read which consists of words that communicate a truth and usually little more. The Scriptures have the power to transcend their original purpose and to speak to us directly--if (and this is a big IF) we listen.

Listening is a lost art. I often think of myself as a good listener (my wife would disagree and she is right about most things, so I will defer to her on this manner). Truly listening requires an effort on our part. Too often we are planning our response while someone speaks, like the Prodigal Son who rehearsed his lines on his way home to the Father. God's word cuts through our speeches and goes right for the heart.

If we want to hear God speak to us, there is no surer way for this to happen than to listen intently to the word of God proclaimed at Mass. Perhaps we are afraid of what God might say to us--so we intently do not listen. That is a shame if it is the case.
If you want to be in communion with God listen intently to what He has to say to you when the Scriptures are read.
For more on Bishop Timothy Dolan

I worked with then Monsignor Dolan on this book. The majority of the book would be helpful to anyone, the last part deals with priest's stuff. Some of the book is posted online at Amazon. Check it out Priests for the Third Millennium

'Ozzy Unauthorized," a book by Sue Crawford, drops on us next month. It lists his Ten Outrageousest Moments.
And this shows why there is hope! I met with the new Archbishop a few weeks ago!

Pope John Paul II has named Auxiliary Bishop Timothy M. Dolan of St. Louis to be archbishop of Milwaukee.
He succeeds Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, who turned in his resignation when he turned 75 on April 2 as required by canon law. In May his resignation was accepted by Pope John Paul II following disclosure of a financial settlement of a sexual harassment case brought against him.

Archbishop-designate Dolan, 52, was named an auxiliary bishop for St. Louis last year.

Monday, June 24, 2002

sheen.gifYou can purchase my latest book Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen now at Barnes and for $5.56--what a deal! I'll even send you a personalized autograph bookplate that you can stick inside of the book if you'd like to give it as a gift (talk about an inexpensive gift--but a great one!).

If you have read it already and liked it, I'd appreciate a positive review on their site. Thanks!
The largest stadium in the United States, to tell the truth doesn't look all that big to me. This was an interesting visit though. It was nothing like what I imagined it being like after watching countless games on television played there. It is located on a hilltop and only about twenty feet of it is above ground! The web site has a very lengthy history for anyone interested.
We saw Ford Field which is nearing completion, just past the outfield of Comerica Park in Detroit.
Any visit to Detroit means a stop here for me.
Our visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts was somewhat muddled by all of the closed galleries. The day before we went the entire museum was closed down due to a fire in the building. A click on the link will show you that even the online exhibits are closed!
Likewise these all used to be seminaries, now one of the three still is. Check out this set of photos from 1910. The College was taken over by Thomas Monaghan of Domino's fame and I think he is planning on moving it to Naples (but maybe he is just adding another campus down there). We also drove in and out his Law School in Ann Arbor. We also visited Domino's Farm in Ann Arbor, which had a great Catholic bookstore!
I have remarked several times on the pages of this blog that the Midwest countryside is littered with the ruins of Catholic religious life in the United States. Well "ruins" is not always what one encounters on the backroads. Take for instance this former Catholic seminary in Plymouth, MI which is now a golf and convention center.

The former St. John's seminary is now a meeting and convention center equipped to handle more than 2,000 people in 25 rooms, which include ballrooms, corporate boardrooms, a chapel, bridal suite and glass atrium. Some features of the center include:
* The Grotto: The building's former lower chapel was renovated into a 2,445-square-foot cocktail area.
* The Atrium: Newly constructed from top to bottom, the 4,712-square-foot atrium, with its huge glass ceiling, can accommodate up to 600 dining guests.
* The Judea Ballroom: The seminary's former library can handle up to 300 guests.

Where the body and blood of Christ were once served, now cocktails are the drink of the day.

In 1988, St. John's Provincial Seminary was closed; and the graduate theology program and library were moved to Sacred Heart. With both a college and a graduate program, the seminary was granted university status and became a "Major" Seminary.
This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Communion with God. The previous steps appear throughout the Archives, available to the left. This is the 55th step:

(55) Not to love much boisterous laughter.

Written in the context of rules for monastic living this one is easily understood by anyone who has ever visited a good monastery. There is an atmosphere of silence that permeates the monastic environment and loud boisterous laughter would destroy such an atmosphere.

The maxim is not to "love much" explosive laughter. Again there is no prohibition against humor here but rather there is a caution of making a show of it. If one has ever been around someone who regularly explodes with loud laughter there is something rather unsettling about it--making one wonder about the sanity of the individual displaying it.

Loudness of any sort displays an excessive ego, "look at me I'm laughing." A good laugh is good for everyone, but the one who explodes in laughter is someone who is overdoing it. Parents often have to caution their children against this, it is even more embarrassing in an adult.

The obvious fault with this type of loudness is that it intrudes upon the space of those outside our immediate circle. The joy that we feel and those we are speaking to may share may not be shared by those who are loud laughter will inflict itself upon at a distance.
To not love explosive laughter can save us from much embarrassment and also preserve the decorum of respect of the people we live with.

There are those who will think that this injunction is not in keeping with the New Testament but read what the Letter of James says: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you," (James 4:7-10).

The genius of the maxims of St. Benedict is that they embrace all of Scripture, while most of us choose to only exchange a handshake with the word of God.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Amy, Joseph and I returned from a long weekend away today. We did not turn on a computer for three days! We saw some things that we had never seen before (for Joseph that is easy). Details to come, along with the resumption of the 73 Steps.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

A Great Site!

For all who want to focus on Christ, the Bible and the church he founded, check out Dave Armstrong's site:

Biblical Evidence for Catholicism
A very good column by Bishop Doran (written before the Dallas conference) that deals with a number of issues quite intelligently, from The Observer

Why he would be against laicizing guilty priests (doesn't want to sully the name of the "good" ones that leave:

In many cases, those who have been laicized are honorable people and I would not want to lump them together with priests who have abused children and who are, therefore, criminals in Canon Law and in civil law. That is something that we bishops will have to address.

What about all the other priest's crimes against the faith:

Some ask why we propose to punish sexual offenders when we don’t punish others who flout the demands of our faith. There are priests still active who deny the divinity of Christ, who ridicule people’s devotions, who maim the liturgy prescribed by the Church, who deny the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, who scoff at the teachings of the Holy Father and the Magisterium. People ask me why they are left alone by our hierarchy. We used to be told by the sisters in school that a mortal sin is a mortal sin, and all those things — together, certainly, with child abuse — are mortal sins. How can we leave some in office and dismiss others?

These are questions with which we bishops must wrestle. St. John Chrysostom once said that the major burden of the bishop in Jesus’ Church is the discipline of the clergy, and he didn’t mean spanking them when they are wrong. He meant helping them to stay on the right path. It is difficult for the bishops in Dallas because for years we have winked at all sorts of doctrinal and liturgical and moral nonsense going on in the Church. Now we are faced with a great crisis where those doctrines all of a sudden mean a great deal. Unused as we are to enforcing them for the last 35 years, we are now faced with the prospect of having to acknowledge our laxity in the past and of steeling ourselves to resolution in the future. That requires large doses of penance and humility, with which bishops and indeed many Catholics these days are not conspicuously endowed. That’s why I ask that you pray for us all..

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

From the Office of Readings today a quote from Judges that reminds us, I think, that God doesn't need great numbers to accomplish His works:

The Lord said to Gedeon: “The people that are with you are many, and Madian shall not be delivered into their hands; lest Israel should glory against me, and say: ‘I was delivered by my own strength’. Speak to the people, and proclaim in the hearing of all: ‘Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him go home’”.
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 54.

(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.

Benedict has a great concern for the choice of our speech, reflecting Our Lord's injunction in the Gospel to "let you no mean no and your yes mean yes." Most of us suffer from an endless chatter that means little and lessens the effectiveness of our speech in general. There is a further clarification here and we are warned not to "provoke laughter."

Is Benedict condemning humor or is this a warning not to appear silly to others? I think it is the latter.

Someone who talks endlessly might make others laugh at him or her but they probably will not be taken seriously. The danger here is that speech exists to communicate the truth and when it is not used specifically for that we misuse this great gift.

Benedict warns us not to use "useless words." Words are powerful weapons and gentle comforters if they are used correctly. But when speech is misused it lessens its effective use at anytime.

Another way of stating this maxim might be, "choose your words carefully and sparingly."

The Gospel of John identifies Jesus as the "Word made Flesh." There is a connection here with all the words that come from our mouth too. We should ever be mindful of The Word when a word comes to our lips.
Jack Buck is dead, from lung cancer, although I believe he also had pParkinson's. His classic voice accompanied me on many a Monday night when he did Monday Night Football with Hank Stram on CBS radio. There will never be another like him. May he rest in peace! Remember him in your prayers today.

From CBS News:

Buck's gravelly voice - crafted in part, he said, by too many years smoking Camel cigarettes - described to a national radio audience the indescribable end to Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

No doubt this also led to the lung cancer. The CBS story doesn't mention this but from The Nando Times:

The Hall of Famer underwent lung cancer surgery Dec. 5, then went back in Barnes-Jewish Hospital Jan. 3 to have an intestinal blockage surgically removed. He never left the hospital. He was 77.
Someone commented yesterday in the office that they didn't like the way the building was shaking--turns out we were having an earthquake!Moderate Earthquake Hits Midwest:

The quake shook buildings in downtown Evansville and was felt in Indiana as far north as South Bend, about 250 miles away. It also was felt in Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

"An earthquake of this size can typically crack chimneys, knock things off the shelves, and may crack windows," Bellini said. "We wouldn't expect much more than that at the most."

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

So far it doesn't seem Cincinnatti is enforcing the new charter. From the Cincinnatti Enquirer: 5 more tell lawyer ex-Elder principal had sexual contact

Father Strittmatter was reassigned to St. Albert the Great parish in Kettering, Ohio, with strict orders to stay away from children.

He is one of five priests remaining in pastoral roles under the Cincinnati Archdiocese despite substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct. The archdiocese has not identified the other four.
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 53.

(53) Not to love much speaking.

Recently while a guest at the monastic table of a monastery I was privileged to be there on a night when talking was allowed in celebration of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Normally meals are taken in silence at this monastery, while a monk reads from the Rule of St. Benedict, the martyrology and usually a book that would be of interest to the monks (this final selection could be a current bestseller).

So on this night, after the blessing was said and we were seated there was a few minutes of silence while the lector read from the Rule and the martyrology before the abbot rang a bell signaling that we could speak. The one line that was read from the Rule was "not to love much speaking."

I was seated with a monk who I had meant several times before, Father Louis, in his late 70's he still leads a very busy life wearing a number of "hats" at the monastery not the least of which is to entertain guests. He told me that two of his heroes were fallen and that made him sad.

"Who were they?" I asked.

"President Clinton and Archbishop Weakland." He responded.

He went on to say that Clinton had been for the poor and for the life of me I can't remember what Weakland had done that enamored him to Father Louis, although Weakland was also a Benedictine monk so that probably had something to do with it.
We carried on a conversation about current projects that I was working on and Father Louis weekend parish work. It was an ironic visit, because we were both doing the very thing that Benedict counsels the monk not to do "to love much speaking."
Why? Too often when we speak much we say things that might better be left unsaid. If Benedict were writing today, he might also add not "to love too much blogging" which could easily be a modern equivalent to "too much speaking." Bloggers know that writing what you are thinking can come back to bite you sometimes.

God first, everything else second. We are to pray always, even before we speak. "God is this going to build the person up?" "Lord is this your will?" All should proceed what might flow too quickly from our lips and not be according to God's will for us.

The flip side of course is that someone who loves to talk will hardly make a good monk. Since monks thrive on silence (and we should nurture ourselves with this too), someone who loves to talk obviously would be miserable in such a setting.

But the counsel is beneficial to all of us. "Think before you speak," becomes "Pray before you speak."
Chat with Amy (my wife) tonight at 7 p.m. EDT!

Monday, June 17, 2002

Happy Anniversary to my lovely wife and me today!

Sunday, June 16, 2002

Happy Father's Day-- to my father and Amy's father and to all fathers!

My Fulton Sheen book (see column to the right) is dedicated to my dad who was a big Fulton Sheen fan and made me one too!
St. Pio pray for the needs of the readers of this blog! - Sainthood for Stigmata monk - June 16, 2002
From the Early Church:

Take, for example, the spiritual and physical penalties declared by the 4th Century architect of Eastern monasticism, St. Basil of Cesarea [322-379 AD], for the cleric or monk caught making sexual advances [kissing] or sexually molesting young boys or men. The convicted offender was to be whipped in public, deprived of his tonsure [head shaven], bound in chains and imprisoned for six months, after which he was to be contained in a separate cell and ordered to undergo severe penances and prayer vigils to expedite his sins under the watchful eye of an elder spiritual brother. His diet was that of water and barley bread-----the fodder of animals. Outside his cell, while engaged in manual labor and moving about the monastery, the pederast monk was to be always monitored by two fellow monks to insure that he never again had any contact with young men or boys

Friday, June 14, 2002

Used to looking the other way...

Rod Dreher's continued musings from Dallas include the following comments:

That is also at the heart of this scandal. The liberal Appleby made an excellent point in his address to the bishops, saying that the crisis began, in a sense, with the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, which forbade artificial birth control for Catholics. A large majority of American Catholics rejected the ruling, and a large majority of American bishops (and priests) declined to defend and promote the teaching. This event, Appleby said, marked the beginning of the bishops and the laity living in bad faith.

As Lawler, who agrees with Appleby on this diagnosis (if not the solution), wrote yesterday, the bishops "have, in short, 'looked the other way.' Over the years the habit has become ingrained. On one issue after another — contraception, homosexuality, abortion — bishops have developed the practice of looking the other way, papering over the gap between teaching and practice. Meanwhile, the ordinary Catholic faithful became accustomed to this mode of behavior, so that they began to view bishops as distant, abstracted figures. And so we come to today's scandal.

"Yes, the path leads back to Humanae Vitae. And we wish to address the fundamental causes of today's distress, we cannot avoid that history."

This is why anybody who thinks the Friday vote on sex-abuse policy will be the end of the matter is dreaming. The battle for the Catholic Church in America has only just begun.

Interestingly enough during the current crisis in the Catholic Church there has been much talk about "orientation" which is an ancient term in Christianity. But unlike the early Church Fathers who talked about facing the "orient," i.e. the East (symbolic of Paradise Lost and where God might be sought), orientation now is talked about referring to someone's sexual preference--strange enough when one considers that this is usually in reference to those who have sworn off any sexual expression so that they may be totally oriented to God.

One bishop fainted yesterday!

Bishop From Kentucky Taken to Hospital (
This article will show you why many Catholics are even more confused as to why the bishops called upon Margaret O'Brien Steinfels from Commonweal to give an opening talk yesterday. From Mother Church's Loyal Opposition:Disagreeing with official Catholic teaching on birth control and other issues should not cut us off.
I remember when this book came out, this priest was treated and viewed as a nut. From Culture and Family, "We Told You So: The Homosexual Network Twenty Years Later:"

The year was 1982; the book was The Homosexual Network: Private Lives and Public Policy. The author was Enrique Rueda, a Catholic priest then in the diocese of Rochester, New York. The book had 522 footnoted pages of text, with another 160 pages of appendices and indexes. It not only analyzed the ideology of homosexuality, but it documented the spread of that ideology through religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, and traced the funding of it.

If you had read that book, you would not have been surprised by the revelations that have been coming out of Boston in the recent trial of Fr. Geoghan, on whose behalf the Archdiocese of Boston by 1998 had settled 50 pederasty cases while another 84 were pending.
On the day that I was to move north to take a job in little Hungtington, IN I turned on the radio. Paul Harvey was on and the tale he was telling was of men coming to to a motel in Huntington and leaving awhile later with less of their body. It made me do a double take and for a second I almost turned the car around to head back to Florida were such an issue might only happen in the shark invested waters. Anyway Nancy Nall recounts the tale on her web page today:

Fort Wayne is hardly ever ahead of the curve, but I think we may find ourselves there on the admittedly puzzling issue of voluntary castration, which has the world scratching its head over the latest public case of same. Regular readers, and residents of some duration in northeast Indiana, will recall the case of Edward Bodkin, aka "Odd Bodkin," a Huntington man who invited the amazement and disgust of the world when his own discount gelding service was busted a few years ago. (Alex reports the amusing news that the arrest, and subsequent media coverage, did serve the useful purpose of delaying Dan Quayle's entry into the presidential race by a few weeks, as his planned announcement in his family values-lovin' hometown would have clashed unattractively with a story about a freaky weirdo clippin' gentlemen callers in that very same town.) These stories just can't help but satisfy, as they inevitably contain such a wealth of amusing/stomach-turning detail. Odd Bodkin kept his bounty in jars all around his kitchen; the latest case, involving a Taiwanese man operating in the Detroit area, also featured gruesome preservation of the jewels, this time in the refrigerator.
Check out the open letter to the Bishops from the Catholic Medical Association. Here are a few quotes from it:

In treating priests who have engaged in pedophilia and ephebophilia we have observed that these men almost without exception suffered from a denial of sin in their lives. They were unwilling to admit and address the profound emotional pain they experienced in childhood of loneliness, often in the father relationship, peer rejection, lack of male confidence, poor body image, sadness, and anger. This anger, which originated most often from disappointments and hurts with their peers and/or fathers, was often directed toward the Church, the Holy Father, and the religious authorities. Rejecting the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, these men for the most part adopted the utilitarian sexual ethic which the Holy Father so brilliantly critiqued in his book, Love and Responsibility. They came to see their own pleasure as the highest end and used others — including adolescents and children — as sexual objects. They consistently refused to examine their consciences, to accept the Church’s teachings on moral issues as a guide for their personal actions, or regularly avail themselves of the sacrament of reconciliation. These priests either refused to seek spiritual direction or choose a spiritual director or confessor who openly rebelled against Church teachings on sexuality. Tragically, these mistakes allowed these men to justify their behaviors.


One of the major problems we have discovered in discussing this issue with the clergy and the laity is the enormous amount of misinformation about the nature, origins, and treatment of homosexuality/SSA. This is not accidental. For over twenty years, activists, intent on changing the laws on sexual orientation, have put forward a massive public relations campaign specifically designed to spread misinformation that will change the social acceptance of homosexuality.

For example, many people sincerely believe that scientific research has produced conclusive evidence that homosexuality is a genetically inherited condition, determined before birth, and cannot be changed. In fact, no such evidence exists. Several studies have been promoted in the media as providing the “proof,” but when one reads these studies, one discovers the authors do not even claim to have presented such proof. There is no verifiable evidence that same-sex attraction is genetically determined. If same-sex attraction were genetically determined, identical twins would always have the same sexual attraction pattern. Numerous studies of twins have shown that this is not the case. And there are numerous studies documenting change of sexual attraction pattern (see Homosexuality and Hope, available at

One of the reasons why people have been so willing to accept the idea that same-sex attraction is genetically determined is their own experience with men who are extremely effeminate and have been so since early childhood. This condition of extreme effeminacy is called Gender Identity Disorder (GID). The differences between boys with GID and other boys are so profound, that those observing them conclude that the boys with GID must have been born that way. Those who treat GID have found that effective family therapy in which the father bonds more closely with the son and affirms his son’s masculinity can in a relatively short time result in the elimination of these symptoms and the emergence of normal boyish behavior. Tragically, because this information is not widely known most boys with GID do not receive treatment and approximately 75% of them will go on to develop SSA in adolescence. Unfortunately, if these boys come from Catholic families, those around them may point them toward the priesthood. Because they aren’t attracted to girls, people wrongly assume that the celibate life will be easy for them.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

The Dallas Diary fromRod Dreher on Catholic bishops on National Review Online
A Spiritual Practice

Go to some quiet spot, a Church if one is nearby and in imitation of Joshua do and say the following:

Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"
Joshua 5:14

Today is the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua (America's most popular saint by a recent poll). From the Office of Readings a quote from a sermon of St. Anthony's:

The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit but only leaves. Gregory says: “A law is laid upon the preacher to practice what he preaches”. It is useless for a man to flaunt his knowledge of the law if he undermines its teaching by his actions.
For those of you who can't get EWTN on your television, you can watch it on the internet--here.
Fr. Rob Johansen has a blog called Thrown Back. Pay him a visit.
I liked this comment from Jeannine:

When I read the list I was reminded of Ephesians 5:11-14:

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed to the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light . Therefore it is said, "Awake, O sleeper and arise from the dead and Christ will give you light".

I guess St. Paul is saying that the purifying light of grace can burn away the chaff that obscures our vision when we are dead in sin. So I think it"s good that all these things are brought to light, now to pray, and not just for the Bishops, but for the whole Church.
In case you missed it, here are the transcripts of The Church on Trial from 60 Minutes II.

I know there are some who will imediately claim media bias, but I'd have to say that I thought the reporting was incredibly fair. Some of those interviewed have lost their faith, some have not. But what came through most of all was how inadequate the bishops have been in handling any of these cases in even the most primitive of Christian ways.

Bishop Gregory, who was the only bishop to agree to be interviewed, comes across as genuine and Christian. He is a convert and gives us all hope, since he is in charge of this meeting. The pope should send over his exorcist for some of the other's--when Paul VI said that the "smoke of satan had entered into the church" he wasn't kidding. As much as I know about abuse within the Church, I found the way these victims have been treated to be reprehensible. A reform of the episcopacy is long overdue and needs to be stripped of any of the trappings of corporate America and to be modeled upon Christ.

When I searched for the link for 60 minutes, I came across the version of 60 minutes in Australia. They had recently done a story on Archbishop Pell there--same mode of operating. Horrible!

Pray that this will not be business as usual, pray that some of the holy bishops will not sheepishly stay silent while the political and corporate bishops run the show. Pray!
News from the Associated Press,Designer Bill Blass, born and raised in Fort Wayne, IN is dead:

William Blass was born June 22, 1922, in Fort Wayne, Ind., the only child of Ralph Blass, the owner of a hardware store, and Ethyl Blass, a dressmaker. Blass played football, worked on the school paper and studied art at South Side High School in Fort Wayne, where he graduated in 1939.

Blass started sketching designs when he was 17, and sold some to New York designers for $25 each.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

From the Johnson City Press:

With his long hair, white T-shirt and denim overalls, Richard Weatherly looks the part of a backwoods bootlegger. But as this East Tennessee native describes his mission to save the region’s intoxicating culture, he sounds more like an activist than distiller.

“What we’re trying to do is protect part of the heritage of this region,” Weatherly said Tuesday while talking about his move to legalize moonshining in Washington County.

Good to know there are people concerned about rural Tennessee's cultural treasures.
Breaking News:

Pope John Paul II will vacation for several days in Northern Ontario at a retreat center before going to Toronto for World Youth Day in July.
Padilla used to work at Taco Bell, From the Sun-Sentinel:

A decade ago, he was planning a new life for himself and his future wife. Both converted to Islam and Padilla took it very seriously, asking questions and attending local mosques, said his former boss at a Davie Taco Bell.
The Baptists take on Islam

From the Florida Times Union, Pastor Jerry Vines of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonvilles says:

''Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives -- and his last one was a 9-year-old girl. And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people.''

The newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Rev. Jack Graham, would not repudiate Vines' comments.

''His statement is actually a statement that can be confirmed,'' said Graham, a Texas pastor. ''I believe the statement is an accurate statement,'' he said.

No doubt security will be tightened both in St. Louis where the Baptists are meeting this week and in Jacksonville.
A friend of mine, who attended St. John's in Brighton (Boston) in the 1980's writes:

How dare they....truthfully Mike..this whole thing has bowled me over. I never saw it coming. I knew about the gays. It was even worse in Brighton. My Lord they were all so open about it even my family used to cringe when they would come to visit me at St. Johns. It was embarassing.
Reflections on "The List"

I've quickly read through the list, many of the accounts are well known to anyone who has followed this scandal over the past few months. It is staggering to see it all presented in ledger like fashion and to see how widespread the practice of reassigning problem priests has been.

Unfortunately there are some cases presented that are unfair to a few of the bishops who inherited a mess and who I personally know to be above reproach in this regard, yet they made the list anyway. But there are also missing names of bishops that I personally know have been guilty of this practice.

There is one case in the list that I am intimately involved in and quite frankly I am relieved to see that my name did not come up in the piece as "the whistle blower" in it. I was contacted by the journalist who must have been writing the summary of it, but since I was on the road at the time, we never made contact. Thank God for that. In reading this particular account, it is clear that the journalist is walking on egg shells in the presentation of the case which was actually even more vile than one could imagine.

What the list reveals is an institution wide problem and one wonders as one bishop recently stated publicly how the very people who are responsible for the problem will solve it?

Rather than come up with any policy at this meeting, sack cloth and ashes should be handed out at the door and they should just gather and publicly do penance for three days--then some should go back to their dioceses and resign.

Two-third of bishops who run the 178 mainstream Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States have engaged in some sort of concealment or transfer of priests with histories of sexual abuse, according to the Dallas Morning News.

In a story published today — one day before the start of the bishops' conference — the Morning News looked at a range of situations: a bishop ignoring warning signs or accusations, transferring or continuing to employ in the same job a priest who admitted having a problem.

"In Tucson, the bishop has been facing in recent years several lawsuits and has actually had cases where priests have admitted to him abusing boys and he's kept them on," Pam Maples, projects editor for the Morning News, told ABCNEWS.

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.


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.


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
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.