Saturday, October 22, 2016

On Shepherds...

A shepherd serves an essential role, guiding and protecting his flock. It is  not by chance that we see the role of a bishop as that of shepherd. A good shepherd must care for his flock, even to the least of them. So also, a good bishop must love his flock, and in guiding, must also teach, that even the least might learn to choose the narrow gate in preference to the wide.
We are challenged this year, as never before in an election year. As many have noted, both candidates have flaws.
And meanwhile, both candidates for the nation’s top residence, the White House, have astonishing flaws.  -- Archbishop Charles Chaput
Yes, bishop, they have, but all men are sinners. I do not see, nor can I find in history, any saint on the ballot for president. But I would put it to the bishop that flawed as they may be, our electoral system truly makes this a two-party system, despite some semi-rational arguments to the contrary. Abp. Chaput, again:
One candidate — in the view of a lot of people — is an eccentric businessman of defective ethics whose bombast and buffoonery make him inconceivable as president.  And the other – in the view of a lot of people – should be under criminal indictment. 
 Here, Abp. Chaput and I must part ways. To call Mr. Trump "inconceivable" as president is to imply that no one can, in good conscience, vote for him. That is patently false.

The Democrat party, and Mrs. Clinton hold:
  • That abortion is an essential right of the woman, even up to the point of delivery.
  • That churches in general, and the Catholic Church, in particular, must revise their doctrine to conform to political notions.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand has declared:
  • He is now pro-life, and has recounted a conversion story on that issue.
  • He believes that the matter of abortion should be, and should have been, a state issue, not Federal. 
Clinton, in public statements, has all but declared war on Catholics, denigrating our beliefs, and vowing to force change. It is also clear, from public statements, that she seeks to remove not only the 1st and 2nd amendments, but several more, as well. Her goal has clearly been to transform the USA into a socialist state, and her buddy Barack has already made inroads in that direction. But I digress.

Mr. Trump has declared an end to persecution of religious orders and medical practitioners who invoke their rights of conscience.

My Problem with Abp. Chaput's Statements

First, in fairness, I must point out that Abp. Chaput prefaced his comments with this disclaimer:
My column this week is a collection of personal comments.  Read it as thoughts from a brother in the faith, not as teachings from an archbishop.
Ummm...  OK. But he remains an archbishop, a shepherd with a large flock in his care. Certainly he may have his own thoughts, which may even be (somewhat) at odds with his mission.

But frankly, this is equivocation, and as it is given in public, I find it disingenuous to disclaim. A shepherd speaking in public is still influencing his flock.

So then, and to mix it up a bit, we have this from Bp. Conley:
No Catholic should feel obliged to vote for one candidate just to prevent the election of another.
But in his speech at Notre Dame, Abp. Chaput:
“If Christians leave the public square,” Chaput said, “other people with much worse intentions won’t. The surest way to make the country suffer is to not contest them in public debate and in the voting booth.” 
So here is a challenge. We see Bp. Conley and Abp. Chaput offering their flocks quite opposite advice. And truly, I must reject Bp. Conley, and favor Abp. Chaput in this. In neither case are we being formally instructed in the sense of being told we have an obligation. But while Bp. Conley declares we have no obligation, Abp. Chaput recognizes a reality, that to abstain is to leave the matter to others, whose intentions may be less admirable. Or whose consciences  may lack proper formation, if we would look at it in terms of Church teaching.

And Yet...

I remain troubled with Abp. Chaput. He has declared his "opinion" that both candidates are badly flawed. And in that declaration, has failed to explore the differences in a useful fashion.

We may dislike both candidates as people. I surely admit I would not wish to have either of them in my home for dinner. However, we are Catholics first, and citizens second. In our role as citizens we have a responsibility and obligation, to ourselves, our neighbors, and our children, to act against evil, at the very least. As Catholics, we must be guided in those actions by our faith.

Bp. Conley seems to suggest we can ignore our duty as citizens. What, then, is to become of our children?

Abp. Chaput, on the other hand, recognizes that we must exert our influence to bring about good. Yet he fails to lead in the essential matter of differentiating between two flawed candidates.

What sad times.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our society, and the need for prayer...

Our society--I have ceased referring to it as a culture, as that has too many positive connotations--has largely descended into secular hedonism. Every day there is some new story about people wanting polyamory, lowering of the age of consent, and even bestiality, to be considered normal expressions of human desire.

The human desire for sex,  however, is one created for procreation. For the preservation of the human race, and for the creation of families. With the sole exception of the age of consent, none of the issues at question is genitive. Homosexuality begets no progeny, nor does bestiality.

We Catholics must recognize that the world around us has largely elected to embrace, even to celebrate, sin. The only rational response we may make is to strengthen and deepen our prayer lives.

We have endless resources in pursuit of this goal:

  • Pray the Rosary, at least daily.
  • Pray the morning offering.
  • Pray the Divine Office. Yes, it takes a good deal of time. You have more important things to do?
  • Make the Confiteor a daily prayer. I tend to use the older, longer version, which is in the Baltimore Catechism.
  • Pray whenever the least thought of prayer enters your mind. 
Formal prayer is excellent. But remember St. Francis said "Pray always, and if necessary, use words." Make your work, whatever it may be, an expression of prayer. This means recognizing that in doing the best you are able, you give witness to your faith through your work, offering it up to God.

Pray for your family, Pray with your family. Never miss Sunday Mass, but find your way to daily Mass, too, when you can do so. Make your confession regularly, so you may receive the Eucharist in a state of grace, as is required.

Keep the Friday penance. Abstinence and fasting were never rescinded, contrary to what many believe. It is a small thing to do without meat on Friday, yet a thing which reminds us of who we are, and reminds us that sacrifices are a part of our faith.

Our society is deeply sinful. We cannot fix it, other than by first doing all we can to fix ourselves. Increase your prayer, and it will increase your piety. Increased piety is a barrier to sin. We need our weapons, such as the Rosary, and our shields, which are the many prayers we offer.

May God have mercy on us, and on the whole world.

Long Time Gone...

Yes, it has been over two years since I posted here. Times change, and so do we all.

Pope Francis is no longer new, and remains a puzzle. On the one hand, he confesses he is not good at off the cuff remarks, and on the other, he continues to make such off the cuff remarks to the media, who true to their fashion, twist and spin to their hearts' content.

Although Pope Francis has changed nothing of doctrine, there are still some who believe he has changed the Church, brought it into the 21st century. By which they mean, of course, the suspension of any sense of morals or right and wrong. No. Francis has done nothing of the sort.

It is curious that our pope offers up such delicious sound bites. If you check any of them in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, you will find that what he has done is to take a small piece of a larger statement, and offer it up. He leaves out the hard parts, and presents only the fluffy bits, letting the media get all those warm and fuzzy feelings.

It seems to me a pity that in presenting these sound bites, Pope Francis gives up the use of his platform for teaching essential truths. But then, in this age of secular hedonism, perhaps such an opportunity is merely illusory.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus papam

Pope Francis. The first pope from the Americas.

So the waiting is over, and yet not. By some, our new pope is seen as the anti-Benedict. I know too little of him to comment on that.

I shall wait and see. It is reported that in Beunos Aires, Summorum Pontificum has not been implemented. It may be more accurate to say that SP has been blocked there. Again, I have too little data.

I shall wait and see. I am nervous. I had a favorite for whose election I prayed. This is not he.

I think we can learn much from the appointments he will make to the Curia. I shall pray for him, and for those appointments. Our Pope Emeritus Benedict sacrificed himself to clean out the Curia.

Although Pope Francis is being reported as a "compassionate conservative", I have not found much to support that view. And he was in the Curia under Pope Benedict. Was he among those who Benedict felt compelled to remove?

I shall wait and see.


It seems that many who consider themselves traditional are beside themselves.
Likewise the liberals.

The office changes the man. I pray for good works by Pope Francis.

I repeat: I shall wait and see.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What passes for ethics...

I was shocked and appalled this morning, to read that ethicists in Australia have satisfied themselves there is a case for "post-birth abortion". Infanticide, if we're going to be honest.

You can read of it here.

This is what comes of divorcing ethics and morals from faith. Holy Mother Church is steadfast in her teachings; public policy, on the other hand, shifts with cultural "values". Or in this case, apparently, no value.

When religion is banished form the public square, this is what we must expect. We cannot rely on common sense, nor on an innate sense of what is right. Clearly, there are those among us who can make a case for almost anything being "right". And that's just wrong!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Exploring charity

We hear so much now about the need for charity, especially toward the poor. But we are now seeing the poor in the United States defined in such a way that nearly half the population is poor. And this, in a time when our elected government is spending at unheard of rates, and has failed for four years even to produce a budget.

Charity is essential to our faith. However, I find nothing in scripture to suggest that our call to charity can be fulfilled by a government taking money from us, and redirecting it, much of it to no benefit of the the poor.

Further, while we do not often hear of it in a homily, there is responsibility. We are responsible to help the poor, thus engaging in charity. We are responsible to love our neighbors; we are responsible to turn away from sin. We are also responsible not to spend what we do not have.

On the other hand, one of the deadly sins is sloth, yet we often see examples of sloth among those who remain perennially on welfare, and also on drugs or alcohol. No, it's not always the case, but it is a significant percentage, and is highly resistant to change.

Do we not fail in our responsibility when we tolerate the destructive acts of government, which forces us to finance abortion? Do we not fail in the deepest meaning of charity when we do not remove the opportunity which allows anyone to spend a life on drugs? And can we not see that in every sermon, Jesus was preaching responsibility?

And where is our love when we condone or even support heresy? And we do that, friends, when we support the notion that "social justice" trumps the teachings of the Church.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On wailing and gnashing of teeth...

In response to recent events, there have been many reports that the sky is falling. Many have declared they are depressed by the resignation of Pope Benedict. Others are depressed at the resignation of Cardinal O'Brien,  just yesterday.

Take a deep breath. Holy Mother Church has been around for 20 centuries, more or less. The hierarchy has been in place and structurally pretty much as now for 1700 years. Pope Benedict is our 266th pope.

Life goes on. The Church will prevail, even against the gates of Hell.

It is not a tragedy that Pope Benedict has resigned. Yes, I could surely wish for another eight years of his command at the helm, but it is not for me to determine his life. What I do know, beyond any doubt, is that Benedict is not a man who makes capricious decisions. His resignation has obviously been something over which he prayed at great length, and if he has resigned, I must trust in him, and in God above, that it is the right thing at this time.

That Card. O'Brien resigned is a blessing. First, because he removes himself from the Church, and thereby limits what damage he might do. Second, because in making a public confession of his sins, he has taken the first step toward the forgiveness he most assuredly needs.

As to the College of Cardinals and the coming election, we must all pray that the cardinals are guided by the Holy Spirit, and able to conclude the election soon, and give us another excellent pope.