Monday, August 10, 2020

Real Evils

We hear endlessly now about white privilege and racism. 

As so often happens, self-proclaimed victims have hijacked the meaning of racism, claiming that it can be inflicted only on non-whites, people of color.

So many years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his speech I have a Dream. The declaration which gave a name to his speech was:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

Today I sat through a lengthy presentation on white privilege. Let me now offer the definition of bigotry, of which racism is a subset:

obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, opinion, or faction; in particular, prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group.

Dr. King, looking down on what has become of his dream, must surely be weeping. White privilege is a textbook example of bigotry, no less offensive than any of the derogatory terms which have been applied to people considered "people of color." How can it be less offensive to judge nominal whites for their skin color than to judge any visible minority? 

Anyone who calls himself Christian must reject bigotry in all forms. 

Jesus' second Great Commandment directs that: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

There is no option there in support of bigotry. Neither does it allow for seizing victimhood as a means of exacting special rights -- or anything else.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Today's Realities


Over two years ago, I lost one of my dearest friends. He was also my confessor of choice, a former microbiologist, and the most reliable spiritual guide I have known. Fr. Charles had been raised in Nigeria, and would have disagreed with the assessment of his then bishop that the biggest problem in the archdiocese of Atlanta was racism.

Father would also have been deeply saddened at the current epidemic of racial exploitation.

Yes, there is racism in Atlanta, though the assertion was, I am certain, intended to portray white racists. Sorry, Abp. Gregory, but the most common source of racism I observed during my years there was black racists.

Racism is a major issue because those who profit by their ranting will not let the issue die.

Fr. Charles was my friend, my brother, and a very holy man. He was a frequent guest at our table. He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He was kind, and always generous. He often laughed at the notion of a day off for a priest -- "should I take a day off from serving the Lord?"

But in Atlanta, not all priests are of that spirit. One I encountered online through a friend who is a deacon is proudly a member of Black Lives Matter. There are some problems with that:
  • BLM favors socialism, condemned by the Church.
  • BLM is in favor of disrupting the economy, doing damage to the poor.
  • BLM is pro-LGBTQ, and anti-family, which are also positions contrary to Church teaching.

I am thankful he is unlike any priest I have experienced in a parish setting.

For the last week I have been flooded with online articles on racism, almost entirely devoted to the notion that whites are inescapably racists, and that blacks are incapable of racism. That view is one fortified by profound ignorance of reality. Everyone is capable of racism, as much as of other sins.

Conventional wisdom holds that whites are racist and that racism is rife in the South. Sorry, all of you in the media, but in 2020, all evidence suggests that you are inverting reality. I encounter racism and hatred in blacks, and only rarely in whites. And I see more evidence of racism in the North than here in the South.

What is deeply disturbing is that the hate mongers are so often self-proclaimed Christians. Even men of the cloth. The plank in their eyes...

Father, my brother, you are sorely missed.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

There is no middle ground...

Trying times...

For months, I have felt the need to write about the madness which besets us now.

The Church is the Body of Christ. Not the hierarchy, not the laity, not some particular group of people, but all of us. All men are sinners, and Christ died to redeem all of us.

It has become all too common to see one group or another within the Catholic Church attacking another. By what right? We are all STILL sinners.

There are those who say the trads are troublemakers or worse. Really? Define "trad." And once you have done so, explain how those who take comfort in the liturgy of the ages are in some way less worth than those who proclaim the liturgy of the last 50 years.

No? I grant, the case is all but impossible to make.

The enemy we face is not new, but the same Evil One who tempted Jesus so long ago. But Jesus stood fast, and we seem to lack the will. Or the faith.

In our time, we have seen priests and bishops betray their vows. So? All men are sinners. We have seen this before. Read the history of St. Peter Damien. Man up. Faith is not easy. We are flawed, and predisposed to take the easy path, the path of immediate comfort. Of sin.

But we are called to follow our faith, and to act out of virtue. It is not easy. But it is right.

I have too often seen that there are some (few) priests and bishops who remain steadfast in their faith, committed to their vows, and are found wanting. By God? We know not. But they are found wanting by their fellow men. Because they are not sufficiently strong, not sufficiently outspoken, or whatever. Oddly, those who would condemn these good men have usually done less in support of the faith.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

I will not be casting stones, but I shall ask that we all reflect, and that we also consider whether we seek so defend our faith, the one true church, or whether we seek to offer aid and comfort to the Evil One.

There can be no middle ground.

Update:
I had a comment which I will not publish, as the writer insisted upon reading my post through the lens of his prejudices. I won't enter into a debate with anyone who insists on challenging me on the basis of assertions I did not make.

Contrary to his assertions, I made no attack on those who prefer the Novus Ordo. Nor have I attempted to justify those priests -- and bishops and cardinals -- who have broken their vows and indulged their sexual desires on youth. Predatory priests should, at the very least, be removed from parish work. 

Each of us must work out his own salvation in fear and trembling. 

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.

Update:

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.