Sunday, February 28, 2010

WDTPRS: The Perfect Priest

The Perfect Priest: "

The entry here reminded me of an old chestnut about a chain letter:

The Perfect Priest

The results of a computerized survey indicate the perfect priest preaches exactly fifteen minutes. He condemns sins but never upsets anyone. He works from 8:00 AM until midnight and is also a janitor. He makes $50 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, and gives about $50 weekly to the poor. He is 28 years old and has preached 30 years. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all of his time with senior citizens.

The perfect priest smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls daily on parish families, shut-ins and the hospitalized, and is always in his office when needed.

If your priest does not measure up, simply send this letter to six other churches that are tired of their priest, too. Then bundle up your priest and send him to the church on the top of the list. In one week, you will receive 1,643 priests and one of them will be perfect. Have faith in this procedure.

One parish broke the chain and got its old priest back in less than three weeks.

Post from: WDTPRS

The Perfect Priest


SANCTE PATER: Social Hacking

(title unknown): "

The Satanic Inversion of Values Gets Pwned


Friday, February 26, 2010

CATHOLIC HIERARCHY: Pelletier retired, Raharilamboniaina named Morondava Bishop

No relation, but it sure caught my attention

Pelletier retired, Raharilamboniaina named Morondava Bishop: "Bishop Donald Joseph Leo Pelletier, M.S. retired and Bishop-elect Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina, O.C.D. was named Bishop of Morondava, Madagascar.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

ADORO: Urgent Prayer Request for Christians in Mosul

Urgent Prayer Request for Christians in Mosul: "I found this at Padre Steve's blog, Da Mihi Animas, and post the letter from Dominican Sister Donna Markham, OP:

From: Angelo H Camacho To: Sent: Thu, Feb 25, 2010 12:33 pm Subject: URGENT PRAYER REQUEST
Just got this tragic news from our Dominican sisters in Iraq... prayers, please
Fr. Camacho

Dear Brothers,

Please read the following e-mail sent by Sr Donna Markham, O.P., the Prioress of the Adrian Dominicans, about our Dominican Sisters in Iraq and the entire Christian community in Mosul:

Dear Sisters, This evening I have received very tragic news about the situation in Iraq. I have just returned from being with the 5 Iraqi sisters who are with us in Adrian. Today, all the Christians have fled from Mosul.

There have been murders and rapes of Christians there and for now they are fleeing to the Christian villages. Sister Maria is very frightened about the safety of the sisters and the Christian people. As of now,the five elderly sisters who have been holding down the Motherhouse are choosing to remain there because they do not want to lose their Motherhouse to the terrorists. She said most Christians are making plans to evacuate from Iraq and, as a consequence, she does not know what will happen with her Congregation. She said they will follow the Christian people where they go, but where that will be is uncertain. The sisters' families remain in grave danger and, as you can imagine,the young ones with us and with Springfield are terrified. As of now, nothing is being reported in the US press. She asks if any of us know people in Washington whom we could contact and tell the story, to please do so. Most importantly, she asks for our prayers. Love, Sr. Donna

Please keep this situation in your prayers, and, as Sr. Donna asks, if anyone has any contacts in DC who could bring this to the press or to Congress, please consider doing so.

Fraternally, Fr Brian Mulcahy, O.P.

ADORO: Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Fridays in Lent?

Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Fridays in Lent?: "I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of hearing both Catholics and non-Catholics trot out the 'saving-the-fish-industry' tripe in explanation as to why Catholics eat fish on Fridays.

I did a quick google search today and saw all kinds of weird questions, such as:  "Where does it say that in the Bible that we have to eat fish on Friday', and 'Why do Catholics have to eat fish?'

Those are the wrong questions.

Let me answer this once and for all:

Catholics DON'T have to eat fish on Fridays in Lent!

This is why the 'fish industry' myth is so unbelievably stupid, and I'm flummoxed as to why it is so popular and remains so unquestioned!  When it comes to Catholics and public opinion about us, what ever happens to the "critical thinking" of the so-called "enlightened" crowd?  Why is it that myth reigns and anti-Catholic stupidity becomes such a part of our lenten practices?

And really, I wonder why ANYONE cares whether or not Catholics eat fish on Fridays? Why is something so inane even a topic of discussion? Who had the pettiness to invent this myth, and who is so petty as to pass it on?  If this myth were true, wouldn't it actually be a GOOD thing, for it would have been an exercise of the Church's teaching on social justice and charity for the poor?

My dear friends, if you run into someone who lodges this accusation, please point out to them that at NO point in the history of the Church were Catholics EVER ordered to eat fish on Fridays.  If they continue to press the point, demand in turn that they locate the Church document that ordered the practice of EATING FISH.

It isn't there. It doesn't exist. If you think it does, please find it and send it to me.

What we are asked to do is to offer a universal penance in honor of the death of Our Lord on the Cross, by abstaining from meat.  That is a FAR CRY from the claim that we "have to eat fish on Friday."

But as Fr. V. at Adam's Ale said in a perfect summary of fallen human nature:

 'When we feast we feast. When we fast, we cheat.'

THAT (read the whole post to understand 'that') is why the Church asks us to practice a common discipline, a common penance, during lent. NOT because the fish union went to a pope and said that they needed help getting people to eat their slimy offerings. “Please make Catholics not eat meat on Fridays so that we can improve our bottom line!” If that were the case the pope would have said, “Eat fish on Fridays!”
We do not eat fish on Fridays. We abstain from meat. The reason so many Catholics eat fish on Fridays is that when we feast we feast, and when we fast we cheat. “They didn’t say we couldn’t eat fish so let’s eat that!” And Holy Mother Church rolls her eyes and says, “Fine, eat fish instead.”

Now, that's ONE explanation, but there is another that gives us some insight into the actual DISCIPLINE of this particular penance.  The fact that there is a tradition (small "t") of SOME Catholics eating fish during Lent goes back to the allowance of fish in place of meat. And I can tell you, growing up, while I LOVED to go fishing, I HATED eating the catch. I hated everything ABOUT fish:  the smell, the taste, the texture, the fact I had to eat it anyway if I wanted dessert, etc.  For me, eating fish on Fridays was a very real penance.  (I don't mind fish now...I've grown up. But I still don't eat it on Fridays especially during Lent. I tend to go vegetarian instead.)

But I digress, as usual. So let me offer you another explanation that comes from St. Thomas Aquinas himself:  (Thanks to Taylor Marshall at Canturbury Tales  for the tip to look to this part of the Summa: check out his post and comments as well.)

From the Summa Theologia, IIa-IIae Q.147.8:

Whether it is fitting that those who fast should be bidden to abstain from flesh meat, eggs, and
milk foods?

I answer that, As stated above (a. 6), fasting was instituted by the Church in order to bridle the  concupiscences of the flesh, which regard pleasures of touch in connection with food and sex. Wherefore the Church forbade those who fast to partake of those foods which both afford most pleasure to the palate, and besides are a very great incentive to lust. Such are the flesh of animals that take their rest on the earth, and of those that breathe the air and their products, such as milk from those that walk on the earth, and eggs from birds. For, since such like animals are more like man in body, they afford greater pleasure as food, and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust. Hence the Church has bidden those who fast to abstain especially from these foods.

Reply to Objection 3. Eggs and milk foods are forbidden to those who fast, for as much as they originate from animals that provide us with flesh: wherefore the prohibition of flesh meat takes precedence of the prohibition of eggs and milk foods. Again the Lenten fast is the most solemn of all, both because it is kept in imitation of Christ, and because it disposes us to celebrate devoutly the mysteries of our redemption. For this reason the eating of flesh meat is forbidden in every fast, while the Lenten fast lays a general prohibition even on eggs and milk foods. As to the use of the latter things in other fasts the custom varies among different people, and each person is bound to conform to that custom which is in vogue with those among whom he is dwelling. Hence Jerome says†: “Let each province keep to its own practice, and look upon the commands of the elders as though they were the laws of the apostles.”

* Cf. P. I., Q. 118, a. 1, ad 3. † Augustine, De Lib. Arb. iii, 18; cf. De Nat. et Grat. lxvii.
e “Summa Theologica” of St. Thomas Aquinas. Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Second and Revised Edition, 1920.

Well! That's interesting, isn't it?   Keep in mind, before you start arguing about what science tells us about nutrition, that the questions regarding the discipline of Lent really don't have anything to do with nutrition at all. They have to do with SACRIFICE and controlling our passions in order to be better conformed to Christ.   You can read the entire question of fasting here.  Note how the Angelic Doctor uses the term "flesh" and its relation to humanity and thus to Christ.

We don't eat fish on Fridays by any decree from Rome. In fact, I'd argue that Lenten Fish Fries go against the spirit of Lent, except for the fact that they are usually held for the purpose of giving alms, another Lenten requirement.  (Yes, we are called to fast and offer our savings from the food we AREN'T eating to the poor, or offer alms in some other form.)

When I was a child I HATED fish, but every Lent, it was a tradition from Mom's family to eat fish, and actually, my Dad's as well, and he was Lutheran!  In fact, they made it a habit to eat fish on Fridays THROUGHOUT the year at the Moose Lodge!  (Go figure on that one...I think it had to do with the Moose....)

I loved fishing and have written of my memories of fishing with my Dad as a little girl. But I hated the smell, the taste, the processing of the fish, and found the seeming obligation during Lent to eat fish to be truly penitential, but for a few exceptions.  I don't mind it now, but tend to make it a point to deny even the fish that I like in order to experience the deprivations and penance required by the true spirit of Lent which point to the sacrifice of Christ and our obligation as Christians to become more like Him.

The fact is this: 

As Catholics, EVERY Friday throughout the year is a commemoration of Good Friday, thus it is a penitential day. EVERY FRIDAY requires us to do some kind of penance. In America, in most dioceses, we can decide what we want to do as penance. Most observant Catholics continue to give up meat on Fridays as it is easy to remember and consistent...and when there are social plans that may involve meat, say, at a friend's home, it reminds one to recall Christ's own sacrifice and maybe give us a chance to proclaim our faith even if in social discomfort.

I don't know why, but the Jews and the Muslims don't seem to have a problem proclaiming their faith through observance of their dietary laws and observances. Why is it such an issue for Catholics?  When did WE turn into such complete wusses?

News for most Catholics:  it's a sin to NOT do some sort of penitential observance on Fridays throughout the year! It's not a "Lenten" thing, but a WEEKLY thing!  

During Lent, though, we are required to abstain from meat in union with all Catholics throughout the world, and if you want to focus on the Social Justice end of it, in union with all the starving peoples everywhere, to whom you can give the money saved so that THEY can have meat for once.

What's so hard about that, and why is it such a cause for controversy?

If you're one to attack the practice, get over yourself and turn your heart and soul to Christ in place of bitterness.  He did not die for any of us so that we could be free to be jerks.  He died so that we might follow Him, take an example from His own Holiness, and rise above our fallen nature in cooperation with Grace. Lent and the imposed disciplines of Lent help us to do that.

Is that so hard to understand?  Really?

Adoro: Jesus, Take Me With You!

Jesus, Take Me With You!: "A few months ago, while praying during Mass, as I gazed upon the crucifix after Communion, I found myself asking Jesus to take me with Him. This is a variation of an old prayer from a few years ago, one of those things that spontaneously comes upon us, and we pray it even if we really don't understand what we are really asking in that moment.

This morning while meditating on the mysteries of the rosary, I suddenly understood, at least to some degree, of what I was asking that day, and as I continued to pray, it all began to make sense. As always, God's timing is impeccable.

Jesus answered my prayer long before I ever prayed it.

When Jesus went down into the Jordan river, He took on His mission, giving his formal fiat, taking us and the sins of the whole world upon His shoulders. His baptism is symbolic of his acceptance of death, through which we must all descend, and his rising from the waters points to the resurrection. As He took us with Him into the river, so, too must we die so that we can rise again with Jesus in the resurrection.

That means that when Jesus went into the Jordan to be Baptized....He took me with Him.

When Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount, He was speaking directly to me and telling me not to live only according to the minimum requirements, but to go deeper, sacrifice more, and become more and more human.

When Jesus healed the lepers, restored the sight of the blind man, and exorcised demons, he tooke me with him in tow to show me that it's not actually about physical healing, but spiritual, and that's what He REALLY wants to offer. And so I went with Him into the Confessional so that I, too, could become a sign to the world of His mercy and forgiveness.

When Jesus broke bread and gave thanks, when He washed the feet of the Apostles, He brought me with Him there, too, to reveal the beginning of the Mass and the origins of the ordained Priesthood, so that not only would I recognize the fulfillment of the Covenant when he died on the Cross the next day, but I would recognize God's own authority in His ministers, and the ongoing presence of Christ in the Mass and in all the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.

When Jesus prayed and wept in the Garden of Gethsemane, He took me with Him for He was not just weeping over my sin and those of the whole world, but He was fully entering into and taking on our own suffering so that He could weep WITH us and not just FOR us.

When Jesus went before Pilate, He took me with him so that I, too, could choose to either wash my hands and walk away, or instead, become docile to His love and become the Cross that He carried for my salvation.

When Jesus was scourged at the pillar, He took me with him so that I would know the selflessness of love and the sacrifice that restores true dignity.

When Jesus was crowned with thorns, He took me with Him so that in his degradation, I would be brought to my knees, desiring to offer mercy to Mercy Himself, reaching out to remove the thorns He wore to fulfill the punishment for sin, only to find them piercing my own hands, drawing my own blood, helping me to enter into the suffering of my Savior.

When Jesus walked the road to Calvary, He took me with Him upon His own back, and only fell because I did and the weight of my sin was so heavy he condescended to fall even lower than I so that I would not be lost forever.

When Jesus was nailed to the Cross, He took me with Him so that I would recognize the impact of sin not just on myself, but upon the world, for which He was willingly being sent to His innocent death.

When Jesus was lifted up on the Cross, He brought me with Him for He drew me into His embrace and gave me rest under the shadow of His wings, where I begged to remain, for I recognized the Cross as my only defense.

Yes, Jesus HAS taken me with Him, every bloody, painful, wretched, agonizing step of the way. In spite of my obstinance, in spite of my rebellion, in spite of my willful disobedience. He has taken me with Him and has not let me out of His sight, even when I tried to hide from Him.

The price He paid for my redemption was so great that He would not, could not, let me go. He chose instead to suffer in patience, knowing that my hardened and fickle heart could be softened, that His love could overcome my rebellion, and that one day, I might still have a chance to return to Him with all my heart, all my soul, and give Him my whole life.

He asks for nothing less. And I ask for nothing more.

Take me with you, Jesus. Always.

Hancaquam: What to do (and not do) about vocations

What to do (and not do) about vocations: "
A four year old post on vocations to the priesthood. . .

I wanted to suggest the following about vocations:

1). There is no vocations crisis. God is calling more than enough men to the priesthood to cover the needs of the Church. The real crisis is twofold: a). crisis of commitment and b). crisis of encouragement. The crisis of commitment is the result of the reluctance of the men who are called to say YES to their call. Most men called to priesthood are opting for careers that will only partially perfect their gifts. They can be happy, of course, but they are not picking up the greater challenge of sacrificial service in the Church. The crisis of encouragement is more complex. Basically, mothers and fathers are not supporting sons who express an interest in say YES to God’s call. This has to do with a decline in the prestige of the priesthood and the easier availability of a formal education for lower and middle-class men. We also have to look to the bishops, their vocation directors, and their discernment and vetting processes. Do the people the bishop trusts to recruit and vet his vocations really believe that an ordained priesthood is necessary for the flourishing of the Church? Is there a culture of priestly community in the diocese? Are the priests happy and encouraging of vocations? Bottomline: no sensible young man with a vocation is remotely interested in signing on to a religious order or a diocese if it is clear that those in charge think his vocation to ordained ministry is an ideological problem, a theological inconvenience, or a political obstacle to the Great Lay Revolution. And no young man is remotely interested in joining an order or a diocese controlled by bitter, angry ideologues who loudly and proudly celebrate the coming demise of the priesthood. Who wants to jump on a failing project as it sinks under the weight of its stewards’ neglect?

2). If we have all the vocations we need, but those vocations aren’t saying YES, what do we need to do? First, give God constant thanks for the vocations He has called. Gratitude sets the stage for humility and the current crisis in commitment and encouragement needs all the humility it can get. Second, pray that God will encourage (literally, “strengthen the hearts of”) those whom He has called. Pray that they will say YES. Third, personally, one-on-one invite a young man to think about priesthood. If there’s any inkling in his mind that he has been called, your affirmation will reinforce that inkling into a stirring and the stirring into a desire and so on. Fourth, make sure that you understand who your priest is. I mean, study up on the nature of the priesthood. Get the Catechism and spend some time studying what the Church teaches about priesthood. Ignore functional models of priesthood (i.e., the priesthood is a job or a role) and ignore attempts to turn the Catholic priest into a Protestant minister (i.e., a minister of the Word in the pulpit but not a priest at the altar of sacrifice!). Also avoid all attempts to understand that priesthood is rooted in baptism only. We all minister to one another out of our baptisms. But the ordained priest ministers out of his baptism AND out of his ordination. To say that he ministers as a priest out of his baptism only is an attempt by some to diminish the sacramental character of Holy Orders and reduce the priesthood to something like a Parochial Facilitator of Charisms. One more thing to avoid: please don’t lump a vocation to the priesthood in with vocations to the married life, the single life, ad. nau. Of course, these vocations are perfectly true and good and beautiful. But we aren’t suffering as a Church from a lack of husbands and single women. Lumping priestly vocations in with all other Christian vocations tends to level the priestly vocation and hides the urgency of the crisises of commitment and encouragement. This is NOT about the priestly vocation being “better” than any other vocation. It is about the Church being loud and clear that we need priests and that we value the vocation for itself and not as a tacked-on afterthought during the prayers of the people.

Those called to priesthood will not be encouraged to say YES to their call until it is crystal clear to them that we need them. Communion Services and other forms of “celebrations in the absence of a priest” only serve to reinforce the idea that a priest for Mass is a luxury. Given all the other negatives about the priesthood these days, do we really need to carry on with our Sunday worship as if the priest were a rare creature slowly moving into extinction? I imagine a young man in the pews at St. Bubba’s, attending a month or two’s worth of Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest and thinking, “Hey, I don’t need to say YES to God’s call to priesthood. We’re getting along just fine here at St. Bubba’s w/o one.” In fact, why don’t we just elect one bishop somewhere in Kansas to consecrate several warehouses of hosts every week and then use FedEx to ship those hosts to all the parishes in the country for communion services. That way we can get rid of the priesthood and the episcopate altogether. Much cheaper and easier than educating men to be parish priests. Well, I guess we would have to keep one priest and one seminarian in the pipeline at all times as replacements.

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Patrick Madrid: McChurch

McChurch: "

'Pop culture is culture like McDonald’s food is food.'

Father Paul Ward, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit has written an excellent reflection on how Catholics have been affected, afflicted, and infected with a 'pop culture' mentality toward the Faith. Toward truth. Toward God. My humble suggestion to the parish priests who read this blog, consider reprinting this in your parish bulletin (with Father Ward's permission, of course). With a few adjustments, it might even make a good sermon!

“McChurch” is neither a real name nor a real word, but an expression I coined to convey “commercial Catholicism,” or even “consumer Catholicism.” Not only in America, but in many other places as well, the Catholic Church has largely gone the way of pop culture. That is, it became an object of the market.

Culture is a term which can have several meanings. Its more philosophical definition makes it the development of man’s superior faculties (intellect and will) in the material world. Another definition makes it the productions of such development, for example, the work of art, the composition of music, the opus of some great author; and here, we refer not to the mean productions of inferior skill, but the greatest and most superior of such works.

This second definition makes a man “cultured,” therefore, if he is familiar with the works of Bach, Aristotle, Descartes, Kierkegaard and Michelangelo, with Latin, Greek and Hebrew or some modern languages as well, and has acquired certain mental disciplines – logical thought, refinery of tastes, etc. – which come only with the exploration of these greatest and superior works which have come forth from the souls of men.

“Pop culture” is culture which you can buy or sell. Now, it would be overstating the case to assert that there is absolutely no artistic, intellectual, philosophical or theological contribution that a rare few pop artists make; that would be an exaggeration. But we all know that much of pop culture is junk. The proof lies in the endless stream of noise, violence and impurity which is broadcast on local music radio stations, or the hundreds of cable channels which simply multiply the amount of worthless material with which today’s man might entertain himself. (Oh, and about cable channels, I’m convinced that HBO stands for “Hell’s Box Office.” No, I don’t have cable, nor a TV in fact, but as a diocesan priest who invests time with his flock, I continually brush with such things.)

Pop culture is culture like McDonald’s food is food.

Now, imagine a religion you could package up and sell. You can make it appeal to lots of people, like McDonald’s sells French Fries, like pop singers sell their rhythms, like Pepsi sells their pop (for non mid-westers: “pop” is “soda”), and like tabloids sell their gossip. A pretty package, perfectly accommodated for the consumer; tasty, delicious, appealing to the senses, and en vogue. Such a religion is what we can call McChurch.

We have seen some communities, especially our Protestant brothers and sisters, start “coffee house Churches,” “cinema Churches,” “mega Churches,” “non-liturgical Churches.” None of which, of course, makes any sense; yet their (scant) popularity rises from the natural religiosity of persons completely uninformed, misinformed or frankly malformed in the message of Jesus Christ. Let’s dupe the consumer into buying into our religion, and appeal to his senses, to what’s en vogue. Let’s neglect the conversion, themetanoia, demanded by Christ, because it simply doesn’t sell: that’s McChurch.

What qualities does McDonald’s have in common with McChurch? It’s easy, it’s comfortable, it’s cheap. At McDonald’s the customer is always right. But real Christianity, which subsists in the Catholic Church alone, is not like that. It is not easy, it is hard, very hard. It is not comfortable, it is uncomfortable, in fact it is downright crucifying! Is the customer always right? No, the sinner is always wrong, phenomenally guilty, returning sin for redemption, ungrateful beyond all telling… but with hope through the grace of Christ.

McDonald’s wants to sell a product, and so does McChurch. And when the local branch manager (the pastor of a parish) fails to keep sales up, he just might get fired. As the market offers a specific good, service or rent for a price, similarly some clergy provide services for income, instead of for the salvation of souls. The market wants to convince the buyer, even by duping, to pay money for something; McChurch wants to convince the faithful, even by putting on a show empty of all true faith, to pitch money into the collection (or fundraiser, or whatever), but cheating them of true holiness which only Christ can give.

The consumer market it centered on the consumer: if the consumer will pay money for it, the vendor will sell it and make piles of money; and so McChurch will give the faithful whatever they like, whatever pleases them, even if that implies complete alienation from the Gospel. God doesn’t provide us what pleases us, but only that which truly makes one happy, even if that happiness is bought with tears and agony.

McChurch is religion like Lady Gaga is culture.

What is the solution to McChurch? Clearly this: holiness of life. When one finds Christians, Catholics, even clergy who put on the weekly show to the “ooo’s” and “aaaw’s” of the crowds, but live in continual and habitual sin, perhaps even mortal, that’s McChurch, and it will wither and die like a branch separated from the vine.

Yet how often the pastors of the Church will cave in to some perception of popularity to continue selling their product? How much ruthlessness, injustice and failure of basic charity there is when they flounder who are devout, and they who are wicked or proud or greedy or intemperate flourish, all with the blessings or mandate of those whom Christ appointed as pastors. What will such men do when Christ comes in the sky with his angels? Where will they hide?

McChurch is religion you can buy and sell; religion packaged for the market, thriving on popularity. But none of this shares anything in common with Jesus Christ the Lord, for he was slandered, abused, humiliated, violated and crucified… at the hands of the priests and Pharisees who should have been the quickest in perceiving in Him the Messiah.

Down with McChurch, up with true Catholicism!

WDTPRS: Michael O’Brien on “Twilight”: modern man’s futile flight from conscience

Michael O’Brien on “Twilight”: modern man’s futile flight from conscience: "

From a reader:

I think Michael O’Brien’s new piece (12/19/09) on "Twilight" and its popularity is a much better analysis than the one written by Sophie Caldecott. I have both read and written a lot on Twilight and O’Brien’s piece is the most thought provoking, and, I fear, accurate analysis I have read yet.

Here is an interesting segment from O’Brien’s article:

"E. Michael Jones has written that at the root of the phenomenal rise of horror culture [I would add dystopia especially in movies.] is suppressed conscience.

Tracing the pattern from Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein (first published in 1818) through to Ridley Scott’s film Alien (1979) [The only that made me crawl the back of my chair.] and its sequels, Jones argues that the denial of moral law produces metaphorical monsters that arise from the subconscious of creative people and spread into society through their cultural works. The monster in the Alien films, for example, is a ghastly abomination of the feminine, and salvation is possible only through expulsion of the offspring it implants and incubates in humans—a subconscious eruption of internal conflicts (and guilt) over abortion. [!]

As Jones points out:

By following our illicit desires to their logical endpoint in death,
[cf. John Paul II’s discussion of a "culture of death".] we have created a nightmare culture, a horror-movie culture, one in which we are led back again and again to the source of our mysterious fears by forces over which we have no control.

Even though modern man denies the authority of moral conscience, he cannot escape it. He is created in the image and likeness of God, and deep within the natural law of his being the truth continues to speak to him, even as he adamantly denies the existence of God (in the case of atheists) or minimizes divine authority (in the case of nominally religious people, the practical atheists). In order to live with the inner fragmentation, which is the inevitable effect of violated conscience, he is driven to relieve his pain through three diverse ways:

a) He makes open war against conscience and all its moral restraints, and pursues with radical willfulness an aggressive consumption of sensual rewards—generally a plunge into various kinds of addictions and a life of sexual promiscuity;

b) More passively, he simply ignores the inner voice of conscience and distracts himself from it by sensual and emotional rewards—generally the search for love without responsibility and a restless striving for worldly success;

c) He tries to rationalize a self-made form of conscience for himself, based in values such as “tolerance” and “non-dogmatism.” Generally this produces a new kind of perverse moralism, a self-righteousness which is, paradoxically, quite intolerant of genuine righteousness. Its anti-dogmatism is its dogma. Here there is no absolute rejection of morality, but rather a rewriting of it according to subjective feelings.

None of the foregoing coping mechanisms need be conscious. Indeed they tend to be largely subconscious processes through which a person feels that he is finding his personal identity, is living out the principle of freedom, discovering his path in life, and getting from it a portion of happiness. Though he is afflicted from time to time by a sense of the inner void, he presumes that the remedy for these dark moments will be found by increasing the dose of the very drug that is killing him.

The Twilight series, it would appear, follows the third coping mechanism mentioned above in c), the one which appeals to the broadest possible audience."

Grist for the mill.

Post from: WDTPRS

Michael O’Brien on “Twilight”: modern man’s futile flight from conscience


Adoro: Feast of St. John of the Cross and the Dark Night

Feast of St. John of the Cross and the Dark Night: "

Today we celebrated the Feast of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church. His spiritual writings have had a great influence on many souls over the centuries. He is most prominently known for his work, "Ascent to Carmel', from which, tragically, his poem 'Dark Night of the Soul' and accompanying commentary was separated.

Why do I call this separation "tragic"?

A year ago in our Spiritual Theology course, we had the great privilege of being students of not only a solid, faithful Theologian, but one who was also a Secular Carmelite, and one who had studied St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila in great depth.

He explained this tragedy first by pointing out that the "Dark Night" was part of "Ascent to Carmel", was INTENDED by the Saint to be a part of that work, and that logically, publishing it separately removed the entire context of that work. What happens when you remove context?

Imagine what happens when you try to interpret the New Testament without the benefit of the Old Testament. (pause and think for a moment or two.)


So let's talk a little about the tragedy: The Massive Misunderstanding of the "Dark Night".

How many of you have heard people complain that they are experiencing the "Dark Night of the Soul"? They describe their "night" as depression, dryness in prayer, going through many trials, feeling abandoned by God because He doesn't seem to care that they are going through a divorce, suffering in school, suffering some disease, etc.? They are in tears, they don't get any 'feelings' out of Mass or prayer, and coupled with this sense of sadness and depression, they come to the conclusion that they are in the 'Dark Night'.

Does that sound familiar?

The problem is...what they are experiencing ISN'T the Dark Night described by St. John of the Cross.

Most people, even of those we think are the holiest among us, most CONTEMPLATIVES don't ever experience the "Dark Night". And if they did...well...none of us would actually know about it. They certainly wouldn't complain about it. In fact, "complaining" and "The Dark Night" are completely incompatible.

It becomes obvious, especially when one reads the entire Ascent to Carmel that the "Dark Night' belongs to those souls who have worked very hard at prayer, who have suffered for it, who have been faithful and have eradicated both mortal sin and deliberate venial sin from their lives. It is a very high state, spiritually speaking, and one most people never attain.

When one actually considers the actual words of the poem, one can see that the Dark Night is NOT a time of depression or our popularly-defined "feelings of abandonment." Rather, the Dark Night of the Soul is a night that is 'fired with love's urgent longings', it is 'secure', it is 'glad' and illuminated by a light 'more lovely than the dawn!'. It speaks of the intense spiritual wounding of love, where even though there come trials and conflicts and temptations, one is 'abandoned into the arms of the Beloved.' It is a night of

'the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover'

This poem, this theology of St. John of the Cross is about a deep mystical union with Christ. Have you clicked on the link to the poem describing the Dark Night? Is it not one of the most beautiful descriptions of mutual self-sacrifice you have ever read?

NONE of that speaks of depression. The reason it is a "Dark Night" is precisely the same reason one is blinded when going from a place of darkness into, say, a room where one is forced to look directly into the sun. It is the interior closeness with God that so blinds the soul and draws it into perfect abandonment, enduring all things, suffering all things out of a return of sacrificial love to the Beloved.

But But But....What about Aridity? How Come I am not Feeling Anything in Prayer? Isn't that the "Dark Night"?

This is a common misconception. Many people who return to their faith, enter the Church and maybe begin reading some of these mystics have a tendency to conclude that the very moment prayer doesn't "feel good" anymore it must mean they are entering the "Dark Night". And then, through the promptings of Pride, they think they are entering a new level of prayer when really, they are only beginners. Now, understand, these people aren't claiming some massive level of holiness; they are only misunderstanding the meaning of "Dark Night". While there IS a "Dark Night of the Senses", before one gets to the degree written of by St. John of the Cross, there are many little trials of aridity that must come that cannot even TOUCH the level discussed by our beloved Saint.

When you are faced with dryness in prayer (aridity), whether you are a convert, a revert, or a cradle Catholic, know that aridity is normal. It is God's way of withdrawing the breast so that we can learn to eat normal food. We can't be spiritual infants forever, can we? In order to stop depending on the wonderful consolations and feelings of love and affection and awe, God will withdraw the sentiment so that we can take our same actions, even as we seem to "get nothing out of it." This is a test of our character, our will, and above all, our love for God.

Do we love God for who He Is? Or for how He makes us feel?

Everyone goes through these periods of aridity. Quite honestly, I haven't received any massive consolations in YEARS, whereas, when I first returned to my Faith and attended Daily Mass, I LOVED being there, there were many consolations and affirmations, but then, well...they ended. And I faltered. Thankfully at the time I was reading something that helped me to understand that this was normal and the only remedy was to persevere.

Every so often God sends me some sort of little gift during Mass or during prayer, but more often than not, prayer seems like a chore, it is dry, seems meaningless, and even when connections somehow are made, I'm not "blown away". I often question whether I really love God or whether I'm just looking for consolation. What I've learned is that I need to remain faithful to prayer. For now, that is the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours (which should be a foundation, is the Prayer of the Church and makes present the Paschal Mystery), and some time in mental prayer throughout the day.

I have learned that I don't pray because I want something out of it, but because I love God and owe Him, in justice, time to acknowledge His Greatness, time to remember that I am nothing and need to depend on Him for all things, time to recall that of all I have for myself, it is nothing to offer a few moments of my day for His Glory.

Yes, I often fail. I'm not vowed, after all.

There is another consideration, though, in aridity.

Are we choosing deliberate venial sin? Let us assume that we don't regularly choose or fall into mortal sin. In doing our examination of conscience and in going to regular confession, are we recognizing a habit of sin? Of ANY sort? If so, it means we are CHOOSING some pleasure of the flesh or of the world in preference to God, who is all Good and deserves ALL our Love.

If we are dry in prayer and receiving no consolations, can we then properly claim to be in the Dark Night? OF COURSE NOT!

If God is not favoring us with little consolations, instead of crying 'foul!', maybe we need to clean up our lives. Maybe we need to realize we are depressed and anxious through our own grievous fault!

The Dark Night of the Soul - What it IS:

* A place of Joy
* Security
* Abandonment into the arms of the Beloved
* Fired with love's urgent longings
* Illumined by a light more lovely than dawn!
* Belongs only to those who have attained, objectively, a high level of sanctity by cooperating with God's grace and eradicating mortal sin and deliberate venial sin

(This is akin to descriptions of mystical union and even mystical marriage written of by other Saints.)

The Dark Night of the Soul - What it IS NOT:

* Anxiety
* Depression
* Terror
* Living a life of mortal sin
* Living a life of choosing deliberate venial sin
* mere aridity, lack of consolations, not 'feeling' like going to Mass or praying

In fact, the above speaks more of the Vice of Sloth (Acedia, spiritual laziness, Spiritual depression, abhorence of things of God, etc) than it does of anything else. Do NOT confuse the two!

There is, of course, a great deal written on this, and my guess is that I have readers far more versed in Carmelite spirituality than I. I will guarantee you this, though: there's not a single person who HAS or IS experiencing the Dark Night as described by St. John of the Cross who will comment in my combox. Why? Because it is so intimate, so holy, and, in fact, they won't even know THEMSELVES that their state in prayer is at this level. Their spiritual director may know, perhaps people who know them well, but...they'd never actually DISCUSS it.

For the, I haven't. In fact, I'm still in the very first age as described by ALL spiritualities: my main prayer is vocal (rosary, LOH, etc.), I'm still trying to eradicate sin, including some serious sin, from my life, and when I'm faced with aridity, I don't dig in; I run away.

So know here that I condemn none, for I am probably far less advanced than most, if not ALL of you.

St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

WDTPRS: How to save a Catholic school

How to save a Catholic school: "

Something unexpected came from the site of The Catholic Spirit of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

What works: St. Matthew’s School increases enrollment by 30 percent    

By Julie Carroll  

Thursday, 03 December 2009

While most inner-city schools continue to struggle in a difficult economy, one school — St. Matthew’s in St. Paul — has been experiencing unprecedented growth.

Last year, enrollment at the school increased 30 percent. This year, despite the worst recession since World War II, enrollment continues to grow.

What’s the secret? It depends on whom you ask.

Like other urban schools, St. Matthew’s had been losing students at an average of 10 to 15 per year. When the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school’s enrollment dipped down below 140 students, principal Doug Lieser realized he needed to find a way to increase enrollment and financial support if the school was to survive.

The first thing Lieser did was conduct a survey asking parents why they chose St. Matthew’s for their children. Their answers surprised him.

“We have two mobile computer labs, we have a great lunch program, a great curriculum. . . . But that’s not why they’re choosing us,” Lieser said. “The three primary reasons that we found for our families choosing St. Matthew’s were that we were small, we were Catholic, and we provided a safe environment.”

Lieser took that information and designed a marketing campaign around it that included yard signs, newspaper advertisements and word of mouth.

Around the same time, alum Jerry Sexton worked with Lieser and Father Steve Adrian, pastor of St. Matthew’s, to form an Alumni and Friends group. Sexton used his experience in publishing to create a school newsletter for alumni, parents and donors.

‘Communication is key’

While every urban school is unique, one common problem many of them share is poor communication, Sexton said. “Commu­ni­ca­tion is key. . . . You raise money for tuition support and then you publish the fact that you have tuition support money.”

The newsletter is filled with success stories to show how St. Mat­thew’s is making a difference in students’ lives and in the community.

“You love God by loving your neighbor, and that is what we’re about at the school,” Sexton said.

Another reason St. Matthew’s has succeeded in recent years, according to Father Adrian, is its focus on serving families with limited financial means.

“There are just tons of people who never ever thought of a Catholic education because they assume they could never afford it,” he said. “So what we have done is rather successfully gotten the word out that money cannot be the issue, that we will find the money and you’re welcome in the school. And people come.”

Ninety percent of families with children at St. Matthew receive financial aid, Lieser said.

The school is able to provide scholarships through support from the archdiocese; FOCUS, a nonprofit organization Sexton helped found to raise funds for urban Catholic schools; and assistance from other organizations and donors.

Since it was formed in 2007, Alumni and Friends has raised an additional $270,000 for the school, Father Adrian said.

Being a ‘good Samaritan’

To those who might question why St. Matthew parish directs so much of its resources toward education, Father Adrian responds: “What we say to our donors is that the commitment on the part of St. Matthew’s is to seek to be the ‘good Samaritan’ on the banks of the Mississippi River, and part of that mission is the educating of kids.”

He points out that a majority of children attending St. Matthew’s are His­panic.

“We all know that the Catholic population in the United States is growing largely because of Spanish-speaking immigrants, and that it’s not too far down the line when those folks are going to be making up, if not the majority, at least a very significant chunk of what the church is, and it’s out of those folks that the future leadership is going to come,” Father Adrian said.

If we don’t invest in the education of the kids of Latin background today, we’re missing the opportunity to provide new, fresh, well-prepared Catholic leadership a generation from now.

All of St. Matthew’s efforts — the marketing campaign, the newsletter, the Alumni and Friends group, and the focus on mission — have shown impressive results.

In 2007, enrollment at St. Matthew’s was 136. This year, 192 students attend the school, two classes have waiting lists and the retention rate is 95 percent.

“The future of the school is strong,” said Father Adrian. “And it’s growing.”


And their advice?

How Catholic schools can replicate St. Matthew’s success

  • “Be clear about who you are, what your message is,” principal Doug Lieser advises. “In our case, we did it through a survey. Other schools might do that in a different way. But be clear about it and make sure people know it.”
  • “Make it a group effort,” Lieser said. St. Matthew’s owes its success to its pastor, alumni, donors, volunteers and a host of people acting together toward a common goal.
  • “Put together a handful of people who are really committed to turning the school around and who have financial resources,” said Father Steve Adrian, pastor. “Then trust upon the good instincts and the energy of those folks.”
  • “Get the word out as clearly as you can that everyone’s welcome,” he added.
  • “I found that alumni will respond to the raising of dollars when you can say and you can demonstrate that because of their gift you were able to welcome ‘X’ number of new students into the school,” Father Adrian said.
  • Expand your school’s mission to improving the community, Father Adrian added. In addition to educating children, St. Matthew provides a child care center, it’s a St. Mary’s Clinic and Loaves and Fishes site, the rectory is a Catholic Worker House, etc.
  • “Take a look at your communications,” suggested St. Matthew’s alumnus Jerry Sexton. Make sure you’re communicating far and wide the good things that the school does.


Post from: WDTPRS

How to save a Catholic school


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