Tuesday, December 11, 2012

FROM: http://www.rev-know-it-all.com/2012/2012---12-09.html

Today's Question
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Why give money to the Church?
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December 9, 2012

I have just been asked two questions that dovetail, I think, rather nicely. One question asks, “Why give so much money to the church?” The second asks “Why not give more money to the church?” I am afraid that the answers to both questions will be rather whiny. A dear and respected friend of mine told me “Don’t do it. It’s Christmas. Write something uplifting, especially after that horrible article about eating babies. Why must you always be so grim?” I just can’t get the questions out of my mind. I am sure that in the following two articles there will be something to offend nearly everyone. Here goes.

Dear Rev. Know-It-All,

Friends of mine are always criticizing my Catholic faith. Now they are all over me like a tax auditor on a pyramid scheme. They ask me how I can be so generous to a church that misuses money so often. The priests and bishops live in mansions and the pope wears jewels and little red slippers and lives in a palace. What should I tell them?

Ira Banks


Dear Ira,
First let me laugh. The clergy doesn’t live in palaces. We live in our offices, except for those who have bailed. That goes for the pope on down. Some offices are nicer than others, but they are still offices. A priest’s office is usually called a rectory. I live in a rectory. The phone rings night and day and it’s rarely someone calling with good news. The computer on which I am writing is about 8 feet from my bed. The usual greeting when I wander downstairs in the morning is “Mrs. Von der Vogelweide died last night. Would you like some coffee?”

My kitchen is at street level. You have no idea how irritating it is to have the pasta just about al dente when a parishioner comes, looks in the kitchen window and joyfully says, “Oh good, the priest is here and he’s not doing anything.” I turn off the pasta, open the door and in they come to explain how their mother-in-law’s Pekinese is demonically possessed. An hour later I, return to my pasta, cold and mushy, the pasta that is, and eat hurriedly because the Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Motion starts in five minutes.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a priest. I get to say Mass, but to say that I live in a mansion is a hoot! It’s a very nice house in which I have a bedroom and a sitting room in which I never sit. As for the pope’s jeweled miters and red slippers, I imagine he puts them on and wraps himself in an antique cloth of gold cope and gets comfortable on the papal throne to watch Monday night football. This almost never happens.

Do you have any idea what an uncomfortable garment a cope is? Over street clothes one puts on an alb, a stole, a cope, a humeral veil, picks up the monstrance, (which is a display case for the Blessed Sacrament, made out of brass. The gold is not real. It is just gold plating. The “gems” on it are glass.) So there I am resplendent in my “gold and jewels.” I then carry the monstrance around the block in eighty degree heat while the faithful chant with varying degrees of success. Talk about a life of luxury! Even the Renaissance popes and cardinals, some of whom did live scandalous lives, spent the money on some of the greatest art the world has ever known and have created a tourist industry that has benefitted the Italian people ever since.

There are few intuitions that use money as well as the Catholic Church. We maintain hospitals, orphanages, schools, retirement homes, shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, counseling services and all the while we open our doors to the poor and rich alike for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of humanity. We are the largest charitable institution in the world with, arguably, one of the lowest administrative costs of any charity. It’s a real money saver when the CEO lives above the shop. I, like the pope, live in my main place of employment, right next to the factory floor. How many CEO’s do you know who live at the factory?

For twenty years, I was pastor of a parish with a soup kitchen, a school for poor refugee children, a food pantry and a clothing room. I lived upstairs from it all. I will never forget when one of our soup kitchen guests was sitting in my room sleeping off his pre-dinner cocktail. At another point in my ministry, a gang was going through the rectory on weekly basis, looking for what they could steal. Had I come into my room when they were going through the drawers and throwing the contents on the floor, I have no doubt I would have been killed. There was another time when a heroin addict was robbing us daily. So much for life in the mansion.

Every priest I know whether they are in poor or rich parishes have similar stories. We are the lucky ones. The ones who have it rough are those whose lives are in constant danger because of anti-Catholic prejudice. They willingly serve in places guaranteed to shorten their lives. I feel like a slacker because I live in an actual house, looney bin though it may be. I have known a few corrupt priests and a few nuns who had forgotten their vows of poverty, but all in all, the great majority of nuns, deacons, priests and especially bishops I have known are self sacrificing work-aholics who do it for the love of God, Church and humanity. There are burn outs and sinners among us, but even the burn-outs usually burned out because they were trying to do something worth doing.

Let me tell you about my finances. At first glance it seems like a good deal. I get a house, auto and health insurance, a salary, and a generous per diem for food. (We have no cook or house keeper.) Last year the salary paid me by the parish came to a little over $40,000. Not bad. Let’s look a little more closely. I am self employed and must pay the social security tax. I am not an order priest and do not take a vow of poverty. I am responsible for my own finances and I must pay federal and state income tax for which I can claim no dependents. I can’t retire until I’m 70 and then my pension as a priest is about $1,200.00 a month.

 If I live in a rectory, the pension is reduced to $550 a month, so unless I want to live in another office or a cardboard box in my golden years, I must have payroll deductions taken out of my check. When all the dust settles, my take home pay as a pastor last year was $22,750. Money given for Masses, weddings and baptisms all go to the parish unless there is a gift for the priest that is clearly designated as such. That’s not a lot for a someone who has two graduate degrees and 40 years seniority in the company. I am responsible for my own auto expenses, my clothing, medications and all the stuff that comprises life in our times.

In some dioceses of the US priest make more, in some they make less. Priests in the developing world make a whole lot less. Twenty-two or 23 thousand isn’t bad, really. What do I need money for? Actually, the scary thing is retirement. I will need the money for retirement. Just when an old man needs people he knows and loves around him, the priest is compelled to retire. There is a wonderful party, a hearty handclasp and quick goodbye. 

Things were not always this way. Up until 1972, when the young progressives demanded the removal of older pastors from the better parishes, it was expected that a priest would die in the rectory where he had served for most of his life. He may have been an old fossil, but he was everybody’s grandfather. He may have been difficult, but he was yours. That’s gone.

The modern more efficient Church doesn’t want a parish to get stale so they move priests around like deck chairs on a cruise ship. The priest grows old having served in 4 or 5 different churches. He knows a lot of people, but isn’t really close to many of them. No kids no grandkids. He is just old. I remember a cop who told me about going to some 3rd rate retirement home in his paddy wagon to pick up a body bag that had no one to claim it. He unzipped it and there he saw a cold gray face and the Roman collar beneath it. I remember a prestigious old monsignor who had been a seminary rector and who lived in a room in a church basement near the boiler room. He stayed there until the last trip to the hospital. And the old priest’s photo album is a very sad thing. When he dies there are all those pictures of a smiling priest at some sacramental event with people whose names he probably didn’t know. Those whose job it is to go through his things wonder what to do with the pictures. They get put in a box, and thrown away at some later date. The only person to whom they had any meaning has no more need of them. The saying is that there is no one so dead as a dead priest. Remember to pray for the repose of the soul of your priests. You are the only children they have who can do that.

Cheer up. I am not trying to depress you. Really, I’m not. When I was young this is not the way it was. A priest died in his rectory and was mourned by those who knew and loved him. That is gone now. Priests are despised and mistrusted by many if not most. They have no permanent home. There is very little respect given the priest these days. People are constantly mad at priests for the situation of the world, the situation of the Church, the fact that when they called the rectory they got an answering machine, and when they finally got him on the phone, the narrow minded so-and-so wouldn’t do a garden wedding for them next Saturday.

All this means a young man who signs up for the priesthood in these times is one of the most heroic people you are ever going to meet. He may be weak and flawed and even a little odd, but he is not doing it for the perks, the prestige or the pay. He is doing it because he loves Christ and the Church. Somebody like me is always whining, but the truth is, in some ways, things have never been better in the Church.

The young men and women entering religious life, at least the ones I have known, make me want to do it all over again. They sign on for persecution and poverty, a poverty that goes beyond mere deprivation of money and luxuries. It is the poverty of Christ who had nowhere to lay His head. Candidates for the religious life, if they have their eyes open, are looking for only one treasure, the treasure of knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified. All else they count a loss. They are worth supporting in their work. Believe me, they aren’t in it for the money.


Rev. Know-It-All

Sunday, December 02, 2012

"De Caritate Ministranda" - "On the Service of Charity"...

Released by surprise at Roman Noon this Saturday, the following is the Vatican's official English translation of a motu proprio letter of Benedict XVI on the Catholic identity and ecclesial oversight of the church's charitable efforts.

Initially published in Latin by the Holy See, the text is entitled Intima Ecclesiae natura – in English, "The Church's Deepest Nature," with a subhead "De Caritate Ministranda"; that is, "On the Service of Charity"... and in full, here it is:

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"The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia) and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia). These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable" (Deus Caritas Est, 25).

The service of charity is also a constitutive element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being (cf. ibid.); all the faithful have the right and duty to devote themselves personally to living the new commandment that Christ left us (cf. Jn 15:12), and to offering our contemporaries not only material assistance, but also refreshment and care for their souls (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 28). The Church is also called as a whole to the exercise of the diakonia of charity, whether in the small communities of particular Churches or on the level of the universal Church. This requires organization "if it is to be an ordered service to the community" (cf. ibid., 20), an organization which entails a variety of institutional expressions.

With regard to this diakonia of charity, in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est I pointed out that "in conformity with the episcopal structure of the Church, the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, are charged with primary responsibility for carrying out in the particular Churches" the service of charity (No. 32); at the same time, however, I noted that "the Code of Canon Law, in the canons on the ministry of the Bishop, does not expressly mention charity as a specific sector of episcopal activity" (ibid.). Although "the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops explored more specifically the duty of charity as a responsibility incumbent upon the whole Church and upon each Bishop in his Diocese" (ibid.), there was still a need to fill the aforementioned lacuna and to give adequate expression in canonical legislation to both the essential nature of the service of charity in the Church and its constitutive relationship with the episcopal ministry, while outlining the legal aspects of this ecclesial service, especially when carried out in an organized way and with the explicit support of the Bishops.

In view of this, with the present Motu Proprio I intend to provide an organic legislative framework for the better overall ordering of the various organized ecclesial forms of the service of charity, which are closely related to the diaconal nature of the Church and the episcopal ministry.

It is important, however, to keep in mind that "practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ" (ibid., 34). In carrying out their charitable activity, therefore, the various Catholic organizations should not limit themselves merely to collecting and distributing funds, but should show special concern for individuals in need and exercise a valuable educational function within the Christian community, helping people to appreciate the importance of sharing, respect and love in the spirit of the Gospel of Christ. The Church’s charitable activity at all levels must avoid the risk of becoming just another form of organized social assistance (cf. ibid., 31).

The organized charitable initiatives promoted by the faithful in various places differ widely one from the other, and call for appropriate management. In a particular way, the work of Caritas has expanded at the parish, diocesan, national and international levels. Caritas is an institution promoted by the ecclesiastical Hierarchy which has rightly earned the esteem and trust of the faithful and of many other people around the world for its generous and consistent witness of faith and its concrete ability to respond to the needs of the poor. In addition to this broad initiative, officially supported by the Church’s authority, many other initiatives have arisen in different places from the free enterprise of the faithful, who themselves wish to help in various ways to offer a concrete witness of charity towards those in need. While differing in their origin and juridical status, both are expressions of sensitivity and a desire to respond to the same pressing need.

The Church as an institution is not extraneous to those organized initiatives which represent a free expression of the concern of the baptized for individuals and peoples in need. The Church’s Pastors should always welcome these initiatives as a sign of the sharing of all the faithful in the mission of the Church; they should respect the specific characteristics and administrative autonomy which these initiatives enjoy, in accordance with their nature, as a manifestation of the freedom of the baptized.

Alongside these, the Church’s authority has, on its own initiative, promoted specific agencies which provide institutionally for allocating donations made by the faithful, following suitable legal and administrative methods which allow for a more effective response to concrete needs.

Nevertheless, to the extent that such activities are promoted by the Hierarchy itself, or are explicitly supported by the authority of the Church’s Pastors, there is a need to ensure that they are managed in conformity with the demands of the Church’s teaching and the intentions of the faithful, and that they likewise respect the legitimate norms laid down by civil authorities. In view of these requirements, it became necessary to establish in the Church’s law certain essential norms inspired by the general criteria of canonical discipline, which would make explicit in this sector of activity the legal responsibilities assumed by the various subjects involved, specifying in particular the position of authority and coordination belonging to the diocesan Bishop. At the same time, the norms in question need to be broad enough to embrace the significant diversity of the institutions of Catholic inspiration which are engaged as such in this sector, whether those originating from the Hierarchy or those born of the direct initiative of the faithful, received and encouraged by the local Pastors. While it was necessary to lay down norms in this regard, there was also a need to consider the requirements of justice and the responsibility of Bishops before the faithful, with respect for the legitimate autonomy of each institution.

Dispositive Part

Consequently, upon the proposal of the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and after consultation with the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, I establish and decree the following.....

Art. 1.
§ 1. The faithful have the right to join in associations and to establish agencies to carry out specific charitable services, especially on behalf of the poor and suffering. To the extent that these are linked to the charitable service of the Church’s Pastors and/or intend to use for this purpose contributions made by the faithful, they must submit their own Statutes for the approval of the competent ecclesiastical authority and comply with the following norms.

§ 2. Similarly, it is also the right of the faithful to establish foundations to fund concrete charitable initiatives, in accordance with the norms of canons 1303 of the Code of Canon Law (CIC) and 1047 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO). If foundations of this type correspond to the characteristics set forth in § 1, they will also observe, congrua congruis referendo, the provisions of the present law.

§ 3. In addition to observing the canonical legislation, the collective charitable initiatives to which this Motu Proprio refers are required to follow Catholic principles in their activity and they may not accept commitments which could in any way affect the observance of those principles.

§ 4. Agencies and foundations for charitable purposes promoted by Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life are required to comply with these norms, and they must follow the prescriptions of canons 312 § 2 CIC and 575 § 2 CCEO.

Art. 2.
§ 1. The Statutes of each charitable agency referred to in the preceding article must also contain, in addition to its institutional offices and structures of governance in accordance with canon 95 § 1 CIC, the guiding principles and objectives of the initiative, the management of funds, the profile of its workers, as well as the reports and information which must be presented to the competent ecclesiastical authority.

§ 2. A charitable agency may use the name "Catholic" only with the written consent of the competent authority, as laid down by canon 300 CIC.

§ 3. Agencies promoted by the faithful for charitable purposes can have an Ecclesiastical Assistant appointed in accordance with the Statutes, according to the norm of canons 324 § 2 and 317 CIC.

§ 4. At the same time, the ecclesiastical authority must bear in mind its duty to regulate the exercise of the rights of the faithful in accordance with canons 223 § 2 CIC and 26 § 3 CCEO, and thus to avoid the proliferation of charitable initiatives to the detriment of their activity and effectiveness with regard to their stated goals.

Art. 3.
§ 1. With regard to the preceding articles, it is understood that the competent authority at the respective levels is that indicated by canons 312 CIC and 575 CCEO.

§ 2. For agencies not approved at the national level, even though they operate in different Dioceses, the competent authority is understood to be the diocesan Bishop of the place where the agency has its principal office. In any event, the agency has the duty to inform the Bishops of other Dioceses where it operates and to respect the guidelines for the activities of the various charitable agencies present in those Dioceses.

Art. 4.
§ 1. The diocesan Bishop (cf. canon 134 § 3 CIC and canon 987 CCEO) exercises his proper pastoral solicitude for the service of charity in the particular Church entrusted to him as its Pastor, guide and the one primarily responsible for that service.

§ 2. The diocesan Bishop encourages and supports the initiatives and works of service to neighbour in his particular Church, and encourages in the faithful the spirit of practical charity as an expression of the Christian life and sharing in the mission of the Church, as indicated in canons 215 and 222 CIC and 25 and 18 CCEO.

§ 3. It is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop to ensure that in the activities and management of these agencies the norms of the Church’s universal and particular law are respected, as well as the intentions of the faithful who made donations or bequests for these specific purposes (cf. canons 1300 CIC and 1044 CCEO).

Art. 5.
The diocesan Bishop is to ensure that the Church enjoys the right to carry out charitable activities, and he is to take care that the faithful and the institutions under his supervision comply with the legitimate civil legislation in this area.

Art. 6.
It is the responsibility of the diocesan Bishop, as indicated by canons 394 § 1 CIC and 203 § 1 CCEO, to coordinate within his territory the different works of charitable service, both those promoted by the Hierarchy itself and those arising from initiatives of the faithful, without prejudice to their proper autonomy in accordance with their respective Statutes. In particular, he is to take care that their activities keep alive the spirit of the Gospel.

Art. 7.
§ 1. The agencies referred to in Article 1 § 1 are required to select their personnel from among persons who share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity of these works.

§ 2. To ensure an evangelical witness in the service of charity, the diocesan Bishop is to take care that those who work in the Church’s charitable apostolate, along with due professional competence, give an example of Christian life and witness to a formation of heart which testifies to a faith working through charity. To this end, he is also to provide for their theological and pastoral formation, through specific curricula agreed upon by the officers of various agencies and through suitable aids to the spiritual life.

Art. 8.
Wherever necessary, due to the number and variety of initiatives, the diocesan Bishop is to establish in the Church entrusted to his care an Office to direct and coordinate the service of charity in his name.

Art. 9.
§ 1. The Bishop is to encourage in every parish of his territory the creation of a local Caritas service or a similar body, which will also promote in the whole community educational activities aimed at fostering a spirit of sharing and authentic charity. When appropriate, this service is to be established jointly by various parishes in the same territory.

§ 2. It is the responsibility of the Bishop and the respective parish priest to ensure that together with Caritas, other charitable initiatives can coexist and develop within the parish under the general coordination of the parish priest, taking into account, however, the prescriptions of Article 2 § 4 above.

§ 3. It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop and the respective parish priests to see that in this area the faithful are not led into error or misunderstanding; hence they are to prevent publicity being given through parish or diocesan structures to initiatives which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Church’s teaching.

Art. 10.
§ 1. It is the responsibility of the Bishop to supervise the ecclesiastical goods of the charitable agencies subject to his authority.

§ 2. It is the duty of the diocesan Bishop to ensure that the proceeds of collections made in accordance with canons 1265 and 1266 CIC and canons 1014 and 1015 CCEO are used for their stated purposes [cf. canons 1267 CIC, 1016 CCEO].

§ 3. In particular, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that charitable agencies dependent upon him do not receive financial support from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to Church’s teaching. Similarly, lest scandal be given to the faithful, the diocesan Bishop is to ensure that these charitable agencies do not accept contributions for initiatives whose ends, or the means used to pursue them, are not in conformity with the Church’s teaching.

§ 4. In a particular way, the Bishop is to see that the management of initiatives dependent on him offers a testimony of Christian simplicity of life. To this end, he will ensure that salaries and operational expenses, while respecting the demands of justice and a necessary level of professionalism, are in due proportion to analogous expenses of his diocesan Curia.

§ 5. To permit the ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Article 3 § 1 to exercise its duty of supervision, the agencies mentioned in Article 1 § 1, are required to submit to the competent Ordinary an annual financial report in a way which he himself will indicate.

Art. 11.
The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name "Catholic" and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge.

Art. 12.
§ 1. The diocesan Bishop is to encourage the national and international activity of the charitable agencies under his care, especially cooperation with poorer ecclesiastical circumscriptions by analogy with the prescriptions of canons 1274 § 3 CIC and 1021 § 3 CCEO.

§ 2. Pastoral concern for charitable works, depending on circumstances of time and place, can be carried out jointly by various neighbouring Bishops with regard to a number of Churches, in accordance with the norm of law. When such joint activity is international in character, the competent Dicastery of the Holy See is to be consulted in advance. For charitable initiatives on the national level, it is fitting that the Bishop consult the respective office of the Bishops’ Conference.

Art. 13.
The local ecclesiastical authority retains the full right to give permission for initiatives undertaken by Catholic agencies in areas of his jurisdiction, with due respect for canonical norms and the specific identity of the individual agencies. It is also the duty of the Bishop to ensure that the activities carried out in his Diocese are conducted in conformity with ecclesiastical discipline, either prohibiting them or adopting any measures needed in cases where that discipline is not respected.

Art. 14.
Where appropriate, the Bishop is to promote charitable initiatives in cooperation with other Churches or Ecclesial Communities, respecting the proper identity of each.

Art. 15.
§ 1. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum has the task of promoting the application of this legislation and ensuring that it is applied at all levels, without prejudice to the competence of the Pontifical Council for the Laity with regard to associations of the faithful as provided for in Article 133 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, the competence of the Secretariat of State’s Section for Relations with States, and the general competences of other Dicasteries and Institutes of the Roman Curia. In particular, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum is to take care that the charitable service of Catholic institutions at the international level is always to be carried out in communion with the various local Churches.

§ 2. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum is also competent for the canonical establishment of charitable agencies at the international level; it thus takes on the responsibilities of discipline and promotion entailed by law.

I order that everything I have laid down in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be fully observed, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of particular mention, and I decree that it be promulgated by publication in the daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and enter into force on 10 December 2012.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 11 November, in the year 2012, the eighth of my Pontificate.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christine completely echoes my sentiments


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Isaiah, Chapter One

For anyone who is deeply disappointed in the results of the presidential election, please read Isaiah, Chapter One.  I had never read this book, let alone the first chapter.  I was sitting at House of Java this morning studying my second chapter of readings for Pillars of Catholicism being offered by John Paul the Great University in San Diego, CA.  Once I finished, I opened my Bible.  I fanned through the pages asking for guidance to be led to just what I needed in that moment. 
Here is what I found
Painting of The Prophet Isaiah by Raphael

Holy Father's Message To Our Re-Elected President


Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Letter to a friend

Dear Friend,
It's very hard to love your church and find yourself unable to reconcile the behavior of its representatives. It is an incontestable truism that we hold our priests to a higher standard and when they fail (in this case perhaps epically), the sense of abandonment must be monumental.
I remember when I first returned to the church over 25 years ago, I had an idealist's view of what I could expect of Catholic behavior. I was disabused of the notion of  that mythical creature after I enrolled my kids in Catholic school. Take one part small school population; add one part privileged vs. the have nots; mix with insider legacy mentality; and simmer until you have a noxious mess.
Yes, that is how I felt after a while. A lot of what I was feeling was a sense of exclusion and a feeling that somehow I had gotten it wrong; that my expectations were set too high. In reality, I was depending too much on relationships with others and not enough on my relationship with God. I felt if I didn't fit in, than my kids didn't fit. Well, I didn't so they didn't and the principal was a real disappointment in problem solving between the haves and have nots. Solution? I took the kids out of the situation and therefore, myself as well. It was the best decision I ever made.
Funny how perspective and hindsight show one how unimportant these things are. Hindsight also shows us missed opportunities. It took me a while but I'm now seriously studying the Faith; not the Faith as it's lived daily. It can get pretty polluted with day to day influences from commerce, politics, media, distortion of the arts, etc. But the Faith as it was given to us by scripture and tradition and its completeness and compatibility with the ideal of what we can achieve as individuals and as a species.
I guess what I'm trying to say, dear friend, is that perhaps there is an opportunity here. Your work environment was a satisfying one for many years. Now it has changed and you've been disappointed by the people whom you expect to have the extra something that comes from hearing the Call and answering it. Unfortunately, they come with all the same insecurities and failings we humans all deal with and your new boss isn't managing things very well.
I'm thinking that rather than struggle with how their behavior reflects on the church and your faith in the church, perhaps it's time for you to reflect on how you react to this challenge. And you are definitely being challenged. I think there is a door opening for you here. You have made contacts. You know people. What you do can be done elsewhere???? With another agency????
Or perhaps this is the time for you to go inward, study and reconnect with relationships without the job in your way. It's interesting how retirement opens you up to a world of possibilities that work blinds you to.
Our priests are supposed to be the stewards of the Gospel. If they fail, it doesn't mean that God failed. There is no darkness that God's word cannot overcome. I have to remind myself that persecution of the Church comes from within and without. The persecution from within is a lot harder to deal with because it comes from a direction we don't expect. So pray, friend. And pray to His Mother. Ask them what they want of you. Persevere. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
All my best,

Today in Cardinal Dolan's Blog

Double Standard

Last week, the New York Times published a column and an editorial about an incident at Saint Catherine of Siena parish. In response, Father Ray Rafferty, pastor of Corpus Christi parish, wrote a letter to the editor of the Times. As of today, the letter has not been published, and he has heard nothing from the Times. With Father Rafferty’s permission, I’d like to share the letter with you. Here it is, verbatim.

To The Editor:

I agree that it was wrong of the clergyman at St. Catherine of Siena Church to print a seeming endorsement in the parish bulletin.

However, for many years, every Monday in the weeks leading up to the elections, THE NEW YORK TIMES frequently contains an article about a political candidate who is welcomed and who speaks at the Sunday worship service of Protestant churches, often ones that have large African-American congregations.

I have never seen your paper denounce this. Usually the article and photos are laudatory. Is it not using a double standard to denounce this one incident in a Catholic church and not denounce similar actions in non-Catholic churches that operate under the same tax law?

Raymond M. Rafferty
Pastor, Corpus Christi Church

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Plague on Man

Religious hate is a disease. Muslim fanaticism has lead to destruction and murder throughout the Muslim world. The crazy Baptist preacher (in Florida these days???) spews his hate and provokes others and stirs their fear into hate. Now we have the Nepalese protesting and demanding the safety of an artist who has received death threats over his depiction of Hindu deities. Religious hate is no different from a plague. One kills the body. The other kills the soul.

A Nepalese artist appears with his face painted in
protest outside Katmandu, Nepal, on Thursday.
The protesters demanded safety for Nepalese artist
Manish Harijan, who has received death threats over
his depiction of Hindu deities.
(© Niranjan Shrestha/AP)

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A final thought on the DNC Benediction

I recorded the last three hours of the DNC convention so that I wouldn't miss Cardinal Dolan. I was impressed by his simple and prayerful Benediction at the RNC convention. I had mixed feelings about him doing the same at the DNC. I struggled with the idea and came to the the realization (again) that we are here for all and there were many hearts there willing to hear and many more who NEEDED to hear
As I fast-forwarded two hours and 55 minutes, I felt like I was speeding towards an even bigger revelation. And there it was. Power. Voice of authority. Clarity of message. The man doing what he was born to do - be used as a clearly understood conduit of God message to us all.

Thank you, God, for your son, Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A simple Facebook comment grew into this.

I POSTED THIS ON FACEBOOK TODAY - The word "God" is back in the DNC platform. And the affirmation of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is back in. It caused a way bigger dust up at the convention, more than the DNC expected. Jewish votes and religious black voters were being chiseled away by this action. There was an immediate backlash. Bad management is alive and well at the convention in North Carolina.

JOHN'S Reply: It is silly to put so much emphasis on a word being printed or said. Putting the word God into a speech or printing it on a dollar bill does not make us a Godly nation, only our actions can do that and as a nation both parties are dropping the ball as far as honesty and compassion go.......God would rather not have his name on a dollar and have everyone follow his word.

MY Reply: Removing the name of God won't cause a crisis of faith in believers. Removal is symptomatic of the humanistic secular road our country is on. The farther down that road we go, the farther away we are from the completeness of truth. Secularism tells us what we can do and those permissions (from man) are subject to change based on who is making the decisions and dispensing permission. Basing our rights on God's gift of truth to us is steadfast. Those permissions will never be taken from us because God gave these truths freely to all humanity whether they believe or not.

JOHN'S Reply: It just seems that in an equal society where every citizen has the same rights many Christians do not want to give equal rights to those who are not Christian. I see more political oppression done in this country "in God's name" than in any others. Hindu's do not protest for Kali or Shiva to be on the dollar, I see no one asking for Buddha or the Dali Llama on a coin.

Christians seem to always cry victim when someone wants to separate church and state but when another groups rights come into play that differs then we can deny them rights because "it is God's word".

MY Reply: John, I'm not talking about equality. I'm talking about the discernible difference between a free society based on religious beliefs and a secular society. One has the freedom to be as it will; the other is permitted its freedoms only at the will of whoever has the power. Secular societies do not last.

Christianity does not teach or promote the suppression of other religions. There is absolutely nothing is scripture or tradition that promotes it. Anyone can believe as they will and when Christianity is truly suppressed here, it will only be a matter of time before other religions are targeted. Take down the Catholic Church and you are half way home. The history of the Church in this country shows that it takes a lot to get the Church's back up. Now we are standing up against the HHS mandates and attacks on Christianity here and we are standing for everyone, not just Christians.

Atheists are attacking every public cross they see. Ask yourself this. How long will it take for them to go after the presence of menorahs or any other publically displayed religious symbol once they are ready to move on from crosses?  The effort to exclude the mention of God at military funerals was an actual action. When did military cemeteries lose their status as hallowed ground? Fortunately, that didn't succeed but that doesn't mean they won't try again. There is always another time.

And since we are on the subject of crying victims, let's talk about the Muslim persecution of Christians everywhere; India where the Hindus and Muslims hated each other so much India became India and Pakistan; the Sudan where the power was in the Muslim north and they destroyed their country in an effort to eradicate the Christian south.

There is plenty of blame to go around for every religious group but the fact is when you take God out of the equation in any society, you are sounding the death knell of that society.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Acknowledging and Embracing the New Counterculture

G. K. Chesterton and John Paul the Great Catholic University are keeping me pretty busy. I'm following a study course on G. K. Chesterton (as noted in previous posts) but along with that I've started an 11 week course on the basics of the Catholic Faith.

Being a cradle Catholic who took a long break and then returned home, I did all the usual things you do when you are raising your kids in the Faith but after they were launched and in the world there wasn't as much learning going on - you know - the nitty gritty stuff; the who, what, when, where, and how of it all. Oh, I knew quite a lot but something seemed missing, how to express that deeper understanding, the sources of understanding.

Discovering this study program through JP the Great U. came at a time when I was really searching, asking, and praying from direction and understanding. Going back to school was no option; online learning wasn't an option. Too much of life now is fluid and refuses to be committed to timelines and deadlines and structure. I wasn't interested in starting a program and finishing it with the idea of having something to show for it for any larger purpose than what it could do for me. And, by extension, what that knowledge could provide to me to share with others.

In addition, I am seeking a balance. Day to day life is accompanied by a constant din of hollow values; values without spirit; values missing the element of God as the source - the idea that something is bigger at work, making it all happen. Humanism and aethism have a strong grip on our society; mainline Protestant churches aren't growing; big box churches are. Big box churches, lead by a charismatic leader, are only as secure as the person at the center of it all and since that person is not Christ, are very fragile.

Split upon split happens. Leaders and their faithful followers come and go. Disappointment and searching is compounded by more of the same. Even among Catholics, the following of one popular priest from parish to parish is in evidence. This sort of splitting off is as weakening upon faith and community as the split of a big box church. I've seen it happen.

The past year has revealed to me a surprising realization from my internal musings. I've become countercultural. Me, a teen/young adult of the 60's/70's, missed it the first time it came around in my life. Age and wisdom has taught me that I didn't miss a lot. The Woodstock Generation was a messy one. But now another countercultural wave has come around and I've determined that there is a lot I will not comply with. As Chesterton said in "The Everlasting Man"

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.”

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Rural Mission in the service of teen moms and single mothers

Over the years, I have had the privilege of organizing book drives for the establishment of a Cook Islands library and a winter clothing drive for the children of Afghanistan in the province of Ghor. Each time I did this, I was more successful than I could have hoped and all because of the generosity of people like you. But as much as I loved doing this work, a little voice whispered to find something closer to home. It took a while but finally, I have found that place.
Dr. Darlene is a religious of the Glenmary Sisters - Home Mission Sisters of America. Don and I adopted her several years ago and support her mission work in one of the poorest counties in the state of Missouri, Pemiscott County. Our original attraction, when we learned of Sister Darlene, was based on the fact that the work was centered out of Caruthersville, MO where Don grew up.

As time went by, we were continually impressed with how much Sr. Darlene accomplished with so little at hand. She works with food banks, assistance to the needy for utility payments, after school programs for children, and teaching youngster who are studying for their GEDs.

Every summer she also supervises groups of young people who come from various urban area high schools to offer their services for two weeks of mission work. While there, these young people clean homes, yards, repair buildings and residences and work with young children.

Sr. Darlene truly is charity and love in action and it is her most recent work that has caught my attention. Here, in her own words is the newest ministry she has undertaken.

I am so excited to share with you about a new ministry we will be beginning here in the county. As you know, we have a high teenage pregnancy rate and many single mothers. I have been praying about a way to reach out to these expectant moms and their children. I have found a place in nearby Hayti, MO and plan to open an outreach center/thrift store that will offer maternity clothes, toddler clothing up to size 6, and baby supplies. It will provide a way to get to know these young moms and many opportunities to minister to them I cannot wait to see how God unfolds this new adventure!

My purpose and what I am asking of you is assistance in starting up the stocking of the store. One of the things they really need are maternity clothes.

For children who are in school, there is a dress code as the schools have the students in uniforms - the need is: Khaki or black pants and Red, White, or Blue polo shirts.

For babies we need Bibs, Diapers, T-Shirts, Onesies, Plastic Pants, Booties, Socks, Blankets, Sleepers, Rattle, Baby Wipes, Baby Lotion, Baby Shampoo, Baby Powder.

For this first step in my contact process, I would like to hear back from each you. Donations can be made in several ways however I'm still gathering up the mailing information for direct donations so for the time being, as I have done in the past, I am happy to receive donations of clothing or gift cards (there is a Walmart in the area). I will box up the donations and send them to Sr. Darlene.

In the next couple of days, though, I will have a physical address for USPS and UPS mail service so that you can mail items directly to Sr. Darlene if you like.

I look forward to hearing from you. God is good and through His servants, we can serve Him.

God Bless you,

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day

Chick-fil-A lines out the door, done the road, across the country.

 Government vs. Private views. 0 - home run.

 Tolerance sledge hammer vs. the truly tolerant 0 - home run.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Stockton, CA Diocese - Bishop Blair

Bishop Blair at Our Lady of the Assumption Basilica closing YATOL Mass

YATOL stands for Young Adult Teams of Our Lady.

2012 International meeting as held on the CSU Stanislaus campus in Turlock, CA. This is the home of YATOL in America.  My daughter was at this meeting and met young adults for France, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Canada, and Lebanon.  YATOL also meets in Mozambique, Cameroon, Haiti, Syria,

The 2014 international meeting will be in Portugal, birthplace of YATOL.  She is saving for it now.

Thoughts on Tolerance

Genuine tolerance sometimes requires you to grit your teeth. If you are baring your teeth instead, trust me, you are doing it wrong.


and another add now in follow-up


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Redefining Lively

New San Francisco archbishop a strong opponent of same-sex marriage

Things have always been lively in San Francisco.  I'm guessing that lively is going to be redefined.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cardinal Dolan on Cultivating Freedom

By Donald DeMarco, Ph.D.

As any horticulturalist knows, you cannot cultivate roses merely by plucking weeds and killing aphids. One must plant rose seeds. No matter how hospitable the garden is for the cultivation of roses, if there are no seeds, there will be no roses. Negative horticulture is, in itself, unproductive.

This simple, incontrovertible notion has direct applicability to human beings and their desire for freedom. No amount of negative freedom, removing barriers that would inhibit the cultivation of freedom, will ensure the cultivation of positive human freedom. This latter freedom must grow from an interior seed which is the human will.

What do we mean by ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ freedom? The modern world has expended considerable effort in its attempt to clear away various barriers that appear to be obstacles to freedom. The Enlightenment sought to free reason from faith, believing that faith is an obstacle to freedom. The Marxists, also enemies of faith, were further committed to liberating man from the oppression of the ruling class. Freud wanted to free man from his restricting inhibitions, Darwin from the illusion that man was unique among animals. Friedrich Nietzsche was passionately dedicated to ridding the world of a non-existent god whose specter prevented man from becoming truly himself. None of these attempts to enlarge human freedom, however, all being negative, contributed one iota to the cultivation of positive freedom which is indispensable for the proper fulfillment and flourishing of the human person.

The distinguished theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar made the observation that “human beings only become truly human when they have chosen and actuated themselves in freedom; when the ‘nature’ in them has been totally and freely appropriated and responsibly worked through.” No one can choose freedom for us. Freedom must be willed from the inside in order for its seed to germinate. Yet, the modern apostles of negative freedom continue to have their appeal since they promise to deliver an automatic freedom, one that can be attained without personal effort.

The notion of “freedom fifty-five,” therefore, has become a popular idea because it represents the anticipated enjoyment of freedom simply because one has been emancipated from the work force at 55 years of age. Modern emancipatory movements will continue to have more influence than is justified as long as people neglect the more important freedom that requires effort and discipline, along with a realistic sense of one’s self and one’s place in the world.

The issue of freedom is being hotly contested at present in American society. In order to shed some valuable light on the issue, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has produced an eBook entitled, True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty. Central to the book’s thesis is the argument that there can be no freedom without recognition of the positive value of human dignity. The Cardinal refers to a number of examples that indicate a “rampant disregard” for human dignity: the approval of embryonic research, the torture of prisoners, abortion, the dismissal of the meaning of marriage, and the federal contraception mandate. “We can see,” writes the Cardinal, “that there is a loss of a sense of truth and objective moral norms—rules of conduct that apply always, to everyone.” Instead of grounding morality in the Natural Law, which is valid and liberating for all people, society has substituted “pragmatism, utilitarianism, and consumerism,” all of which have no higher goal than the satisfaction of individual preferences.

Human dignity is an essential value. It cannot be disregarded. Indeed, justice demands that the human person be accorded his appropriate freedom. Human dignity is a moral value. Laws that violate human dignity are not just. Citing Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Dolan points out that the separation of law from morality “fails to recognize the full breadth of human nature, and in fact both diminishes man and threatens humanity.” Cardinal Dolan is indicating that laws that violate human dignity, no matter how much they appear to make people free (the freedom to be relieved of an unwanted pregnancy through abortion, for example), contribute to the Culture of Death.

If negative freedom continues unchecked, there comes a point when there is nothing left to remove. Removing every factor that appears to be a restriction on freedom–the Natural Law, faith, inconvenience, any reference to God, and unwanted human life–does not allow the person to flourish, it suffocates him. Roses will not grow, as we mentioned at the outset, by plucking weeds and killing aphids. But here, the negative horticulture is at least opposing the enemies of roses. We are not talking about their benefactors: water, soil, and sunlight. In our present situation in America, what is at risk is actually beneficial to the flourishing of the human being – the positive freedom that is concomitant with human dignity.

People would be gravely mistaken if they viewed the Cardinal’s eBook as exclusively Catholic: He is addressing all human beings and underscoring the essential importance of their human dignity. He is appealing to the interior core of the human person, that capacity to choose the positive freedom that allows him to flourish precisely as a person. It is a journey worth undertaking. As G. K. Chesterton once said, “If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?”

Donald DeMarco, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of Human Life International (HLI). He is Professor Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He writes for HLI’s Truth and Charity Forum.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Holy Cow. What an awesome mom!!

Brad Pitt’s mom slams Obama on abortion | LifeSiteNews.com

Great story and a surprising one.  There must be some interesting and spirited conversations when the Pitt/Jolie clan gets together. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

What I Believe

I have no objection to individual choice. I would never deny anyone that right. Individual choice is just that - individual - and it's one of the cornerstone foundations of our country.
But giving everyone a choice isn't what President Obama is doing. He is mandating that religious institutions participate in coverage that they have not offered up to this time. This puts all religions in direct conflict with the mandate. Many religious institutions will roll with it because they already are anyway. But many more, whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, would and will resist this. That is why the Church has instituted A Fortnight for Freedom.

The Church has also told its members to be prepared for active civil disobedience. Ghandi defeated the British Empire, the Civil Rights Movement blew the doors of equality wide open, and civil disobedience against the Viet Nam War ended the war and drove a President to not run for a second term. All this has happened in my lifetime (though I don't recall Ghandi in any meaningful, I-was-there, sort of way). I appreciate the willingness of some of my more liberal friends to talk about this in a dispassionate way.  I have more in common with people I like than anything that might be construed as differences.

I have learned over time that people often agree on a goal but disagree on how best to get there. So, for me, it really doesn't matter what side of the political fence a person lands on as long as there is respect. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Soros will learn that money doesn't always succeed in buying victory.


And so it goes

We said this would happen.  They said it wouldn't.  And here we are.  Fortnight for Freedom got here just in time.

‘Get in line’ or ‘resign’ Admiral tells military chaplain | LifeSiteNews.com

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Journey Home

This is my last post for the Patheos Atheist Portal

I could see where they were coming from, but I stayed put. I was ready to admit that there were parts of Christianity and Catholicism that seemed like a pretty good match for the bits of my moral system that I was most sure of, while meanwhile my own philosophy was pretty kludged together and not particularly satisfactory. But I couldn’t pick consistency over my construction project as long as I didn’t believe it was true.

While I kept working, I tried to keep my eyes open for ways I could test which world I was in, but a lot of the evidence for Christianity was only compelling to me if I at least presupposed Deism.

 Meanwhile, on the other side, I kept running into moral philosophers who seemed really helpful, until I discovered that their study of virtue ethics has led them to take a tumble into the Tiber. (I’m looking at you, MacIntyre!).

Then, the night before Palm Sunday (I have excellent liturgical timing), I was up at my alma mater for an alumni debate. I had another round of translating a lot of principles out of Catholic in order to use them in my speech, which prompted the now traditional heckling from my friends. After the debate, I buttonholed a Christian friend for another argument. During the discussion, he prodded me on where I thought moral law came from in my metaphysics. I talked about morality as though it were some kind of Platonic form, remote from the plane that humans existed on. He wanted to know where the connection was.

I could hypothesize how a Forms-material world link would work in the case of mathematics (a little long and off topic for this post, but pretty much the canonical idea of recognizing Two-ness as the quality that’s shared by two chairs and two houses, etc. Once you get the natural numbers, the rest of mathematics is in your grasp). But I didn’t have an analogue for how humans got bootstrap up to get even a partial understanding of objective moral law.

I’ve heard some explanations that try to bake morality into the natural world by reaching for evolutionary psychology. They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else. Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both. I didn’t think the answer was there. My friend pressed me to stop beating up on other people’s explanations and offer one of my own.

“I don’t know,” I said. ”I’ve got bupkis.”

“Your best guess.”

“I haven’t got one.”

“You must have some idea.”

“I don’t know. I’ve got nothing. I guess Morality just loves me or something.”

“Ok, ok, yes, I heard what I just said. Give me a second and let me decide if I believe it.”

It turns out I did.

I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth. And there was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth. I asked my friend what he suggest we do now, and we prayed the night office of the Liturgy of the Hours together (I’ve kept up with that since). Then I suggested hugs and playing Mumford and Sons really, really loudly.

After I changed my mind, I decided to take a little time to make sure I really believed what I thought I believed, before telling my friends, family, and, now, all of you. That left me with the question of what to do about my atheism blog. My solution was to just not write anything I disagreed with. Enough of my friends had accused me of writing in a crypto-Catholic style that I figured no one would notice if I were actually crypto-Catholic for a month and a half (i.e. everything from “Upon this ROC…” on) . That means you already have a bit of a preview of what has and hasn’t changed. I’m still confused about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, I still need to do a lot of work to accept gifts graciously, and I still love steam engines.

Starting tomorrow, this blog is moving to the the Patheos Catholic channel (the url and RSS will remain unchanged). Meanwhile, I’m in RCIA classes at a DC parish, so you can look forward to more Parsing Catholicism tags (and after the discussion of universalism we had last week, I think it will be prudent to add a “Possibly Heretical” category).

This post isn’t the final word on my conversion. I’m sure there’s a lot more explaining and arguing to do, so be a little charitable in your read of this post and try to give me a little time to expand my ideas over the next few weeks. (Based on my in-person arguments to date, it seems like most of my atheist friends disagree two or three steps back from my deciding Morality is actually God. They usually diverge back around the bit where I assert morality, like math, is objective and independent of humans. As one of my friends said, “Well, I guess if I were a weird quasi-Platonist virtue ethicist, this would probably convince me”).

And how am I doing? Well, I’m baking now (cracking eggs is pretty much the least gnostic thing I can do, since it’s so, so disgusting to touch, and putting effort into food as more than the ransom my body demands for continued function is the second least gnostic). I’ve been using the Liturgy of the Hours and St. Patrick’s Breastplate for most of my prayer attempts. and, over all, I feel a bit like Valentine in this speech from Arcadia.

It makes me so happy… A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.