Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hand on what you have received

Above you see a hand, a glove, and a glove turned inside out.

This can be thought of as a metaphor. The hand is the revealed Truth handed down from the Apostles. The glove is how we see it and experience it. The person out side the faith looks at the exterior of the glove, which is admittedly prettier. The faithful live in contact with the truth, which is a bit coarser, but they are warmed by the divine fire of the Holy Spirit.

The glove inside, and the glove outside may also be though of as the correct understanding of revealed truth pre Vatican II, and post Vatican II. There is only one body of revealed truth, although for reasons we do not know, another perspective than that which went before has been articulated; but Truth remains Truth; Benedict XVI's hermeneutic of reform admits of only one glove.

so who's the guy below? He's the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Provinicial and Promoter for the Laity

The Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter is pleased to welcome the new Prior Provincial of the Province of the Holy Name of Jesus, Fr. Emmerich Vogt OP,

and the new Promoter for the Dominican Laity, Fr. Vincent Serpa, OP

we extend our thanks to Fr. Roberto Corral, OP for his service as Prior Provincial, and our special gratitude and thanks to Fr. George Matanic, OP, for his service as Promoter of the Laity, and under whom this chapter has grown from it's inception nearly ten years ago. Our thanks to all the Friars who have given so much; may our Gracious Lord Jesus unite them to His Sacred Heart through Mary and St. Dominic.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Prophets, or simply annoying?

There is this strange phenomenon, whereby those who are fond of taking liberties with liturgy, or dissenting from church doctrine and praxis, like to talk about being “Prophetic;” taking as a sign of confirmation that they are acting as the Prophets of the Old Testament, when they see a negative reaction.

Objectively, is this really the case, or is there an element of self-deception involved?

First, it will help to examine what “Prophecy” is, for to be “Prophetic,” one must utter a “Prophecy.” St. Peter gives us an excellent answer to this question:

And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts. Understanding this first: That no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

St. Paul tells us why Old Testament prophecy came to an end.

God, who, at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, In these days, hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world. (Heb 1:1-2)

What Ss Peter and Paul say explains why the prophetic office today consists of proclaiming the Holy Scriptures; which is to proclaim God’s word unveiled. Those who proclaim His word do so by the Holy Spirit. Those who, in opposition to doctrine and practice, offer their own opinions to “discomfort the faithful,” are offering according to their own will, and delude themselves by the ego-gratification of usurping the mantle of prophet.

Quoting Anita, "to take as a sign of persecution the perceived frown of pope Benedict XVI, is not a sign of prophecy, but childish petulance."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hate Crime and Punishment.

New “hate crimes” legislation is being introduced in the 110th U.S. Congress entitled the “David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007.” (H.R. 254). This legislation would expand present hate crimes law to include ‘sexual orientation’ in addition to race, color, national origin, religion, gender or disability.

Hate crimes legislation as proposed would enhance the penalty for committing a “hate crime” against another person.

In addition to any penalty for committing a crime against another person, any defendant who commits bodily injury to another person with the use of “fire, a firearm, or an explosive device” because of the “actual or perceived” sexual orientation of the victim, will receive an enhanced punishment of not more than 10 years in prison or fine, or if the ‘hate’ crime victim dies, or if done with certain violence towards another, it could result in imprisonment for a term of life.

The law presently protects against other types of “hate” crimes such as race, color, national origin, religion, gender, or disability.

At first glance, all of this looks rather good, doesn’t it? You bet—at first glance. If a criminal commits a crime, he or she should pay the price. Right?

That would seem true. I ask you to think. Think carefully.

Traditionally, American criminal thought was based upon objective moral transgressions with punishments that should fit the gravity of the offense.

Reform, incarceration, restitution, deterrence, protection, and retribution are classic western and American goals of criminal law.

In accord with our Constitution, a criminal who committed a crime was seen in violation of fundamental natural rights of life, liberty, and property. This is a fundamental purpose of government, especially limited government even by Catholic writers such as Sts. Thomas Aquinas and Robert Bellarmine.

This foundation of American law was eroding starting in the sixties, when the sexual revolution also questioned whether crime really was a moral transgression—after all people were the victim of their social and economic conditions.

Instead at looking at conscience or moral culpability of individual persons, these commentators began to look at sentimental or environmental conditions that would “cause” and lead persons to commit crimes.

Crime was excused. Fault set aside. Criminals were criminals because of poverty, disenfranchise, racial prejudice, or the like.

The mea culpa became the mei excuso. Somebody forgot about the victim as well as society.

As time marched on, these sentiments and environmental conditioning led to political correctness, whereby current political fad and issues, as well as tolerance, guided society and now, the criminal law. Tolerance has become the sole rule of life in current culture; usually tolerance of what is morally wrong.

“Hate crime” legislation is most problematic.

Rather than punish crime due to the evil of the crime, we look to the most current political sentiment. Presently, the proposal in Congress regards homosexuality and other forms of sexual expression and orientation.

The underlying problem with all this is, isn’t all crime based in hate? Isn’t all crime sinful? Isn’t all crime hateful? From a Christian worldview, you bet it is. This is true because all crime is based on man’s weakened will and dimmed intellect due to original sin. There is evil in the world. One of its manifestations is crime.

Don’t confuse this with victim’s rights laws. These laws consider the victim and society, his or her injury, restitution for the injury, and the seriousness of the crime at the time of sentencing by the court.

The proposed “hate crime” legislation is a response to the current passion. In the past few years, it has been homosexuality.

This all has a serious impact upon our legal system and the common good.

Here’s how.

1. The law enhances the punishment due to the status of a victim. The problem is that all crime, all kidnapping, all murders, all robberies, etc., are the result of hate. The status of the victim should not matter. The injury should matter.

2. The objective standard of committing a moral transgression, of committing a crime, is removed. Instead of measuring the intent of the defendant, the courts will measure the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes that are the sentiment of the day.

3. Expands federal crime statutes. This legislation expands federal laws against certain crimes that were once all subject only to state jurisdiction. It invades the concept of the balance of powers and separation of powers among the states and the federal governments, and interferes directly with state administration of justice.

4. It increases the need for more courts; more prisons, more judges and clerks, and decreases the economic administration of justice in this country.

5. Hate crime legislation is unnecessary. Crime is crime and should be punished equally before the law.

Finally, this is dangerous to our Republic. It is also a result of political rather than religious thought.

Most of criminal and tort law that arose out of Western thinking and was a result of biblical or religious philosophy or practice. The biblical view is that life is precious and it should be honored.

This is true especially of innocent life. The biblical view also held that one should not steal from another, and that one should be protected against personal injury, and if so, then restitution was due.

The courts should be free from political correctness and subjective thinking, a plague that haunts the judicial halls of tyrannical nations.

Lastly, the next step downward to subjectivity is “hate speech.” Hate speech is the type of speech that people engage when talking about other people. Biblically and legally, we have historically called that defamation, gossip, slander, rash judgment, detraction, or the like. It is a sin. Therefore, this type of speech is hateful. It can also be actionable in a civil court of law.

However, when the legislature prohibits hate speech particularly regarding a sinful behavior, it states that you cannot say anything about a particular group of people or activity without disobeying the criminal law.

Thank God, we have the First Amendment in the U.S.A. Not so in Canada and in Europe.

In British Columbia, a Catholic city councilor has been ordered to pay a homosexual couple $1,000 for publicly saying that their lifestyle is "not normal and not natural."

The man in question, Joe DeCicco was simply restating the Church’s position on homosexuality. Is homosexuality unnatural? Yes. That is true. Is it disordered? Yes, just observe.

He was prosecuted for stating his personal beliefs under Canada’s hate crimes law. Unfortunately, people people tolerate this type of oppression in a free society.

The irony of it all is that those who seek social approval of this behavior would seek such sanction from the state to quash any of those that would disagree. All of this would be done in the name of “hate speech.” This is not hate speech. It is debate.

Now, let me be clear, if the Congress passes H.R. 254, that is not a hate speech bill. Hate speech is not “hate crimes” legislation. “Hate speech” is the next step downward as has happened in other countries. It could happen here.

It is not “hate speech” to point out the ills of society and wrong behavior. This is true especially with regard to homosexuality, alcoholism, drug addiction, abuse, or the like.

Homosexuality will never be regulated or stuffed away, prohibited, or the like. It cannot be done so. Like many problems, it is socially tolerated to some extent. As St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out; that not all vices can be or should be legislated against.

In sum, we cannot hate when we admonish others against sin. That is not possible, for it is one of several of the works of Mercy as taught by the Church. What are they? Here they are: 1. Convert the sinner, 2. Instruct the ignorant, 3. Counsel the doubtful, 4. Comfort the sorrowful, 5. Bear wrongs patiently, 6. Forgive injuries, and 7. Pray for the living and the dead.

And, as Christ admonishes us, we should love all sinners. It is sin that is the problem at its false attraction. It is not the sinner. We should be charitable in our message about any sin, because far too often people associate themselves too quickly with their toys, their behavior, or to their peculiar sins, rather than to God the Father. That is sad. In the end though, we are all children of Him who loves us. That is our common inheritance. That is why Love will prevail. It did so on the Cross. We need to allow it to conquer our hearts.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Idaho Right to Life March for Life, or March for Politics? I think, "To life!"

For those dear Dominicans and friends who attended the Pro-life march sponsored by Idaho Right to Life, thanks for being there. There were 500 people present, we had a fine MC, a good speaker that challenged us, and more time for fellowship.

As some have said, the March for Life is a bittersweet moment, in the sense that we come together for the March in common prayer and fellowship from all faiths, but we have to do so as a result of the issue of our day--the commission of abortions--is a crime that history knows no precedence.

The speaker was the youth minister at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Nampa, Idaho, a wonderful town just west of Boise, Idaho. He is 30 something, dressed a little informal, but well-prepared. Boy, did he challenge all of us, especially the evangelical and Catholic worlds that gathered about the podium.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't agree with him entirely myself, but it proved to me again and hopefully to the big guy of our Diocese, our dear Bishop Micheal, that we should be turning out great preachers, not great social justice promoters.

If we ignite the hearts and minds of all Catholic people, and by example all Christian and Jewish people, then we can change the face of Idaho for all people including the unborn, the homeless, the hungry, the disabled, and all.

Once ignited in the Holy Spirit, like our dear St. Dominic could do, people will respond by acts, not just words.

I pray that my message not get lost here. Peter Espil, youth minister and speaker, challenged many people that day with what he called a seamless pro-life message. I loved his challenge for regardless of whether you may agree with him, the bottom line was about the dignity of all human persons.

Our government was founded on the principle that all human persons have dignity, that this principle is grounded in who we are as people, and that the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution recognized this principle (and did not establish that principle).

Boy, back to the story, Pete's message was heard by Catholic, Christian, Protestant, Evangelical, and Jew alike. From all these traditions, many were offended. Deeply offended. Some wrote him off, others recognized some of the truth of it, others agree, and still others saw the political side of his message and resisted the remainder.

His message had some politics in it for sure. A discerning mind could not help but here that, but it did take discernment to at least listen and learn.

I prayed that I would listen and learn. I don't agree with him entirely. For instance, I don't agree that more government spending for poverty is necessarily equivalent to the moral problem of poverty. I believe that people must be called to end poverty by Christian action, by right order of lives, finances, property, assets, and resources, and following the Gospel. By, giving. I believe it will require great preachers, trained in good theology (not politics) to change the way people think.

I believe Pete's speech will result in dialog, discourse, and will help get the message out. The problem with many in the social justice committees and crowds is that they mix social justice with 'socialism justice' believing government is the solution. This approach has utterly failed across the world.

The solution is with all of us. I challenge you to review Pete's speech. The link is below.

What follows is a response to Dennis Mansfield's note on his blog, dismissing Idaho Right to Life's annual March for Life as a "march of the dead." Of course, Dennis' commentary was, frankly, dismissive, but he got it all wrong. You can read his entry at

Not impressive at all. The problem is, however, is that you cannot dismiss his view entirely, because he reflects many of the Protestant tradition (even though Dennis was raised a Catholic). I count him as a friend as I have known him for almost 18 years. I have worked with him. I believe he is a man of good will.

Below is the post that I put on Dennis' web. I hope it makes sense.

This is a long discourse here, but an important one, for being pro-life is more than a march, more than being on the right or left, and more than being against the commission of abortions, it is indeed about the dignity of all human life.

Please review the following entry on the Mansfield blog:


My friend. Your commentary regarding the March for Life was overly snarky. It wasn’t like you! Above all, however, your interpretation was wrong. Sorry, Dennis, but it was flat wrong!

Full disclosure. I am a member of the board for Right to Life. Fuller disclosure. I have met, but do not know Peter Espil. More disclosure. I carefully reviewed Pete’s speech on Adams blog here: , and here

Dennis, I think you could be a source of instruction, shepherding, and discourse, not discord. Your blog is nice, but you got it wrong. It was not a march of death.

Yes, it may seem a negative, and it gets that way sometimes. No one declared death. The message was life! The march declared life.

The march of the dead? Lighten up!

Peter Espil challenged our thinking, but he didn’t carry the message of death!

You need to re-think this approach, and as you stand in the vanguard with so many other people, you can challenge other’s thinking as well.

I think you were trying to be positive by referencing the march for BSU. Yet, wouldn’t it have been better to see both as one and the same, that life—all life—begins in the womb, and the young men who rallied on that football field just a few weeks ago were living and breathing because their mothers’ choice was life and not death.

Pete says he is a seamless pro-life Catholic. I believe he is in earnest about his views but in some ways, he was wrong. He talked about the dignity of all human persons. Was that so wrong?

He definitely comes from a different point of view—especially as compared to the typical evangelical point of view. Yet, was he so wrong?

Yes and no. From his talk, it commences a discussion out of respect for differing views. I listened to his speech again, and recognized the over-reaching theme of his talk was the dignity of all human persons. Is that so wrong? I don’t entirely agree with him; and I am a seamless pro-life Christian—a seamless pro-life Catholic.

I don’t agree with him about spending more government money to solve problems. Government is a part of the problem—it is not the solution like so many people believe. That is simply bad economics. Discourse, not discord.

I believe the Church needs to teach that materialism and over-consumption is wrong, that abortion is wrong, that adultery is a sin full of death, that immorality whether sexual or stealing (or whatever) in any form, is wrong. (We need good preachers, not good politicians!). All of these things rob us of our ability to help the poor. Many in the Christian church teach more government money for this or that, as if all problems will be resolved. I didn’t agree with him about more government money, but did he make you think?

Discourse, not discord or dismissal of the message.

He challenged us to support free medical clinics by raising funds each summer. He challenged us to re-look at the option of war. While I agree we must protect ourselves, was the Iraqi war right? After four years, I don’t know. Was it so wrong to make you think?

He spoke of the death penalty. If in time, a condemned man repented and the mercy of God visited his heart and soul, and gave it all to Jesus, would it be so bad that he lived life in prison, instead of ending it by state-sanction?

Discourse, not discord or dismissal.

The same for immigrants. I want illegal aliens to obey the law. It is essential that foreign governments re-align their governments and economies to recognize political and economic freedom. Only then, will this onslaught of immigrants, refugees, and the like end. But, as a beacon of hope here in America, shouldn’t we treat our fellow human beings with dignity? Is that so difficult? That is all Pete was asking that we uphold the dignity of all human persons.

His message was about human dignity. We may approach it differently, but his message is pro-life. Your dismissal of Peter Espil’s message was short-sided—and may I say, so unlike you!

After all, he needs help. He is pro-life. He is a Democrat. That combination is so sparse in Canyon County, that when they have their state convention, they fill up the southern-most booth at the Little Kitchen restaurant in downtown Nampa!

Finally, Idaho Right to Life is quite alive and the dear old emperor has the robes on. If you disagree with something, engage in discourse, be resourceful and hopeful. The message is clear, life is good, life is worth living, there is hope, and BSU wins!

Your friend,

John Keenan

St. Augustine on Obedience

I was reading On the Good of Marriage (de bono conjugali) by St. Augustine today, looking for something else, but ran across these:

For marriage is in no place condemned by authority of our Scriptures, but disobedience is in no place acquitted.

Obedience is in a certain way the mother of all virtues.

I call that obedience, whereby precepts are complied with.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

S.T.D. candidate comes home from Rome.

I was reviewing a national news magazine two days ago, and behold, there was an ad entitled, "Wyoming Catholic College." That made me pause. Wyoming?

With a population of a little over 500,000 people, here is Wyoming with a Catholic institution of higher learning! Wonderful.

Yet, what was it like? I had to check out the website at

The college was commenced within the last two years, and the Bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming is the chairman of the Board. Additionally, it uses the Great Books curriculum. It is the college's policy that that every effort will be made to get a student into the school despite the student's and his or her family's financial resources. Excellent.

A true Catholic education.

Could that happen in Idaho, with a population of nearly 1.5 million? You bet. The top boys at the Diocese obviously have to support it, but it could be done. In addition, we need to believe and think above the mediocre. It can be done!

After reviewing the curriculum and student life section, I checked the teaching staff. Another behold! Guess who is on the staff of the College effective July 1, 2007? Dr. John Mortensen, a candidate in a degree of sacred theology. He grew up in Boise. He is the son of Bob & Connie Mortenson, dear folk whose family attends Holy Apostles Catholic Church in Meridian, Idaho.

Congratulations John, to you and your wife and children, may peace & faith follow you all the years of your life. Welcome to your new home. Here is John's curriculum vitae (to date).

John R. Mortensen, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Vice President for Administration

B.A. (Liberal Arts), Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, California; S.T.M. and S.T.L., International Theological Institute, Gaming, Austria; Ph.L. and Ph.D., Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Rome; S.T.D. candidate, Universität Freiburg, Switzerland

Dr. John Mortensen grew up in Boise, Idaho, before attending Thomas Aquinas College in California. He spent the next ten years in Europe where he studied theology and philosophy in Austria, Oxford, and Rome. Since 2002 he has been an Assistant Professor at the International Theological Institute, an institute of papal right in Gaming, Austria, teaching courses in logic, natural philosophy, metaphysics, fundamental theology, and Trinitarian theology. During these years he also held the positions of Director of Finance and subsequently Vice President for Administration. He completed a doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, and is currently working on his doctoral dissertation in theology. He specializes in the work of Aristotle and Aquinas, but his interests also include spiritual theology, music theory, Catholic literature, and computer programming. Dr. Mortensen will join WCC's faculty in July 2007.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Catholic alphabet Meme

A little late on this, but I wanted to post it in honor of the communion of the saints, especially those who have assisted me:

A is for Ss. Anthony of the Desert, Athanasius, Ambrose, and Augustine (of Hippo), and Augustine (of Canterbury), all who assisted me in entering the faith, and S. Thomas Aquinas, for stumping me with it, and S. Albert the Great,

B is for Ss. Basil, Benedict, Bernard, Bede, and Bonaventure, for their contributions to religious life,

C is for S. John Chrysostom, the golden tongue which ever rings out the Word of God, and Catherine of Sienna, patroness of Dominican Tertiaries,

D is for S. Damasus I who gave us the canon of scripture; and also for Dogma, a man’s best friend, but especially for S. Dominic,

E is for S. Ethelbert, a king who witnessed the power of Christ by trading his crown for the monks habit (read Bede),

F is for S. Felicity, beautiful martyr, preferring her Lord over her life; and S. Francis, who with Dominic helped reignite the fire of the Holy Spirit in a dying Europe,

G is for S. Gregory the Great, for chant and the Pastoral Rule, and Ven Louis of Granada, for the Sinners Guide and the Compendium of the Summa,

H is for S. Hyacinth, Dominican missionary to Poland,

I is for S. Ignatius of Antioch, and Ignacio, founder of the Jesuits, as well as Infallibility, Indulgences, Index, and Inquisition, all aspects of government,

J is for S. Jerome, savior of the Holy Scriptures,

K is for S. Maximillian Kolbe, such a witness, and Thomas a Kempis, whose Imitation of Christ no doubt informed S. Kolbe,

L is for Henri Lacordaire, who dared to return the Dominican Order to France, and Br. Laurence for his delightful “Practice of the presence of God”,

M is for Mary Mother of God, and Mary Magdalene, the two who present us for our imitation with the two paths to Christ,

N is for S. Norbert, among whose Premonstratensians S. Dominic received his formation as a Canon Regular,

O is for Our Lady, Help of Christians; and for Holy Obedience, which all the Saints teach by example,

P is for S. Pius V, first Dominican pope,

Q is for Quakers, my origins, may they enter the Holy Catholic Church (all things are possible with God!), and for Quadragesima, cause it’s such a cool word,

R is for S. Raymond of Penafort, reluctant early master general of the Dominicans, and author of the Summa Casuum, and S. Rose of Lima, first flower of the Americas,

S is for Savonarola, not for anything he wrote or stood for, but that once he made a fine mess, and the chips were down, he presented himself to the mob, giving his life for his friends, an act for which the words “no greater love” apply, and S. Francis de Sales, whose Introduction to the Devout Life

T is for Theresa of Avila, Mystical Doctor, and Tomas de Torquemada, whose cause will probably never be instituted due to the hardness of heart of a world gone mad, and S. Turibius, Archbishop of Lima during the life of S. Rose of Lima,

U is for Uganda, that troubled country which has produced many martyrs, and also home to Fr. Mbishibishi, the Angilcan priest who baptized me,

V for S. Vincent Ferrer, converter of thousands, and S John Vianney, the Cure of Ars,

W for Walter Farrell, whose Summa Companion makes Aquinas’ Summa accessible to the simple minded (like me!),

X for S. Francis Xavier, wonderful missionary to the east,

Z for Munion de Zamora, seventh Master General of the Order of Preachers, for the Rule for the Dominican Tertiaries, and St. Zdislava, who lived it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

True and false offense

Subject: True and false offense

In a comment I stated that "Offense taken is not prima facie evidence of offense given." I would like to elaborate on this, using a couple of concrete examples.

Let us first consider those who say that they suffer great pain by the words "Our Father, who art in heaven..." and substitute "Our God, who art in heaven; or, in a similar vein, in the creed, instead of saying "...for us men and for our salvation..." they say "...for us and for our salvation..."

Now I do not doubt that there is suffered an anguish here, and I'd like to explore that. In these cases and those which are similar, there is a refusal to understand what is contained in the words of the creed and the greatest prayer, and an adherence to the particular error, preferring their own opinion over the deposit of the faith. In other words, there is no possible offense offered, and the individual taking offense is only demonstrating their own stubbornness in preferring their own opinion over that which is true.

Now there is also the case where offense is rendered, but without realizing it. To demonstrate, I will use the same example. The person who refuses to call God Father, is attempting to correct the very name God has given us whereby to know Him. The person who changes the inclusive language of "for us men and for our salvation" (ie: all mankind), in substituting the exclusive language of "for us and for our salvation" (ie: we gathered here only), is committing an error of great magnitude, since the creed explicates what we believe.

In sum, often people do not understand that they are giving offense, and people take offense where none is given. In both cases it is truth that is offended against by error, and as Leo XIII said, error has no rights.

For a moment, I’d like to consider the lot of a patient in the hospital. Let us assume that the doctor orders a drug to be administered by injection; the patient needs a shot. The CNA, who takes temperature and blood pressure every few hours does not administer the medication, but the nurse does. Is this an insult to the CNA? No, and it would be absurd to take it as such. Is it an insult to the nurse that the doctor must place the order for the injection? Of course not. No one would question that the CNA, the nurse, and even the doctor are of equal dignity as persons, but one would be a fool to consider them to be the same in their professional responsibilities; there is a hierarchy of authority and work, and without it, the entire system of care would collapse.

Now let’s consider what was offered by the deacon as an “offense” against the laity, and ask if it actually is. In this hospital of souls known as the Church, the Church experimented with extending a specific task to a group which had never done it before, and now has announced that the experiment will not continue. There is a division of labor, and there are reasons for this division of labor. Now to believe that it is somehow an affirmation that one group is better than another, based on a division of labor, is to read into said division that which is not there. I will grant you that there may be clergy who think they are better than laity, just as there are doctors who are jerks and think they are better than nurses; but equal dignity of persons is what we adhere to, while recognizing that there are different tasks proper to different vocations. Abuse does not negate the necessary use.

By insisting that we were being “slapped in the face” by the Church in this ruling, the Deacon demonstrated a profound lack of understanding of this ruling. On the other hand, to take the time meant for a homily, and instead, deliver a very strong statement exalting his personal opinion above and against that which the Church has ruled, did two things. First, as an officer of the Church, he spoke not as a deacon of the Church, but as an individual who had crossed a line between himself and the Church (because he spoke for himself, not the Church). Second, he deprived the faithful of a homily explicating the scriptures and how to live them. I find it remarkable that there is so much talk of justice, but so much injustice to the faithful, ie: failing to render what is due.

So, in this recent situation, there is a twofold case of offense taken; on the one hand, but those deeply offended and hurt by the deacon’s words, and on the other, those offended and hurt by what I did, or, more to the point, by what they understand and think that I did, and their perceptions of the motives with which it was done.

In comments, motives have been attributed to me which simply are not so. Those who know me, understand this. We are constantly exhorted to be open to and docile to the promptings of the Spirit, and to do what the Lord asks of us. In my prayers for our beloved Deacon (who is a remarkably good speaker, by the way), I begged the Lord for what is best for the Deacon; and the answer was rather terrifying. You may not believe that the answer which I acted on was from God, and I certainly questioned it as well. The reason I mentioned those who know me, is I do not think it was my own choice for the very simple reason that is was as out of character for me, as joyful obedience would appear to be for Deacon, may God bless and assist him.

I will offer the suggestion that anyone who was not offended by the Deacon’s words and actions, doesn’t understand the magnitude of the offense committed, which is certainly forgivable. If I am wrong on this, I stand open to correction.

Is obedience repugnant?

O Jesus, […]
Is obedience repugnant to me? I behold you, my God, obeying Mary and Joseph, Your Creatures, and submitting with the meekness of a lamb to Your judges and executioners.

- St. Catherine of Sienna, quoted in DIVINE INTIMACY, #57, "I Am The Way", Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene O.C.D.

Friday, January 19, 2007


My Microsoft Windows update came today, posted from Smyrna, TN.

Smyrna... best not forget:

The Turkish monument at Afion Karahissar for the victory and extermination of their enemies.

Uh, that would be us, folks...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vatican II documents

Dear Deacon suggested reading the documents of Vatican II (actually, he recommended reading the Catholic Update sheets, which I wouldn't recommend for fire starting or emergency TP). Anita did just that (I mean, started reading the actual Vatican II documents), and as done a marvelous job extracting a few pertinent items.

Betcha Didnt Know Vatican II Said This

Nice work!

Lighter side

A picture worth a thousand words (so I'll spare you!),
First is inspired by the Curt Jester and The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen,

the second from Fr. Gonzales' blog, Overheard in the Sacristy

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Real Presence

There are many Catholics, aparently including clergy and catechists, who believe that there is no difference between the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in the consecrated species, and the presence of Christ in the priest, the proclaimed Holy Scriptures, and the gathered assembly, a presence which the Church calls "real," but fundamentally different from that of what we refer to as the Real Presence in the eucharistic species.

The first time I encountered this, shortly after entering the Church, I was profoundly shocked; the catechist at my children's first communion class, based on Richard McBrien's book, "Catholicism," was teaching the children that all four of the above "presences" were exactly the same. After providing authoritive documentation to her, she conceded the error, but said she'd continue teaching it because she liked it better!

And Sunday the logical fruit of this error shows up with a deacon genuflecting to the congregation.

Here are some thoughts I have had on how to distinguish these presences.

If I am standing in the room with you and talking to you, you would be in my Real Presence; you are directly in the "presence" of the reality of my being.

Let us assume that instead of talking to you in the same room, I am speaking to you over the phone. Clearly, you are dealing with a "presence" that is me and that is real. But I am not in the room with you...

Let us further assume that I have something to tell you, but leave a message on your answering maching. I think we all can see that there is something of me captured in the recording, a something, a "presence," that is available to you when you listen to it, and that something is real, but it is clearly not me!

What I write here is similar, I pour a bit of my heart out in love for all those whom I pray will be my neighbor in the hope that we may spend eternity together in heaven, and for those who read what I write, certainly you have access to something, a bit of my presence, but you would have to come here to be in my presence.

It should be very clear that there is a fundamental difference to being in the same room speaking with me, and the other forms of communication (phone, recording, writing), all of which make something real of me present, but do not make the totality of what is me present.

The error which dear deacon based his act on is a superficial reading of "you are what you eat." - much has been written about the "divinization," the transformation of the lower into the higher by Holy Communion. This is a meditation deserves a far greater deal of prayer and meditation than I have completed thus far, and I'm not quite ready to tackle it in the spirit that is needed. Forgive me. To discern how to explaing how the terminus of being an "Alter Christus" does not make us God(s?), I will defer for the moment and get back to. It seems that it should be profoundly obvious that we are not Mormons who believe man becomes God, and that there is more here that such a simplistic understanding. That is I guess why such an understanding coming from clergy is so, well, unexpected (not to mention outrageous).

More on ressurifix

Michael posted a comment on the ressurifix post a while back; comments do not show dates, so I don't know when it was posted, but it is an honest question and I will offer a reply here. Michael asks:

Forgive my ignorance, but why does the position of the corpus matter? It seems to me to be a matter of aesthetics and has never affected this convert's devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist even a bit. (If they were inverting the corpus, changing His gender, or placing Him face down, THEN I'd have issues with it. At that point it would have ceased to be aesthetics and become blasphemy.)


You ask why it matters. Please consider for a moment; why have a cross or crucifix or such in a church at all, especially in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

I would hope, that even to ask such a question, suggests the answer; The crucifix is a visibly symbol of the reality of the sacrifice of Christ, which is made present on the altar in the Holy Sacrifice; we are literaly present at the crucifixion; the rules of time and space being "bent" by the power of God.

That the Church has said that a crucifix must be displayed (G.I.R.M. #308) during mass, only obliges us to do what in love we should have no difficulty doing!

Now back to your question. You ask why the corpus matters. My first answer is that the Church has said it does, and explicitly stated that it must be of Christ crucified; who in their right mind would presume to know more than Holy Mother Church, to whom the regulation of such things belongs? To do otherwise is to take authority over things that are not ours; that is the original definition of word "arrogance" - for to "arrogate" is to usurp an authority not granted to one.

Authority is good, but understanding is available as well, and I believe that is what you are seeking, and that is why I am writing this, may God grant you to rest in the knowledge and love of His crucified Son, Who died for us and Who comes to us on the altar!

You expressed concern about declining belief in the Real Presence, and this is a very serious thing. Also a convert, my former Episcopal parish had a bare cross. Jesus does not come on the altar there, there is no "Real Presence" there. Today they have even replaced the bare cross with a banner that has New-Age symbols on it! You and I, as converts, KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING ON THE ALTAR! But the unfortunate reality is that there are many, many cradle Catholics who apparently have from no idea to a very poorly formed idea; and for them, all the symbols are an integral part of their ongoing catechesis.

If Holy Communion is only a meal, then throwing open the doors to everyone, excluding no one, actually makes sense; but this is the Holy Sacrifice, and the symbol is intimately tied to the action.

When you look at a crucifix, what is it a symbol of? There is no ambiguity, it is a symbol of the crucifixion and death of Christ on the cross, an historical reality, a reality made present on the altar.

But when you look at a ressurifix, what is it a symbol of? To me it might mean one thing, to you another, and to someone else, something else. But what it is not a symbol of is the crucifixion and death of Christ, which is what Holy Mother Church has decreed is a symbol that must be visible to the faithful during the Holy Sacrifice of the mass.

Michael, I hope this is helpful, and I will be pleased to continue this with you if I have not succeeded in conveying to you the answer to your question. Let us always seek the Lord, who wills to be found.

"Now this is eternal life:"

"Now this is eternal life:
that they may know Thee, the only true God
" (Jn 17:3)

O Jesus, it is certainly deplorable that the world is not interested in knowing You and Your Father; but the offense would be beyond imagination if a soul consecrated to You should act in this way, or should be satisfied to know You only superficially!

O Lord, reveal Yourself to my soul, because I want to know You in order to love You, to serve You and to regulate my life according to Your wishes. "O God, when a woman in the world is about to marry, she knows beforehand whom she is to marry, what sort of a person he is and what property he posesses. Shall not we, then, who are already betrothed, think about our Spouse...who is His Father, what is the country to which He will take us, what are the riches with which He promises to endow us, what we can do to give Him pleasure, and how we can conform our character to His? O my Spouse, must we, then, make less account of You than is made of men?" (Teresa of Avila, Way of Perfection, 22")

Todays reading from DIVINE INTIMACY, Fr Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene O.C.D., #52

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A supercilious Deacon

Can it be? Can contempt exceed arrogance? Can arrogance exceed ignorance? Many years ago, I was contacted by a group of people in their early twenties. They were couples-engaged couples- attending Engaged Encounter. It was their weekend. Their time. They needed to get to know each other better as friends and as future spouses.

It was also time to learn the Truth. What was does the Church teach? What is expected of each spouse? Of husband? Of wife? Of friendship? Of sin? Of life? Of babies? Of families? How do couples honor each other and the Truth as well and live faithfully? This is a genuine place to learn, that is Engaged Encounter. At this particular session a particular Deacon was in charge. These couples told me this Deacon's modus was irreverant, his dress was sloppy, his words were rank, his attitude arrogant, and his modus permissive. He allowed engaged couples to be together in the same room at night at the Church retreat center in Boise. They were deeply scandalized. Deeply. They reported the scandal to the appropriate person at the Diocese.

In time, would such disdain for the Church, Her teaching, and such poor example change. It appears not? Most recently, particularly on Sunday, 14 January 2007, it repeated itself. No, this was not another Engaged Encounter. Far from that. The same attitude showed itself at Mass. The Deacon gave a homily. He said that Vatican II gave a a certain primacy of the laity over the heirarchy, in effect that there was no real difference between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the believers.
The dear Deacon blasted "Rome" for stating that the laity could no longer purify the Communion vessels used at Mass--warning us that so many little things will add up to big things.

His message sent shards of pain into the minds, hearts, and souls of many of the faithful in attendance. Scandal wound its way. In the end, he genuflected to the congregation. stating they were made in the image of God. Yes, the lay people and myself included are made in His image. Genuflect? Not right. This is not a democracy. The lay people are integral to the Church. The heirarchy as well. We don't genuflect to each other or to the bishops, but to the Real Presence. His gesture was quite audacious.

He warned many to read the documents of Vatican II. That my dear Deacon, many, many people have done. The "spirit" of Vatican II and the silliness that followed in the 1960s and 1970s is dying away, and with this coming generation the ideas of dissent will wane as well. So, the new generation is coming where a new springtime in the Catholic Church will arise, the faith will spread, and the politics of dissent, divide, and dismantle will set aside.

So with the scandal behind us, with the hope of Heaven ahead of us, we move on to the next day, pray for the Faith of this supercilious Deacon, and pray that the Faithful will remain always so to Him.

In closing, if there be a new reformation, it will likely be based on this Deacon's obervations, that Rome just doesn't get it and because it just doesn't get it, and in accord with that conclusion, there will be a new church--a new reformation. Umpteen million have said this and done this--old story, new version. This justification for a new reformation will come from lesseer minds as there will be little intellect behind it and certainly no soul as well.
I pray that whatever happens, that that all souls may turn to God, seek repentence, and find the way of Truth in charity.

Striking a deacon

This morning for mass we were treated not to a homily, but to a diatribe against the Church; the occasion being the ending of an indult allowing laity to purify sacred vessels. it was an overt call to disobedience; the Church is wrong, I'm right, ad nauseum.

I have suffered much grief in the last few years, and this has been difficult, but this man was displaying such incredible ignorance, capped with an arrogance that was insufferable. He insulted my Mother, the Church!

At the consecration, the priest, no beacon of orthodoxy, chanted it beautifully, such that it brought tears to my eyes. After communion, with a heavy heart praying for our priests and deacons, the theme of obedience, what the homily should have been about, brought me the sense of the necessity to remind the deacon of his confirmation by a repeat of the bishop's slap.

But Lord, I cannot do such a thing! So after mass I went to the tabernacle and read the Divine Office; if you've read it today, it is Ignatius of Antioch on holy obedience! So I sang the Salve Regina and went downstairs.

Where I found the deacon...

I approached him and said that I was sorry that he found it such a hardship to serve the faithful, asked if he remembered his confirmation, and smacked him on the cheek; not gently, but I haven't the strength for a serious blow (flies walk away from the swatter after I hit them). The discussion got heated, he accused me of not reading or knowing scripture, not following Jesus, not this, not that, blah blah blah. For someone who doesn't even know me, I found that rather presumptuous, but missed the opportunity to call him judgemental.

I for my part said I could give a tinkers twiddle what his opinions were, they had no place on the altar. His errors were so profound, and his pride so profound, I realized that there was a reason yesterday Anita quoted me the scripture that says "a single word of reproof is sufficient for a wise man, but a fool doesn't learn from a hundred beatings."

This deacon thinks we should genuflect to each other, but not to Jesus in the tabernacle! This he did at the end of his "homily," genuflected to the congregation! We're Jesus, don't you know? (some people laughed).

His final words; more members of the congregation agree with him than me (and that deserves a boast?), and that if the reform of the reform continues, there will be another "Reformation!"

Amazing. absolutely amazing.

Lord, where are the shepherds?
St. Turibius, pray for us.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New title

A certain faction in the LPC doesn't want us to use T.O.P., finding that somehow unacceptable, and strangely, insisting on conformty! To those who oppose different titles for different ministries/orders because they think it denotes one as better than the other, and do not have a sense of their equal dignity as children of God, perhaps therapy is the answer.

I found another title; how's this?

Milord Earl Mark the Disheveled Subversive of Giggleswick on the Naze
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

thanks Theocoid!

Friday, January 12, 2007


Feast: March 23

So OK, it's not March, but S. Turibius was S. Rose of Lima's bishop. Such a bishop!

The pressing necessities of the infant church of Peru required a prelate who inherited, in a distinguished manner, the spirit of the apostles; and the archbishopric of Lima falling vacant, Turibius was unanimously judged the person of all others the best qualified to be an apostle of so large a country, and to remedy the scandals which obstructed the conversion of the infidels. The king readily nominated him to that dignity, and all parties concerned applauded the choice. Turibius was thunderstruck at this unexpected news, and had no sooner received the message but he cast himself on the ground at the foot of his crucifix, praying, with many tears, that God would deliver him from so heavy a burden, which he thought absolutely above his strength. He wrote the most urgent letters to the king's council, in which he pleaded his incapacity, and other impediments, and laid great stress on the canons, which forbid laymen to be promoted to such dignities in the church. This humility it was that obtained the succor of heaven by which he performed wonders in the service of souls. Being compelled by obedience to acquiesce, he at length testified his submission by falling on his knees and kissing the ground.

After a suitable preparation, he received the four minor orders on four successive Sundays, the better to dispose himself for the functions of each; and after passing through the other orders, he was consecrated bishop. Immediately after which he set out for Peru, and landed at Lima, in the year 1581, of his age the forty-third.
Read the full article.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Death penalty question

I have noticed several discussions (here, here, here, and here) regarding the application of Catholic doctrine and practice regarding the death penalty in general, and as applied to the execution of Saddam Hussein in particular. This is an interesting discussion regarding what is dissent and what is not, but if we wrench back to the particular question... these discussion miss the larger point. Let me quote from Evangelium Vitae #56
It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: "If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person".
Come on now... is there anyone who actually believes that Iraq is capable of providing this level of protection to it's citizens for what would have been the rest of the natural life of Saddam Hussein?

The teaching as we receive it from E.V. and the Catechism CCC 2267 enunciates conditions that clearly are not acheivable in Iraq, yet discussion goes on as though this were a universal given. It is not.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Gregorian chant resources

The Church Music Association of America has some tremendous resources!

Theocoid! sign your dad up!

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Today is the Epiphany on the old calendar.

Here are parts of the meditation in "Divine Intimacy" by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD. It completes the circle for the meditation on His Excellency Bishop Vasa's column.

Epiphany, or Theophany, means the Manifestation of God.

A star often appears in the heaven of our souls; it is an inspiration from God, clear and intimate, urging us to greater generosity and calling us to a life of closer union with Him. Like the Magi, we too must follow the star with faith, promptness, and selfless genersoity. If we allow it to guide us, it will certainly lead us to God; it will bring us to the One whom we are seeking.

The Magi did not give up their quest, although the star - at one point - disappeared from their sight. We should follow their example and their perseverance, even though we are in interior darkness. This is the trial of faith which is overcome only by the exercise of pure naked faith. I know that He wills it, I know that God is calling, and this suffices for me: Scio cui et credidi et certus sum (2 Tm 1:12); I know whom I have believed. No matter what happens, I shall trust Him.

the star - at one point - disappeared from their sight. Let us not give up, but praise God for such a blessing!!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bishop Robert Vasa

For those who are unaware, Bishop Robert Vasa writes a column for the Catholic Sentinal, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. You can subscribe and receive it by email by clicking here and filling out the form. The Bishop's column is always insightful, and this week I've posted it entire here with some thoughts based on his reflection.

For an index of Bishop Vasa's e-Column, click here.

E-Column by Bishop Robert Vasa

I'm posting this article in its entirety:

The Catholic Sentinel, published since 1870, is the newspaper for the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker, Oregon.

Eros and agape can never be completely separated

BEND -- More than a year ago, Pope Benedict XVI issued his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est or God Is Love. That letter, issued on Christmas Day 2005, is not necessarily an easy read, and yet I believe it is a document that bears reading. I choose to spend a little time with this document today because I do believe it has something significant to offer to our modern society and to us.

The Holy Father, early in the encyclical, identifies a major problem with love. He writes: "Today the term 'love' has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings." He then goes on to discuss two specific forms or types to which this single word "love" might refer. The terms he chooses, or rather draws from Greek and Christian cultures, are eros and agape.

He identifies "eros as a term to indicate 'worldly' love, and agape, referring to love grounded in and shaped by faith. The two notions are often contrasted as 'ascending' love and 'descending' love." In other words, one is a love that seeks to receive and the other a love that is intent on giving.

In a very surprising way, the Holy Father then points out the essential connection between these two forms of love. In our society the differences between the two are readily obvious. They are as distinct as the eros of simply living together and the agape of a faith-filled committed marriage.

The difference is even seen in approach to liturgy or Mass attendance. On the one hand the love of eros inclines one to attend Mass because of what one receives, how it makes one "feel," while the love of agape inclines one to attend Mass out of a self-giving desire to love and serve the Lord.

Eros inclines us to seek our own good, whereas agape inclines us to seek the good of another. Many people respond to the "eros love" of Christmas and Easter but a much smaller number respond to the challenge of the "agape love" required for weekly or even more frequent Mass attendance. Many married couples seek the "eros love" of the marital embrace, but far too many reject the "agape love" of genuine openness to children.

Rather than focus on these disparities between eros and agape the Holy Father writes of their unity: "Yet eros and agape -- ascending love and descending love -- can never be completely separated. The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love is realized.

"Even if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to 'be there for' the other.

"The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature." Now, I do not for a minute pretend to understand the full depth or meaning of these paragraphs, but I do know that each time I read it I am moved to a deeper point of reflection.

As I understand the Holy Father, he is literally placing eros and agape on a continuum that unites rather than seeing them as polar opposites. They are opposites, but they need not necessarily be opposed to one another. Using the same examples I have indicated above, the couple living together and enjoying "eros love," if they are open to God's grace and if they truly love one another, must acknowledge and move more actively toward an "agape love."

This can happen only if there is, at least to some degree, an "agape love" element also present in their relationship. If this relationship is completely self absorbed and godless, then it is effectively separated from a truly good and authentic human love, which of necessity includes both an agape element and an eros element.

The individuals who content themselves with a Christmas and Easter attendance at Mass are certainly not devoid of an "agape love" directed toward God, but their love is not sufficiently imbued with an "agape love" that would incline them to a greater oblative love in regard to God Himself. Even the tendency to seek out a Church or a style of liturgy that appeals to one's personal desires or wants is, to a degree, a manifestation of that love which could be called "eros love."

The falseness of such a divided love is seen when individuals choose not to go to Mass at all, completely reject "agape love," when the style of liturgy is not to their liking.

Married couples who reject the teaching of the Church on the sinfulness of artificial contraception certainly are not devoid of "agape love," but the societal emphasis on "eros love" may lead to the false notion that, within the context of the marital embrace, faithfulness to the Church may diminish "eros love" when, in reality, faithfulness to the Church enhances authentic love by assuring that "eros love" is not selfishly separated from "agape love."

The Holy Father's presentation of the notions of "agape love" and "eros love" culminate in his discussion of the Incarnation of Jesus. He writes: "The real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in the figure of Christ Himself, who gives flesh and blood to those concepts -- an unprecedented realism."

A part of the Holy Father's point here, or so it seems to me, is that God's perfect "agape love" takes on a bit of the "eros love"; it is concretely and physically expressed in the person of Jesus Christ -- who gives to that love an unprecedented realism. The clear expression of this deeply personal, emotional and unprecedented love is found in the very life of Jesus.

The Holy Father writes: "In the love story recounted by the Bible, He comes towards us, He seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of His heart on the cross, to His appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, He guided the nascent Church along its path."

The story of that unprecedented love began to be recounted again in the Liturgy of the Church with the First Sunday of Advent and Christmas, in particular.

It continues throughout the entire year. God's "agape love" with its wonderful inclusion of very personal "eros love" calls each of us to move, just a bit, from our limited propensity to indulge "eros-style love" towards a more authentic "agape love" so beautifully expressed and made real by our Redeemer.