Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Is For Kids

Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved
I really do love "A Christmas Story", about Ralphie, his love of Christmas and his earnest and deep yearning for an "official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!"  That movie reflected better than any movie ever made the meaning of Christmas for a kid. As a kid, Christmas is all about deep desires, building anticipation, a time when there is real potential fulfillment of every wish and longing.  As Ralphie says:  "Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved."

As adults, we don't quite see it that way.  Adults have lost the sense of wonderment and awe of Christmas as exemplified by Ralphie.  It is instead too often a time of great stress, figuring out what to give who, spending money we don't have, fighting other people at the store on "Black Friday" and the rest of the Christmas season, spending too much time and money to put up lavish decorations in and around the house, expensive electric bills, fights with family, and trying desperately to have everything done by Christmas Day.  Far too many adults are sick of Christmas by the time it actually arrives.

Of course, Ralphie didn't have a truly proper understanding of Christmas, either.  Christmas is not about getting an air rifle.  But Ralphie was right that Christmas is about hope and the fulfillment of every longing and desire.

And Christmas is about a Child.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right

What the hell is wrong with the Republican party?  The Republicans are supposed to be the life affirming party, the party who opposes the killing of the unborn, the defenders of the weak and powerless, the party of morality.  The Democrats are supposed to be the party of narcissists, caring about no one but themselves and their own pleasure. 

And yet the leading Republican contender for President is a fascist who denounces and demonizes entire groups of people.  The Republicans – not the Democrats - are the ones who oppose helping the war refugees from Syria and other Muslim countries.  The Republicans cower in fear, afraid that some bad guy might slip in with the suffering mass of humanity pouring out of these countries.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What Christians Can Learn from Radical Islam

As I write this, the United States is reeling from a horrific mass murder in San Bernardino, California in which 14 people were killed and 21 injured.  The perpetrators of this evil were a man and his wife who had become radicalized Muslims, the wife apparently having pledged allegiance on Facebook to the head of ISIS.  It seems that the couple were not personally connected to any other group and although they were inspired by ISIS, they committed this atrocity on their own.

This mass murder, tragically, is nothing new to America. Most other mass killings have been committed by those with deep emotional and mental problems, such as the Sandy Hook killing in which 20 young children were killed. But the Muslim couple in California were deeply religious, professing a devout belief in God as they viewed him. So how did this happen?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Racism and Bigotry Are Alive and Well in America

I pray in front of two abortion clinics (both located in the same building) in downtown Brooklyn every week.  I see the young women entering that building.  I am always amazed that 90% to 95% of those women are African American, despite the fact that these clinics are in a predominantly white upper class neighborhood.  The clinics - by no coincidence - are located within less than a block to numerous train and bus lines, thus making them readily available to other poorer neighborhoods.

Below is a chart from an article in The American Mirror showing the rate of abortions in NYC broken down by race, and which sadly bears out my observations.  In New York City, over 60% of African American pregnancies end in abortion, meaning more African American babies are aborted in this city than are actually born:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pope Francis and Sharing the Eucharist with Non-Catholics: A Lesson in Evangelization

It seems hardly a day goes by that the Catholic blogosphere is not in an uproar over some statement or action by someone whom they feel is threatening to destroy the Church. The offender is more than likely a member of the Church hierarchy - priest, bishop, cardinal. Of course the ranting and raving really starts when the guilty party is Pope Francis. A standard prayer of Catholic bloggers seems to be that Pope Francis be permanently silenced - not that they wish him any harm!

One of the latest items of contention is the Holy Father's answer to a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic. The question, as translated by Edward Pentin from Italian into English, was as follows:
My name is Anke de Bernardinis and, like many people in our community, I'm married to an Italian, who is a Roman Catholic Christian. We’ve lived happily together for many years, sharing joys and sorrows. And so we greatly regret being divided in faith and not being able to participate in the Lord's Supper together. What can we do to achieve, finally, communion on this point?
Before I get to the "offensive" response by Pope Francis, it is important to take a closer look at this question.  Here is a Lutheran woman who has been happily married to a Catholic man for many years.  As she relates, it is a great sadness to her and her husband that they do not share the same faith, and more specifically, that they cannot participate in the "Lord's Supper" together.  She is asking the earthly head of the Catholic Church how they can achieve this unity.

Nearly every Catholic blogger has said the answer is simple: become a Catholic! And certainly that is true. But look again at the question. The woman has been married to a Catholic for many years. We can safely assume that she and her husband have discussed this division between them, and her husband, and many others no doubt, told her that only members in good standing in the Church can participate in the Sacraments. But she has not, as far as we can tell, made any moves to become Catholic. The fact that she is talking with the Pope and asking him questions shows that she has respect for the Catholic Church. But up this point, that has not been enough to give her the courage to walk away from her own faith and become a Catholic. She wants to know how she and her husband get over this seemingly insurmountable barrier between them.

Pope Francis obviously took all of this into account when he answered her. His goal - as should be the goal of all of us - is to bring people into the church, not set up roadblocks that will keep them out. The Holy Father could have taken the easy way out and given the technically correct answer that she had no doubt heard many times before. Pope Francis wanted to do something that would make her take that step she has feared for so many years:  to think outside her own personal box and to approach the problem in a different way, since obviously what she has been doing has not been working.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Responding to a Traditionalist

This post is in response to Jayne, a traditionalist who has commented that I am not being fair to traditionalists by painting them all with the same brush.  We have gone back and forth on a prior post [HERE].  I was ready to end our debate, but Jayne wants to continue, so here goes.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Rebelling Against the Magesterium: Right or Wrong?

This post is in reply to Laramie Hirsch, who has written a post on his blog, "The Hirsch Files" in response to this blog. Laramie's post is entitled, "St. Catherine of Siena Does NOT Warn Traditionalist Catholics."

My debate with Laramie started when he read a couple of my blog posts. Laramie is a Catholic traditionalist who, not surprisingly, does not agree with my opinion that Catholics should not judge the Magesterium of the Church. Laramie has given very reasoned and well thought-out responses, not just hit-and-run attacks that I so often receive from traditionalists. He has given a very detailed response on his blog, and I direct the rest of this post to him.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

You of little faith, why are you so afraid?

The Catholic blogosphere and internet have been awash with weeping and and wailing and gnashing of teeth over the Synod on the Family. As far as many in the Catholic blogosphere are concerned, there has never been a worse assault on the Catholic Church than the Synod on the Family which has just come to a conclusion in Rome as I write this.

We have heard charges that Pope Francis is deliberately trying to tear the Church apart. We have heard bishops and cardinals attacking one another. Someone even started an online petition urging the bishops to walk out.  As Hilary White of the far-right radical traditionalist Remnant Newspaper entitled her report, "Blasphemy, Heresy, Schism and the 'Collapse' of the Church (but, hey, at least the bishops will get to vote)."  That pretty much sums up the consensus of the Catholic blogosphere.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Is Cardinal Burke Thumbing His Nose at Pope Francis?

"Yes, I am a fundamentalist," says Cardinal Burke
As I recently blogged [HERE], one of the topics covered by Pope Francis in his speech before the Joint Session of Congress was the the dangers of fundamentalism. As the Holy Father stated, much of the conflict and violence in the world is the result of both political and religious fundamentalism:
All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. 
A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

There's Something About Francis

Cover of New York Post
I recently received a comment from a Catholic who asked that I list some positive accomplishments of Pope Francis. It's kind of a surprising request as the majority of Catholics have a very positive opinion of Pope Francis. It is true that in the United States, his positive numbers have slipped slightly, as seen in the most recent poll released by Pew Research, HERE. According to the most recent poll, released on October 7, 2015,
Among the 97 Catholics interviewed who say they attend Mass at least once a week, 84% have a favorable view of Pope Francis – down since February, when fully 95% of regular Mass-attending Catholics expressed a favorable view of the pontiff. Mass-attending Catholics have not become significantly more likely to express unfavorable views of Pope Francis; rather, they are now more likely to say they have no opinion.
As seen in this poll, the vast majority of American Catholics have no problem with Pope Francis. But, of course, when it comes to Catholic traditionalists, most view Pope Francis as basically their enemy. That is not surprising because, like all good fundamentalists, they label anyone who does not share their views as a heretic. In the case of Catholic traditionalists, the litmus test is believing that the Traditional Latin Mass is the only thing that will save the Church and the world. According to traditionalists, if you don't believe that, you're most likely going to burn in hell.

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