Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Synod: Fasten Your Seatbelts

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Words Of Jesus Christ (Mark 2:17)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The Words of Jesus Christ, (Matthew 11:28-30)

Imitating Jesus’ merciful gaze, the Church must accompany her most fragile sons and daughters, marked by wounded and lost love, with attention and care, restoring trust and hope to them like the light of a beacon in a port, or a torch carried among the people to light the way for those who are lost or find themselves in the midst of the storm.
Relatio post disceptationem (working document from the Synod on the Family) Paragraph 23
As I suspected would happen, this past week the Catholic blogosphere has been apoplectic about the Synod on the Family in Rome. The Synod is an opportunity for bishops and others to meet in Rome and express their opinions and views about the current state of the family which, any way you look at it, is pretty sad. The Extraordinary Synod taking place in Rome is basically a gabfest.  The Pope is giving people from all sides of the various issues concerning the family the opportunity to air their views.  However, it is vital to note that there will be no decisions made this year. 

This fact makes no difference to the Catholic blogosphere.  The consensus among the blogosphere seem to be that Church hierarchy has fallen completely off the rails and is no longer under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Many of those viewing the Synod have become hysterical and worse.

Pope Francis, in his opening remarks at the Synod, did his best to tell us what the purpose of these meetings is.  The meetings taking place in Rome are not about redefining doctrine or dogma.  The Extraordinary Synod is not about changing the direction the Church has taken for 2000 years.  It is about defining the problems that the family faces in the 21st Century and how the Church should address these problems.

In St. Peter's Square on the eve before the beginning of the Synod, Pope Francis said:
"Let us invoke openness to a sincere, open and fraternal exchange of views, that it might lead us to take pastoral responsibility for the questions that this changing time brings with it, Let them fill our heart, without ever losing peace, but with serene trust that in his time the Lord will not fail to lead us back to unity."
Notice the words of the Holy Father which imply that the Church is not walking in unity on many of these issues right now, but as His Holiness says, we should never lose peace but have "serene trust that in his time the Lord will not fail to lead us back to unity."

"Doesn't the history of the church perhaps tell us of so many analogous situations, that our fathers knew how to overcome with stubborn patience and creativity?" 
We must lend an ear to the rhythm of our time and perceive the odor of people today, that we might be imbued with their joys and hopes, their sadness and anxiety: at that point we will be able credibly to propose the good news on the family.
Pope Francis wants everyone to have their say, even and maybe most especially those whose views do not conform to Church teaching.  He admonished those who do stand by Church teaching to listen with "humility."

Pope Francis continued this theme on the first day of the Extraordinary Synod in his opening message.  From a portion of his opening remarks [HERE]:
A basic general condition is this: to speak clearly. No one must say: “This can’t be said; he will think of me this way or that …” It is necessary to say everything that is felt with parrhesia [to speak boldly]. After the last Consistory (February 2014), in which there was talk of the family, a Cardinal wrote to me saying: too bad that some Cardinals didn’t have the courage to say some things out of respect for the Pope, thinking, perhaps, that the Pope thought something different. This is not good; this is not synodality, because it is necessary to say everything that in the Lord one feels should be said, with human respect, without fear. And, at the same time, one must listen with humility and receive with an open heart what the brothers say. Synodality will be exercised with these two attitudes. 
Therefore, I ask you, please, for these attitudes of brothers in the Lord: to speak with parrhesia and to listen with humility.
And do so with much tranquillity and peace, because the Synod always unfolds cum Petro et sub Petro, and the Pope’s presence is the guarantee for all and protection of the faith.
With that last statement, Pope Francis is reminding the Church that no matter what may be said, we should not allow this to distress us in any way because through the Pope, the Holy Spirit will still be there guiding and leading the Church, "and the Pope’s presence is the guarantee for all and protection of the faith."  The approach that Pope Francis is taking seems to me to be that of a doctor who wants his patient to describe all of his symptoms, not holding anything back.  Like a good doctor, Pope Francis realizes that the Church cannot help people heal if she does not understand exactly what is causing their illness.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Catholic blogosphere seem not to believe this.  They feel that if everything is not going just as they feel it should, then the Pope is as far off the rails as the rest of Church hierarchy, and we don't even have to listen to the Holy Father.

The blogosphere has now concentrated their criticism of the Synod on the working document that was released, the "Relatio" as it is being called. You may read the entire document HERE, and I would suggest you do so. Yes, there are some very controversial statements in it, which Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of South Africa has said, "The message has gone out that this is what the synod is saying, this is what the Catholic Church is saying. It's not what we're saying at all."[HERE]   However, along with these controversial statements are also some very profound statements, such as that quoted above.

How can there be such disparity in this document? Because this document is essentially a very broad summary of the different topics discussed so far at the Synod and the views and opinions of those involved in the discussion. It is in not in any sense an official document of the Church. Yes, the secular media is running with it, but that still does not give the document any true authority. This document is essentially talking points, the basis for discussion, just as requested by Pope Francis. 

One of those leading the charge against the bishops at the Synod is, as could easily be predicted, Michael Voris. In his reports so far concerning the Synod, he has described the bishops there as "assorted wicked bishops, bishops who wear the robes but are, as Our Blessed Lord said, 'ravenous wolves.'" He is telling us that there is a "Holy War in Rome", with bishop against bishop.  He slandered specific bishops, such as Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., who Voris says "is no friend of the Church’s teachings regarding the reception of Holy Communion by Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried without having their previous marriage annulled."  

Voris assails and condemns the bishops with the following:
There is no doubt about it—no denying it any longer, Church-of-Nice defenders—the homosexual agenda has arrived full throttle in Rome, carried in by various bishops under the guise of mercy, charity, welcoming, etc. in their modernist baggage.
And this also must be said very clearly: There are bishops and cardinals in this Synod who no longer believe the Catholic Faith. They don’t sound Catholic, they don’t speak Catholic, they don’t think Catholic.
What purpose does this rhetoric serve except to divide brethren and turn them against those appointed by the Holy Spirit to watch over their souls? It would seem that Michael Voris has no interest in listening to anything or anyone that might suggest that the Church is not in a death spiral. He picks and chooses his facts. He made the following comment:
There hasn’t been one word here of sin, the need to take up one’s cross, sacrifice, conversion, confession, or anything of the like.
First of all, Michael Voris has no idea what specifics have or have not been discussed in the Synod because the discussions have all been behind closed doors.

Secondly, the document release by the Synod, proves him wrong.

Paragraph 14 specifically mentions the Cross:
14. Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross.
Paragraph 12 quotes Pope Francis about the great need to turn towards Christ:
12. In order to “walk among contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to maintain a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ, to pause in contemplation and in adoration of His Face. ... Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (Pope Francis, Address of 4 October 2014). Jesus looked upon the women and the men he met with love and tenderness, accompanying their steps with patience and mercy, in proclaiming the demands of the Kingdom of God.
The need for conversion is mentioned in paragraph 28:
28. For this reason, what is required is a missionary conversion: it is necessary not to stop at an announcement that is merely theoretical and has nothing to do with people’s real problems. It must not be forgotten that the crisis of faith has led to a crisis in matrimony and the family and, as a result, the transmission of faith from parents to children has often been interrupted. Confronted by a strong faith, the imposition of certain cultural perspectives that weaken the family is of no importance.
Paragraph 35:
The importance of family spirituality and prayer needs to be underlined, encouraging couples to meet regularly to promote the growth of the spiritual life and solidarity in the concrete demands of life. Meaningful liturgies, devotional practices and the Eucharist celebrated for families, were mentioned as vital in favoring evangelization through the family.
The concluding paragraph puts everything in perspective.  This paragraph tells us that the points raised in the document were from discussions that "took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening."  These discussions were not about answering questions but just the opposite, "to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer..."
58. The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view. All the same the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish that from the beginning of our work Pope Francis has extended to us, inviting us to the courage of the faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity.
Despite this, we have Michael Voris and others telling us that the Church is at war with herself and we will basically have to choose which side we are on.  As Voris says,
If there is anything good to come out of this event so far, it would be that the battle lines are being drawn clearly and that Satan is being exposed.
 And how does Voris know that "Satan is being exposed"?
You know the Enemy is present here, precisely because his name never comes up in anything told to the media, in any documents, speech summaries—anywhere. It’s as though to many of the Fathers of the Synod, he simply doesn’t exist.
Michael Voris is not privy to any of the numerous private meetings that are being held in the Synod. Yet he makes this horrendous accusation because "Satan" is never mentioned in any media documents or summaries. Hey Mikey, these are "summaries", not blow-by-blow descriptions.    Pope Francis told us that we can absolutely trust that the Holy Spirit is very active in Rome right now because "the Synod always unfolds cum Petro et sub Petro, and the Pope’s presence is the guarantee for all and protection of the faith."  I think I will believe the Vicar of Christ before I believe Voris or any of his cohorts.  

Voris tells us:
This isn’t Catholic by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, it doesn’t even rise to the level of bad Protestantism.
Again, Voris makes this horrific accusation based not on any actual knowledge but on reports and summaries, and as I have shown, he has misrepresented even those things which have been made public.  Voris completely discounts the words of Pope Francis and the promise that the Holy Spirit will not desert the Church.

Who is really doing the work of the devil?

Below is a wonderful video by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales of a press conference he did shortly before the Extraordinary Synod began.  He gives an excellent explanation of the process which we are watching:
Could I present you with an image to begin with? The first serious public discussion of the themes of this Synod took place last February at a meeting of the Consistory of Cardinals to which I was admitted as a newly nominated cardinal. I said after that the discussion there had been like an overture. It was something that signaled many of the themes that would be developed in due course. So it moved quickly from theme to theme.

This Extraordinary Synod, I would like to suggest to you, is a first movement of a piece of music. Only a first movement. What will happen after this Synod, there will be a second movement. And that will be the 12 months in between the two Synods of Bishops. Now those of you who know classical movement format, second movements are often more meditative, they're quieter. They're to be listened to perhaps more intently. And I think what goes on throughout the Church worldwide between these two Synods is a very important part of the overall composition.

The third movement, which as you know is often quite dramatic, will be the Ordinary Synod in October 2015. That will be attended by elected members of bishops' conferences.

And then in musical terms there will be a finale, which will be whatever the Holy Father concludes if this Synod follows the normal pattern. So in due course there will be an Apostolic Exhortation such a Evangelii Gaudium. And that will express the mind of the Church through the Pope on the matters that have been talked about.

So it's very important that we understand where this Extraordinary Synod sits in the whole process the Catholic Church worldwide is embarking on.

I would suggest watching the whole video.  It is very enlightening.

Interestingly, today is the feast of the great Saint Teresa of Avila.  One of her most famous quotes is:
Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rest in Peace, Father Groeschel

Father Benedict Groeschel and Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Father Benedict Groeschel died on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis.  I was able to hear Father Groeschel speak many times and had the great honor of meeting him on a few different occasions.  He was the real deal.  He made some missteps along the way - don't we all - but there can be no doubt of his love for our Lord, the Church and the poor.  He completely dedicated his life to fulfilling the Gospel.  

I remember the first time I saw Father Groeschel in person.  I had seen him on EWTN many times and knew he was a celebrity.  However, my first impressions were of a very down to earth and humble man.  He was wearing sandals that were beat up to say the least and his simple gray habit tied with a rope.  He greeted anyone and everyone who came up to him, giving all that warm smile with a twinkle in his deep blue eyes.  He spoke in plain English with no attempt to impress anyone.  He had a wonderful sense of humor.  And his speech was filled with love for Our Lord, to whom he completely dedicated his life.  

Father Groeschel always told us that he fully expected a stay in Purgatory.  I think he may have been "disappointed."  He suffered tremendously in the last several years of his life, and was never without pain since his near death experience after being hit by a car in Florida in 2004.  I believe he suffered his purgatory here on earth.  That did not stop him from his ministry.  He was everywhere, traveling far and wide and a fixture on EWTN.  

I really like this quote from Father Groeschel:
Bishop Sheen used to say that there is nothing worse than wasted suffering. And that is certainly true. I was taught by the sisters long ago in Catholic school to unite my sufferings, works, and prayers each day with Christ, and I continue to do that through the heart of Mary. It gave great meaning to me while I was in the hospital and idle, unable to work for the salvation of souls, to be able to offer the pains and the patience required by them as a prayer for the world.

You have to be careful with suffering. One has to be careful not to enjoy it, or focus on it, or expand it too much. Then suffering becomes the goal. The goal is not suffering; the goal is loving patience, offered to God as best one can. And the humility to admit that we don’t do this very well. One of the things I learned from my illness is that over and over again we have to tell God that we really trust Him. Trusting in God is not one action; it’s an ongoing way of life.
On this Feast Day of St. Francis, an antiphon from the Divine Office said, "Francis left this earth a poor and lowly man; he enters heaven rich in God’s favor, greeted with songs of rejoicing." The same could be said of Fr. Benedict Groeschel. There is little doubt in my mind that he is now rejoicing in heaven with his good friend, Mother Teresa, and Father Solanus Casey, whom he also knew, and St. Francis himself.

Pray for us, Father Groeschel. We need it.

Well done, good and faithful servant.  

Cardinal Kasper Explains Why He Is Wrong

There has been a tremendous amount of cyber ink spilled on the subject of divorced and remarried Catholics being readmitted to the sacraments, specifically being able to receive Holy Communion while in an invalid marriage. Cardinal Walter Kasper is at the front of the line heading the charge that such individuals be allowed to receive the sacraments.

I have great respect for Cardinal Kasper, who is a very well regarded Catholic theologian (despite what you hear over the Internet), and I believe he is also a very devout prince of the Church. Up to this point, I have been withholding judgment on this matter of divorced and remarried Catholics, although I admit that I actually wanted Cardinal Kasper to be right.

However, Catholic News Service just released a video of excerpts of an interview with Cardinal Kasper in which he left no doubt that he is completely wrong on this subject. His own words condemn his position, and I have no choice but to admit that. You can watch the video below.

You will see that the first words of Cardinal Kasper on this video are, "If there's a second union, well it's not a sacramental one." Those words of and by themselves should end the discussion. He tries to mitigate this statement with his next statement, "It's not of the same level as the first one." Not of the same level? That is like saying an Episcopalian bishop is not of the same level as a Catholic bishop. "Levels" has nothing to do with this.  One is legitimate, the other is not.  The "second union" of which Cardinal Kasper speaks is an illegitimate union in the eyes of the Church and God.  And Cardinal Kasper has admitted as much in his first statement.  His second statement does not lessen that truth in any way.

I am sure that I do not need to tell Cardinal Kasper that it is not possible to make anything holy which has not been made holy by Our Lord. Cardinal Kasper knows this, and has even admitted it. Yet, he continues to persist. After admitting that a civil marriage cannot be sacramental, he says the civil union "can be seen some marriage elements of a marriage and of a family. There is love, there is commitment, there is exclusivity. It is forever, there is prayer life, there are children. . ." Cardinal Kasper is arguing that if something looks like the real thing, then it can be accepted as the real thing, even though it has not been blessed by the Holy Spirit.

The other day, my husband and I were walking past beautiful old All Saints Episcopalian church in Brooklyn. The doors were open and we could see a magnificent high altar, and there was even a lit sanctuary lamp next to it. If we didn't know better, we would have sworn this was a Catholic Church. But putting in a high altar with a lit sanctuary lamp does not make it Catholic nor does it mean that Jesus Christ is present in the tabernacle.

Below is a picture of All Saints Episcopal Church, which at first glance looks very Catholic. But you will notice that this is a marriage of two men. Ah, how deceptive looks can be!

I am really amazed that Cardinal Kasper would make the argument that because a relationship "looks" legitimate and even contains certain real elements of a true marriage, that somehow makes it valid and legitimate.  The picture above of a same sex wedding looks legitimate and contains many elements of a real wedding, but it can never be any more than play acting for those involved.  And that is just as true for illegitimate second "marriages" among Catholics.  

Cardinal Kasper then went on making more arguments which, again, show that his position is untenable. He says of those divorced and remarried, "To say every sexual act is sinful, that's different. If you tell people who live this way, and they do it in a responsible way, to tell them that's adultery, permanent adultery, I think they would feel insulted and offended." Yes, Your Eminence, people involved in sin no doubt feel "insulted and offended" when you point out their sin. But do we really have any other choice? Cardinal Kasper's statement that people in invalid marriages can have sexual relations "in a responsible way" just makes no sense whatsoever. Does sin stop being sin if we somehow sin "responsibly"? What does that even mean? The fact is, that statement has no meaning at all.

Cardinal Kasper then makes an even more ludicrous statement: "Such a sexual relationship within such a couple has also its positive values, it's not only its negative values, and I think the first word the church always, in every situation, is a 'yes'." I guess the positive values are that the couple is involved in only one sinful monogamous relationship instead of multiple, promiscuous relationships. So I guess, according to Cardinal Kasper, jumping off of a 10 story building would be less damaging to us than jumping off of a 40 story building, even though the results are the same.  I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland at this point.  

Cardinal Kasper continues, and it actually gets even worse, "I'm happy that God gives you this love and that you can express this love. It's not the fullness already, but who of us loves God and loves the neighbor as he should do it?" Cardinal Kasper is saying that those involved in an invalid marriage are involved in an "imperfect" relationship, but the rest of us have no right to judge such relationships because we are not perfect, either. Cardinal Kasper knows that the Church not only has a right to judge such relationships, it is her DUTY to judge these relationships. The Church cannot endorse any situations that are spiritually harmful to Church members. Not to make a judgment on these invalid marriages would actually be a dereliction of the Church's duty.

Cardinal Kasper then says it is his duty to accompany these couples in their invalid marriages, and encourage them "to do according to their conscience when it is a very mature conscience." The Cardinal is actually saying that, even though someone is living in violation of church teaching, if the people involved have a "mature conscience", then it is okay to encourage them to follow that "mature conscience."

Cardinal Kasper is a great theologian, so I know he has read Roman 1:28 which says, "Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done." A conscience that is formed outside of Church teaching cannot be trusted. We can never support anyone who is living in direct opposition to Church dogma. I truly cannot understand how Cardinal Kasper can make statements that are contrary to this.

But the worst of Cardinal's Kasper's statements are still to come. He says, "On God, everybody has always, if he wants, a chance. And God gives a new chance." That statement is absolutely, unequivocally true. Our Lord never stops calling out to us, calling us to repentance and His Love and Mercy. Our sin can and often does drown out the Voice of God, but that doesn't mean He stops calling to us.

But then Cardinal Kasper goes off the rails. He says, "After a shipwreck, you do not get a new ship, but you can have a plank in order to survive. And that's the mercy of God." This is absolutely, completely false. Our Lord did not come to earth and pour out His Life on the cross to give us a "plank" so that we could merely "survive." As recorded in John 10:10, Our Lord said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." St. Paul wrote in II Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." Our Lord wants us to experience His Saving Grace fully and abundantly, not just a small piece of it marred by our sin.

In Luke 5:36-37, Jesus said:
"No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins."
Cardinal Kasper is telling us that God's mercy will allow us to stay in our sin and that He will give us a "plank" that will somehow stop our sin from destroying us.  It seems that Cardinal Kasper truly believes that the great Mercy of God will allow people to stay in their sin and have only a piece of the Holy Spirit (if even that much) instead of being filled with the Holy Spirit and in a full relationship with Him. 

This goes against everything taught by Our Lord and the Apostles.  When we come to Christ, we must get rid of everything that hinders our relationship with Him, and that means getting rid of ALL of our sin.

St. Paul wrote Philipians 3:7-8:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Does Cardinal Kasper think that St. Paul is saying we must get rid of everything that hinders us except an invalid marriage? Does Cardinal Kasper think St. Paul would agree that if an invalid marriage has enough elements of a valid marriage, and the couple involved have a "mature" conscience, this somehow brings them into the graces of God?

Our Lord told us in Matthew 18:8-9:
If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
Certainly Our Lord did not mean that we should literally maim ourselves, but He did mean that we should be ruthless and unrelenting in getting rid of anything that is sinful in our lives.

I really wanted to believe that there was a way for divorced and remarried Catholics to be able to receive the sacraments. Nothing I had read up to this time convinced me one way or the other on this issue. But this video of Cardinal Kasper leave no doubt in my mind. I now realize, from his own words, that Cardinal Kasper is wrong on this issue. I find no joy in this at all. This is an extremely divisive issue in the Church, and Cardinal Kasper is actually making it wore by his insistence on taking a stance against Church doctrine while trying to convince us that he is upholding Church teaching. And I think that he actually does believe this. At the same time, I still believe it is very important that the issue be explored and discussed among the bishops so that they will be able to show the world that there is no other possible judgment.

We really need to be in prayer about the Synod which starts on Sunday, October 5. We need to pray that all involved are completely submissive to the Holy Spirit, and that it will not prove to be a cause of division among Catholics. We are at a crucial point in the world and in the Church. We cannot allow Satan to have the upper hand. 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Candidate for Patron Saint of Bloggers: St. Therese of Lisieux

The only way to advance rapidly in the path of love is to remain always very little. That is what I did, and now I can sing with our holy Father, St. John of the Cross: 'Then I abased myself so low, so very low, That I ascended to such heights, such heights indeed, That I did overtake the prey I chased!'
St. Therese of Lisieux

Today is the Feast Day of St. Therese of Liseux, one of our most amazing saints.  She is the patron saint of missionaries although she was never a missionary.  She is a doctor of the Church, even though she wrote only one book - her biography - and was never even a teacher in her short life.  She lived only 24 years and died as an unknown little nun.  Yet, she is now loved and revered around the world, and considered one of our greatest saints.

I would also propose that St. Therese be named the patron saint of bloggers. Why? St. Therese taught the "little way", which means making ourselves as small and insignificant as possible. Her "little way" includes accepting personal insults without striking back, and in this way making ourselves a part of the suffering of Our Lord, who took all of our sins upon Himself.
Think of how different the Internet would be if bloggers got rid of all of the self righteousness and indignation with which so many of us express ourselves, and we instead treated one another with love and understanding, even though we disagree with one another.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who modeled herself after the Little Flower, had a "Humility List" which corresponds with the teaching of St. Therese of Liseux:
1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
I am using this opportunity to confess that I have failed miserably in living this list on this blog and on the Internet in general.  I have been subjected to some pretty nasty name calling, such as bloviating crackpot, an evil rotheart, a megalomaniac and a twit, to list just a few of the pejoratives used against me.  I've also gotten "hysteria and irrational methodology", "Your behavior is impulsive and irrational", "You have been inconsiderate, unreasonable, and biased", "your rhetoric is blatantly dishonest, it's why you have a double standard". One of the "nicer" things said about me is that I am "clueless." I confess that I more often than not allow my pride to get in the way and have reacted to these insults with indignation. Hardly the way of St. Therese and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

As a Catholic blogger, with the emphasis on "Catholic", I am here and now making a pledge, in the spirit of the "Little Way" of St. Therese of Lisieux, never to get involved in personal attacks against others.  I will continue to comment on issues and show where and when I think others are wrong in their opinions and even in their actions.  That is the definition of blogging about the issues.  But I will never again make personal attacks against others, judging their character in any way.  

More importantly, I will never again respond in any way to personal attacks made against me.  I am going to write my blog and live my life according to Blessed Mother Teresa's "Humility List."   I accept personal attacks from others as a tool to help me in my own spiritual growth, as a reminder that I am just a sinful human being in great need of correction.

There is no need to fight our personal battles. We have a Savior who will fight for us. We are told in the Divine Office, "Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you." It is not necessary to win every argument or even win any arguments. The ultimate aim of all we do should be to spread the Love of Jesus Christ, and the best way to do that is to allow Him fight our battles for us.

In reading the Gospels, you will never see even one instance where our Lord defended his personal honor against others.  He always defended the Gospel, but when it came to personal attacks, He never once struck back.  This is most especially seen when He was crucified.  In fact, one of His last statements was made on behalf of those who were crucifying Him:  "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."  

The Word of God warns constantly of the senselessness of arguing, and just how self defeating it is:

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

Proverbs 15:18 - "A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel."

II Timothy 2:14 - "Keep reminding God's people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen."

II Timothy 2:23 - "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels."

James 4:1 - "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?"

I know that when I argue with others, it is far too often not because I am searching for the truth, but because I want to prove how right I am.  It is a matter of ego.  It is in direct contradiction to the teachings of that great doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux, who taught the "little way." 

Following are a few quotes from St. Therese by which I think every blogger should live: 
"And it is the Lord, it is Jesus, Who is my judge. Therefore I will try always to think leniently of others, that He may judge me leniently, or rather not at all, since He says: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged."
"You are wrong to find fault with this thing and with that, or to try and make everyone see things as you see them. We desire to be 'as little children,' and little children do not know what is best: to them all seems right. Let us imitate their ways. Besides, there is no merit in doing what reason dictates."
"When something painful or disagreeable happens to me, instead of a melancholy look, I answer by a smile. At first I did not always succeed, but now it has become a habit which I am glad to have acquired."
“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant ones, count as nothing.”
“It is better to leave each one in his own opinion than to enter into arguments.”
I think it is important that Catholic voices are heard on the Internet, but let us try to follow the way of the Little Flower. Let the Catholic voice be one of love and true concern, and not just a matter of showing how "right" we are. When someone personally attacks you, be it on the Internet or in your personal relationships, instead of striking back and answering in a like manner, think of this quote from St. Therese:
“Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.”
St. Therese, pray for us.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Praying for the Synod On the Family

Icon from "Divine Office" Ministry

I try to pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. One major reason that I am able to do this is because of a great organization that releases an audio recording of the LOTH every day. "Divine Office" has both an app and a website where you can listen and pray with them. You can access their website HERE. The website is free to use, but the app is about $19.99 to buy and download onto your iphone, ipad, ipod and android devices. However, you can get it at Amazon for $14.99 [HERE]. The app has a cool little feature which shows a spinning globe with points of light representing all those around the world praying the LOTH with you. This does not include anyone praying offline as well.

This Divine Office app has been invaluable for me. I download the Daily Office onto my ipad in the morning, plug in my bluetooth headset, and pray along as I get ready for the day, during the day and then again at night. I highly recommend that, if at all possible, everyone take advantage of this wonderful ministry.

The reason I bring this up is because on today's LOTH, they included prayers for the upcoming Synod on the Family which begins in Rome on October 5. This is a very important event in the Church and for the entire world. The family is under attack as never before in history in almost every culture in the world. Divorce, the legalization of abortion, universal use of artificial contraception, the collapse of morals, easy access to pornography and the promotion of same sex marriage are just a few of the weapons being used to destroy families. No society can exist without the family, and Satan knows this. Destroy the family and you destroy the culture and put souls in eternal peril.

Cardinal Walter Kasper who advocates
mercy and leniency for the divorced and remarried
The Holy Spirit has inspired the Magesterium to call the Synod on the Family to address some of these major issues facing families today. The issue that has gotten the most press is that of divorced and remarried Catholics having access to the sacraments. If we are to believe some of the reports we hear, even bishops are in disagreement over this.

 Many "Catholics" are using the divorced and remarried issue to try to turn other Catholics against Church hierarchy, saying that anyone who so much as wants to just explore the problem of divorced and remarried Catholics is a modernist out to destroy the Church, and the ones most guilty of this includes bishops, cardinals and even the Holy Father. Those who are attacking the hierarchy are doing so despite the fact that millions of Catholics are in a divorced and remarried situation and are, in effect, in spiritual limbo with no access to the sacraments unless they are willing to walk away from their current families. Are we just to ignore these people and let them find their own way out of this situation with no help from the spiritual shepherds in charge of their souls? Many would say yes.

Cardinal Raymond Burke who insists that nothing can change in
the Church's actions towards those divorced and remarried
I thank God that I do not have to make any judgments in cases like this, but as a member of the laity, I do have a responsibility to be in deep prayer over those who are making the hard decisions. The "Divine Office" has given us some good prayers to help get us started.  I have copied these prayers below:
Sept. 28, The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization

Day of Prayer
for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the
Synod of Bishops
Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 21 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.

Particular churches, parish communities, institutes of consecrated life, associations and movements are invited to pray for this intention during Mass and at other liturgical celebrations, in the days leading to the synod and during the synod itself. The faithful, individually but above all in families, are invited to join in these prayers.
The suggested prayers include the Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod, composed by Pope Francis, and the following proposed intentions during the Prayers of the Faithful which can be adapted at Sunday Mass on 28 September and during the synod. The recitation of the Holy Rosary is also recommended for the duration of the synodal assembly. These intentions can also be included in the petitions at Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer).
I – Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love,
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families too
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic Churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection and division:
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the approaching Synod of Bishops
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.

II – Prayer of the Faithful

Brothers and Sisters,
gathered together as God’s family and inspired by our faith, we raise our minds and hearts to the Father, that our families, sustained by the grace of Christ, might become true domestic churches where all live and bear witness to God’s love.

Together we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For Pope Francis: the Lord has called him to preside over the Church in charity; sustain him in his ministry of service to the communion of the episcopal college and the entire People of God, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For the synod fathers and the other participants at the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops: may the Spirit of the Lord enlighten their minds so that the Church might respond, in faithfulness to God’s plan, to the challenges facing the family, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For those who have the responsibility of governing nations: that the Holy Spirit might inspire programmes which acknowledge the value of the family as the basic unit of society in God’s plan and which offer support to families in difficulty, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For Christian families: may the Lord who has sealed the union of husband and wife with his presence, make our families cenacles of prayer and ardent communities of life and love, after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For couples undergoing difficulties: may the Lord, rich in mercy, be present to them through the Church’s motherly care and concern in showing understanding and patience in their journey towards pardon and reconciliation, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For families who, for the sake of the Gospel, are forced leave their fatherland: may the Lord who endured exile with Mary and Joseph, comfort them with his grace and open for them paths of fraternal charity and human solidarity, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For grandparents: may the Lord who was received in the Temple by the elders Simeon and Anna, make them wise collaborators with parents in transmitting the faith and the raising their children, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For children: may the Lord of life, who in his ministry welcomed them and made them a model for entering the Kingdom of heaven, inspire a respect for life in the womb and programmes in raising children which conform to the Christian outlook towards life, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

For young people: may the Lord, who made holy the Wedding at Cana, lead them to discover the beauty of the sacredness and inviolability of the family in God’s plan and sustain engaged couples as they prepare for marriage, we pray:
– Lord, bless and sanctify our families.

O God, you never forsake the work of your hands, hear our prayer; send the Spirit of your Son to enlighten the Church as the synodal journey begins, so that contemplating the splendour of true love which shines forth in the Holy Family of Nazareth, she might learn the freedom and obedience to respond with boldness and mercy to the challenges of today’s world. Through Christ Our Lord.
It should be noted that no decisions will be forthcoming from the Synod. The purpose of this Synod is to set the agenda for a larger synod on the family in October 2015, which will make recommendation to the pope who will make any final decisions. One thing you can be sure of is that the Catholic blogosphere will be in major meltdown as finger pointing and accusations of the destruction of the Church will be flying fast and furious. As St. Paul warned us in Ephesians 4:14, we should not allow ourselves to be "blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." When you hear harsh and severe condemnation of the Magesterium and hierarchy of the Church, it is time to change channels.

As members of the Church, we should turn to our Lord with trust, knowing that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to be misguided. We are facing unprecedented situations in the Church and world today. The doctrine and the teaching of the Church will never change. It cannot change. But our understanding needs to grow and mature as we face these new challenges. Our Lord always reached out to sinners with love, mercy and compassion. He was never easy on sin, but was never unmerciful to the sinner. We, as a Church, need to find this balance as well. I certainly have no solutions, but I can and must be involved in sending up my prayers on behalf of those persons who will be participating in the Synod.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Response to Terry Nelson Re: Cardinal Dolan

Cardinal Dolan goes into the belly of the beast, giving the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.  As stated on Youtube:  "The major networks skipped the closing prayer of the DNC in Charlotte."
Terry Nelson of Abbey Roads, whom I greatly respect, has left a comment on my blog in regard to Cardinal Dolan.  His entire comment:  "FYI, Cardinal Dolan is the Catholic guy who's following the herd."

Following is my reponse to Terry:

I saw your blog post on this subject, Terry, and I was going to answer it but I decided not to. I am very sad that you and I have such different views on this. I wish instead of such a terse comment to me that you had instead answered my points and shown how I was wrong.

I have shown that Cardinal Dolan does stand up for church teaching. As just one more example, he went to the Democratic Convention and gave a very moving prayer in which he was not afraid to bring up Church teaching and how it is in opposition to everything that was going on there. One part of that prayer:

"Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community"

Terry, the big problem that many are making is that they are looking at the St. Patrick's Day parade as a religious event. It is not. It is a cultural event. The Catholic Church has been a part of this cultural event from the beginning, even though it has always included every part of society which is most certainly not a part of the Church.  

Our society has become so morally degraded that the homosexual lifestyle is now approved. Thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we know that the teaching of the Church will never change on this or any other moral teaching. But that does not mean that we should not change our approach to those with whom we disagree. Cardinal Dolan does not have any say in who participates in the parade, but he can choose how he will react to the different elements in the parade.

Yes, he can make the decision not to include church participation. And that would make you and many others very happy. It might not make Michael Voris too happy because that would give him less reason to call Cardinal Dolan evil and a tool of the devil.

But what about the GBLTQ persons who are marching in the parade? They need us, Terry. They need the message that Cardinal Dolan can give them. These poor lost souls are coming to join an event in which the Catholic Church is already a participant. They are coming to join us. Yes, it is as an adversary. But that is all the more reason why we should stay. We were told by Our Lord to "go out into the world and preach the Gospel." This is the perfect opportunity to do this.

If Cardinal Dolan was to run away from the parade, as you and so many others advocate, he would be letting the militant gays win. He would be capitulating and giving the parade over to them entirely, destroying the presence of anything good. He would also be giving them even more reason to point out how bigoted and hateful the Church is, that we may preach love, but all our actions show is hate. By staying and even leading as Grand Marshal, he is continuing to provide the presence of the Holy Spirit. He will be providing a light in what has become a dark, dark world. As he said in his statement,

"As I do each year, I look forward to celebrating Mass in honor of Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and the Patron Saint of this Archdiocese, to begin the feast, and pray that the parade would continue to be a source of unity."

Satan is the one who wants to drive Cardinal Dolan and the presence of the Catholic Church completely away from the parade. He wants it to become a "gay" parade. That will not happen as long as Cardinal Dolan is there. And at the same time, it is a golden opportunity to evangelize - just by our presence - to those who are in such great need. I thank God for Cardinal Dolan's courage to go up against those who oppose him, both in and out of the Church.

I know this will not change your mind or anyone else who disagrees, but I'm still putting it out there. Please give it some thought. Think about what our commission as a church is. We need to go out into the world that needs us. Would it really be the work of the Holy Spirit to just run away and give the world over to darkness? Or do we stand strong and instead allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to reach out to others? Our Lord never ran away. He was condemned by the Pharisees because he socialized with known sinners. Far too many Catholics are sounding a lot more like Pharisees than like Jesus Christ.

UPDATE:  The Anchoress did a great post on this subject.  God bless her:

Dolan is Charged to Model Christ, Not the Pharisees

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Msgr. Charles Pope and The Herd Mentality of Catholic Blogging

Sometimes I think that almost all Catholic blogs are written by just one person because they all sound exactly the same. No one ever seems to have an original thought. An example this past week was the explosion that happened across the Catholic Internet when Cardinal Dolan said he did not have a problem with the organizers of the St. Patrick's Parade in NYC allowing gay activist groups to march in the parade. Every Catholic blog I read had the exact same knee jerk reaction - Dolan has completely fallen off the rails and is out to destroy the church. He must be resisted!

Even the headlines of the posts sound the same. Here are just a few:
Cardinal Dolan and the Shameful NYC St. Patrick's Gay Parade 
A ‘dereliction of duty’? Catholics react to Cardinal Dolan’s role in St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Dolan to Catholics: Everybody Into the Ghetto

Cardinal Dolan and His St. Patrick Day Parade Abomination - St. Patrick, Pray for Us…

The Saint Patrick's Day Massacre

Cardinal Dolan: Does His Capitulation To Gays In St Patrick's Parade Constitute Cooperation With Mortal Sin?

Cardinal Dolan's St. Patrick's Day Parade Float: A King Size Mattress He Calls The Church of Pope Francis

Dolan once again proves himself a huge disappointment

What Would St. Patrick Say? (St. Patrick must be spinning in his grave.)

Millstone for Cardinal Dolan -- Again!
BREAKING: NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Goes Gay - Dolan Cheers! (You knew Michael Voris could not resist going after Cardinal Dolan once again)
I did not see even one blogger at least attempt to moderate his or her response by saying something like, "I don't understand this.  It doesn't seem like the best move, but I will show respect for the hierarchy of the church and just step back in prayer and let it play out."  Oh no, all the bloggers went right for Cardinal Dolan's jugular vein in full and complete condemnation.

And the blog posts I read on this subject were almost entirely comprised of opinions.  No one looked to see if or how this could possibly fit into the role of evangelizing those who are so militantly opposed to the Church as the homosexual movement is.  No one looked into Cardinal Dolan's past actions regarding the homosexual movement to see what his true motives might actually be.

As far as I know, I am the only blogger who brought up the fact that Cardinal Dolan is on the Board of Courage, the Catholic ministry that helps LGBT persons come out of the homosexual lifestyle, or that Cardinal Dolan was the first and only bishop of NYC to prohibit St. Francis Xavier Church to carry their church banner in the Gay Pride Parade.

GLAAD protestors at St. Patrick's Cathedral
No one seems to remember the incident from May of 2013 when members of GLAAD protested at St. Patrick's Cathedral [HERE] because of a blog post written by Cardinal Dolan in which he stated the following [HERE for the full post]:
The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman or man with a same-sex attraction . . . while reminding him or her of our clear teaching that, while the condition of homosexuality is no sin at all, still, God’s teaching is clear that sexual acts are reserved for a man and woman united in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, loving bond of marriage.

. . .

We are part of a Church where, yes, all are welcome, but, no, not a Church of anything goes.
Nope, not one Catholic blogger brought any of this up.  They just wrote scathing, condemning diatribes against this Prince of the Church.

Among those who condemned Cardinal Dolan was a respected Catholic priest. No, I'm not talking about Father Z (although he was just as guilty [HERE]), but about Msgr. Charles Pope, who wrote a post on the website for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. that was pulled shortly after it was posted. That only incensed Catholic bloggers en masse who, almost in one voice, included Cardinal Wuerl in their condemnation of Cardinal Dolan.  Ah, but the traditionalists proudly proclaimed that Cardinal Wuerl did not out think them. This wonderful gem by Msgr. Pope was copied by others and saved for all the world to see.

So what was in this post?

Msgr. Pope started out his post with a truly bewildering statement:  "The time for happy-clappy, lighthearted engagement of our culture may be nearing an end. Sometimes it takes a while to understand that what used to work no longer works."

At what point in Church history did she engage the world in "happy-clappy, lighthearted engagement"?  Well, Msgr. Pope would have us believe that the Al Smith Dinner, held every year in NYC, is just such an example.  

The Al Smith Dinner is held once a year when the Archdiocese brings together political enemies and asks them to put aside their differences to raise money for poor kids. This, of course, reached a crisis stage when Cardinal Dolan invited President Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, and Catholic bloggers came together in herd mentality to condemn His Eminence. When Msgr. Pope condemns the Al Smith dinner, he is passively aggressively condemning Cardinal Dolan. And everyone knows it.

Msgr. Pope tells us that bringing politicians together years ago wasn't a problem, but now with the such issues as abortion and homosexuality, we can no longer be doing such things.  

I wonder if Msgr. Pope has ever read I Corinthians 5, in which St. Paul tells the Corinthian church that yes, they must separate from the sexually immoral.  However, this is in regard only to those who are in the Church (verses 9-13).
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.
Hmm.  "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?"  That has such a familiar ring to it.  

Ah, yes. Cardinal Dolan when asked about Michael Sam's homosexuality: "Good for him. I would have no sense of judgment on him. God bless ya. I don't think, look, the same bible that tells us that teaches us well about the virtues of chastity and the virtue of fidelity and marriage also tells us not to judge people. So I would say, 'Bravo.'"

Judging from the reactions of of the Catholic blogosphere to Cardinal Dolan, there can be little doubt how they (and Msgr. Charles Pope) would have treated St. Paul.  

In his post Msgr. Pope next states, "Now the St. Patrick’s Parade is becoming of parade of disorder, chaos, and fake unity. Let’s be honest: St. Patrick’s Day nationally has become a disgraceful display of drunkenness and foolishness in the middle of Lent that more often embarrasses the memory of Patrick than honors it."

The St. Patrick's Parade is "becoming" a parade of disorder, etc. etc.???   That statement would cause the rest of New York City to scratch their heads and wonder what world Msgr. Pope lives in not to know what the real reason for the parade has always been.  [Hint:  It's Party Time!]  

My husband had his 15 minutes of fame back in the 1950's when, as a little boy, my mother-in-law took him to the St. Patrick's parade in NYC. After the parade, they went to a restaurant with a bar. The bartender asked my husband if he had been to the parade.  My husband replied yes, and the bartender said, "Every good Irishman who goes to the parade goes to a saloon on St. Patrick's day."

After that, my mother in law took my husband to the Steve Allen Show which was filmed at NBC studios. My husband was picked as a "cute Irish kid" and interviewed by Steven Allen on the show. Steve asked the "cute Irish kid" what he did on St. Patrick's Day? The answer: "I went to a saloon like every good Irishman." The studio audience roared. Why? Because they knew how true this statement was even in the "innocence" of the 1950's. Just as an aside, Steven Allen liked my husband so much that he was actually on the show a couple of times and he still has a picture personally autographed to him and his mother by Steve Allen.
Here is a news flash for Msgr. Pope:  there has never been a time when drinking and carousing were not a part of the St. Patrick's Day parade, especially here in New York.  

Msgr. Pope then decided that Catholics need to actually make St. Patrick's Day of time of prayer and reparation:
It’s time to cancel the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other “Catholic” traditions that have been hijacked by the world. Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick’s Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses. Let’s do adoration and pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet unceasingly for this poor old world.
I would never disagree with anyone's decision to set aside a day for prayer and reparation.  If you want to do it on St. Patrick's Day, all the more power to you.  But as I stated in my previous post, this is also an excellent time to engage with the world when they come to celebrate one of our days.  We cannot go to their events such as the Gay Pride Parade, but we can most certainly invite them to celebrate a non-religious event with us like St. Patrick's Day or the Al Smith Dinner.  We can use these opportunities to show the world what we are made of, to let them know that although we reject their sinful actions, we love and accept them as human beings.  It is, in other words, a perfect time for true evangelization. And there is no doubt in my mind that this is exactly what Our Lord would have done.  

Msgr. Pope and the Catholic blogosphere would have us turn our backs on the world and shut them out while we go into our churches to pray for them.  My reply to this is why can't we both pray for the world and engage them in acts of personal evangelization?  I hope that not one day goes by when Catholics are not in prayer for the world.  But it is also important to follow the example of Our Lord who went out into the world and engaged with sinners without engaging in their sin.  As Pope Francis has told us, we need to get the "smell of the sheep" on us.  And we can't do that if we just hide away.

It is important to note that although Msgr. Pope never actually mentions the name of Cardinal Dolan in his post, there is no doubt as to whom he was directing his comments.  Msgr. Pope was standing in condemnation of a Cardinal of the Church and inciting other Catholics to do the same.  And Msgr. Pope succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.  

In place of the deleted post Msgr. Pope has put the following statement [HERE]:
Many of you have expressed concern about a blog post I wrote on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was removed. I am grateful for your concern about this and all the issues we discuss here. I removed the post upon further reflection due to the strong nature of the language I had used in parts of it. I apologize if the language I used caused offense.

I remain concerned about the central point of the article, namely, how we as Catholics can effectively engage a culture that increasingly requires us to affirm what we cannot reasonably affirm. There are many prudential decisions involved in the answer to this question, and my intent is not to directly criticize any bishop or diocese. But this is an issue we must all collectively wrestle with as our culture and our faith reach deeper differences.

I am grateful to the Archdiocese of Washington, which has generously sponsored our conversation on this site for five years. I am also grateful to all of you who read and comment. I ask mutual charity and understanding for all parties involved. The beautiful motto of James Cardinal Hickey, who ordained me, rings just now in my heart: Veritatem in Caritate (the truth in charity).
Msgr. Pope is apologizing for the "strong nature of the language" he used, but he is still standing behind the sentiments in the post.  Even in his retraction here, he is still attacking Cardinal Dolan, albeit in a passive aggressive way.  Notice his statement, "I remain concerned about . . . how we as Catholics can effectively engage a culture that increasingly requires us to affirm what we cannot reasonably affirm."  He is subtly implying that Cardinal Dolan - by agreeing with the decision of the St. Patrick Parade organizers - is affirming homosexuality.  If that is the case, then can we assume that Jesus Christ was affirming the sin of the prostitutes and other sinners He hung around with?

We, as Catholics, need to get out of the herd mentality of those around us and starting trusting Holy Mother Church.  If you identify yourself as Catholic, then you believe that the Church is led by the Holy Spirit.  That does not mean that every action and word of Church hierarchy is inspired.  It certainly doesn't mean that church hierarchy can do no wrong.  But it does mean that we should always, always, always give the benefit of the doubt to those who are in charge of our souls.  If they are wrong, they will answer directly to Our Lord.

We must remember that God almost never works in ways that we expect.  I think of this often when I meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary.  Who would expect a poor young girl from an oppressed people to become the Mother of God?  Who would expect Our Savior to be born in a dirty, vermin-infested cave surrounded by equally dirty animals with only a feeding trough filled with straw as a bed?  Who would think He and His family would have to flee over many hundreds of miles to a strange land to escape being murdered?  Who would think that the God of the Universe would allow Himself to be mercilessly and ruthlessly beaten and killed like a common criminal to save us from our sins?

We must never think that we know the Mind of God. We must never think that He thinks like we do. We must empty ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us. We walk by faith, not by sight. The Holy Spirit knows exactly where He is leading the Church. He knows far better than we can ever know just how to engage with the world.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the Magnificat, which Our Lady recites when she is greeted by her cousin Elizabeth. In part of it, Our Lady tells us:
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
I have not seen a lot of "lowliness" among Catholic bloggers. The Catholic blogosphere has shown itself to be poisoned with pride and self righteousness. They, for the most part, think they have everything they need. They are "rich" in spiritual knowledge and wisdom, They know better than a Cardinal or even the Pope, and they do not hesitate to voice these opinions. However, Our Lady warns us that the "rich He has sent away empty."

I say to the Catholic blogosphere, now is not the time to turn away from the world. The world needs us more than ever. Cardinal Dolan understands this and is bravely going out to face a world that hates everything he represents. He needs us to stand behind him.

The purpose of this post is not to condemn Msgr. Charles Pope in any way. I really don't know anything about him other than this one post, and that is all I have discussed. I have no reason to doubt that Msgr. Pope is a good priest who loves Our Lord and loves the Church. But he was very wrong to write the now deleted post. He had no right as an ordained priest to attack the actions of a Cardinal. His post served to incite the laity against Church hierarchy, and that is never excusable.

To the rest of the Catholic blogosphere, I would urge you to break away from the herd mentality that seems to have taken over. How? All you need to do is be a good faithful Catholic. Trust our Lord. Trust the Holy Spirit that He will always guide the Church and never let us go astray. Realize that it is not your duty to try to set things back on course. We as human beings have very limited vision of the events around us. Our understanding is even more limited. Follow the example of Our Blessed Mother when she said,
Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it done unto me according to your word.
Walk by faith, not by sight.
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