Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Enemy of My Enemy?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Manhattan Church of Holy Innocents, which is on the potential list of Catholic church closings to be announced in September. In a move to combat the potential closure, some of the parishioners cooperated with the New York Times in an article in which they aired their complaints against the Archdiocese of New York [HERE]. I brought up the fact that the New York Times is notorious in their animosity towards the Catholic Church. Father John Zuholsdorf long ago labeled the Times as "Hell's Bible." As I wrote, I felt that it just wasn't good judgment to be partnering with an enemy of the Church against the hierarchy of the Church.

Several people from Holy Innocents took me to task and said in no uncertain terms in the com box that I was wrong and didn't know what I was talking about.  I found it rather ironic that just a few days later, the Times ran an ad which Father Z wrote about in a post entitled, "Hell’s Bible Full-Page Anti-Catholic Ad" [HERE].  Even Cardinal Dolan commented on it [HERE].  

Anti-Catholic Ad from New York Times
Cardinal Dolan wrote:
Please, please, please…don’t let us down, I daydreamed after Monday’s decision of the Supreme Court defending freedom of religion from government intrusion.
I prayed, I hoped, that the notoriously anti-Catholic firebrands of the nebulous and anonymous “Freedom From Religion Foundation” (FFRF) in Madison, Wisconsin, would once again, as they predictably had in the past, print a full-page, drippingly bigoted blast in the hospitable pages of the New York Times.
So I smiled in relief as a friend called to ask me—ironically, on the day before Independence Day, celebrating what is most noble and freedom-loving in our beloved country—if I had seen the anticipated ad in the New York Times. I had not, since I stopped reading that paper years ago, on the advice of so many New Yorkers who warned me that the Church rarely gets a fair shake in those pages. But, that day, I went to find the issue, and, there it was, on page A13, a whole-page sneer at “dogma,” and an “all male Roman Catholic majority.”
Some of the parishioners at Holy Innocents have now partnered with another enemy of the Catholic Church  - the Federal Government of the United States.  Yes, that same government which has sanctioned abortion, same sex marriage and contraception for all.  Holy Innocents has joined with the Federal Government against the Archdiocese of New York through the Internet arm of Voice of America, the propaganda machine of the Government.

Voice of America
TypeInternational public broadcaster
CountryUnited States (for external consumption only)
Founded1942
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
OwnerFederal government of the United States
www.voanews.com

The result is an article entitled, "Manhattan's Catholic Churches Face Consolidation, Possible Closure" which can be found on the Voice of America website [HERE].  However, even though the title of the article mentions "churches", only one church is discussed: the Church of Holy Innocents.

I have to ask the same question here that I asked in my previous post concerning the New York Times: why would the Federal Government, which opposes the Catholic Church at almost every turn, be suddenly interested in the fate of a small Catholic church in Manhattan?

The answer is the same as in my previous post: it is a chance to stick it to Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

Here is a quote from one Holy Innocents parishioner: "It seems to me almost like someone is intentionally dismantling the Catholic patrimony of this city." Another quote: "The financial condition of the Archdiocese somehow may be corrupting decisions to make decisions to sell churches."

According to the article: "[S]ome Manhattan Catholics fear that their historic, city churches - built on valuable real estate - are only on the chopping block to improve the Archdiocese’s finances."

Once again, as with the article from the New York Times, the theme is the big bad New York Archdiocese is so big and bad and uncaring that it is actually trampling over its own faithful.

Again I must ask, what good can possibly come from once again attacking the Archdiocese of New York?  How does it help the cause of keeping Holy Innocents open by partnering with an enemy of the Catholic Church in an effort to demonize Cardinal Dolan?  Do the people of Holy Innocents really feel that such a tactic is the work of the Holy Spirit?

Holy Innocents is far from being the only Church in danger of being closed.  The rumor is that there are up to 50 or more churches facing closure and consolidation in the New York Archdiocese, which covers several counties in the State.

Further, Holy Innocents Church is also not the only affected church to take to the media to make their case.

St. John Baptist, Piermont
St. John the Baptist in Piermont, established in 1852 and serving over 700 families, is on the potential list and was the subject of a new story [HERE]. As you will notice in the video accompanying the article, although these people desperately want to save their church, they do not resort to demonizing the hierarchy of the Archdiocese. The reporter finishes the newscast with the statement, "The final say is a few months off. Meantime, St. John's is confident in the power of prayer." This is followed by a parishioner, who says, "You know it's in God's hands. We hope and pray that we stay just as we are."

It is also interesting to note what is said in the official Church bulletin [HERE] from St. John the Baptist Church in Piermont. Here is an exact quote from the church bulletin:
False Rumors
Rumors have been circulating that our church is definitely closing. There is no validity to these rumors. No decision has been made or will be made except by the Cardinal, and only by the Cardinal, in early September.

If you hear these false rumors, please do not repeat them and remind the persons they are 100% wrong.
Another church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Vernon, also took to the airways [HERE]. They too expressed their displeasure and even anger that they may lose their church. But again, nowhere does anyone try to demonize the Archdiocese.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mount Vernon, New York
HERE is a news story about another possible closing, Most Holy Trinity Church in Mamaroneck. Again, there is no demonizing of the Archdiocese.

Holy Trinity Church
HERE is an article from Capital New York about church closings in which St. John the Baptist in Manhattan, just a few blocks from Holy Innocents, is mentioned:
St. John the Baptist's pastor, Rev. Thomas Franks, said last week that he was saddened by the recommendation. The parish was formed in 1840 and its current building constructed in 1871. It has few parishioners but offers a home away from home to commuters, attracting 500 worshipers for Masses each day, he said. Franks said Thursday that he had not had a chance to speak to others about how to respond. He could not be reached on Friday.
I was at St. John the Baptist Church a few weeks ago.  The priest at that time told us that the final decisions have not been made and we should pray for the Will of God.  Again, as you can see, there is no demonizing the Archdiocese.

Also, contrary to the statements of the parishioners from Holy Innocents, the Capital New York article states that the Archdiocese will not financially profit from any church closings.
[Joseph Zwilling, the spokesman for the archdiocese] said the question of real estate has been considered from a broad perspective. Should the church sell some of the property, the archdiocese would not be able to use the proceeds for operational expenses. The money would need to be given to the parish where that congregation went, or to other parishes nearby.
“Church law states that the money that is realized through the sale of property—of church property—must go, must follow the people, must go to the continue to care for the people,” Zwilling said.
I am sure that anyone from Holy Innocents reading this post will feel that I am just piling on them. But as I stated in my previous post, I am truly concerned about what is happening there. There seems to be a tremendous amount of anger and bitterness and a strong victimhood mentality developing among Holy Innocents parishioners and those supporting them.  They seem ready to resort to whatever they feel is necessary to keep their church open.

Michael Voris interviewed a parishioner of Holy Innocents, Paul McGregor, who seems to be making the rounds in various media.  McGregor read a prayer to St. Michael which is being recited after each Latin Mass at the church, as follows:
O Glorious prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. These crafty enemies of mankind have filled to overflowing with gall and wormwood the Church which is the bride of the spotless lamb. They have laid profane hands upon her most sacred treasures. Make haste, therefore, O most invincible prince, to help the people of God against the lost spirits and grant us victory. Amen.
This is a shortened version of the prayer composed by Pope Leo XIII which is used in the exorcism rite, as shown in an article from a website called Exorcismrites.com, which you can read HERE.

There is certainly nothing wrong with saying the St. Michael's Prayer.  I try to say it at least once a day, and it is certainly needed in our world which is so filled with evil.

But why is Holy Innocents Church using an exorcism prayer to save their church? Who are these "crafty enemies" who are trying to destroy the Church? Is it the secular media? Is it those who openly oppose the Gospel and are forcing God out of society? Is it those who support such abominations as abortion and same sex marriage? No. The "crafty enemies" who have "laid profane hands" upon the "Church's most sacred treasures" and against whom Holy Innocents is defending itself by use of an exorcism prayer is none other than the hierarchy of the Archdiocese of New York.

What is this doing to the hearts and attitudes of the people who recite this prayer every day? How much incalculable spiritual harm is being done to Holy Innocent parishioners as they ingrain into their minds that those who are in authority over them are actually their enemies who want to destroy them? The articles from the New York Times and the Voice of America are, tragically, Exhibits A and B.

The effects of saying the St. Michael exorcism prayer against Church hierarchy every day can also be seen in this excerpt from an interview of the same Paul McGregor by Christine Niles, a rabid Michael Voris supporter and now one of his employees:
Your listeners will have seen on their TV screens how in China, Syria and Nigeria churches are being bulldozed, and we expect that of virulent atheists and Islamists. But we don't expect it from our own Catholic hierarchy.
But on the positive side we have also seen on our TV screens how unaccountable, anonymous elites around the world are being challenged and brought to account for their misdeeds. Recently there was the Cardinal's Annual Appeal, and I had a check for $500 ready to send off, and I must say that I tore that check up when I learned that they wanted to close Holy Innocents.
And if Holy Innocents closes, I won't put another cent in the collection box of any church in the New York Archdiocese. And if they do make the decision to close Holy Innocents, may it weigh on their consciences with the weight of a demolition ball.
McGregor says that he will stop financially supporting the Archdiocese if Holy Innocents is closed. The reason for closing all of these churches is because of the lack of financial support. McGregor's tactics will only cause the closing of even more churches. Is his ultimate goal to shut down the entire Archdiocese so that there are no Catholic churches in this area? Again I ask, is this the work of the Holy Spirit?

The articles in the New York Times and Voice Of America represent two of the secular media that Holy Innocents has used in their attempts to defeat their supposed enemy, the Archdiocese of New York. In addition, there are probably hundreds of Internet posts on Traditional Catholic websites which demonize the actions of the Archdiocese in regard to Holy Innocents. As shown here, Michael Voris and his cohorts, aided by Holy Innocents parishioners such as Paul McGregor, wasted no time getting into this fight. Voris never lets a chance slip by to take a slap at Cardinal Dolan, and he certainly wasn't going to let a golden opportunity like this one get away from him.

In my previous post on this subject, I urged those at Holy Innocents to look at figures from the Bible and Catholic saints down through the centuries who have suffered persecution and to follow their examples. Now I am saying, look to the other churches in the archdiocese. Take note that none of them are running to such anti-Catholic media as the New York Times or the Federal Government to help their cause. Certainly none of them are going to blowhards such as Michael Voris and Christine Niles.

Our Lord warned us in Matthew 12:15, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand." Our world has become virulently anti-Christian. We do face an enemy whose sole goal is to destroy the Catholic Church. But contrary to the statements we have seen coming from the parishioners at Holy Innocents, that enemy is NOT the Catholic hierarchy. The real enemy is the evil one who wants to separate brethren and turn them against each other. Instead of fighting against the evil we see in the world, he wants us to be fighting with and destroying one another.

I know that the good people from Holy Innocents are very sincere in what they are saying, but they must realize that such negativity against and condemnation of the hierarchy of the Church could never come from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal Dolan is not lying when he says that the realities of our world are forcing him to make these terrible decisions. The sad truth is the majority of Catholics no longer attend or support the Church.

The reality of the state of the Catholic Church in New York is laid out in this article from the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Archdiocese Moves to Close Parishes" from November 2013 [HERE]. According to the article,
Attendance has shrunk in many parishes, making them no longer financially viable, with the archdiocese spending about $40 million a year to help parishes that can't pay bills, an archdiocese spokesman said. Cardinal Dolan has vowed to reduce those subsidies.
. . .
The changes are taking place in an archdiocese often called the spiritual heart of American Catholicism. The archdiocese has between 2.5 million and 3 million self-identifying members and between 750,000 and a million parishioners attend Mass on a given Sunday. 
Demographic shifts in that population are partially driving the move. Parishes built generations ago were often designed to serve large immigrant communities, with pastors speaking the language of the parishioners. Now, people travel widely to attend church, and communities largely mix inside the church, leaving "no need" for ethnic parishes, a church spokesman said. 
Some areas of New York are oversaturated with parishes, officials said. About 25% of the archdiocese's parishes are in Manhattan, with a glut below 14th Street. Only about 12% of the diocese's population now lives in the borough. The church says the Bronx and Lower Westchester could also stand fewer parishes.
Those at Holy Innocents Church who are publicly fighting against the Church hierarchy are convinced that they are being targeted for one reason only: they support the Latin Mass. However, I think it might be helpful to look at other possible factors. Only 200 to 300 people at most visit Holy Innocents Church each day, with maybe about 100 more on Sunday (this includes the Ordinary Form of the Mass which is also offered). Low Masses at Holy Innocents rarely attract more than about 50 people.

Holy Innocents is in the middle of New York's garment district, which is all businesses with little to no residential buildings. I doubt if there is one person attending Holy Innocents who actually lives in that area. I know of only one who lives a few blocks away, just across the street from St. Michael's Church, which is also listed for potential closure.

This means that no one can actually call Holy Innocents their "home" parish, at least not in a physical sense.  Look at the situation for St. John the Baptist in Piermont.  The closing of this church will affect 700 families who actually live within the parish district.  That is several times the number of people who attend Holy Innocents on a regular basis. 

As reported above, about 500 people attend Mass every day at St. John the Baptist Church in Manhattan, only a few blocks from Holy Innocents.   St. John's offers five Masses every day compared to three for Holy Innocents.  St. John the Baptist Church is also in much better shape physically than Holy Innocents. Despite these facts, St. John the Baptist Church is also on the potential hit list.  

The Archdiocese of New York is strapped for cash because a lot of Catholics refuse to support them, as we heard from Paul McGregor who has added himself to that list.  The plain and simple truth is that the Archdiocese can no longer afford to have so many churches not because there are no Catholics but because there are so few faithful Catholics.  It is a tragic, tragic situation.  Instead of condemning Church hierarchy and trying to "exorcise" them, we should be praying very hard that they will be able to save churches.  Those affected should be praying not only for that last minute miracle which will save their own church but other churches as well.  

But if the worse does come about and dozens of churches are closed, including Holy Innocents, then it is vitally important that people do not allow themselves to become bitter and angry but instead look to the Holy Spirit to see where He wishes us to go next.  Our goal in this life is not to find a nice comfortable situation in life and just settle in until we die.  We have been given the great commission by Jesus Christ Himself to go into all the world and preach the good news of salvation.  It is quite obvious here in New York that those around us are in dire need of this message.  Maybe closing the churches is the only way Our Lord can get us out of our comfortable ruts and into the world which needs what we have been given.  

The story of Job in the Old Testament has many lessons for us. Job was a very righteous man and also very wealthy. Satan asked to tempt Job to see if Job would still love the Lord even after losing all of his physical blessings. The Lord agreed and Satan destroyed everything Job had including his family and even his health. When Job found out that his ten children had been killed,
Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. [Job 1:20-22]
Satan was proven wrong. Job still loved and worshiped God even in the midst of calamity. He did not blame anyone for what had happened. He accepted it as the Will of God.

Job, who had been the wealthiest of men, was literally reduced to sitting on a pile of ashes and scrapping the sores and boils with which he had been afflicted. His wife told him to curse God and die. Job's response was:
You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. [Job 2:10]
However, Job, understandably, did start feeling sorry for himself and at one point wished he had never been born. He had three friends who basically told him he must have done something really terrible to deserve such punishment. But then God appeared to them and without answering any of their questions, showed them, through His Words, His brilliance and omnipotence. Job realized what was really important and his final answer to God was,
"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. [You asked,] 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. ["You said,] 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. [Job 42:1-6]
This is the point we all must reach in our lives: we must see the greatness of God and realize that we are nothing. After Job came to this realization, we are told "The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first" [Job 42:12]

This is a time of great trial and testing in the Archdiocese of New York. Do we trust the Lord to bring us through it?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Michael Voris Discredits Himself


Michael Voris recently did a Vortex entitled, "How Is This Happening" in which he issued a challenge:
This is a direct shout out to the Church of Nice Catholic Establishment and its media lapdogs – both official on traditional media outlets AND their wannabe allies in the internet world –

Listen to sound bites from this interview we conducted with a young homosexual who goes to daily Mass in the archdiocese of New York and frequently attends Mass at St. Francis of Assisi parish on 31st in midtown.

At the end of the clips – be prepared to answer how this young man, this soul that God loves infinitely, is capable of giving responses like he gives.
So I am taking Voris up on his challenge, and I will use his own video to show just how deceptive and manipulative he is.

After Voris issues the above challenge, he then goes to a clip of his interview with Jason, a young, gay Catholic man, in front of St. Francis of Assisi Church in NYC.

In the first part of this clip, Jason gives his own explanation of the meaning of I Corinthian 13. Jason gives us the worn out explanation that God created him as a gay man and God doesn't make mistakes.

He then makes a very interesting statement:
. . .so that is how I understand it so I mean honestly the Church is wrong in that the Church has gotten things wrong before.
Voris follows up Jason's statement with this:
Now Church of Nice, US Hierarchy, support staff, Catholic Establishment Media – explain this.

This is your doing. You have spent so much time avoiding telling the truth of the entire catastrophe of Catholic catechesis in this nation for the past 50 years that you have ignored young men like this.

You have sacrificed his spiritual well being for the sake of your own comfort. From bishops to priests to the Catholic Establishment Media, so much time has been spent been protecting the status quo – meaning their own rear ends and reputations, that they have allowed young souls like this to drift into a world of delusion.

Why? How is it possible that a man who goes to Mass everyday can have such an incorrect understanding of Catholic truth? We’re waiting for an answer.
Explain this? Michael Voris, didn't you hear what Jason said? Jason made it very clear that he knows exactly what the church teaches, and he is willingly and voluntarily rejecting this teaching.

Look at his words:
"The Church is wrong in that the Church has gotten things wrong before."
This means that, contrary to Voris's repeated statements that no one is teaching Catholics the truth, Jason has been taught the truth of the Church and he has chosen to reject it.  This being the case, how can "bishops to priests to the Catholic Establishment Media" be responsible for a man who knows church teaching and chooses, on his own, to reject it?

In fact, Voris confirms this fact with his own words:
He is no dummy. He shared with us that he went to Notre Dame and actually submitted an extensive paper SUPPORTING the Church’s teaching .. you heard right, he once understood and agreed with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality
It seems that Jason was taught the dogma of the Church so well that, as Voris reports, Jason wrote "an extensive paper SUPPORTING the Church's teaching."  And there is no other place Jason could have learned this other than IN the Catholic Church. But Voris just glides right over this fact and says:
But somewhere, some how over the intervening years, he threw in the towel, he listened to the prevailing gay-friendly propaganda coming from pulpits and priests and bishops affirming doubts he may have had .. and now he is transformed into a Church teaching denying Daily Communicant.

Jason seems to be a very young man, most likely still in his 20's. So he learned Catholic dogma, which he once wholeheartedly embraced, during the 90's into the first part of the 21st Century. This was most definitely during what Voris would call the reign of the "Church of Nice."

Yet Voris blames the Catholic Church, who had taught Jason very well, for the fact that Jason now rejects this truth? Voris doesn't think for a moment that the influence of our corrupt society, a society that endorses and promotes homosexuality, had any part in the fact that Jason now rejects Church teaching? Really? And just what would Voris have the Church do to Jason for rejecting her teachings? Go back to the methods of the Inquisition and put him on the rack?

Jason has fully admitted that his beliefs are in direct contradiction to church teaching. He is under no delusion about what the Church teaches. How much plainer can that be that it is not the fault of the Church that he has come to reject her teachings?

Voris then goes on a familiar rant about how corrupt the "Church of Nice" is:
How pathetic is it that all the Church of Nice and church leaders can muster up for a young man like this and all the rest who have to carry the cross of same-sex attraction is to quietly condone their acts.
They provide a false safety net, the APPEARANCE or pretense of charity when all the while the real truth is they are just cowards and even worse – selfish cowards who care more about themselves than this young man.

That say much much more about the state of their souls an their own lack of faith than it does about the souls of same-sex attracted Catholics.

And again, you will never ever hear stories like this – reports like this on EWTN or other mainstream Catholic Media outlets.
Blah, blah blah.  The same old same old from Michael Voris.

I have one question for Michael Voris.  Did he, Michael Voris, do anything to try to bring the "real truth" to Jason which Voris says was not given to Jason by the "selfish cowards who care more about themselves than this young man"?

Voris tells us this:
It’s the very last exchange we had with him – he said, lets pray for each other. And so we shall.
No, it seems that Mike just let Jason go on his merry way without saying anything to him.  Why didn't Voris do what he blames "the Church of Nice" for not doing? Why didn't you educate this young man as to the truth of the Church? Could it possibly be because you knew he wouldn't accept it and that your words would be falling on deaf ears? Or were you more interested in just using Jason to attack the Church and not really interested in his spiritual well being at all? You say the "Church of Nice", the Church which actually taught him very well, doesn't care about Jason. Do you? Only you, Mike, can answer that question.

Voris wants us to "answer how this young man, this soul that God loves infinitely, is capable of giving responses like he gives." The answer is right in your video, Mike. But you are so driven in your efforts to tear down Church hierarchy that you can't even see how you discredit yourself.

Michael Voris was at the "Pre Pride Mass" at St. Francis of Assisi Church along with Jason.  I am assuming he listened to the sermon, which is the same sermon that Jason heard. As I have reported, the celebrant gave a sermon in which he urged young men like Jason to let go of his "preconception, hardheartedness, and prejudice."

Jason was warned in the sermon that day at St. Francis of Assisi Church, just minutes before the interview with Voris, that not to be in communion with the Church was to put his soul in peril.  I was there and I heard these words preached.  But Voris gave only a very edited version of this sermon (basically the last two sentences) to make it seem that the priest was condoning homosexuality.  Then Voris goes on a rant accusing the Church of not caring about men like Jason.

Who is really providing "a false safety net, the APPEARANCE or pretense of charity when all the while the real truth is they are just cowards and even worse – selfish cowards who care more about themselves than this young man"?  Is it the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, or is it Michael Voris?

Before you get all upset with me for using these words on Michael Voris, please understand that I am using his own words which he uses to described the ordained hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Maybe you could get just a little upset over that.

Yes, we most definitely need to pray for young men like Jason. We also need to pray for the soul of Michael Voris. He is surely in need of it.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Is It A Mistake For Catholics To Trust The Catholic Church?

Many people, both readers and friends, have shown a lot of concern about the direction I have been taking in my writings on this blog lately.  It seems that I am on the wrong side of every issue about which I have been writing.

I am wrong about Father Wylie's sermon at Holy Innocents when he chastised the Archdiocese of New York [HERE].

I am wrong for disagreeing with the parishioners of Holy Innocents when they decided to partner with the New York Times as a place to air their grievances against the Archdiocese for putting them on the potential list for church closings [HERE].

I am always getting under the skin of Michael Voris fans because I refuse to accept his rantings and ravings against Church hierarchy. But I really incurred their wrath when I wrote about the Vortex episode in which he encouraged all of his listeners to stop financially supporting their local dioceses and parishes, and I called it for what it was: "Michael Voris Calls for the Destruction of the Catholic Church" [HERE]. Pewsitter picked this up and kept the link there for a few days so that Voris fans could come here and let me have it for making such an "outrageous" accusation.

Lately I have been incurring everyone's wrath because, after attending and seeing it for what it was, I am supporting the "Pre Pride Mass" at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan [HERE, HERE and HERE]. As one blogger said of me, I am "clueless."

One friend said in an email that my posts "do not seem to be solidly grounded in a foundation of charity, and even more seriously, they seem to involve you in 'spirits' of conflict and anger."  Wow.  I guess this is so serious I might be in need of an exorcist.

All of the criticisms aside, does anyone notice a recurring theme in all of these issues?  I am taking the side of Church hierarchy, and I am getting blasted by other Catholics for doing so.   Catholics are attacking a Catholic for supporting the Catholic Church.

Could there possibly be something wrong with this picture?

How have I become so "radical"? Why don't I see, like everyone else apparently does, that the Catholic Church hierarchy has gone completely off the rails and it is up to us few faithful still in the pews to bring them back to their senses? Why can't I understand that the vast majority of bishops and priests (and let's be honest, even the Holy Father) hate the Catholic Church as it has always been for 2000 years and want to remake it into a church in their own image? The fact that I do not accept this kind of thinking proves that I am just as evil as the Church hierarchy.

Believe it or not, my initial gut reactions to all of these issues is pretty much the same as those who criticize me. Father Wylie, a good and holy priest, is disciplined by the Archdiocese? A Catholic Church offering a "Pre Pride Mass"? Surely these things cannot be right.

So how has my initial reaction to these issues evolved to the exact opposite conclusion?

I have learned a few things since I started blogging, and I want to share these lessons. First, as a Christian, I have come to realize that the first thing we must do is rid ourselves of pride. That's a big order, and I think it takes a lifetime to truly accomplish. Pride is the king of all sins. It was the sin of Satan.

Pride will block the Holy Spirit faster and more effectively than any other sin, because we are, in effect, setting ourselves up as our own god. We are saying, I know what is right. I have all the answers and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. We have become that "rich man" who cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We are so filled with ourselves that there is no room for the Holy Spirit.

Look at an example from Scripture to see what true obedience and trust is. Think of how Abraham felt when God came to him and said, you need to leave your family and your country and go to a completely foreign place. Why would this be necessary? Why couldn't he follow God's Will right where he lived? 

And if that made no sense, think of the confusion and questioning in Abraham's mind when God told him to sacrifice Isaac, the son upon whom all the promises rested. First of all, how could it be right to sacrifice a human being? Secondly, how were the promises to be fulfilled if the one through whom they were promised was dead?

Yet Abraham, who is called the father of the faithful, followed the commands of Gold without hesitation. We, like Abraham, need to follow the command of God even when it makes no sense to us.

Many will argue that those in Church hierarchy are not following God's commands, so we cannot follow them. We need to ask ourselves, do we believe the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Jesus Christ? Do we believe Our Lord's words that the gates of hell will never prevail against this Church? Do we believe that the bishops are the direct spiritual descendants of the apostles? Do we believe that the pope sits in the Chair of Peter?

If we truly believe these things, it then follows that when we hear what we perceive to be confusing and conflicting statements from Church hierarchy, our first reaction should never be to question the Church. We need to ask such questions as what is the source of this information? Is there an agenda from this source? Does what we hear actually conflict with Catholic teaching, or do we just not like what is being said? Just how complete is our understanding of the subject? Do we have the whole story? Do we know all the facts involved?

These are the questions I ask in each story I have written about on this blog. When I hear or read something that indicates Church hierarchy is teaching or promoting something heretical, I take a few steps back and ask all of the above questions. I have learned never to trust my first reaction. I try to always defend the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Sadly, I do not see this very often in other Catholics. Too many are quick to believe the very worst, to sit in judgment and condemnation. Then when someone comes along and tries to tell them differently, presenting them with the true facts, they don't listen. They just continue to attack.

Pope Francis gave what turned out to be a very controversial interview to America Magazine last year [HERE], which I would urge everyone to read. He made some truly profound and wise statements in that interview. Below is one of them:
“But I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.”
If you study Scripture and Church history, you will see that Our Lord never works in ways that we would expect. Who would think He would choose the greatest persecutor of the Church, the one who wanted every Christian dead, to be the greatest evangelizer of the Gospel, namely St. Paul? Who would think Our Lord would choose a cowardly, impetuous and sometimes just plain stupid man to be the leader of the Church, St. Peter? Who would think that the first person the Risen Jesus appeared to would be an outcast of society, Mary Magdalene, a woman from whom Christ cast seven devils? It goes on and on. 
 
We should never, never presume to know the mind of God. As such, we must always give the benefit of the doubt to His Church. We must always be willing to say, this doesn't seem right to me, but I have very limited understanding and I don't know how Our Lord will use this situation or this person. So let me just step back until it become clearer.

It is most definitely possible for a priest or bishop to act against Church authority. Certainly we need to speak up in such cases. But it has been my experience that this is a very rare occurrence. Priests and bishops don't always speak and act the way I would like them to, but that doesn't mean I don't have to listen to them. Again, we should never trust our first reaction. We should always "wait and assess" as Pope Francis counsels.

If you will read my posts without prejudice, you will find nothing in them that goes against Church teaching or attacks Church hierarchy in any way. In fact, you will see just the opposite. I truly love Our Lord and I love the Mystical Body of Christ.

You will notice that I often use Scripture and the saints to support what I am saying. By doing this, I am showing you how I came to the conclusion I did. I don't start out with a conclusion and then look to see how I can support it. I go to Scripture and to the Church, and I allow that to lead me. I also listen to and read directly what the bishops and the Holy Father actually say instead of allowing someone to interpret them for me. That is essential to knowing what is true.

In short, I have learned that we must trust Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We must trust His Church, His Mystical Body against whom the gates of hell will never prevail. At the very bottom of the list, we can trust ourselves only to the extent that we are submissive and obedient to Christ and His Church.

I am sure most will find fault with this post as well. That's okay. I think I'm getting use to it.  And it certainly does keep me humble.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New York Times: Abortion Is A Terrible, Traumatic Event, And It Must Remain Legal

There is a really interesting editorial in the Opinion Section of the New York Times.  It is an intensely personal piece written by a woman who had an abortion 20 years ago.  She had become pregnant as the result of an affair with a married man.  She had always been very supportive of abortion rights, and she actually planned to film her abortion and show what a good option this is.

As she writes, she was in for a rude awakening.

You can read the article HERE.   Below is the text of her opinion piece.

I Couldn’t Turn My Abortion Into Art

I’d had only one serious boyfriend by this time and recently had been asked for the first time, “Can I buy you a drink?” by a man. (He was an actor in a film I’d worked on the summer before; he asked everybody that question, but still it felt like progress.) Somehow, by that tender age, I had convinced myself that I should take what I could get. So I took the married sound mixer. I had just turned 22 and I had the self-esteem of a squashed toad. This may explain why I was having an affair with a married 36-year-old sound mixer whom I’d met on a film shoot a couple of months earlier.
And then, a few months later, I rolled out of bed at an unreasonably early hour and vomited.
This didn’t seem as big a problem to me as it might have for other young women. This was the mid-1990s. Reared on protest marches, I had a NOW poster affixed to my bedroom wall. I was an unwavering believer in the fierce rhetoric of pro-choice. And now: a poster child.
In addition, in college I had essentially majored in experimental feminist video. I could make art out of anything.
I called my boss — a pretty, perpetually single 35-year-old art director — and confided my situation. She gave me the name of a clinic on Park Avenue. “Whatever you do, don’t go alone,” she said. 
I called. I made an appointment for the next day and checked the price: $350 — slightly more than a week’s pay.
The money intimidated me but the mission didn’t. Not only was this the right I’d marched for, it was an opportunity. It could provide material for the kinds of film I’d voraciously consumed in college, in which women transformed their most traumatic experiences into emotionally stirring and awareness-raising images: Margie Strosser’s “Rape Stories” or “The Body Beautiful” by Ngozi Onwurah, about a mother undergoing a radical mastectomy. An abortion today, a debut at Sundance tomorrow.
The next day was perfect movie material. A blizzard had hit New York City, shutting down the trains. I did something that I considered extravagant at that time: I called a car service. I added it to the mental tally, the bill I’d present to the married man when he returned from working on a film overseas.
I stuffed my Ricoh Hi8 video camera in my backpack, and I went alone.
The driver was Middle Eastern, from some hot and weather-less country, but he did a fair job of steering into the skids. He kept asking me why I was going out in such weather.
“I have to go to the doctor,” I kept telling him.
“Why? You don’t look sick.”
“I have to have a procedure.”
“What? What procedure?”
Finally, I told him. Why not? I was proud and un-conflicted. I was exercising my right. I was making a video.
He pulled over to the side of the road, right there on the Brooklyn Bridge — not only illegal but dangerous. “Please don’t kill the baby,” he said. “Please don’t kill the baby.”
“What are you doing?”
“Don’t kill the baby.” He wouldn’t move the car, though horns blared all around us.
“Keep driving! I have an appointment!” I shook his headrest. This was not part of the script.
“Please don’t kill the baby,” he said again, turning around to face me. He had beautiful big brown eyes — almost black. “I will take care of you and the baby. I work two jobs.”
“Drive,” I told him.
“You are going by yourself?” he asked.
I said, “Drive.”
He drove. The camera wasn’t on. I didn’t have any of it on tape.
At the clinic’s counter, the receptionist asked me what I’d come for. I said, “Um …”
“Termination of pregnancy?” she asked in her best would-you-like-fries-with-that voice. I nodded.
They gave me pamphlets, a paper gown and paper slippers. They sat me in a room filled with women, one of whom told me she’d been there eight times before. “They used to have terry cloth,” she said, lifting her toes in the paper slippers. It had never occurred to me that people had serial abortions, but it confirmed my expectations: abortion — safe, legal, no big deal.
Yet as I looked around the room, my expectations began to shift. This wasn’t the liberating environment I’d expected to enter. The uncomplicated message of those protests led me to think that legal abortion would be light. Lite. I wasn’t prepared for the saturnine cloudiness of the room, all those sad-looking women burying their faces in tabloid magazines.
The video camera stayed sleeping in my lap.
Nurses led me and 10 other women into a room where they talked to us about our anesthetic options — local or general — and had us sign forms. Everyone opted for general except for me. “I want local,” I said. I showed the woman from the clinic my video camera. “I want to be awake and I want to record it.” I said this with a now wavering smile.
She took me aside and informed me that I could not use my video camera in the operating room for legal reasons, and that they did not approve of local anesthesia.
“Why are you giving me the option, then?” I asked.
“We have to,” the woman said. For legal reasons.
My hands shook, the camera wobbling in my grasp. I was freezing inside my paper gown. I checked the “general” box on the form. I put the camera in my bag.
The first thing I thought when I awoke from the anesthesia was that I’d never be pregnant again, that I had just squandered my only chance at motherhood. I was sobbing — I had arisen from the depths of the medication this way — as they rolled me into the recovery room where the other women were lying, almost all of them with a friend or partner or relative to brush their hair back or offer them ice chips. I could not stop crying, big heaves and gulps of it. The nurse came over at first to soothe me and then to quiet me.
“You’re upsetting the other girls,” she said.
“It hurts.”
She sent the doctor over. “Sometimes we have to massage the womb,” he said, inserting his hand inside me and pressing. This did not stop the crying, but eventually it stopped the pain.
Or, at least, it stopped the physical pain. The begging cabdriver and the woman on her ninth abortion and the shocking suction in my womb: It was too traumatic for me to make art of. Or maybe it was just that I wasn’t a good enough artist to transform that level of trauma into something that others could learn from and use. I had been taught that a woman’s right to choose was the most important thing to fight for, but I hadn’t known what a brutal choice it was.
I took a car service home, too, where my brother and his girlfriend met me and we ordered in. “We would have gone with you,” they said, “if you’d asked.”
“I was going to make a video,” I said. Reacting to the way my hands still shook, they tended to me as if I’d just walked miles in that blizzard. I knew then I’d never be a filmmaker.
About motherhood, though, I was wrong. Fifteen years later, happily coupled with a wonderful man, I gave birth to my first daughter; I now have two. I don’t wish I had a 20-year-old. I didn’t want that baby, with that man. Abortion rights, yes, I’ll always support them, but even all these years later, I wish the motto wasn’t “Never again,” but “Avoid this if there’s any way you possibly can, even if it’s legal, because it’s awful.”
I wish that someone had alerted me to the harshness of the experience, acknowledged the layers of regret that built and fell away as the months and years passed. I want my daughters to have the option of safe and legal abortion, of course. I just don’t want them to have to use it.
This opinion piece clearly illustrates the cognitive dissonance that is necessary to hold to a pro abortion position.  As this writer tells us, having an abortion "is awful."  She has illustrated very clearly what a degrading and horrific experience it is to have an abortion.  Yes, she still wants her daughters to have the option of "choice", but she never wants them to use that option. The conflict in the mind of this woman must weigh on her every moment.

The fact that this piece is written some 20 years after the abortion shows that, as Msgr. Philip Reilly often says, having an abortion doesn't mean you're not a mother.  It means you are the mother of a dead baby.  Abortion is performed once, but it never ends in the life of the mother.

Please pray for the direct victims of abortion - the babies.  At the same time, realize that although these little martyrs died horrendous deaths, their suffering has ended.  But the suffering of the mothers and fathers of these babies will continue for a lifetime, and will actually be much greater than the pain experienced by their babies.  Pray that the parents of the babies will seek the forgiveness and mercy which they need and which can only found in Jesus Christ.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Debate With Terry Nelson: Ministering To The Gay Community


Terry Nelson of Abbey Roads and I have a friendly disagreement about the "pre pride" Mass which was celebrated at St. Francis of Assisi in Manhattan.  If you read this blog, you know that I was present at the Mass and found nothing at all against Church teaching there.  The Mass was held during Gay Pride Weekend in NYC, and it was an invitation from St. Francis of Assisi Church for Gay Catholics to come to the Mass and experience the Catholic Church.  At the top of the poster advertising this Mass were the words "Feed My Sheep."

As they wrote on their website:
This is an opportunity for our whole parish community to remember that the Lord invited all people to follow him, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic background, gender or sexual orientation.

It is also an opportunity for all of us to invite to Mass any of our friends who many not feel welcome at the table of the Lord for whatever reason, but especially if they are gay or lesbian. Take the opportunity to bear witness to the unconditional love of God by reaching out and inviting back a brother or sister who hasn’t been home in a while.
Terry and everyone else who has responded to my posts are convinced that these are code words for "there is nothing wrong with homosexuality and we're having a Mass to celebrate that fact". Michael Voris did a video to promote this idea, and most people thought it was spot on. As Terry said, "Voris nailed it".

Terry wrote a very nice comment to me explaining his position which I now want to respond to.  His comment was:
I may write a post in response - but maybe not. How do I expect the Church to respond to gay people? The same way it responded to me. The Church opened it's arms to me through the sacraments and teaching and pastoral care. That was before Courage Apostolate was even conceived.
Today there is Courage. http://couragerc.net/
The churches who espouse LGBTQ theory are not teaching Catholic doctrine.
Michael Voris wasn't lying.
I think your other commenters are saying the same thing.
What some of these gay-friendly churches do is close to what some of the pro-choice nuns do and those who escort women into abortion clinics do - they enable grave sin. They condemn themselves and those they imagine they minister to.
A parish can indeed welcome and be open to gay people and many do so. Not everyone is ready for Courage, but to receive the sacraments one needs catechesis and formation in the faith - that means telling gay people the truth. As one guy commented here - you heard what was said with the ears of faith, I read what was said in the same way. However, gay Catholics heard according to their mode of perception, and taking a second look at that, I think the priest intended that they would.
I know there are many active gay people who go to Mass but refrain from Communion - because they know homosexual acts are condemned - and they are not ready to change - but they have faith and consider it a serious obligation to attend Mass on Sunday.
We can't tell people it's okay to live in sin and receive Communion. But we can welcome them to Mass and devotions - and the sacrament of penance - before they attempt Communion.
Catholic teaching - the truth - can be accomplished with compassion and sensitivity while not concealing or dissimulating the truth. Saints such as Philip Neri, Alphonsus Ligouri, Vincent De Paul and others demonstrated that in their ministry.
The best booth for the Franciscans of Holy Name Province to operate is the confessional - that is the best way to win souls for Christ - perfectly in keeping with the Franciscan charism.
I sincerely do appreciate Terry's response and explanation. His opinion has definite merit and not something to be dismissed. That is why I am doing another post just to respond to Terry, and if he is interested, get his further reaction.

Terry, you said that you came out of this lifestyle and back into the Church before Courage ministry began. The first meeting of Courage was here in NYC in 1980, so you came back many, many years ago. It has been an entire generation or more since your return to the Church. I daresay that was a completely different world than than the one we live in today. Back then, I believe that even Psychiatry still considered homosexuality to be deviant behavior. 1980 was slightly before the AIDS epidemic became known. No one "came out" in those days. They all stayed "in the closet" as it were because the homosexual lifestyle was completely condemned and rejected by society. People's careers and their entire lives could be ruined if it was publicly known they were homosexual.

Now we have gone to the exact opposite extreme, where the homosexual lifestyle is so accepted in our society that it is taught as completely normal and acceptable to kids in kindergarten. People's lives are ruined today if they don't support the homosexual lifestyle.

Look at this video where kids today are asked about their views on same sex marriage:



As this video says, kids between the ages of 5 and 13 years were interviewed on their feelings about same sex marriage. The kids were shown two videos of public marriage proposals, the first being a man proposing marriage to another man.

The older ones had no problem at all. They say such things as "That's cool." "They're gay, but that's okay." "That's so cute." "That's nice." Another girl claps and says "Congratulations!" One boy claps in approval. Another comment was, "That was so cute. It doesn't matter if they're like gay or anything."

However, there is a very different reaction from the younger kids who have not been so thoroughly indoctrinated by society yet. One little girl looks at the video in horror and says, "This is crazy!" Another little girl says in protest, "How does a guy marry a guy?!"

The second video is shown in which a woman proposes to another woman. Again, the older kids have no problem with this video ("That was so adorable!"). However, one of the little girls says, "How does a girl propose to a girl and how does a guy propose to a guy?!" Another little girl pretends to turn away in disgust.

Then the kids are questioned about their personal views on gay marriage. Personally, I think that alone is an outrage. Kids should not have to even be thinking about such subjects, especially when they are not even 10 years old yet. Back in the 50's and 60's when I was a kid, I had no idea there was such a thing as homosexuality. Now kids are no longer allowed to keep their innocence.

But I digress.

The kids were asked how the videos made them feel. Most said it made them feel good, no problem at all. But one little boy said, "I'm sad. Gay is bad for you." The little boy is asked, "Why do you think that is bad?" Of course, the little boy cannot answer that question. He just instinctively feels it. This instinct has been brainwashed out of the older kids.

One little girl who had initially reacted in horror now said, "You don't see that every day. But it's okay. A boy can like a boy and a girl can like a girl." She was obviously saying what she thought she was expected to say. Another little girl who had also had an initial negative reaction to the videos was asked, "A lot of people were upset at these marriage proposals because it was a man proposing to a man and a woman proposing to a woman." The little girl picked up on what was suppose to be the proper reaction, and she now said, "I don't get why anybody would be mad", having completely forgotten her own initial reaction.

All of the comments from the kids were very much in favor of same sex marriage and condemning of anyone who disagrees with this. When asked how people become gay, the kids respond almost in one voice, "That's just how they were born." When asked whether being gay can be "corrected," one girl responded, "That kind of stuff makes me sick." Another said, "You can't be like all bossy to people, You can't be like, 'You can't do that. You can't do that.' . . . When it's yourself, don't let people tell you what to do."

The interviewer then says, "In only 14 states are you allowed to get married if you are gay." The phrasing of the question, of course, is intended to bring out indignation at this injustice, and it works. One little boy says, "That is just insane." Another: "Out of 50. That's outrageous." "I need to talk to Mr. President!" "Kind of takes away from the whole freedom thing." And then of course came the comparisons to racial bigotry and hatred. Only one little boy still held out: "I think you have to find a boy and a girl, and you can get married like that. But gay? You can't get married." The interviewer asks with an incredulous tone, "But do you know why you don't like it?" The little boy answers honestly, "No."

Then the interviewer brings up the fact that in some places homosexuals are put in jail or even killed for being gay. This again, is designed to show how evil intolerance is when it comes to those who are homosexual, and again it works, as all the kids react, and rightfully I might add, in disgust at the fact that people are jailed because of their sexual preferences. However, it is obvious that this question is intended to lend credence to the idea that being gay is normal, and any negative reactions are intolerant and hateful.

Then the kids are asked about the reasons why people are against gay marriage. The interviewer says some people are against gay marriage because they can't have children, and it's not natural. Again, this question is sent up so the kids can shoot it down, and they willingly and happily comply.

Then the interviewer says, "Every major religion has something in its books that could be interpreted as being against people who are gay. What are your thoughts about people who are against it for religious beliefs?" Again, this question is deliberately phrased so that the kids will shoot it down, and once more, it works like a charm. One kid says, "It's the 21st Century. Things have changed."

That last statement, Terry, explains exactly why approaching homosexuals as you were some 30 to 40 years ago will not work now. One girl captured the thinking of many in society, "Think of God. Like he loves everybody, and he can't hate anything." Another said of those who oppose gay rights, "You need to realize that you're just a little speck. No one cares what you think." Another said, "I wouldn't exactly say you suck, get out of my life. But I would say it in the nicest words possible."

As I said in a previous post on this subject, Terry, in the past society did a lot of our work for us. This was most definitely true at the time you returned to the Church. Society condemned homosexuality as aberrant behavior. It was wrong and unacceptable. The Church could label homosexual acts as sinful with no repercussions. The rest of society was in total agreement.

But as this video shows, that is just not the case anymore. Those who do not accept homosexuality as normal are labeled bigots and haters, in the same class as the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. Kids are literally being brainwashed and indoctrinated into this thinking almost from the time they can talk. The Catholic Church is now the pariah in society. We are the hateful ones who just want to destroy people.

Terry, you say,
What some of these gay-friendly churches do is close to what some of the pro-choice nuns do and those who escort women into abortion clinics do - they enable grave sin. They condemn themselves and those they imagine they minister to.
Yes, no doubt some parishes have crossed the line and are actually being too supportive in that they no longer label homosexual acts as sinful, thus opposing church teaching.  But my posts were talking about what I saw at the "pre pride" Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church.  That was most definitely not akin to pro choice nuns, etc.

I printed the entire text of the sermon given at the Mass in question, and nothing in there condones homosexuality.  The sermon tells people that if they are separated from the church they are in a very precarious position and mostly likely will not survive, like sheep who wander from the sheepfold.  The sermon told people told people to get rid of their preconceived ideas and prejudices which block the love of our Lord.  You reject the idea that this was directed to homosexuals, but who else was invited to the Mass?

This sermon was never meant to be put on the Internet for public consumption as I have done.  It was meant for the people who were sitting in the pews of that Mass.  Yes, this same sermon was give at the immediately preceding Mass, which was not billed as a "pre pride" Mass, but I can tell you that there were many gay people at that Mass as well.

Terry, do you really believe that it would have been effective if the message at St. Francis of Assisi last week had been "repent or you will go to hell"?  As can be seen in the video I have posted here, telling people that homosexuality is a sin and they need to come out of it just won't work.  One boy's reaction pretty much sums up the response from society, "You need to realize that you're just a little speck.  No one cares what you think."

You say that you agree with Michael Voris, who says we have to "tell it like it is".  According to him we have to say loud and clear that homosexual acts are a sin and if not repented of, will result in eternal hell fire. That kind of talk worked in past generations. Now all people get from that kind of talk is that the person saying it is a hateful, intolerant bigot.

Pope Francis gave an interview to a Jesuit magazine last year and said things that caused no little controversy.  Many condemned him for his remarks, this being one of the main targets of their condemnation:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
Cardinal Burke, when asked, said he could not explain this statement.  The plain fact is, the world will not tolerate our speaking about these issues.  They will and do turn a deaf ear to this talk.  Does that mean we just forget about these subjects?

Hardly.  These are very serious sins, and Voris is right when he says many can lose their salvation over these issues.  But that is where the great message of Divine Mercy, as given to St. Faustina, comes in.  I don't think it is a coincidence that Our Lord appeared to St. Faustina some 80 years ago and told her that the message of His Divine Mercy needs to be brought to the world.  That message has now become the only message that will connect and resonate in any way with our current world.

In Diary paragraph 50, Our Lord said:
I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of mercy are burning Me - clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls.
The entire message of Jesus to St. Faustina is not that we, as His Church, need to go to the world and tell everyone they're rotten sinners going to hell. We need to go to the world and tell them that Jesus Christ came to earth and literally poured out His Life on the Cross because of His Great Love for you, and now He wants you to spend all eternity with Him. 

Voris denounces this as the wimpy, ineffectual message of the "Church of Nice" that just wants to talk about "love" and not address the "real" issues. Voris needs to take this up with Our Lord, because this is exactly what He asked of St. Faustina.   And our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is living this message in his every word and action.  When he says that we should not obsess about issues like abortion and homosexuality, he is not saying these are unimportant issues.  He is saying what Our Lord told St. Faustina:
"Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. It is not my desire to punish hurting mankind, but to heal it, press it to My merciful Heart (Diary, 1588). You are the secretary of My mercy. I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life (Diary, 1605) (...) to make known to souls the great mercy that I have in store for them, and to exhort them to trust in the bottomless depth of My mercy" (Diary, 1567).
I have written this many times before, but I think it needs to be repeated again.  Our world no longer recognizes right and wrong.  The only sin they recognize is intolerance of sin.  I have put a quote from Cardinal Dolan on my sidebar which I think expresses the mission of the Church in our day:
“And so Francis is reminding us, look, if we come across as some crabby, nay saying shrill, we’re not gonna win anybody. If we come across as a loving, embracing holy mother church who says, “Come on in. We love you. We need you. We want you. And once you get to know us, then maybe we can invite you to the conversion of heart that is at the core of the gospel. And then maybe we can talk about changing behavior. That’s a very effective pedagogy.”
This is what I saw at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan last week.  I think what many interpret as Church acceptance and tolerance of sin is in actuality the great message of  Divine Mercy being extended to sinners.  People are hurting, they are drowning in their sin.  They first need to be pulled to safety, and then, as Cardinal Dolan says, we can talk about what is wrong in their lives.

As I pointed out, Voris told deliberate falsehoods about the events at St. Francis of Assisi Church. You, Terry, seem to be willing to overlook those facts because you like what he is saying.  That message did work in your time.  But we live in a very different age, and that message now will only drive people away from the Mercy of Christ, not towards Him.

Yes, Voris nailed it, but for whom?

Here is another video which I think you will appreciate.  This is put out by Salt and Light Ministry which has been condemned more than once by Michael Voris.  The video talks about the great work that Courage is doing.  It should be noted that mercy and compassion are a big part of their ministry.

There is an interview with a gay man who is very active in Courage and now lives a totally celibate life.  He was asked, "How would you say you found God's love in this way of living, because the Church's teachings are difficult.  But how is your experience of love different now than when you were living the gay life style?"

He answered:
Well, when I was living the gay lifestyle I never found any real happiness or true joy as I sorta mentioned. I felt empty. It's almost like this constant search, but you never find anything. It's like on a treasure hunt but there is no treasure to find. And for me, it was just oh well, something is going to get better. My day will come, but it never did. So through Courage and the spiritual life and trying to live a chaste life, I found that there is a place that you can call home, that you feel that joy and then you feel the love of God.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Really Happened at St. Francis of Assisi

Friars from St. Francis of Assisi Church, Manhattan
I have already done a short post on the Vortex episode in which Michael Voris describes what he saw and experienced at the St. Francis of Assisi "Pre Pride Mass" in Manhattan.  I was also at that Mass, so I think I can contribute something here.

As I said in my post, Voris starts out with complete misrepresentations of what was said right at the beginning of the Mass.  Voris claims:
The Mass began with an announcement that the Mass was for the homosexual Pride celebrations going on all over the city all weekend. It was being held in conjunction with that.
As I mentioned in my first post, that is a completely untrue.  No such thing was ever said.  The exact words used at the Mass were:
Know that everyone is welcome here at St. Francis, especially this evening as we celebrate this pre-pride liturgy. If you are here for the first time, we are delighted to have you and if you are always here with us, I don't know what we would do without you.
Absolutely nothing was said about any of the "homosexual Pride celebrations going on all over the city all weekend" or that "it was being held in conjunction with that." That is just not true. Voris is supposedly a reporter by trade. He has flunked big time on that one.

Voris then says:
It proceeded without any great display of debauchery or the like. In fact it was somewhat tame as far as the billing before hand.
Notice the kind of language Voris uses: "without any great display of debauchery", "somewhat tame." Oh please. It wasn't just "no great display of debauchery." There was NO "display of debauchery" of any kind.  It wasn't just "somewhat tame."  It was done completely as a Catholic Mass should be done, no deviating from the rubrics in any way whatsoever, following the GIRM exactly.

But according to Voris, the fact that the Mass was completely orthodox is "just the point":
But that’s just the point. See – there is no need for raucous Masses and gay flags hanging from the rafters and so forth because in many Catholic parishes all around the country, the world for that fact, active homosexuality has become normalized and its just accepted that sodomy is nothing more than just one more item on a long list of things that the Church needs to dump
According to Voris, the fact that St. Francis celebrated a truly orthodox Mass is nothing more than a ruse to push their "pro homosexual agenda."  How can that be?
It’s just no big deal for the people sitting in the pews. They just discard the Church’s teaching and move on with their lives – as the Vatican ITSELF has reported in the run up to the October Synod.
So orthodox, beautifully celebrated Masses, according to Voris, are just as dangerous as "raucous Masses and gay flags hanging from the rafters and so forth" because the people sitting in the pews "discard the Church's teaching and move on with their lives."

It seems there is just no winning with Voris.  Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Voris then interviews one attendee of the Mass, and gets ambiguous answers as to Church teaching, and uses this one person - out of at least 300 hundred who attended the Mass - to show that everyone else there does not follow Church teaching.

Not too many pollsters would accept this kind of finding.

Also, from this one interview, Voris makes a judgment on the entire Church worldwide:
So there is this deliberate confusion being sewn about the Church’s teaching. Priests and bishops who either support this or don’t fight it by setting the record straight with CLEAR teaching are aware of this.

They know the vast majority of Catholics simply don’t give a hoot about the teachings and leaders let them remain in their stubbornness of heart or willful ignorance – take your pick.

Because many priests are aware that most people in the pews reject many Church teachings, they can phrase themselves and parse their words in such a way as to give a green light to the heretical state of heart, without actually coming out and saying it point blank.
Voris uses one interview with one person to show that the entire Church worldwide is basically apostate, and that priests and bishops "either support this or don’t fight it by setting the record straight with CLEAR teaching."

Wow. I sure hope our Lord doesn't use this standard when it comes to judging us individually.

Then Voris finally mentions the sermon given that day. However, he takes one quote from it, which is actually the last words spoken in the sermon:
“Jesus was not asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than other Christians, but if he loved Jesus AND all the other, more than those things that for so long had made Peter feel secure .. perhaps even his ideas.
And what if these things applied to us? Include things such as preconceptions, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us and asks a simple question: do you love Me more than these?"
Voris is giving only a partial quote, and even more importantly, he does not tell us anything of what was said before this which obscures and hides the true meaning of these words.  Following are the exact words that were spoken by Father:
Perhaps Jesus was not asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than other Christians, but if he loved Jesus AND all others more than those things that for so long made Peter feel secure: his life as a fisherman, the tools of his trade, perhaps even his ideas.

And what if these things applied to us. Include things such as preconception, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us, and asks a simple question: do you love me more than these?
Voris gives us his interpretation of what these words mean:
Considering that this was a pre-Pride Mass, that the parish has a deserved reputation for “welcoming” active homosexuals without ever counseling them that the lifestyle is sinful and they shouldn’t receive Holy Communion until they have turned from the sin – considering all these things and others – it is quite clear what the priest meant in his homily.

Those who oppose the sin of homosexuality are suffering under preconceptions, are hardhearted and prejudice. We could never tolerate such things as Catholics.
Since it is almost a sure bet that no one in Voris' audience had a chance to attend this Mass (and most would probably shun it like the plague, anyway), I will tell you what came before the last words in the sermon quoted by Voris. If you are interested in reading the entire sermon, I posted a complete transcript of it HERE.

The text of the sermon was from John 21:15-19, wherein Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him. When Peter says yes, Jesus responds by telling Peter to feed His sheep.

In the sermon, the priest discussed the meaning of Christ's question to Peter, "Do you love me more than these" which Father said could have two possible meanings: "(1) Do you love me more than you love these other disciples? Or (2) do you, Peter, love me more than you love these tools of your trade, your life as a fisherman, what has become familiar and comfortable to you?"

It is important to remember who this sermon was directed to. This was a "pre-pride Mass", meaning these were questions for everyone there, of course, but specifically directed towards the homosexual community who were present.

At one point, Father started talking about sheep and how we, as human beings resemble them, and this is why he loves the metaphor of sheep and why he loves to talk about this:
This is why I love this metaphor of sheep. It actually describes us well. Sheep stink. Sheep have all sorts of grubby things that cling to them. Sheep routinely lose their way. On their own, they will wander off, get lost and eventually they'll fall victim, perhaps, to some predator. Outside of the sheepfold, their future is very bleak. They will not survive long.

In order for us to survive, we need to be a part of a community. If we are excluded from that community, we will not do well. More importantly, if we are pushed away from the sheepfold, it would seem that the shepherds are not doing a very good job.
 
Think again of who was invited to this Mass:  the Gay community who have lost their way and are no longer a part of the Church.  He was telling them that, like sheep separated from the fold, they won't survive if they are not part of the community.  "Outside of the sheepfold, their future is very bleak. They will not survive long."  This is a subtle but clear call for those who have left the Church to come back to us, that they need us as much as we need them.  And the priest was reminding us that no one should ever be pushed away, that "if we are pushed away from the sheepfold, it would seem that the shepherds are not doing a very good job."

Now we come to the final words of the sermon, which Voris sort of quoted:
Perhaps Jesus was not asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than other Christians, but if he loved Jesus AND all others more than those things that for so long made Peter feel secure: his life as a fisherman, the tools of his trade, perhaps even his ideas.

And what if these things applied to us. Include things such as preconception, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us, and asks a simple question: do you love me more than these?
Voris interprets these words as "Those who oppose the sin of homosexuality are suffering under preconceptions, are hardhearted and prejudice. We could never tolerate such things as Catholics." Voris says this is the only interpretation because it is a "Pre Pride Mass."

Actually Voris' interpretation is totally wrong for the very reason he cited - it was a "Pre Pride Mass." Once again, who was the priest directing his comments to? Who was invited to this Mass? It wasn't straight people who have a prejudice against homosexuals. As I pointed out in my very first post on this subject, I couldn't even get a friend to come into the Mass because the word "pride" was used.

Father was asking the homosexual community these questions. They were the ones being asked, "And what if these things applied to us? Include things such as preconception, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us, and asks a simple question: do you love me more than these?"

The priest was gently and subtly asking the Gay people at this Mass, "Will you give up your preconceptions, hardheartedness and prejudice? Will you love Jesus more than these?" Gay people assume that the Catholic Church hates them and condemns them. That is their prejudice, their preconceptions, their hardheartedness. But like lost sheep, they need to come home or they will not survive.

This sermon was a beautiful call to the Gay people there to come home. How could it be anything else? They were the ones to whom this sermon was directed.

Those listening to Voris will never really know what happened at this Mass. They will only get his slanted and deceptive view of it.

I can only tell you what I saw that day. I saw a packed Church participating in a beautifully celebrated Mass and given an outstanding sermon about how important it is to be part of the church.

Many have complained to me that there was no talk about how sinful and destructive homosexuality is, that they were not told their eternal souls are at stake, that they need to come out of homosexuality NOW. It doesn't matter what else was said if these things were not said.

We live in a world that is basically a spiritual concentration camp. Unless we put a lot of effort into fighting it, we are pretty much cut off from the things of God and the essential spiritual food we need to survive. We are like the victims of concentration camps who have been surviving on bits and pieces of food and are spiritual walking skeletons.

When the Nazi concentration camps were liberated, it was very important to let the prisoners eat only small portions of food at a time. Their stomachs had shrunk so much from lack of food that if they ate too much too quickly, they would die because their digestive systems couldn't handle the food.

Those who have been away from the Church, who are spiritually starved, cannot handle a lot of Church teaching all at once. They need to be brought slowly into the Church. The first thing they need to know is that they are loved and welcomed. This is what we always saw with Our Lord. He never turned anyone away. He also didn't start out by telling them they were dirty rotten sinners headed to hell. He healed them, both physically and spiritually, and only then did He say to them "Go and sin no more."

Those in the homosexual community have a superficial idea of what it means to be loved and accepted. Society has condoned their lifestyle and told them they are okay. However, anyone who is caught in a sinful lifestyle knows deep down inside that there is something missing. Homosexuals tend to be very promiscuous, having hundreds and even thousands of sexual encounters. This is because they are searching, trying to fill that spiritual void inside of themselves. By accepting them, society has actually made it worse. In the past, they could say the reason they were so miserable is because they were ostracized and persecuted by society. Now even that excuse has been taken away from them. They can't hide behind that anymore and it has actually made the pain worse.

St. Francis of Assisi Church, by having a "Pre Pride Mass" during one of the most shameful weekends of the year in New York City, performed a great service. They were giving these people a chance to break free, for an hour or so, and spend some time in the presence of Jesus Christ. Terry Nelson of Abbey Roads, whom I love dearly, has chastised me saying that whenever the word "pride" and the rainbow flag are used, that means support for Gay Rights. Terry, I was at the Mass. That Mass was all about bringing people back to Christ. Yes, they used the symbols of the Gay community to draw them in, but how else would you have them do it? Don't we have to speak the language that people understand?

I do wish Michael Voris had listened more closely to the sermon. He was blinded by his "preconceptions, hardheartedness and prejudice." He came there with his mind already made up that this was an apostate Mass led by heretics. His mind was not open at all to the fact that this could actually be a way of trying to draw Gay Catholics back into the Church. He was completely closed to the fact that a Catholic Church could actually reach out in love and mercy to those souls who are in desperate need of the saving grace of the Gospel.

And he has now spread his blindness and preconceptions to who knows how many thousands who are listening to him.

We need to reach out with love and compassion to our Gay brothers and sisters. We need to do whatever we can to bring them back home. Yes, there are church communities who have gone over the line and are, in effect, endorsing the Gay lifestyle. But that is not what I saw at St. Francis of Assisi.

I suppose I'm going to be blasted on this post just as I have been for all my recent posts. I will delete any hateful, bigoted comments. The rest of you, go ahead. I will not be answering you for the most part.

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