Saturday, December 22, 2012

Heaven is a Cruise Ship

The SS "Desert" Princess
The Catholic blogosphere has become somewhat agitated over the Father Z/Michael Voris "Lenten cruise".  I posted my reaction to the "Lenten cruise" on December 5.   There have been some great reactions from other bloggers, my favorite being from Terry Nelson at Abbey-Roads.  I love this:

"Well it's really quite simple, I'll say the black
and do the red, and you collect the bread."

"That's swell Ollie!  We should put that on a mug."
Most Catholic bloggers do not think it is a great idea to have a luxury cruise during Lent.  There are exceptions, but even they are couching their statements, thinking maybe a cruise during Lent is not the best thing to do, but let's not be judgmental.  They seem to think it is all about bashing Michael Voris.  I can't speak for others, but trust me, in my case that is absolutely not true.  

Then there is Tancred over at The Eponymous Flower.  He is in full support of this cruise, no holds barred, and he seems to have little regard or patience for those who disagree with him.

Tancred starts out by giving us the "modern, contemporary" view of Lent, which is that it is basically just like any other time of year, and there is really nothing special you have to do during those 40 days.  He says that those who do feel is it a more solemn, sacred time of year are part of a "newfound Jansensim", and says this view "borders on the hypocritical."
Edit: is there a rule against taking some form of recreation even during Lent? In a time when most Catholics don't fast during Lent , much less avoid meat [how sadly true], this newfound Jansenism on the part of some borders on the hypocritical.
Tancred seems to either have forgotten or just does not know that all Catholics were required to do the Great Fast until the time of now Venerable Pope Paul VI in 1966, when he said Catholics should voluntarily fast.  Of course, that resulted in no fasting, but that's for another time.  So Tancred's accusation of "newfound Jansenism" is completely wrong, in that this view is neither "newfound" nor "Jansenism."

Then Tancred tries to justify the cruise by saying well, going on a cruise with Father Z is a whole lot better than those Catholics who support birth control, abortion or homosexuality.  I certainly can't disagree with that. But how does that make a Lenten cruise a good idea?
For what could be worse? Supporting abortion, sodomy, the distribution of condoms and Marxist schemes using the Catholic name, or going on a cruise during Lent with Father Z?
Surely, some of these effete newly austere navel gazers [ah, the name calling that adds so much to his argument] have the purest motives when they attack Michael Voris and FatherZ for holding a Lenten Retreat aboard a ship bound for the Caribean islands.  [I, for one, am not attacking either Voris or Father Z.  I am attacking the idea of a Lenten cruise - there is a big difference]
Tancred now tries to tell us that those of us who oppose the idea of a Lenten cruise "would do well to take a close look at what they're objecting to."
A retreat can be a a beautiful place, even a kind of hothouse, with good food and companions, where a man can withdraw, retreat, from the rigors of his life to take stock, still his heart and listen for God's voice.
Christ's "companion" in the desert
Is Lent about going to a "beautiful place, a kind of hothouse, with good food and companions"?  I don't think that is what our Lord did when he went into the desert for 40 days.  First, I wouldn't call the desert exactly beautiful.  Secondly, our Lord went there with absolutely no food or water and no companions other than an occasional scorpion or other desert creature.   He most certainly did "withdraw, retreat, from the rigors of his life . . . still his heart and listen for God's voice," but He sure didn't do it on a luxurious cruise ship with great food, entertainment, and surrounded by others intent on worldly pursuits.  Thankfully, we are not required to follow the literal example of Jesus Christ, but we should try to emulate it as much as we are able to, at least spiritually.

Then Tancred tries to tell us that a cruise ship is a foretaste of heaven:
Most retreat facilities fall nothing short of luxurious and might be accused of providing a vision of heaven and are comparable to an above average to luxurious hotel. After all, what is a cruise ship but a hotel on the water? Even the more austere retreat houses are far from uncomfortable, but not all of us are Carthusians, or meant to be.
This is heaven?
A cruise ship provides "a vision of heaven"?  Does this mean that "The Love Boat" was the closest representation of heaven that we have ever seen?  I remember reading that "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."  (I Cor. 2:9).  I don't think the Apostle Paul would agree with Tancred that a cruise ship is a good representation of heaven.

Tancred, the problem is, not very many of us are ready for heaven, and in the meantime, we have to say no to our desires and wants, at least once in a while, and turn away from luxury and creature comforts so that we can eradicate the sin in our lives.  Holy Mother Church has given us Lent, a liturgical period when we can concentrate on eradicating sin in our lives in a more intense manner than at any other time of the year.  I'm certainly not saying that we can never go on a luxury cruise.  There is a time and place for this, but it ain't Lent!

Tancred now resorts once again to name calling:
Any way, the Catholic Church's own puritanical Jacobins are up in arms all over the place and the usual suspects are making themselves heard. Some of the most vocal critics have been on"apologetics" cruises themselves, which were quite expensive and frankly decadent, upwards of 10,000 dollars.
I have never been on a cruise, so I really can't speak to this.   But at least these "apologetics" cruises were not held during Lent.

Tancred tries now to tell us that this cruise is actually quite cheap:
The cost of going on a Father Z and Michael Voris cruise is $1,000-$2,000, which is rather Spartan in comparison.
The cheapest price for this cruise is $1,083.89, double occupancy.  Then of course you have to figure in the cost of air fare, transportation to and from the airport, clothes and other sundry items you may need to buy, taking time off from work, getting someone to watch your house and/or kids and/or pets.  (At this price, unless you are truly wealthy, a family is not going to go with the kids.  It will be, at best, Mom and Dad.)  And, of course, you know you will be spending more money when you're actually on the cruise itself.  If you're really interested in what a typical cruise costs, you can go here.  It's far more than the base figure given in the ad.  For a married couple to go on this cruise at the cheapest price will probably be close to $5000.   Tancred may consider this spartan.  Most of us out in the real world do not.

I can completely understand those who want to do this cruise.  They really like and admire these two men, and the chance to spend an entire week with them in beautiful surroundings is truly tempting.  It's not tempting to me, but that's neither here nor there.

It is ironic that both Voris and Father Z represent themselves as "traditional" Catholics who support traditional Catholic practices.  One of the strongest traditions in the Church was the Great Lenten Fast.  Yet, by offering this cruise during Lent, Voris and Father Z are actually pressuring people to turn away from the Great Fast and instead, do the exact opposite by indulging their material senses.

I can only conclude this the same way I concluded my first post on this subject.  I know how the DH and I are going to save thousands of dollars this coming Lent.


  1. I applaud you that your posts on this kind of bizarre subject do not resort to name-calling and slander of Michael Voris. You present calm reasoning with your opinion. I noticed you have another older post where you explicitly defended Mr. Voris when he was being told to take the name "Catholic" off of his ministry so I do not lump you in with some of the other apparent "Voris haters" I have come across in the last several days.
    I think some folks' emotions got stirred up by the frothing-at-the-mouth attacks on Voris (who has not responded on any blog that I am aware of TBTG)) and his defenders by blogger Shea on Fisher's two blogs. I was told that I was a member of his "cult" for daring to criticize the mean-spirited and slanderous attacks and others were told they were Voris "kool-aid" drinkers for defending him against the pretty nasty post on Fisher's "I Have to Sit Down" blog by "guest" blogger "the Jerk" entitled "Which one is Gilligan." When I read her blog I must say I was shocked and did jump in to defend the man against the pretty vicious post and combox piling on. There is actually a photo of him on Fisher's post "Which one is Gilligan" that depicts Voris holding a sword with the caption below: "there better not be any Jews on board." It seems that Shea, being acknowledged by Fisher on her most recent post as some type of "endlessly generous" (perhaps to her but certainly not to anyone he disagrees with) defender, might have mentored Ms. F over the line into his style of ruthless sarcasm. I am praying for both of them. I just really question the value or wisdom of their styles in the world of Catholic blogging. I have no doubt that the sin that some comboxers (including me! I went to confession yesterday to unload my burden of allowing my emotions to get the better of me when goaded by Shea into posting a few things I never would have said to anyone in person) may have descended into was truly provoked by the mean-spirited blog posts by the Jerk and Shea's vicious name-calling. Just go read the threads, or rather don't. Sadly, I have a feeling that the sins committed in attack or defense in this brouhaha (love that word) are at least as bad if not worse than any that potentially could be committed by going on a lenten cruise. Of course, its silly to compare sin levels, but I was really shocked and am embarrassed by the whole thing. Tancred may have also gotten caught up in the whole emotion-laden drama and posted things he/she now wishes he/she had not.
    I seriously question this whole blogging enterprise and wonder if it does not create more division in the body of Christ. I hope every one involved repents of their own, not others :), sins and has a truly blessed and peaceful Christmas. I will be overjoyed if I wake up on Christmas morning to see those bloggers on both sides ask forgiveness of each other and Love one another.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I think it's good to keep our Blessed Mother in mind when we blog. She didn't attack even when her own Son was being crucified, so I don't think we should, either. The whole idea is to shed light and bring others to Christ, not to demean and divide.

      I did not like Simcha Fisher's post at all on this one. Ad hominem attacks are always self defeating and never shed light on anything. Even if your argument is on the side of right, you immediately lose if you start attacking someone personally.

      I have not seen Shea's post, and now his entire blog seems to have completely disappeared, I can't find it anywhere. Interesting.

      Your comment has given me an idea on doing a post about the benefits and pitfalls of Catholic blogging. Thanks so much.

      Have a blessed Christmas season.

    2. btw I just found Shea's blog by googling him, its still there I guess...

  2. PS from Unknown above, I really want to post using my name but I could not figure out how. Can you tell me? I want to be as accountable as possible and I figure anonymity will not guard me well against sin!

    1. When you comment, you will see the box below which says "Comment as:". You click on the arrow next to it and it will give you options on how to sign in. I'm just automatically signed in as "Catholic In Brooklyn" because that is how I registered on google. I would suggest that you open an account on google as well. Copy the following URL and you'll able to do it.

      God bless you. I wish there were more like you who wish to stay as accountable as possible. We will all have to answer for our words, and we should be careful how we use them.

  3. Karl Keating, president of Catholic Answers, posted this on his Facebook page. The retreat police are encouraged to read it:

    "I hold no brief for Michael Voris, but as an organizer of Catholic cruises (Mark has been a speaker–and a very good one!–for us) I should point out that the $1,084 Voris is charging works out to $155 per day. That includes the equivalent of hotels, all meals, and car expenses for a driving vacation that visits five far-flung cities in a week. You easily could spend more than that trying to do such a land-only vacation, so in that sense Voris’s cruise shouldn’t be labeled a luxury or expensive trip.

    I thought the critique at Simcha Fisher’s blog was very poorly done–so poorly that it never should have been posted.

    The reviewer starts by referring to “the Michael Voris Love Boat.” That migth be acceptable if Voris were sponsoring a cruise for singles looking for spouses, but that isn’t at all what his video or ad say. A cheap shot.

    The reviewer says that Voris “is going to charge the suckers who watch him thousands of dollars for a ‘retreat’ at sea. During Lent. That’s right. Thousand[s] of dollars spent to go on a spiritual retreat on a cruise ship with casinos and all night buffets.”

    First of all, using “suckers” is another cheap shot.

    Second, the fee isn’t “thousands of dollars” but just over one thousand dollars. (Can’t you read the man’s ad?)

    Third, nearly all Catholic cruises, no matter what time of year, are held on big ships that have casinos. Big ships mean lower costs per person, and big ships universally have casinos. (On Catholic Answers cruises we just ignore the casinos and go about our own business.)

    Fourth, “all night buffets”? I checked the description of this cruise at the Princess Cruises website and couldn’t find any reference to all-night buffets. Catholic Answers has used several cruise lines over the years (but not Princess), and none of them had an all-night buffet.

    Granted, Lent doesn’t seem the best time of year to set a cruise (maybe Voris chose March because the rates are low then), but–unlike something claimed in the comments above–his group won’t be partying on the ship on Good Friday–because Good Friday is on March 29, and his cruise ends 12 days earlier! Still another cheap shot.

    I don’t object to criticizing Voris when criticism is due (which is often enough, I’m afraid), but let’s play fair, shall we? Don’t make things up, and don’t exaggerate. Cheap shots (which are mainly plain old falsehoods) don’t bring any credit to their authors."

    1. I did not like Simcha's post (it was actually her husband) because it was basically an ad hominem attack. However, I don't know why you're going after me for what was said there.

      As far as the costs are concerned, you need to look at the link I provided for all the hidden costs associated with taking a cruise. There are additional port fees and taxes, air fares, cancellation insurance, and many things on board that are not covered, such as most drinks (alcohol and non). This lowest cost cited is for an inside cabin, which for Lent might at least be a little penitential.

      But as far as I'm concerned, this is basically irrelevant. This could be done any time of the year and I wouldn't have posted a word about it.

      BUT NOT DURING LENT! I said nothing about Good Friday, so I don't know why you're bringing it up with me. I think you're getting your blogs confused.

      Sorry for yelling, but sometimes that's the only way to get a point across.


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