Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Michael Voris and Father Z: Say What?!

Two of the biggest "stars" among "traditional" Catholics are Michael Voris of and Father John Zuhlsdorf, often called Father Z, of I go to their websites on a fairly regular basis, and while I admit to having disagreements with them both from time to time, they seem to promote a very traditional, orthodox Catholicism.

They are joining together for what they call a "Retreat On the Sea", a 7-day Caribbean cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. You can watch a video promoting this event here. The link to sign up for the event and describing it in further detail is here. This is how Michael Voris is promoting this event:
It’s important for Catholics who LOVE Our Blessed Lord, who LOVE the FAITH, who LOVE the Church to be in touch with one another – to come together as like minds and console and enrich and share with one another.
The Church is under such vicious blatant attack in some quarters and sneaky subversive attack coming from other quarters that sometimes a good solid Catholic can feel like they are all alone .. or as crazy as everyone around them says they are.
That’s why ChurchMilitant.TV is happy to announce our first ever Retreat at Sea where Catholics who are authentic in their concern and love for the Church have the chance for a week long time of prayer .. Mass .. Confession .. talks .. and sharing all in the beautiful setting of a cruise to the Caribbean.
Our special guest will be Fr. John Zuhlsdorf .. affectionately known as Fr. Z .. who runs the awesome blog .. What Does the Prayer Really Say.
Fr. Z is an awesome [Michael, can you find another word besides "awesome"?] speaker with terrific insights and knowledge accumulated from his years of doing battle in the Church Militant.
We’re calling the trip .. the Year of Faith Retreat at Sea. We attached a link with all the latest up to date information. We’ll have Holy Mass every day, scheduled confessions, over a dozen talks by Fr. Z and your truly and all this is addition to time to meet and share the faith the dozens of other Catholics .. couples as well as singles.
When I was younger .. I heard a line once .. that the Catholic Faith needs reinforcing. It’s a line I’ve repeated often at various talks and presentations I’ve been blessed to be able to give around the world.

The faith DOES need reinforcing because it’s constantly being attacked and torn down.  That’s why opportunities to sit down with others in a relaxed and prolonged environment is so important.
Sounds pretty good: a chance to hear a couple of men who support and promote orthodox Catholicism and to spend time with like-minded Catholics on a beautiful Caribbean cruise.

There's just one problem - IT IS DURING LENT!!!! The dates are March 10-17, 2013. In fact, Voris is calling this a "Lenten retreat on the sea."

Say what?!

I have to say, this really has me scratching my head in confusion.

A cruise ship as a Lenten Retreat?
This just makes no sense to me. Lent is a time of austerity and mortification, a time to leave the world behind and go into the spiritual desert with our Lord as we prepare for the greatest event in history: the death and resurrection of the Savior of all mankind. Our Lord gave us the example by literally going into the desert for 40 days and fasting entirely from food and water. Many Catholics also spend the 40 days of Lent fasting from food and/or other material things. A lot of people turn off the TV and other media. It is a time for spiritual reading and prayer and quiet meditation, a time to stop spending money on our own selfish desires and give alms to those in need. Lent is a time to turn our attention away from the material world to the spiritual.
One of the "cells" to be used in the Retreat at Sea
Now Michael Voris and Father Z are saying we should spend thousands of dollars to go on a cruise (prices start at $1083.89 per person based on double occupancy and go up to $2869.39 per person) where food is constantly offered and there is worldly entertainment such as "live theater and the big screen to plush lounges, swanky casinos and dance clubs." There are several island stops where you can go sightseeing, such as Princess Cays, Bahamas (a private island) and St. Maarten, and of course spend even more money buying trinkets on these islands. I would hope that the Voris/Zuhlsdorf group will be the only ones on this ship, but that is not likely. And that will mean there will be many men and women on the ship walking around wearing next to nothing and engaging in activities that are decidedly not of a "Lenten nature." Not exactly a spiritual environment.
Jesus Christ in the desert, a long way
from a luxury cruise ship
Lent is basically a 40-day "Yom Kippur" for Catholics. Yom Kippur is the high holy day wherein Jews fast entirely from food and water and atone for their sins. Can we imagine Jews using this day to party on a Caribbean cruise? Would Jesus Christ spend any part of his 40 days on a cruise living the good life? How are we suppose to get our minds off of this material world and onto the things of God when we are surrounded by material opulence and other people engaged in, at best, "unspiritual" activities?
Voris says there will be daily Mass and scheduled confessions and also daily talks by both himself and Father Z. Now I could understand this "retreat" if it were being held in a monastery somewhere away from the material world. It could even be on a beautiful mountain or some other scenic setting, as many monasteries are. But I absolutely cannot understand having a Lenten retreat on a cruise ship in the Caribbean.

Cell in a monastery
missing some of the amenities of a cruise ship
I suppose some could argue that they can go on this cruise and not partake of the material opulence, but what is the point of spending thousands of dollars for luxury and then rejecting it? We are talking about Lent, when we should be limiting how we spend our money and give the money we save as alms to the poor and needy.

I did find one other blogger who is voicing the same objections that I have to this "Lenten retreat." From Man With the Black Hat a/k/a David Alexander:
Now, I don't know about the rest of you kids, but when I go on a retreat, I go on a retreat. When I go on a cruise, I go on a cruise. (I haven't yet, but that's not important.) Retreats might be of varying depth and severity, this is true, but in the Catholic tradition, they all have certain things in common, such as the denial of varying degrees of creature comforts, and a certain severity in routine. Unless an entire cruise line is prepared to cooperate, this is an implausible scenario, and it is so during the season of the Great Fast, known in the Western church as Lent. Dressing it up with a certain routine, bringing a priest along, and calling it a retreat doesn't change any of that.

Some of the "austere" entertainment
offered on the cruise ship
But Father Z and Michael Voris have their loyal followers who will most likely find no fault with this, as shown in this comment from Father Z's blog:
Supertradmum says:28 November 2012 at 11:30 am
Found out today of a special retreat with Fr. Z. and Michael Voris–this is an advertisement.
this is good news………………..
This is good news?

I'm sure this event will fill to capacity with many disappointed they will not be able to go. Certainly there is nothing sinful in and of itself about this event. There is no church dogma that says you may not go on a luxury cruise during Lent. But if you're really serious about observing this most solemn time of the liturgical year, why would you want to do this?

Lent means austerity, not luxury
Michael Voris ends his promotion of this event with these words:
Catholics need to come together .. live IN the faith .. step out of the madness .. recharge .. re-energize and simply just rest in the faith .. in the arms of Our Blessed Lord ..His Holy Mother and splendid Bride – the Church He established personally and paid for in His own blood.
 So again .. please click on the link and seriously consider being a part of Church Militant’s Retreat at Sea
Does Michael really believe that Our Blessed Lord and his Holy Mother would spend any part of Lent on a Caribbean luxury cruise ship? We "step out of the madness" and "recharge.. re-energize and simply just rest in the faith" by spending a week surrounded by materialism? That's like saying that if you want to lose weight, just eat as much food as you can, and please, don't exercise. Those pounds will just melt off.

I know at least one way that my DH and I are going to be saving a few thousand dollars this coming Lent.


  1. I am a supporter of Fr. Z and Michael Voris. I think they do great good within the Church. That being said, I think you offer a valid criticism. It seems a time other than Lent would be more appropriate. I think both of them would be open to a charitable critique such as this. Perhaps the cruise could be pushed back to Eastertide. If not, they could schedule it differently in future years.

  2. VERY interesting perspective!!!! Right idea, wrong venue - it happens sometimes; like when you see someone go potty in plain view at a park. Right idea, wrong venue :D

  3. Th cruise would be fine in any other season of the church other than Lent. To badge it as a retreat is kinda seriously misleading. I have no problem with it happening in Lent but drop the retreat moniker and call it what it is. A sea cruise with other Catholics and with guest stars Michael Voris and Fr. Z.

  4. I see some of their ongoing language as immoderate and non spiritual ( would anyone in the Vatican call the NY Times "hell's Bible"... no, because blanket deprecations are usually inaccurate...the Times and the Globe did more to save our boys than most of us and pushed our Bishops to protect children in the southwest meeting and wrote glowingly of Cardinal Wuerl chasing an abuser all the way to Rome... besides having an evil position and evil editorials on abortion). The Times is a mixed bag composed of various writers not one evil writer or cabal of several. Catholics must always compare the Vatican's moderate language with that of the lower clergy and laity who play the remnant card too much...especially if the latter are making an income by a particular style of remnant thought. Corapi is the case par excellance. Whereas Elijah ended up being fed by a raven in his remnant experience, nowadays it can actually pay the bills. Ergo there can be carnality in the remnant field and maybe it leads to carnal choices during Lent. And what does the $2800 upgrade get bar and all you can eat lobster?

  5. I would say that it is a question of "if you would fast, Wash you face and oil your hair... and don't look gloomy like the Pharisees do!" Yet, the Escalier has all the allure of Titanic's great Staircase... Hmmm! Of course I am being facetious, but it does cause one to ponder, ponder, ponder! Oh happy fault O necessary sin...

  6. I am not sure a cruise is more wordly than staying at home. If the Catholic leadership was as faithful as Voristhere might be more converts from traditional Protestants to the RC Church. Now, the Amerrican RC Church looks more Protestant than RC.

  7. None of us should listen to the personal assumptions of others. People should only judge sinful acts, not judge people.
    Envy is a capital sin.

    Missionary work and evangelization can take place in any location,
    Who knows what Jesus has in mind to save Souls on the ship or any island?
    The example of daily Mass, Confession, and other Catholic activities can be a very strong witness at any time.

    It is not TRUTH to assume what others will do or not do, will eat or not eat, etc.

  8. I also would agree that this is a fair criticism of the cruise as compared to the one on the Register. Thanks for the input!

  9. Ludicrous, quite ludicrous. I seriously hope that Fr Z will step back and rethink this - it can only be a really bad mistake. I'd not expect anything better of Voris, but Fr Z is a serious, good and holy man and priest, and really ought to know better than to be caught up in this kind of foolishness.


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