Pew survey: Catholics favor Obama by 15-point margin : News Headlines – Catholic Culture

Pew survey: Catholics favor Obama by 15-point margin : News Headlines – Catholic Culture.

Shameful statistics of those who will vote in opposition to Church teaching. Maybe they think that voting for pro-Abortionists will get them some kind of medal for being tolerant and inclusive in this life yet totally disregard the notion that they may risk their immortal soul by defying the teachings of their Church. Their only defense? Ignorance; the 8th sacrament of the Church, as Fr. Amorth once quipped.

We spend so much time, effort and money trying to open the doors to eccumenism with other religions and yet we have not yet taught our own members what the Church teaches. It is a total disgrace to the pastors of our Catholic faith and their lack of effort to effectively teach Catholicism to Her own members.

Cardinal Burke: anti-canonical priestly culture devastated Church after Vatican II : News Headlines – Catholic Culture

Cardinal Burke: anti-canonical priestly culture devastated Church after Vatican II : News Headlines – Catholic Culture.

Another piece that shows what happens when people refuse to submit to objective law and start making their own standards up. Again, the problems range from those who believe in subjective reality all the way to anarchy. It is the  new unstable foundation of our world, I suppose. The lack of adherence to an objective standard.

The Winning Strategy : The Integrated Catholic Life

The Winning Strategy : The Integrated Catholic Life.

A hard hitting piece by Dr. Peter Kreeft on Spiritual Warfare, written about 20 months ago and very suitable for our times. We should never forget this and we should especially keep this in mind as we enter the Year of Faith.

Protestant-land

When I lived in Protestant-land I was warned of Catholic-land. There were untold demons there and the Devil himself dwelt in their midst. So I went out and traveled to the far exotic land of the Catholic and found to my surprise something very much different than that which I had expected.

I found the evil spirits there alright but not in the way I was told. They feared the Catholic Church and trembled before Her. But hordes of them gathered around Her and attacked and vexed them day in and day out. The holier they were the more they increased their anger against them. They were fuming and bitter and full of Hells fury and wrath.

It was then that I decided that the Catholic Church must be the True Church of Christ, or why else would they attack Her with such vehemence? If an ally, then why are the faithful so vexed? Yes, the demons were there. Where else would they be? Their greatest prize was to snatch a soul from the hands of Christ. How could that be, if it is Satan’s church. Why did the Church have exorcists and sacraments to fight off the assault of evil? After all, I thought they were supposed to be friends and in league with one another.

As I looked back at Protestant-land from my new Catholic-land home, I only saw a few dragons there: ones that darkened the mind and the eyes and those that sharpened the tongues against the Catholics and one another. These Protestants were not vexed at all it seemed: and the few evil spirits they had took life easy; simply staying busy making men blind and muddling their minds, speaking lies as if they had first hand knowledge of what was true – though they had mastered the lie. Their measly little foes were demons of deception, trickery and disunity that populated both Secular-land and Protestant-land alike and there was not very much labor involved in their work. It was all too simple, pitting one against another. There was, of sorts, a truce in Protestant-land and Secular-land as well.

How different the landscape from Catholic-land. On arriving the scales fell from my eyes and my heart filled with joy from an influx of loving grace. I was fed with Christ and He came to live in my poor soul as my strength. The Catholic prayers were not as I expected them to be; for I had been sure that the Catholics wished to destroy Protestant-land. Instead their prayer was to give them God’s mercy and to help them unite once again with those who fight evil under the banner of Christ the King. They were not my foes as I expected but instead other poor souls misguided and misled. Their eyes were closed shut and their minds set against us by evil whisperer’s that spoke to them in the quiet of their souls each night. Their voices were raised aloud to defame us but much to their chagrin, there was hardly ever a soul who could be turned toward their side. After all, the Catholics had tasted what the True Church feeds them and the drink that gives them great courage. And the Catholics did not fear the scandals and the evil around them; they only feared that the evil might go elsewhere to vex another less prepared; for their absence would mean only one thing – that they may have been drawn into sin by evil’s constant prodding and no longer considered their primary target. It is considered good to belong to the Prize that the evil one despises and relentlessly attacks.

They are like two foreign lands: Protestantism and Catholicism but we wish them well and would like to unite our lands with theirs again someday. Then Protestants might take up their armor and weapons and fight the evil together with their Catholic brothers and sisters. The victory would be so much sweeter if we were to gain the release of the Protestant from the grip of the deception, disunion and deceit of the dragons. Evil would be enraged and together we might even gain a greater crown than the one we might win separately. Or is this just my version of a fairy tale or perhaps a dream from which I’ll soon awake? At least I devised a happy ending; for what it means, I do not know. And the moral of this story I shall leave to your own preponderance.

The SSPX Riddle

English: SSPX Mass in St. Jude's Church, Phila...

English: SSPX Mass in St. Jude’s Church

When the SSPX (Society of St. Pius X) became separated from the Post Conciliar Church, it was a scandal that has continued to reverberate until today. In one sense I understand the excommunication because of the illicit installation and consecration of new bishops without papal approval. On the other hand I have much sympathy for the position of the group as a whole. The excommunication has been lifted by the Pope recently as a peace offering for a possible resolution to this schism.

The Second Vatican Council was a pastoral council that evaluated where the Church wanted to go from here, the plans and practices that would be applied to get us there etc. It did not issue any new teaching on faith or morals; that is they did not add to or subtract from the de fide teachings of Catholicism.

The Council was extremely divided with Cardinal Ottaviani, Bishop Marcel Lefebvre and many supporters who were appalled at some of the changes being proposed as well as the inclusion of non-Catholic (Protestant) advisors invited to make suggestions. At one point Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani muttered to Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini (later Pope Paul VI): “I pray to God that I may die before the end of the Council—in that way I can die a Catholic.” The seriousness of their disagreements is obvious from the above quote.

On the other side of the aisle we had figures like Karl Rahner, Hans Kung and others, often accused of being modernists (a named Heresy of the Faith) who fought for more radical and novel changes. As things ended up, this group won out in much of what was proposed, though the Holy Spirit did preserve the teachings of our de fide teachings. The documents themselves must be read as orthodox suggestions for improving how the Church might go forth in the modern world and be more relevant in the rapid changes taking place. Therefore a right sense of the documents is entirely dependent on the reader to interpret these documents according to our tradition and the defined truths of the Church. After all, there was a time when the Church was the biggest influence on world culture and the tables began to be reversed where modern secular thought was and still is, to a great degree, a major influence upon the Church. We had lost the first skirmishes for the moral development of our changing societies. A New Evangelization will obviously be needed if we are to win the war.

A new Mass was introduced to the Council by Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, the architect of the Mass, who remains a very controversial figure to this day. He was later accused of being a Freemason though definitive proof was never released by the Church. Pope Paul the VI effectively put him in exile for his final years by giving him a post in Iran. However, this Novus Ordo Mass is now the preferred Mass of the Church.

The introduction of this Mass to the world caused many priests and religious to leave the Church as well as many ordinary, obedient Catholics who found the changes unbearable (an estimated 6 million in the U.S. in total). Nuns and priests began removing their habits and clerical clothing and dressing as ordinary laymen. It was at this time that Bishop Marcel Lefebvre began his journey that eventually got him and his group of followers excommunicated from the Church.

It is true that the modernists and progressives of the Church, used the argument “in the Spirit of Vatican II” to introduce far more changes to the Mass than what was originally intended. Abuses of the GIRM (General Instruction for the Roman Missal) were rampant. To this day we still see the footprints of their “novel” ideas all over most celebrations of the Novus Ordo Mass. I only bring this up to set-up the confusion among the faithful and what all of this uncertainty conjures up in the minds of us who have watched this storm approach and then engulf us from the close of the Council. Some being witnesses, as it were, to the chaos which, though greatly diminished, exists right through to our day. Some valiant attempts are being made to right the situations and our last 2 Popes have been steadfast captains of the Bark of Peter during this turbulent storm.

Back now to the dilemma in evaluating the situation with the SSPX:

So here’s the dilemma many ordinary people have when they look at the fruits of the New Mass and the Post Conciliar Church as opposed to that of the flock of the SSPX: Note I speak of the flock because we are now into the second generation of SSPX leadership. I am more interested in looking at their practice and culture and comparing them to the flock that have remained in the Bark of Peter as they ought.

On one hand those who stayed within the Post Conciliar Church abiding by all the changes were faced with a diminishing clergy, religious, and laity who have become extremely lax; some were simply being obedient to any and all changes, good or bad (novelty or not), when they were introduced by their parish priests. By 1992 only 30% of the Novus Ordo laity believed in transubstantiation. See my footnote on a recent post, here.

On the other hand, the SSPX, who were now in schism with the Church, has gained priests and religious, have been schooled in solid theology and their laity hold steadfast to all the de fide teachings of the Church. Their laity, in unison, would respond almost 100% in affirming the Catholic doctrine on transubstantiation. In this manner, one cannot equate their schism as being anything like that of Martin Luther whose Protestant heresy created a brand new religion with new teachings: rejecting nearly all of our de fide teachings.

By contrast, the SSPX looks and feels more like a small Catholic island community that was cut off from the rest of Catholicism for these past 47 years.

So for their acts of disobedience and rejection of new Catholic practices (which they felt undermined the de fide teachings of the Church), the SSPX is still viewed with great disdain among many of today’s Catholics and Catholic clergy. However, it sometimes appears ironic to anyone who might compare their acts of disobedience to the disobedience of many within the Novus Ordo, Post Conciliar Church who remain ‘Catholics in good standing.’

To this point, think of the scandalous behavior of some of our priests and Bishops in the abuse scandals; some of whom are still operating without sanction. Think of the influx of wild eyed theologians and scripture scholars who plagued us with their novel ideas, such as, Christ was not resurrected but his bones were eaten by dogs, or that Christ did not say most of things attributed to Him in scripture. They still wear their Roman collars and are interviewed on television as Catholic experts. Think of some of the most influential public political figures such as Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden who scandalously receive Holy Communion while fighting tooth and nail to promote abortion at every chance they get. They too are considered by Washington’s Cardinal Wuerl (an otherwise very traditional Bishop in America) as ‘Catholics in good standing;’ worthy to receive the Eucharist even though they bring unprecedented scandal on the Church. The consequence of his failure to deny or better yet excommunicate them tells the faithful layman that they need not agree with any de fide teaching of the Church which they might disagree with; after all, the prelates will surely give them a ‘wink and a nod’ and allow them to continue to scandalize the remaining faithful.

With this going on, is there any wonder that the laity of the Novus Ordo Church defies the Church teachings on contraception in overwhelmingly large numbers? Many have been led into apostasy or even heresy yet nothing is done. Do those in the SSPX churches act the same? It is doubtful from those whom I have met, though there is no poll that I have found to prove it.

In the same vein, the members of the Novus Ordo Church voted overwhelmingly in the last election for an avowed Socialist and the most pro-abortion presidential candidate this country has ever known. Again, I have no way to prove it, but I would say that the well educated laity of the SSPX church knows the Catholic teachings concerning socialism and abortion. The Church has repeatedly decried socialist forms of government and has spent an enormous amount of energy explaining the seriousness of the sin of abortion. John Paul II made it clear that to vote for a pro-abortion candidate was morally wrong when and if there is a pro-life candidate that could be voted for. I would wager than the SSPX members voted more in line with our Pope’s wishes than did the ‘Catholics in good standing.’

So we have the SSPX schismatic Church doing things and living in ways that we only wish our Post Conciliar Church would mimic. Meanwhile, we have a post conciliar Church getting involved in scandal almost everywhere we look. The latest being the LCWR scandal of the modernist nuns. I guess the Vatican has finally decided to discipline or sanction them.

The obvious questions for those of us who are still faithful to the Magisterium are: Why did it take so long to look into these modernist nuns? Why didn’t the Superiors of the various Orders stop this from happening? And why didn’t the Bishops of the diocese’s put an end to such behavior before now? Who is funding them? After all this is not a new problem; it has been going on for nearly 40 years now. Where have they been?

But we constantly lay blame on the SSPX (rightly so for their disobedience to the Pope). However, their followers are among the most faithful Catholics we have seen when it comes to abiding by the dogmatic teachings of the Church and avoiding doctrinal scandal. It is almost bazaar in its very nature. On one hand we have a schismatic group living the Catholic life and on the other we have the official Catholic flock that is rife with people who are living in apostasy. The choice is not that enticing.

Some hate the idea of the SSPX and are angry that the Pope wants to have them reconcile with the Church. Yet they could teach the rest of us what a truly Holy Mass looks like: something the Novus Ordo can do with much effort but still has a very hard time imitating. The SSPX can also teach us how to catechize our flock; something the Novus Ordo church is struggling with and must succeed in doing if we are ever going to reach our goals of a New Evangelization.

I think Pope Benedict the XVI knows that the reform of the reform which he desires is absolutely necessary. I also think that he is aware that he will need the help from the religious fraternities like the FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) and the SSPX in order to bring this revitalization about. These 2 groups are both very strong in the area of faithful adherence to the dogmatic teachings of the Church.

Therefore, I think we, as laymen, must keep an open mind about this era of our Catholic history. We are far too much invested in the present turmoil to be very good judges of this moment in time. It is impossible to escape our turbulent time in order to examine the outcome from afar without emotional, intellectual and doctrinal prejudice. What the future holds for the Church and the schismatic SSPX will just have to work itself out by the leaders of the SSPX and the Church.

For myself, I am going to leave this dilemma to Christ and His Holy Church and to the movement of His Holy Spirit. I have faith that our Holy Father and the Magisterium will, in the end, set the Bark of Peter aright.

My opinion again is that the rest of us need to take a deep breath and say, ‘from my perspective I admit that I am very short sighted.” Some may think me a rebel in taking a neutral stance but I refuse to take sides in this one though I will always defend defined teachings and reverent Masses.

I am personally praying for reunification and a real renewal of the Church; not more scandal and abuse like we’ve seen during these past 47 years. I pray for our Pope and His intentions and the revitalization of Holy Mother Church.

There are many of you who might disagree with me on the best way to renew the Church. I would love to know where you stand on these issues and how you might view the present dilemma with the SSPX.

Servus Fidelis or Servus Infidelis

A visit to the Blessed Sacrament is the "...

Servus fidelis or infidelis, that is the question. Are we faithful servants or unfaithful servants? I think everyone tries to be the former but many have been misled to accept opinion rather than doctrine and mistakenly pass misinformation on to others. I do not question their good intentions. These good intentioned people have donated their time and effort to educate our children in the faith and those adults who want to convert to Catholicism.

We are at a time when most people who are old enough to be teaching religious education were raised in a church without the old Baltimore Catechism that was written in various volumes for children of all ages and even for adults. The Vatican wanted to rid us of the question and answer format, though countless children came to understand their faith very well under this system. Since the close of Vatican II in 1965 we had no approved Catechism to use for our children or for our adults. This situation lasted until the present Catechism was published in English in 1994 and it was supposed to be a guide for the bishops and priests, not for the laity. However, because we had nothing else the laity bought these catechisms in droves and it is now a household item. But still: where are the excellent tools for teaching that will take a child from an elementary understanding to a full understanding of the faith. Our children are leaving the church in increasing numbers and from my pew-side analysis it is a combination of the secular education system and the poor catechesis that makes their faith unattractive and opposed to reason. Once our kids leave the house many simply never return.

Of those that stay (God bless their attempts to hold to the faith) many don’t know what they are supposed to adhere to as doctrine that must be believed. And poll after poll shows that Catholics, especially the young and those catechized during the years 1965-1994 (catechism free days) think of themselves as more spiritual than religious. Meaning, I suppose, that they have embarked on a spiritual journey without the guidance of Catholic theology and doctrine.

Another poll in 1992[1] showed that a mere 30 percent of Catholic laity believed in transubstantiation. Some believed in consubstantiation as some Protestants denominations believe and others believed that the Blessed Sacrament was simply a symbol of Christ. Though the sampling was very small, it should not have mattered. Most if not all should have understood this basic teaching of the Church. That was, sad to say, a shocking poll.

Therefore, we cannot be shocked at the irreverence at Mass in many parishes because the un-catechized or poorly catechized just don’t know any better. And now their children don’t either.

Is there any wonder why we have experienced such a slide from the wonder and awe that Catholics used to exhibit every time they attended Mass?

We are all unprofitable servants. We only have what has been given to us to offer and nothing of our own; not even our free will or our sufferings offered as gifts to God are our very own.  Everything including our love for God is merely the return of a gift we received from Him. Therefore even our faith and the Holy Doctrines of the faith are gifts to us from above simply delivered to us by His Church. Our Sacraments are delivered through the Church as well and when we accept the Sacrament of Confirmation we really should have a good idea of what the Church teaches and assent to all the teachings of the Church.

I am a supporter of the New Evangelization and see it as a way to change the world. The New Evangelization as spelled out in John Paul II’s encyclical, At the Beginning of the Third Millennium, called for each Catholic to strengthen their faith and live lives worthy of our call to Christianity in the world. He said that “all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness.” My only question is how many Catholics know their faith or have even witnessed true holiness that they might be able to go forth and transform the world?

We are at a crossroads, in my mind. Pope Benedict XVI has written a motu proprio, Porta Fidei, for the year of faith beginning October 11, 2012 in which he would like everyone to deepen their commitment to the faith. Again, in order for this to be successful, it seems to me that we need to work ceaselessly to educate our flock from the bottom up so that we will not merely be viewing another year in honor of this thing or that thing which on the whole most of us ignore.

My wife, a DRE for 21 years, has a pretty good handle on the difficulties they have in teaching the kids. The primary difficulty is the unwillingness for the parents to take the studies seriously and work with their kids for the preparation for their Sacraments. It mirrors the lack of parental involvement in our schools. Apparently, the modern view is that we will leave the teaching to the schools. Meanwhile they are beside themselves when their child flunks a course in school or is told that their child is not ready for the Sacraments. It is their contention that the fault lies in the school, parish or teacher. But none are willing to admit that they should be pointing the finger at themselves.

The texts for the children have also been dumbed down substantially from the old Baltimore Catechism series. At the high school level, the old texts of yesteryear such as the series, Our Quest for Happiness (1940, Lepanto Press), would not be understood by most of our adult parents let alone their children. Our education systems have made it next to impossible to educate our children in their faith as they have no training in critical thinking skills.

The only way that I see for this to change is not to look towards others to do what we need to do ourselves. We must educate ourselves in critical thinking skills, logic, theology, religion and the catechism. Then we must take responsibility for our children in these areas as well. If we leave it up to the books, the teachers and the schools we will change nothing. We need to fight for our own children: in the process we might just learn something of value ourselves. You may want to supplement your child’s religious education by reading from the Baltimore Catechism at night. It is still available and it is still a good teaching of the faith.

Once we and our children understand the Catholic faith, it will not take much to find more respect and reverence in our parishes: people will insist on more holiness and deeper faith formation. Who knows? We might just preserve the Faith of our Fathers for another generation or two.


[1] THIRD GALLUP POLL (1992):  BELIEF IN DOGMA ON HOLY EUCHARIST

In January 1992, the St. Augustine Center Association sponsored a second Gallup poll, called “A Gallup Survey of Catholics regarding Holy Communion.” This poll, which included telephone interviews of 519 U.S. Catholics during the period of December 10, 1991, to January 19, 1992, revealed that ONLY 30% OF NOVUS ORDO CATHOLICS BELIEVE THE DE-FIDE DOGMA ABOUT THE SACRAMENT OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST namely, that at Communion they are really and truly receivng the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine, which is known as the Real Presence. 70% OF NOVUS ORDO CATHOLICS NOW HOLD AN HERETICAL BELIEF IN THE HOLY EUCHARIST. Specifically,

1) 29% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that when receiving Holy Communion, they are receiving bread and wine, which symbolize the spirit and teachings of Jesus Christ, and in so doing are expressing their attachment to His Person and words.  This is the heresy of Protestant John Zwingli, who taught the false doctrine that the Mass is merely a symbolic commemoration of Christ’s death.

2) 24% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that when receiving Holy Communion, they are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, which has become that because of their personal belief.  This is the heresy of Protestant John Calvin, who taught the false doctrine that the faith of the recipient transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

3) 10% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that when receiving Holy Communion, they are receiving bread and wine, in which Jesus Christ is really and truly present.  This is the heresy of Protestant Martin Luther, who taught the false doctrine known as “consubstantiation,” that the Body and Blood of Christ coexist with the elements of bread and wine during the Eucharist.

4) 8% of Novus Ordo Catholics hold some other non-Catholic belief.

5) Only 30% of Novus Ordo Catholics believe that they are really and truly receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of Bread and Wine.  This has always been the Church’s dogma regarding the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

The Catholic Church teaches that Transubstantiation, that is, the complete change of the bread and wine into the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood, is effected by an ordained priest during the Consecration of the Mass, so that only the appearance of bread and wine remain.  The Sacramental presence of Christ begins the moment of transubstantiation and remains as long as the Eucharistic species exist. This doctrine goes back to Apostolic times, and its basis is in Scripture and Tradition.  The term “transubstantiation,” meaning “change of substance,” was adopted by the dogmatic Fourth Lateran Ecumenical Council in 1215 to help explain the doctrine of the Real Presence.

The poll results show a terrible confusion on the part of Catholics concerning one of the most fundamental dogmata of the Church, a confusion that has actually led them into (at least material) heresy.

The poll results were presented to the U.S. Bishops at their annual conference of November 1992 at Washington, D.C.  The bishops failed to take any action, but preferred to let 7 out of 10 Catholics remain in (at least material) heresy.

I Only Want to be a Little Bit Pregnant

Partial communion with the Catholic Church is sort of like being partially pregnant. You’re either pregnant or not; you’re either Catholic or not.

We had many precedents of those who held partial communion with the Church or tried to change the doctrines taught: the heresies are constantly at work to undermine the faith. The last huge upsurge of doctrinal denial was found in the heresy of Protestantism and as you know it created a complete breakdown of communion with the newly formed churches. They were the progenitors of the constant divisions between themselves which has accelerated in recent years. But, if it was OK to disagree with Rome the first time, then it must certainly be OK to disagree with your present day denomination as well. 35,000 denominations into this dividing cell we have an enormous growth of cells that are unrecognizable as the Mystical Body of Christ from which they emerged. One might say that modern Christians who claim no church or denomination are themselves products of this as well. They are churches unto themselves. They are church.

The modern phrase of cafeteria catholic was framed during the liberal abuses that abounded following the close of the Vatican II Council. Many foolish notions were floated about and introduced as in keeping with “the spirit of Vatican II” and thus were floundering about without an official, authoritative Catechism for many years. Therefore many “did Catholicism” their own way; cafeteria style. It is an apt description of many within the faith, even to this day (despite a comprehensive official Catechism), who do not adhere to all of the teachings of the faith. They continue to “do Catholicism” their own way, accepting this doctrine while rejecting that doctrine. So, are they in partial communion or have they broken communion with the Church?

It should be obvious. That would be like saying, “I accept Einstein’s formula E=MC2 except for the M part.” Then it’s no longer a viable formula. It would be a formula about nothing at all and useful for nothing. It is the same with the cafeteria catholic and how that would impact the rest of the faith. Although they see it as just a tiny little unimportant piece within a great big church with many doctrines, they are so wrong! If any of the defined teachings of the faith are found wrong then the entire faith is wrong: which would be to say that Christianity itself is wrong. Let’s see why.

If Christ did not leave a Church with authority then His followers were left without any mechanism to continue to preach and teach the Good News to the rest of the world: in other words, Christ’s claim that He would not leave them as orphans is a sham. If the Church is not the authority, then the Bible cannot be the authority either as it was left to the Church to have the authority to proclaim what books should be in the Bible and how they agreed with the spoken traditions and beliefs that had been taught by the successors of the apostles. And lastly, if the Church does not retain Her authority, then the Bible has fabricated the fact that God gave Her the Holy Spirit; effectively sanctifying the institution for all posterity. That then makes Christ ineffectual, not divine and worse would render Him nothing more than a mad man or a liar and a charlatan. How then could anyone still accept Christianity as a religion with any credence?

We also see how quickly the faith mutates when we start picking and choosing the teachings of Christ as taught through the Church. Note the news story previous to this post of an apostate priest, who had lost his faculties, giving the “Eucharist” to a dog at his Church. If you can’t be faithful in the small things then it is unlikely that you will be faithful in the larger things. It is the inevitable evolution of a priest who disagreed with the Church’s teaching on gays, women’s ordination, contraception and the like. It has morphed into a strange concoction of abuses and has turned into a boat without a rudder that merely moves wherever the wind of change moves it.

Witness the degeneration of the Episcopal Church which has done the same. Starting with their acceptance of the same issues, they now cannot even declare that Christ is lord in their latest pronouncement. It has totally unraveled as a viable Christian faith and the veracity of its teachings are now null and void.

“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that which is greater . . .” __ Luke 16:10

Failure to Commit

"It is love alone that gives worth to all...

“It is love alone that gives worth to all…” _ St. Teresa of Avila

Sometimes a failure to commit is telling us something quite different than what we usually take away from the experience. For instance, in my case, I have a long history of these events and they have carried over in life to the present day.

While attending Long Island University in Brooklyn back in the 60’s I had a desire to get my degree in philosophy and eventually teach at the college level. However, as a philosophy major, I blamed the philosophy courses and especially the teachers for being second rate at best. So, using the wisdom of my twenty some years of life, I changed majors to English Literature and after a few more years of boredom quit college to pursue my real attraction: worldly distraction. It was a fall not unlike that of Adam. Strike one, for failing to commit. The question which I now pose to you is, was the fault in someone else or within me?

After bouncing around New York, earning rent and food money driving a cab, it struck me that it would be nice to follow my latest dream of being a blues guitar player. With guitar in hand I left for Boston. So I entered Berklee School of Music and pursued music along with some very talented people. But once again, I failed to commit. My excuse this time was that I just wasn’t good enough to continue this dream. The way I looked at it, was this: if I were an artist, my genius would most likely be in painting pictures of Elvis on black velvet with glow-in-the-dark colors. So whether or not I had the talent is not the question anymore because, for all my excuses, Berklee had accepted me into their musical studies program. Therefore, in their opinion, I had the ability to succeed. Strike two, for failing to commit. So I was back to driving cabs again; this time for many years. Was that failure based on lack of talent or lack of motivation or just plain sloth?

God had a plan to rescue me and I almost failed to commit here as well. But thankfully I did commit to my wife of thirty-four years who I fortuitously met while earning a meager living as a cab driver. Well it was about time that I committed to something. Halleluiah, for commitment number one! Was this commitment made because I saw the imperfections in my wife or in myself that would destine us to failure? Obviously not. True love it seems, makes the imperfect, perfect. It heals the wounds of life while making the impossible, possible. We become blind to any obstacles that might stand in our way.

Well life proceeds and I earned a living selling industrial products, becoming adept in electric motors, solenoids, transformers and industrial fans, to name a few. It supported my family a whole lot better than driving a cab and took me all over the country. I committed to a career in life which was made not because I loved selling and loved what I did but because I loved my family and their well-being. This commitment was also made for love and not for my own fulfillment. Another lesson to be learned.

My wife was a Catholic and I was a ‘nothing’ at the time we met and married. I had always been interested in religion but again, I could find nothing that I was willing to commit to or fully have faith in. I was a fallen-away protestant.

Years before I met my wife I had become a lover of Buddhist writings, especially in Tibetan Buddhism. But I did not get Buddhism: it was for an Eastern mind and that was just too abstract from my nature. However, some Buddhist writer, who I cannot remember, suggested to his readers the works of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. So I read Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross as well as another Catholic Book he suggested; The Cloud of Unknowing which had been written anonymously. Both of them are on Catholic mystical prayer. They had more impact on me than I realized at the time because I read them through the spectacles of Buddhist thought.

Years later, my wife was raising our children in the Catholic faith and as a dutiful but unbelieving father I would accompany them to Mass on Sundays. It was during this period, inspired by the Franciscan Monks who were the pastors of the church I attended (which looked like a Spanish mission from the Middle Ages), I began to read again the mystical writings of Catholicism. My reading accelerated as I became convinced of the truth of what I read. God tested my commitment by delaying my entrance into the Church by almost 3 years as I watched with sadness the old Franciscans, who were becoming a bit senile, forget that I was even getting religious instructions from them. So I awaited a new pastor and after he got his footings in his new assignment, I again started the whole process anew with him. Yes, maybe I can form a new habit of commitment after all: this was commitment number three. I had committed to read about the faith, to go through with the sacraments to gain membership to the faith and to abide as best I could, to the teachings of the faith.

My intentions and my desires, however, were not to merely be a pew sitter. I wanted more. I wanted what St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avilla had: a real substantial union with God while still in my human condition. In other words, I wanted to be a saint in this life; to enter by the “narrow gate.” My desire drew me to Carmel and to spiritual retreats given by traditionalists who said Mass according to the Missal of 1962; which is sometimes referred to as the Tridentine Rite or the Extraordinary Rite. I attended classes for the Third Order of Carmelites or OCDS. Once again, I saw my interest wavering. I judged everyone and everybody and only saw an order that did not live up to what I had imagined in the writings of the Carmelite Saints. Was it the Order that was changed by the modern world or was it me, once again? I could not commit and therefore retired to my own hermitage hidden within my family life. Strike three, you’re out!

Apparently not in God’s game of baseball. We get many balls to hit and many strikes that we take while we just watch them cross the plate, right in the sweet spot, without even taking a swing.

So here I am, still drawn to a life of prayer, to which I am not willing to commit. I pray but I am no prayer warrior. I am weak and suffer from the capital sin of sloth. My inabilities to commit in life always show me the same things should I care to watch and listen: commitment comes from love and sacrifice not just because we want it. Pray for me, that Christ might increase my faith, my hope and my love: and that through this increase find the courage necessary to make a sacrificial commitment to Him through my prayer and all my actions. Commitments are sometimes hard to make and even harder to keep. Pray for me, as I also pray for thee.__ a favorite form of ‘goodbye for now’ from my old and honorable friend and mentor, to whom I simply refer to as Monsignor. May his prayers from heaven have even more effect now than they did while he walked this earth.

The Real World

St Catherine's Monastery

What is it that is so inspiring about the monastery or convent life? Those men and women who live sheltered lives in remote out of the way places. Their lives seem totally useless to a world full of abundant trappings, so it seems for many. If one does not have the eyes to see, it appears a total waste of a person’s life.

There are those who do not understand the life but are drawn to these souls for what seems to be unknown reasons. What, one might ponder, is worth giving up everything in this world for a life of solitude and hard work? What is worth the effort and the sacrifices these men and women make? Are they merely running away from life or hiding from a past they would sooner wish to forget?

I too, pondered over these souls when I was young. For nothing in this life seemed to have an allure like it. You never forget the shock of finding out that there are people on this earth that count everything of this earth as nothing and look joyous in their trials and labors while separating themselves from the draw of the world and from their very nature as human beings.

Most people, I gather, take little notice of these men and women. They go about their lives in the real world and never give the religious life a thought. They fill their days striving for love, affection, money, honor or skills that might make their lives useful and fulfilling. It is the road we all follow, is it not?

Apparently not! The religious, if asked, might very well expound on the meaningfulness and excellence of the religious life led in seclusion. They might go into detail as to having found the real meaning in life. In short, they would counter that they are living in the Real World: a world that was created by God, held in existence by God, and which glorifies God. They suffer no delusions. It is our honor and our duty to live our lives for our Creator, to pray to Him for all our needs and unceasingly give praise to Him throughout the day and night. Their lives are ordered to their Lord and Savior as the only truly important activity that the human soul can perform – a total gift of themselves. They are ordered to their final end: an eternity of Love Itself.

Now if we were to take the time to evaluate who leads the better life, we might begin to see the futility of our lives lived in the world. Our goals and dreams are met and lost, good and evil comes and goes; and when all is said and done, it turns out to be vanity. It was much ado about nothing. Dust to dust. “Remember O man that thou art dust and to dust thou wilt return.”

So when ever asked about the courageous religious lives of those in the monastery or the convent, I simply remark that those are the people who chose to live in the Real World.