Friday, February 24, 2006
Part of the reticence may have been the "We have troubles enough of our own," or "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything," or "it's not nice to kick someone when they are down."
But really, if you understand that homosexuality is a disorder (as Holy Mother the Church teaches), or more likely a symptom of a deeper disorder, then is it really a surprise that a homosexual person is also suffering from another symptom of a deeper disorder, like alcoholism? The link between homosexuality and alcoholism/drug use is so politically incorrect to be even thinking about that science has largely shied away from this correlation. But in my experience both often appear in the same person, which to me indicates that they are just manifestations of something deeper: depression.
I have always rejected the notion that alcoholism is a disease in and of itself. My dealings with alcoholics and people from families of alcoholics has convinced me that alcoholism (and drug use) is just a symptom of something deeper, most likely depression. And in many cases, I think homosexuality is just another symptom of depression.
In Robinson's case, his homosexuality came to light late in life when his marriage collapsed. Is it possible that if someone could cure him of his depression, both the alcoholism and the homosexuality would abate? I'm not sure if it works quite that well, because this guy has developed a whole defense system idealogically justifying his homosexuality disorder that would make it very difficult for him to deny everything he has come to stand for. Since he has rationalized it intellectually as just "being who he truly is, and by Gosh he is owed respect as such!" it would be impossible practically for him to retrace those steps.
Note: I am not saying that all people who suffer from depression are either homosexual or become alcoholics or drug users. The disease manifests itself in different ways in different people. But, if you have someone who is either a substance abuser, or a homosexual, (and especially if he suffers from both disorders) there is a fair chance that the root cause for the outward manifestations is depression.
So what do I make of it? My conclusion is that he needs prayers, lots of them.
I offer in particular the Prayer of Dimma, and Irish monk who was apparently plagued with depression:
O God, Thou carest for Thy creation with great tenderness. In the midst of overwhelming pain, Thou offerest hope. I beseech Thee, givest Thou aid to me, whose spirit seems to be lost and whose soul is in despair. Let me feel Thy love. Let me believe in a rebirth of joy. Allow me to experience now a small taste of the happiness I wish to know for all eternity.
And on the topic of homosexuality among clerics, see what Dom found in the writings of St. Peter Damien.
I'm still working on refining my regimen for this Lent. Typically, I give up meat for the duration, from midnight Ash Wednesday until midnight Easter Sunday. I also give up alcohol and tobacco (both the pipe and the cigars). I sometimes give up all caffeinated beverages. No coffee, tea, cocoa, or cola. I often give up all cake-like products (cake, cupcakes, donuts, pastries, scones, muffins). On Wednesdays and Fridays, I give up chocolate and ice cream (especially chocolate ice cream).
But more important than what you give up is what you do. I try to do a holy hour with the Blessed Sacrament every day. But during Lent, I have a special regimen of prayers that puts more emphasis on penitence, and more devotions related to the Passion (Seven Last Words, Five Sacred Wounds, Holy Face, Most Precious Blood, the Holy Cross, and Our Sorrowful Mother) . I try for weekly confession, and Stations on Friday (at St. Clement's Eucharistic Shrine).
Then there is lectio. I try to read several books every lent, including Father Rengers' The Seven Last Words of Christ From the Cross, and Bl. Anna Catherine Emmerich's Dolorous Passion. Close to Good Friday itself, I try to squeeze in Jim Bishop's The Day Christ Died. This year, I might add St. Thomas More's The Sadness of Christ, which I read late last year.
Another form of lectio for modern society is viewing. I try to watch The Passion of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Ben Hur, and The Ten Commandments, as a minimum every year, usually during Holy Week.
Then there are the other seasonal reminders. The crown of thorns on the coffee table. All crucifixes and religious art veiled with purple cloths.
And that is pretty much the basis of my Lent.
And on that basis, I don't think this promotion at this time is the best news we could receive. A pat on the back from Rome now could be perceived as encouraging a hard line on parish closings. It is certainly a vote of confidence, a validation of all decisions.
The Archbishop faced grave conditions when he came here, make no mistake about that. But I fundementally disagree with the idea that the Church ought to retreat and close parishes, no matter how bleak things look to the green eyeshade types. I say, keep them open, work on converting cultural Catholics into fervent Catholics, and on making Catholics out of protestants, Orthodox, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists. What the Archdiocese needed was massive orthodox re-evangelization, not parish closings. Mark me down in the "Keep-them-open-and-be-traditional-and-they-will-fill-the-pews-and the seminary" category.
Archbishop O'Malley and I are from very different sides of the Church. His background is in working with "disenfranchised" minority groups (why it is so unwise for Holy Trinity to pose the issue as a white Holy Trinity or Asian St. James one). He is a '60s/'70s kind of guy who, unlike, say a Curran or a McBrien, a Carroll or Wills, is orthodox in belief. He goes in for liturgical innovations that make my lips curl and my teeth grind. His track record with regard to the Latin Mass is abysmal. He was Bishop of Fall River for 10 years, and never sanctioned an indult Mass. He was in Palm Beach for only a year, and so that does not really count for or against him. Now in Boston, at the start of the process of parish closings, he proclaimed that he wanted to see an end to self-identification as (among other things) a "Latin Mass Catholic" and from out of the blue, the perfect home for the indult Mass suddenly ended up on the list of parishes to be closed at the 11th hour.
On Communion for pro-abortion pols, the Archbishop was just not there. John Kerry deserved a sound rebuke for his pro-choice votes and views from his own Archbishop. He ought to have been denied Communion until such time that he makes a good confession on the subject, and lives up to it. But that did not happen. As I said, O'Malley was just not there. No leadership. He was a limp noodle in this regard. We can be glad that other prelates, Chaput, Burke, Myers, Bruskewitz, and Vasa to name a few, showed some spine and did their jobs.
So while I am justly proud that Boston has been honored in this way (which, by the way, is all the more remarkable in that the Archbishop Emeritus of Boston, Cardinal Law, is not only still alive but still eligible to participate in papal conclaves for about another 4-5 years), I think I would rather have seen the red hat go to Archbishop Chaput or Archbishop Burke, prelates more in accord with where I think the Church in the United States ought to go.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Read through it, as it is very good.
On December 22nd, on or about the Winter Solistice, The sun rose at 7:10 AM, and set at 4:16 PM providing 9 hours and 6 minutes of daylight. Today, the sun rose at 6:29 AM, and will set at 5:27 PM, giving us 10 hours and 58 minutes of daylight. We have gained almost two hours of daylight since Christmas! We've gained 40 minutes in the morning, and 70 minutes in the evening.
We have been on an upward trend regarding daylight since Christmas, but only now is it really notable.
And is possible that, in the next 4 weeks, we might begin to see some tentative signs of plant life poking out of the ground (not out of the snow, as we have scarcely had any this winter).
When I was a kid, Father O'Leary, a retired priest who helped out at Our Lady of the Assumption, Lynnfield, used to comment on the growing afternoon light of February. Standing out in front of the Church before the Saturday 4pm Mass (as was the custom for all the priests at OLA, since, back then in the mid-1970s, only priests distributed Communion and all four priests in the parish were on hand, unless Father O'Leary was there, which allowed one to take the afternoon off), he would always call people's attention to the changing angle of the sun, higher and higher in relation to the roof of the Church (sadly OLA was not properly laid out, the altar being on the west side of the church), and the fact that it was staying lighter later and later.
I love the bar graph idea: number of people making confession on Saturday on one side, number of people attending Mass on the other. Now were all of those taking Communion in a state of grace? No serious sins not confessed on their conscience? No lewd thoughts? No impure actions? No homosexual sodomy (not just a serious sin, but one of the sins crying out to heaven for vengeance)? No coveting any neighbor's wife/girlfriend/fiancee/estranged spouse? No envy of another's goods? No taking the Lord's name in vain? Really? We must be a holy people indeed.
I think somewhere we got off the tracks. Only venial sins are covered by an Act of Contrition. And a mortal sin is a sin of a serious nature that we undertake knowing it is sinful. It doesn't have to be a direct violation of one of the Ten Commandments to be a mortal sin. Impure actions, for instance, are not covered, but, if you know that they are sinful, and do them anyway, bingo: mortal sin.
And remember what our Lord said about sins of desire: if you even wish for it or think about it, you might as well have actually done it. So if a married guy looks with desire at any woman he passes on the street, even for a few seconds: mortal sin of adultery.
And all those Communions taken without needed prior confessions? They are sacriligious Communions and mortal sins in and of themselves. Remember 1 Corinithians 11: 27: "Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord."
Still sure you don't need to get into the confessional?
Great vestments like this one:
And follow his link.
Go, get thee to a vestment collection!
The question is: is this the right time. By my calculations, we are 1 more vote away from overturning Roe. We need a resignation by Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, or Kennedy for that happy day to come (and their replacement by a reliable anti-Roe vote by President Bush).
*"Going For It Bald-Headed": In the Seven Years' War (the same war as our French and Indian War, 1755-1763), the British general the Marquis of Granby commanding the cavalry of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick's army at the Battle of Warburg led a cavalry charge. While charging, the wind blew off Granby's hat and wig (the Marquis was bald) and, heedless of the slightly ridiculous figure he cut, continued the impetuous charge that won the day for the English/Hanoverian/Brunswick army against the French. So an impetuous, often reckless effort has been called ever since, "Going For It Bald-Headed."
Incidentally, after the war, Granby, the Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards Blue, set up many of his former NCOs who had been disabled during the campaigns as innkeepers, which explains the popularity of the name "The Marquis of Granby" for pubs in England today.
The Holy Father could make a major impact in the next two years on the electors by accepting all tendered resignations and replacing them with more like-minded prelates. Rome tends not to work that way, but it is not all that different from a President packing the Supreme Court by carefully selecting reliable judges known to be of his own views.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
These instruments of mortification of the flesh come up prominently in The Da Vinci Code, and are exciting quite a bit of comment. Brown's intention is to depict these penitential practices as out of step with the modern world, and therefore, "abnormal."
Physical mortification of the flesh has a long tradition in the Church. While mortification of the flesh can take very mild forms, like denying the sensual side of one's personality various things it wants, like meat on Friday, or the things you give up during Lent, it can also be a more intense, even bloody experience.
Take a careful look at the left-hand image I use in Recta Ratio's banner above. It is by Jean Poyet from The Hours of Henry VIII c. 1500 and depicts St. Jerome in penance. In his hand is a jagged rock. His breast is bloody, because he has been beating his breast with that rock. This is a more demanding version of what every Catholic does (or should be doing) every time he says the Confiteor. Also depicted is a thorn bush. St. Jerome rolled in thorn bushes to drive out the desires of the flesh. And St. Jerome was not the last saint to use thorn bushes. St. Francis of Assisi also rid himself of sensual desires by rolling in thorns.
And other equally uncomfortable means have been used well into the last century. Among the possessions of the late Hans Urs von Balthasar was a hair shirt. And it is known that Pope Paul VI wore a hair shirt under eveything else every day.
The cilice and the discipline have long histories of use in mortification of the flesh among clerics and even laity. Many saints have been regular users of the discipline, including the Cure of Ars and St. Theresa of Liseaux. Opus Dei is not even the last Catholic group using the cilice and discipline. Mother Theresa's Sisters of Charity also use it.
St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei, was known to use the discipline until the floors and walls of his room needed to be mopped of the blood. But such extensive and potentially dangerous use is not encouraged by Opus Dei's spiritual directors. St. Josemaria was "heroic" in his sacrifices, but he himself counselled followers to not emulate his example in this.
The cilice is a bracelet that resembles loosely woven chain mail, with barbs pointed inward. It is worn around the thigh by Opus Dei numeraries (full members) for 2 hours every other day. Opus Dei denies that its members are ever encouraged to wear it longer than that, as doing so would tend to work against The Work's main effort to undertake a normal life in the world and sanctify everyday life (rather like a more intense version of St. Theresa's "Little Way"). According to John Allen's new book, Opus Dei, some members wear it more tightly than others, as an indication of "generosity."
The discipline is a whip of corded rope that Opus Dei numeraries apply to their backs once per week for the length of time it takes to say a prayer (which prayer varies with the member's spiritual director, though the Salve, Pater, and Ave are the most frequent choices). Some numeraries are said to add things like fragments of bone or glass to the tips, but Opus Dei says that such additions would never be authorized by an Opus Dei spiritual director.
What do these things look like?
Ok, that satisfies my curiousity. I can safely say that, at this stage in my life, giving up meat for the 47 days of Lent and on Fridays and Ember Days, and giving up alcohol, tobacco, and a few other things for the duration of Lent (St. Patrick's Day excepted by long-standing indult of the Archbishop of Boston) is more than enough mortification of the flesh for me.
Monsignor William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
_Monsignor Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes for Consecrated Life.
_Monsignor Agostino Vallini, prefect of the Vatican's Supreme Tribunal for the Apostolic Signatura.
_Monsignor Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela.
_Monsignor Gaudencio B. Rosales, archbishop of Manila, Philippines.
_Monsignor Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France.
_Monsignor Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain.
_Monsignor Nicolas Cheong-Jin-Suk, archbishop of Seoul, Korea.
_Monsignor Sean Patrick O'Malley, archbishop of Boston.
_Monsignor Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland.
_Monsignor Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna, Italy.
_Monsignor Joseph Zen, bishop of Hong Kong.
The three cardinals who are over 80 are:
_Monsignor Andrea Cordero Lanza Di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, in Rome.
_Monsignor Peter Poreku Dery, archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana.
_Rev. Albert Vanhoye, the former Jesuit rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
It seems as though His Eminence has a problem walking the walk, and making sure his priests do likewise, even his own rector.
Update: There was a poor translation in the original. Gerald at The Cafeteria Is Closed clears thinks up.
Thanks to Jeff Miller for steering me right.
I recall a similar experience by a fellow named John Roche. Roche, back in the '60s, was president of Americans for Democratic Action. But the McGovernite leftists took over, and though his views did not change, he found himself shunted to the right within Democrat circles. By the 1980s, he was supporting Ronald Reagan and writing occasionally for National Review.
The ever-to-the-left momentum of liberalism is immensely destructive to both American society and to the Democrat party's fortunes. It keeps the Democrats out of power, mostly. Even without power, though, they influence academia, the media, and society. But when something goes terribly wrong on the right, they get into power anyway, and then can undermine society directly. But "progressives" will be "progressive" I guess. And they continue to prove that every slippery-slope argument, every camel's-nose-in-the-tent scenario conservatives have raised against leftist demands for 50 years has been entirely justified.
Great side-altar, or chapel altar.
More images here.
courtesy of Catholic Church Conservation.
But who among the American bishops do I really think deserve red hats? Archbishop Chaput of Denver. Archbishop Burke of St. Louis. Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb. Those would all be stellar appointments
And some of the Holy Father's recent appointments: Levada to CDF (and almost a shoe-in for a red hat), Niederaur(sic?) to San Frnaciso, Calvo to Reno are, frankly, very poor decisions. They are not the sort of bishops the Church in the US needs. And they are not the sort you would expect from the prelate formerly known as God's Rottweiler. So let us hope that the Holy Father does better with his selections for the College of Cardinals.
And one final note on ecclesiastical politics. Who should be the next pope, when, after hopefully more than 10 years, our dear Holy Father leaves us? None other than George, Cardinal Pell. He is the outstanding leader among the world's bishops. And he is the only English-speaking prelate I can see with the holiness, force of will, manliness, orthodoxy and stature for the job.
Monday, February 20, 2006
Requiescat in pace.
The Father of our country, George Washington
Architect of independence, brilliant lawyer, skillful diplomat, author of the Massachusetts Constitution, first Vice President and second President, John Adams
Actual author of the Monroe Doctrine, crusader against slavery, John Quincy Adams
Preserver of the Union and eradicator of slavery, Abraham Lincoln
Pillar of law and order and property right, and first president to serve on the Supreme Court after leaving office, William Howard Taft
Soundest economic thinker to hold the presidency, and the right man to keep the country prosperous, Calvin Coolidge
Great leader of the Allied army that won World War II, and a steady hand at the tiller during the Cold War, Dwight Eisenhower
Restored America's self-image after the disasterous 1960s and 1970s, architect of the greast prosperity of the '80s and '90s, winner of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan
George H.W. Bush (right) and George W. Bush (left), the second father-son combination to hold the office. Both effective war leaders and statesmen.
Yep, I choose all the ones liberal historians, academics, and journalists love to hate.
And you know what else? It was that very unsolid, pro-French Revolution Jefferson who stopped the custom of presidents wearing swords for inaugurations, levees and portraits. I think it is time for US Presidents to re-instate the sword as de rigeurfor formal occasions.