10 May 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing

Archdiocese condemns Black Mass. . .Satanists wail about intolerance. Probably their plan all along.

LCWR responds to CDF. Summary: "Process. Dialogue. Procedure. Process. More process. More dialogue. We're right. You're wrong. We ain't changing nothing."

Quick answers from the CCC on false gods, divination, etc. 

Time for Cardinal Kasper to head to a monastery for some prayer and fasting. 

Harry Reid (D) is "deliver[ing] speeches that sound like they ought to be coming from a man wearing a bathrobe in front of a liquor store in Cleveland." LOL!

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08 May 2014

Coffee Cup Browsing

Hollywood's Sexual Predators. . .it's time to end mandatory celibacy for Hollywood producers and directors and admit women to their ranks!

Why the Left Hates Work. . .when you spend you entire adult life living in an academic/public sector bubble, the gov't is the Only Solution.

Satanic Black Mass at Harvard?

MSM got the White House memo on "inequality." And yes, that includes FOXNews.

Out of control student attacks Christian protester on university campus. (NB. strong language)

That woman who filmed her abortion to show how wonderful abortions can be. . .yea, maybe not so wonderful after all.  

Parish school to celebrate "Year of Lady Gaga." And we all ask: where is the bishop? 

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07 May 2014

Satanic Black Mass

Satanic Black Mass to be celebrated at Harvard???  The Anchoress is getting the details. 

Apparently, they are claiming that they will use a consecrated host. Thus, settling once and for all that Satanism depends entirely on Christianity for its theological foundation.

Harvard's Puritan founders must be spinning in their graves.

Time to whip out the rosaries, folks, and get the BVM [corrected] to work on preventing these fools from doing something eternally dangerous.


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06 May 2014

Going Around the Sophists

Our cultural signs, symbols, and languages are dominated by bureaucratic and commercial ideologies. These ideologies push transcendental questions out of the public square, ruling them illegitimate b/c they do not serve a bureaucratic of commercial purpose.  In other words, "They don't get us anywhere." 

James Kalb tackles this problem and proposes a solution:
In a world that tries to immunize itself against concerns other than efficiency, equality, and preference satisfaction, Catholics need to circumvent the public discussion and restart it on a different footing. Saint Ambrose noted that God does not normally save his people through rational argumentation(“non in dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum suum”). Man is nonetheless a creature of reason, at least in part, and if we don’t deal with that side of him we’ll have problems. The obvious way to start, since we live in a world in which well-paid sophists have supplanted traditional authorities, is to do what Socrates did in a similar setting: ask pointed questions that are hard to get rid of because they go to the heart of how people live. For example. . .
Read the whole thing. 
As an example of what Kalb is opposing, here's a bit from COSMOS host, Neil deGrasse Tyson: "[Tyson] proudly proclaims his irritation with 'asking deep questions' that lead to a 'pointless delay in your progress' in tackling 'this whole big world of unknowns out there.' When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, 'I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that.'"

Methinks someone made a C- in undergrad philosophy class. . .

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Never be hungry again

3rd Week of Easter (T)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary, NOLA

Stephen stands accused of blasphemy before the Sanhedrin, facing conviction and execution. Rather than backtracking on his earlier remarks, Stephen goes for broke and tells the truth: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit [. . .] You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” Like most people who are told an uncomfortable truth, the crowd is none too happy; “they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.” At this point in the confrontation, Stephen's lawyer could've called for a recess. His publicist could've released a statement clarifying his remarks and calling for calm. Then Stephen could appear on Oprah, apologize for his intolerance, and announce that he was checking into into rehab for treatment. All would have been forgiven. But b/c Stephen is filled with Holy Spirit and unable to lie, he says, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” And b/c the crowd hates the truth and will not hear it, “they cry out in a loud voice, cover their ears, and rush upon him together.” Stephen is stoned to death, dying with the name of Christ on his lips, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. . .do not hold this sin against them.” Had his executioners been paying attention, they would have understood Stephen's death as a sign of God's presence; they would have received his dying words as a gift freely given.

On a day sometime before Stephen faces his own hostile crowd, another like-minded crowd confronts Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” It's important to understand what they are asking for here. They aren't interested in words of wisdom, or profound teaching. They don't want a clever exegesis of the Law. The crowd is demanding a miracle, a performance that can only be explained as an act of God. And not just any old miracle but one that benefits them immediately. They note that God gave them manna in the desert. So, they want Jesus to do the same. They want concrete, irrefutable—and dare I say it, edible—proof that Jesus is who he says he is. Rather than promising them additional tax breaks, or a new government food program, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” Eat this bread and never hunger; believe in me and never thirst. This is not the miracle they were hoping for.

Stephen, somewhere along the way, heard and believed upon the Christ. He ate the bread of life and drank from the chalice of salvation. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and went out to preach the Good News. The crowd clamoring for his blood didn't see Stephen as a miracle, as a sign of God's presence. They saw a blasphemer quoting Samaritan heresy. They wanted humble contrition from him, but they got the truth. Like the crowd that demanded a concrete sign from Jesus, they wanted a sign from Stephen that their lives were not about to be turned upside down. They wanted consolation, assurance, a guarantee that they everything they thought they knew about God was just right. Stephen disappointed them, and so did Jesus. They got the truth, and it set their teeth on edge.

The crowds that gather before the Church now haven't changed in 2,000 years. Neither has the truth. Stephen didn't apologize nor did he clarify his remarks. Jesus didn't do any magic tricks nor did he argue a thesis. Confronted by demanding mobs, Jesus and Stephen do exactly what they were sent to do: they spoke the word of truth for all to hear. Stephen forgave his killers even as he died, revealing the way of mercy. Jesus reveals the way to salvation, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

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A Cloud/Herd/Flock/School of Poets

NB. I posted this list back in 2011 on a whim. . .and I'm reposting it now on a similar whim. As summer approaches and my reading duties shift from Work Reading to Enrichment Reading, I always turn toward the world of poetry. My personal favs are in bold. Enjoy! 

This list of poetry types and representative poets is freely adapted from Kathryn VanSpanckeren's article, "Contemporary American Poetry."  

Poetry of Voice:  Louise Gluck, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Rita Dove.

Poetry of Place: Charles Wright, Tess Gallagher, Mark JarmanYusef Komunyaka, C. D. Wright.

Poetry of Family: Li-Young Lee, Sharon Olds, Stephen Dunn.

Poetry of the Beautiful:  Mark Doty, Eric Pankey, Sandra McPherson, Henri Cole, Robert Hass.

Poetry of Spirit: Jane Hirshfield, Gary Snyder, Arthur Sze, Franz Wright.

Poetry of Nature:  Mary Oliver, A. R. Ammons, Pattiann Rogers, Maxine Kumin, Amy Clampitt.

Poetry of Wit:  Billy Collins, Charles Simic, Mark Strand, Stephen Dobyns, Mark Halliday.

Poetry of History:  Robert Pinsky, Frank BidartGjertrud Schnackenberg, Michael S. Harper.

Poetry of the World:  Yusef Komunyakaa, Richard Hugo, Philip Levine, Ellen Bryant Voigt.

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05 May 2014

CDF to LCWR: get with the program!

Apparently, the CDF is tired of waiting for the LCWR to carry out its canonical duties in addressing rampant dissent among its members -- members of the LCWR leadership, mind you. . .not the rank and file sisters.

I'm posting the full text of Cardinal Müller's address b/c he pretty much dispenses with the polite formal noises and gets down to business:

 +   +   +

Meeting of the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
April 30, 2014

Opening Remarks
By Cardinal Gerhard Müller

I am happy to welcome once again the Presidency of the LCWR to Rome and to the Congregation. It is a happy occasion that your visit coincides with the Canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, two great figures important for the Church in our times. I am grateful as well for the presence and participation of the Delegate for the implementation of the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment, Archbishop Peter Sartain.
As in past meetings, I would like to begin by making some introductory observations which I believe will be a helpful way of framing our discussion. 
First, I would like to acknowledge with gratitude the progress that has been made in the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment. Archbishop Sartain has kept the Congregation appraised on the work regarding the revision of the LCWR Statutes and civil by-laws. We are glad to see that work continue and remain particularly interested that these foundational documents reflect more explicitly the mission of a Conference of Major Superiors as something centered on Jesus Christ and grounded in the Church’s teaching about Consecrated Life. For that collaboration, I thank you.

Two further introductory comments I would like to frame around what could be called objections to the Doctrinal Assessment raised by your predecessors during past meetings here at the Congregation and in public statements by LCWR officers. We are aware that, from the beginning, LCWR Officers judged the Doctrinal Assessment to be “flawed and the findings based on unsubstantiated accusations” and that the so-called “sanctions” were “disproportionate to the concerns raised and compromised the organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.” This principal objection, I note, was repeated most recently in the preface of the collection of LCWR Presidential Addresses you have just published. It is my intention in discussing these things frankly and openly with you to offer an explanation of why it is that we believe the conclusions of the Doctrinal Assessment are accurate and the path of reform it lays before the LCWR remains necessary so that religious life might continue to flourish in the United States.

Let me begin with the notion of “disproportionate sanctions.” One of the more contentious aspects of the Mandate—though one that has not yet been put into force—is the provision that speakers and presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. This provision has been portrayed as heavy-handed interference in the day-to-day activities of the Conference. For its part, the Holy See would not understand this as a “sanction,” but rather as a point of dialogue and discernment. It allows the Holy See’s Delegate to be involved in the discussion first of all in order to avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church. Further, this is meant as an assistance to you, the Presidency, so as to anticipate better the issues that will further complicate the relationship of the LCWR with the Holy See.
An example may help at this point. It saddens me to learn that you have decided to give the Outstanding Leadership Award during this year’s Assembly to a theologian criticized by the Bishops of the United States because of the gravity of the doctrinal errors in that theologian’s writings. This is a decision that will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment. Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops as well. [He's talking about Elizabeth Johnson.]
I realize I am speaking rather bluntly about this, but I do so out of an awareness that there is no other interpretive lens, within and outside the Church, through which the decision to confer this honor will be viewed. It is my understanding that Archbishop Sartain was informed of the selection of the honoree only after the decision had been made. Had he been involved in the conversation as the Mandate envisions, I am confident that he would have added an important element to the discernment which then may have gone in a different direction. The decision taken by the LCWR during the ongoing implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment is indeed regrettable and demonstrates clearly the necessity of the Mandate’s provision that speakers and presenters at major programs will be subject to approval by the Delegate. I must therefore inform you that this provision is to be considered fully in force. I do understand that the selection of honorees results from a process [ah, the Holy Process of Religious! Always a great disguise for doing whatever we want], but this case suggests that the process is itself in need of reexamination. I also understand that plans for this year’s Assembly are already at a very advanced stage and I do not see the need to interrupt them. However, following the August Assembly, it will be the expectation of the Holy See that Archbishop Sartain have an active role in the discussion about invited speakers and honorees.
Let me address a second objection, namely that the findings of the Doctrinal Assessment are unsubstantiated. The phrase in the Doctrinal Assessment most often cited as overreaching or unsubstantiated is when it talks about religious moving beyond the Church or even beyond Jesus. Yes, this is hard language and I can imagine it sounded harsh in the ears of thousands of faithful religious. I regret that, because the last thing in the world the Congregation would want to do is call into question the eloquent, even prophetic witness of so many faithful religious women. And yet, the issues raised in the Assessment are so central and so foundational, there is no other way of discussing them except as constituting a movement away from the ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.
For the last several years, the Congregation has been following with increasing concern a focalizing of attention within the LCWR around the concept of Conscious Evolution. Since Barbara Marx Hubbard addressed the Assembly on this topic two years ago, every issue of your newsletter has discussed Conscious Evolution in some way. Issues of Occasional Papers have been devoted to it. We have even seen some religious Institutes modify their directional statements to incorporate concepts and undeveloped terms from Conscious Evolution.
Again, I apologize if this seems blunt, but what I must say is too important to dress up in flowery language. The fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery. [Exactly. Hubbard's mish-mash of New Age junk is NOT Christian.]
My concern is whether such an intense focus on new ideas such as Conscious Evolution has robbed religious of the ability truly to sentire cum Ecclesia. To phrase it as a question, do the many religious listening to addresses on this topic or reading expositions of it even hear the divergences from the Christian faith present? 
This concern is even deeper than the Doctrinal Assessment’s criticism of the LCWR for not providing a counter-point during presentations and Assemblies when speakers diverge from Church teaching. The Assessment is concerned with positive errors of doctrine seen in the light of the LCWR’s responsibility to support a vision of religious life in harmony with that of the Church and to promote a solid doctrinal basis for religious life. I am worried that the uncritical acceptance of things such as Conscious Evolution seemingly without any awareness that it offers a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation evidences that a de facto movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred. [This is exactly right. If your theology is wrong, then your ecclesiology is wrong and your religious life will be wrong too.]
I do not think I overstate the point when I say that the futuristic ideas advanced by the proponents of Conscious Evolution are not actually new. The Gnostic tradition is filled with similar affirmations and we have seen again and again in the history of the Church the tragic results of partaking of this bitter fruit. Conscious Evolution does not offer anything which will nourish religious life as a privileged and prophetic witness rooted in Christ revealing divine love to a wounded world. It does not present the treasure beyond price for which new generations of young women will leave all to follow Christ. The Gospel does! Selfless service to the poor and marginalized in the name of Jesus Christ does!
It is in this context that we can understand Pope Francis’ remarks to the Plenary Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General in May of 2013. What the Holy Father proposes is a vision of religious life and particularly of the role of conferences of major superiors which in many ways is a positive articulation of issues which come across as concerns in the Doctrinal Assessment. I urge you to reread the Holy Father’s remarks and to make them a point of discussion with members of your Board as well.

I have raised several points in these remarks, so I will stop here. I owe an incalculable debt to the women religious who have long been a part of my life. They were the ones who instilled in me a love for the Lord and for the Church and encouraged me to follow the vocation to which the Lord was calling me. The things I have said today are therefore born of great love. The Holy See and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith deeply desire religious life to thrive and that the LCWR will be an effective instrument supporting its growth. In the end, the point is this: [read this part carefully] the Holy See believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church. The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration.

Here's a translation of that last bit: "If you want to keep your canonical status, get with the Church's program." I don't see that happening b/c the LCWR has constructed an institutional identity founded on opposition to the Church. Joining with the Church in her mission would effectively kill the LCWR as it understands itself.

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Even More Non-demonizing Homilies!

Non-demonizing Homilies (per request)

A commenter (using a fake name, of course)* asks: "Do you ever preach a homily where you don't demonize someone?" 

Odd question. But the answer is Yes! 

I found these in about 45 seconds.
There are many more. . .but I have lots of things to do today. 

* I didn't approve the comment for posting b/c it was less than charitable in tone and content.  This is just the gist of it. . .

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04 May 2014

OP Laity Retreat Essay & A Homily

Here's the primary text we used this weekend at the OP Laity retreat:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, On the New Evangelization, 2000.

I also gave them this 2008 homily for reflection. It covered some of the themes we explored using this Sunday's gospel reading. 

Octave of Easter (W): Acts 3.1-10 and Luke 24.13-35
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory

After nearly twenty decades of exile in the woodshed for barbaric acts against humanity and a slow rehabilitation on the continent with French and German philosophers, I am happy to report that Belief is once again welcomed among us as an acceptable weapon against the encroaching hordes of nihilism. With those hordes shaking the ground right outside our gates, some in the civilized world line up for defense behind the utopian promises of secular scientism; some behind the ever more suicidal versions of Christless Christianity; some behind the absurd absolutes of religious fundamentalism; and some have even come to understand the wisdom of the West’s Catholic heritage and have, as a result, embraced the power of basic belief as the first best step in the dangerous project of shining a bright beacon into the darkness. Luke’s gospel story of meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus greatly clarifies this last option: if our eyes are to be opened, we must first believe and only then will the need for sight disappear.

As the disciples walk to Emmaus, Jesus joins them. Since “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him,” the disciples confess their deepest doubts about the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday: “…we were hoping that [Jesus] would be the one to redeem Israel…” The disciples tell Jesus about his execution, his burial, and the discovery of his empty tomb by the women. They report: “…some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” Jesus’ reaction to their doubt is telling. He doesn’t accuse them of being blind or stupid or deluded. He says to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!” Their inability to understand the events of Easter Sunday is rooted in an unwillingness to believe. They went to the tomb to see, but they did not take with them their eyes of faith.

Jesus patiently teaches them—again!—the heart and soul of the prophetic tradition: God will come to His people in the person of a savior. This is a promise fulfilled in their hearing. But it is not until Jesus blesses, breaks, and gives them the bread at table that their eyes are opened and they see. The instant they recognize him for who he is, “he vanishe[s] from their sight.” They believe, they recognize. They see him. And seeing is no longer necessary. Remember just last week or so that Jesus stood before an angry crowd busy gathering stones to throw at him. He urges the crowd to believe in his good works so that they may come to “realize and understand” that he is the Christ sent by the Father. The evidence he offers is only good as evidence if we first believe. This is basic. Comes first. Primary.

Belief is fashionable again b/c we have exhausted the modernist project of scientific absolutes, and we have discovered along the way that for all its usefulness science is a story we tell about the world. Like most stories, it has characters, plots, settings, action. Unlike most stories, it does an excellent job of explaining what we think we see and hear and taste and touch. What it cannot do as a story is tell us about how to live in wonder at creation, how to thrive in love with the very fact of just being-here. Scientism demands that we place our faith in a investigative method. Christless Christianity demands that we place our faith in the bastard children of the hard sciences: sociology, psychology, economics, history. Fundamentalism demands that we place our faith in the infallible genius of the individual’s zeal for absolutes. What does Christ demand? How do those hearts so slow to believe catch fire? As Jesus and the disciples approached Emmaus, Jesus “gave the impression that he was going on farther. But [the disciples] urged him, ‘Stay with us…’ So he went in to stay with them.”

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Retreat Almost-debacle

Besides churning out seminarian evals all last week, I also spent some time preparing for my conferences for the OP laity retreat on Saturday. 

Late Thursday I got an email from the retreat coordinator inviting me to a late lunch with the retreatants on Friday afternoon.

When I read the email -- dazed, confused from eval-writing -- I saw Saturday afternoon and responded that I could make the lunch. . .

Friday night I was checking back over the emails from the retreat coordinator to refresh my memory about how many conferences I was to give. . .

Then -- like a five gallon pickle bucket of crushed ice -- it hit me. DOH! The retreat started that afternoon. . .that Friday afternoon.

Since I usually keep my cell phone off when I'm working, I reached for it to check if I'd received any messages from the retreat folks. . .it was no where to be found. I'd left it in my office.

Found my phone. No messages. Then I got an email from one of the retreatants asking me for an ETA at the retreat center. 

We finally connected on the phone and I blurted out my perfectly reasonable explanation for confusing the dates: Early On-set Senioritis. 

Made it to the retreat on Saturday morning and we had a great time!

At least, I think I remeber having a great time. . .

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