The Poetic Witness

 

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‘We retreat.  We don’t escape.  That’s a word I loathe.  But retreat – that’s a characteristic word for me, that you retreat for strength.  You don’t escape; you withdraw with God.’

– Robert Frost

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The poet Robert Frost was not a religious man.  During his childhood years, his multi-denominational family only occasionally attended Church, and later as an adult, he followed the same practice.  Frost seems to have been something of a non-practicing Protestant, with a proclivity for the Transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  And to add even more mystery to the man, he cited the Old Testament – not the New Testament – as one of a small number of books that had most influenced him.

In spite of the absence of overt religiosity, Robert Frost recognized the importance of one element of authentic Christianity, one that is seemingly of little importance to most Christians.  That element is the need to retreat from the world and rest in God.  Christ, the saints, and the poet all harmoniously emphasize that retreat is not a form or act of escape.  It is not a running away from the world, but a withdrawing from it in order to be refreshed and strengthened by a divine spring.  For the world – meaning, all that is opposed to God and His Kingdom – is an ugly and wearisome thing.  Excessive exposure to it and absorption in it draws the soul perpendicularly downward into countless thoughts, concerns, and activities that isolate it from its source of celestial inspiration and light – God the Almighty.  Man was not made for this world, even though he was placed in it.  He was made to pass through it, and, after being refined in its sorrows and hardships, after enduring all by the grace of God and rising victorious in Him, to finally triumph over this world.

Immediately after His baptism and just before the initiation of His public ministry, Jesus withdrew to the desert for a forty-day period of absolute fasting, prayer, and demonic temptation.

“Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led about the desert by the Spirit for forty days, being tempted all the while by the devil.  And in those days he ate nothing; and when they were completed he was hungry” (Lk. 4:1-2).

Although the extreme asceticism of this retreat exhausted Our Lord’s physical body, it prepared his spiritual soul.  It was not an escape.  No, the forty days were anything but that, due to the demonic confrontations Christ endured.  But this was the only appropriate preparation for a ministry that would demand, not only physical exertion, but spiritual as well.

Throughout His earthly life, Jesus continued to practice solitary prayer, and to recommend it to others.  In the Sermon on the Mount, He taught,

“But when you pray, go into your room, and closing the door, pray to your Father in secret; and your father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Mt. 6:6).

Shortly before He selected His twelve apostles, He withdrew by Himself.

“Now it came to pass in those days, that he went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  And when day broke, he summoned his disciples, and from these he chose twelve” (Lk. 6:12-13).

After the apostles had been sent out in pairs by Jesus to preach, heal the sick and crippled, and exorcise the possessed, and after they had been wearied from the constant demands of such a mission, Jesus said to them,

“‘Come apart to a desert place and rest a while.’  For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  And they got into a boat and went off to a desert place apart” (Mk. 6:31-32).

Scripture repeatedly reveals that, before each important act, Jesus prepared Himself by withdrawing from the world to a solitary garden or mountain and passing even an entire night in contemplation and prayer.

Previous to His most important Eucharistic discourse, after miraculously feeding well over five thousand people on the plain of Bethsaida, and after finding the crowd on the verge of proclaiming Him their political Messiah, Jesus quickly dismissed both the people and His apostles.  Then, as the Gospel of St. John expresses it, He “fled again to the mountain” (Jn. 6:15) to pray.

Each of these biblical examples shows our Lord and His disciples retreating to quiet solitary places, not only to eat and rest in peace, but also, to think and pray apart from the chaos, demands, and distractions of the world and the worldly.  It is as if the human being was made for another sort of life and can endure a mundane busy-body manner of living for only so long, as if it is contrary to human nature and well being to be immersed in external activity morning, day, and night.  Positively, such a life style is contrary to the needs and vitality of the soul, and whoever wholly devotes himself to such a manner of living devotes himself to a slow and meaningless death.

I have no intention of spiritualizing Robert Frost or of reinterpreting his life and work as secretly religious.  The fact is, he was not a religious man, nor a Gospel man, but simply a secular poet.  So, it would be foolish to try to make him into a philosopher, mystic, or theologian.  Nevertheless, the poet in general stands in a unique place in society, as a sort of bridge between religion and irreligion.  He bears witness to a much-neglected side of life.  And I would even go so far as to suggest that there are “secular” prophets – the literary equivalents of the Persian King Cyrus, who was used by God to liberate the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity, even though he did not worship the God of Israel.  As another example, I would mention George Orwell, author of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm.  These two books prophetically warned the modern world of the dystopian hell that man can and will create for himself.

Poets remind us of the interior life.  They witness to the possibility and importance of calm reflection and critical reasoning.  They stand apart from the mindless bustle of the world and the mad pursuits of money, possessions, power, and popularity.  They are the indictment of the life of empty show, of living on the surface.  Their lives and work proclaim to the religious and irreligious alike a vital message that amounts to a Christian responsibility:

“Retreat.  Withdraw from the world – and not as an escape, but for the strength that will be found in sacred solitude.  For you are not only a physical body; much more, you are a spiritual soul.  And you were made for the life of the mind, – not only to live, but to examine the life you were given.”

One of my favorite poems by Frost begins in this way:

“Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day….”

Now who walks in a swamp? And who walks in a frozen swamp?  And who walks in a frozen swamp on a gray wintery day?  The obvious answer is: the poet.  As if in response to the cryptic voice of Christ that whispers to every soul on earth, “Come apart to a desert place and rest a while,” the poet forsakes the familiar pleasantries of modern civilization and wanders in order to wonder.  He or she is a standing witness to a fundamental Christian truth neglected by most Christians; namely, the innate religious nature of the human creature which finds its repose, not in the way of Martha, but in the way of Mary (Lk. 10:38-42), not in a frenetic exterior life, but in a rich poetic interior life.

Christian soul, retreat and withdraw often, not to escape from the world – for you cannot – but to defeat the world after being strengthened and guided by the God whose mellifluous voice is most distinctly heard when all others are silent.

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The Transcendence of Christianity

 

Birth of ChristThere are many religions on the face of the earth. There are many spiritualities, philosophies, and world views.  And there are countless self-proclaimed preachers, prophets, visionaries, and reformers – most of whom claim to have the one truth that can set us free, the single uncorrupted interpretation of Scripture, or the final urgent end times message from heaven.  Our world is dense with religious demagogues peddling their wares, advertising the latest and greatest doctrines and morals for those in the market for a deluxe new and improved religion.  For the restless seeker of truth, who observes this often insincere marketing of religious ideas, it is only too tempting to dismiss the quest as simply hopeless.  Indeed, choosing a denomination, spirituality, or philosophy in the modern world can be comparable to shopping for cereal at a supermarket: you look to the left and the right, and see nothing but cereal to the vanishing point.  In the end, you choose the cereal that is the sweetest, the cheapest, or the nearest.  Or else, you go home and create your own.

And so it is with truth in the modern world, so that one is tempted to denounce the religious riddle as unsolvable. There is guidance, however, in the very word, “religion.”  The term “religion” is most likely derived from the Latin word, “religare,” meaning to tie, fasten, or bind.  The religious person ties, fastens, or binds himself to God. The essence of true religion is not in a person binding himself downwards to man, but in a the person binding himself upwards to God.  Hence, in Col. 3:1-2, St. Paul wrote,

“Therefore, if you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Mind the things that are above, not the things that are on earth.”

The movement and orientation of authentic religion, then, is upwards; it is vertical, rather than horizontal, transcendent, rather than mundane, and eternal, rather than temporal.  True religion directs the human mind above itself to the great and Supreme Other.  It summons the human person to follow, not the movements of the heart or the cravings of the passions, but instead, the designs and intentions of the eternal God above.

Hence, when a person discovers the living God and offers to Him their life, they experience a conversion.  The term “conversion” means a “turning.”  In a conversion, a person turns from one thing to another thing; they turn away from themselves and to God.  This entails the submitting of the free will and the person’s assorted beliefs to that which God has revealed.  For true religion consists, not only in what one believes, but also in what one does not believe.  Conversion requires that a person purge from their hearts and minds all that is contrary to the truth.

Religion that lacks conversion is a contradiction in terms.  If it instructs a person to turn, not away from themselves, but instead, to themselves, to dwell on their feelings and opinions with confidence and self-esteem, rather than on God and the truths He has revealed, then such a so-called religion is actually an anti-religion; it is the very opposite of true religion because it ties, fastens, and binds one downward to oneself.  Such a “spirituality” – as it is more often called – is only glorified self-absorption.  And that describes much modern religion – the glorification of the self.

Today, it is far more common for a person to convert a religion to himself rather than for a person to convert to a religion.  For example, consider a Catholic mother who has a homosexual son.  Religiously speaking, she has two options: either she can favor the faith, or she can favor her son.  If she favors the faith, then she will understand that homosexual acts are sinful and that loving her son means praying for him and helping him to resist his homosexual desires.  For if she loves him with a holy love, then she will desire his eternal salvation above all the passing pleasures of this life.  In other words, being converted to the true God and His truth, she will remain faithful, even in such a difficult and painful situation, and even if her son rejects her for it.  But if the mother instead favors her son over the faith, then she will make all sorts of excuses for him, speak of him only in glowing terms, and condemn the Church for having such harsh teachings.  In other words, she will convert the Catholic religion to her situation, and anything that the Church teaches that is critical of the homosexual life style she will claim is simply wrong and needs to be changed.  Hence, the conversion is headed in the wrong direction.  Ultimately, it is God who is being told that He must convert to her, and be tied, fastened, and bound downward to her!

Consider another common situation. Say, a Catholic man believes in reincarnation.  He likes the idea because, first, it seems to explain why bad things happen to good people, second, it acknowledges the existence of life after death, and third, it provides an escape from the finality of the Christian teaching on a final judgement immediately after this life.  Like the mother, this man has two choices; either he can favor the Catholic faith, or he can favor the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation.  If he favors the faith, then, after doing some catechetical and biblical research, he will firmly reject reincarnation as irreconcilable with Catholic teaching.  But if he favors reincarnation, then he will submit the teachings of the Church to a doctrine totally contrary to the faith, and to whatever degree he recognizes this conflict, he will say that it is Catholicism that is wrong and needs to change.  In other words, again, the conversion goes in the wrong direction; the faith is converted to the opinions of the man, so that it is tied, fastened, and bound downward to him.

Both of these common situations reveal the antithesis of true religion in which the self is regarded as the supreme being and the author and judge of all doctrines and morals.  They depose God and demand that He be the humble convert.

The life and teaching of Jesus Christ are thoroughly transcendent. He taught us to pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven.”  When He prayed, blessed, healed, or restored the dead to life, he lifted His eyes upward.  He asserted that the first and foremost commandment was to love God with all of one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, such that the other great commandment – the love of others – must always remain subservient to the first.  All the days of His earthly ministry, He spoke of his heavenly Father and of the Kingdom of God.  And when Our Lord departed this world, as if to offer us one final lesson, He ascended into heaven.  Jesus consistently emphasized the essential truth that His religion was a transcendent religion – one from heaven, teaching heavenly doctrines, bestowing heavenly grace, and leading its adherents to heaven.

The transcendent orientation of Christianity has always been manifested in the environments in which Catholics worshipped. The mind of the worshipper was drawn upward to God and the things of God by dignified ritual, language, gesture, music, and architecture.  Sanctuaries shimmered with the heavenly, with the finest vestments and sacred vessels, with pillars, arches, frescoes, stained-glass windows, and spires, all of which elevated the human mind and drew it upwards to the thought of the otherworldly and divine.  Even the distracted mind that wandered at Mass could be brought back to the godly by such purely religious designs.  And sacred music especially, chanted in sweet clouds of rising incense, rehearsed the human soul for the day of salvation.  Such internal and external religion served the internal and external nature of man.  It responded to the truth that the human being is an inescapably religious creature, such that the human heart burns for the supernatural and the mysterious, so that, without these, it withers and despairs.  The human being is by design and nature a religious being whose true vocation is not natural, but supernatural.  Man was made for God, to know Him, love Him, serve Him, and enjoy His divine presence for eternity.

How, then, may the spirit of man be most effectively broken? How best subjugate him with emptiness and misery?  Not with wars, poverty, injustice, and loneliness.  Rather, if the soul of man is to be broken, then let his religion be corrupted.  Take from the human person true religion, give a poor substitute in its place, and the source of man’s strength, virtue, mission, hope, and the very purpose for which he was created – eternal life with God – will all at once be lost.

Now, how may religion most effectively be corrupted? Simply, by reversing its orientation, by supplanting the transcendent with the mundane, the vertical with the horizontal, the upward with the downward, and the eternal with the temporal.  Let the Gospel of salvation become the Gospel of social justice.  Let Christ the Redeemer become Christ the community organizer.  Let the homilies offer, not exhortations to repentance and faith, but platitudes about self-esteem and self-love.  Let religious education offer, not sound catechesis, but a warm community experience.  Let churches be built with low ceilings, thick carpets, and loud PA systems.  Whitewash the frescoes, jack hammer the high altars, tear down the pillars, and shatter the stained-glass windows.  And the music?  Oh, fill the nave, not with that magnificent repertoire that has carried the faith through the ages, not with the Church’s music, but with the world’s music; not Gregorian chant and Palestrina’s motets, but with rock and jazz.  Celebrate Mass with…a polka band.  Forbid the use of Latin – that ancient language that rings with the sound of the sacred.  In a word, reverse the orientation so that the new religion of the new man will sing of human goodness and human achievements.  Let the hymns proclaim the greatness of our race and celebrate, not man’s need for God, but God’s need for us!

If it isn’t obvious, the foregoing litany of reversals is not imaginary, but an accurate accounting of the changes made to Catholicism over the last fifty years. It is as if the City of God had given way to the secular city.  And because true religion has been abandoned, man has been abandoned; or rather, man has liberated himself from his divine liberator.

This modern distortion of authentic Catholicism is unworthy of the name religion, for it ties, fastens, and binds man to this world and asks him to turn from, and be converted to, nothing.

But is there proof for the dramatic claims I’ve made?  Yes, I believe so.  The proof is found in the modern mass exodus of Catholics out of the Church.  Is this the result of the many clerical sex scandals?  Yes, in part.  But the sex scandals are part and parcel of the new religion of the new catholic.  After all, if the homilies we hear year after year are void of references to the divine and natural moral law, then why should we be surprised if the men who preach such homilies are found to be living immoral lives?  It actually makes perfect sense. They’re just practicing what they preach, or what they don’t preach, which is a pseudo-religion void of both morality and doctrine.  Hence, to state what should be obvious by now, the most rapidly declining religious body in the United States today is the Catholic Church.

Every single departure from the Catholic Church is a tragedy of eternal proportions. Each one is a repetition of the tragedies that followed our Lord’s Bread of Life Discourse, in which many of His disciples rejected Him specifically because they rejected His Eucharistic teaching.  And who was the most infamous member of this faithless band but Judas Iscariot himself, whose betrayal is first mentioned in relation to his Eucharistic unbelief.  In the midst of this mutiny, Jesus did not compromise His teaching.  He did not omit those truths which repelled the crowd, but maintained them simply because they were true.  Yes, He was the living Bread of Life, and to consume His Body and Blood would be to receive His divine life.  It was not mere metaphor, simile, or figures of speech; it was literally true.  His Flesh would be true food and His Blood true drink.  By means of His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist made present among the faithful by transubstantiation in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Christ would remain Emmanuel for all time – “God with us” by a sacramental mode of presence.

Such is the sacramental vocabulary that the Church developed over the centuries. Through controversies and necessary clarifications, the Church carefully refined her teaching, in order to express with precision the profound truths contained in Holy Scripture.  But the Apostles had no such benefits; they lacked such a developed sacramental theology, and yet they believed in the Person, Jesus Christ, in His divine authority, power, and nature.  Thus, when Our Lord turned to the twelve and asked, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered with the confidence of faith, saying,

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”

After one has found the true God and the true religion, there is no other place to go, no other spiritual domain except that single domain of saving eternal truth.

So, where can a person go after leaving the one true Church of Jesus Christ? Where can a Catholic go after having at their daily disposal the fullness of God’s truth and grace for our salvation?  As a Catholic, and as an adult convert, I have a duty to publically confess that there is no other place to go, no comparable denomination, religion, spirituality, philosophy, or world view.  Catholicism, which is the fullness of the Christian religion, bears the totality of God’s gift to humanity in Christ, the truth and grace for which man was created.

On the topic of the various world religions, in the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, Pope Saint Paul VI wrote,

“Obviously, we cannot agree with these various forms of religion, nor can we adopt an indifferent or uncritical attitude toward them on the assumption that they are all to be regarded as on an equal footing, and that there is no need for those who profess them, to enquire whether or not God has Himself revealed definitively and infallibly how He wishes to be known, loved, and served. Indeed, honesty compels us to declare openly our conviction that the Christian religion is the one and only true religion, and it is our hope that it will be acknowledged as such by all who look for God and worship Him” (#107).

All religions contain some truth. Even Satanism holds to certain ideas that are correct.  But some truth is only some truth.  God has far more for us than merely some truth.  Whereas the various world religions comprise man’s search for God, the Christian religion comprises God’s search for man.  In Christ, the one true God literally entered the human scene and shared in the human condition.  In the Incarnation, God literally walked among us, teaching us what we must believe and showing us how we must live.  In this revelation alone, humanity may find its answers and its peace of soul.

But why should any person believe such exclusive claims? And how, in the era of tolerance, diversity, and religious pluralism, can Christians still make such claims?  The answer is always the same: Jesus Christ.  For Christ is not merely the founder of another world religion.  He is not merely the priest and prophet of Christians.  He does not compare with Muhammad, Buddha, or Zoroaster.  These men were only the founders of their particular religions.

Christ is no mere founder of a religion. Rather, He is the Savior of the world and the only hope of salvation for the entire human race and every member of it.  He is, then the Savior of Muhammad, Buddha, and Zoroaster, if ever they could be saved.

Christianity is, then, Christ, and Christ is the living God come in human flesh to offer to His Father what no human being could offer – namely, a spotless human life made eternally valuable, due to the divine Person to which it was joined. Thus, it would be an insult to speak of Him as merely the founder of the Christian religion, for He is its God as well.  Thus, we sing at Christmas,

“God of God, Light of Light. Lo he abhors not the Virgin’s womb.  Very God, begotten, not created.  O Come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”

Christ is divine, and therefore, Christianity is divine.

“Answering Common Objections” Talks

 

Saint Justin MartyrThere are so many competing philosophies, denominations, and religions in the modern world. We Catholics are challenged daily by those who deny the existence of God and truth and insist that all religion is pure superstition.  Some interpret the Bible in such a way that contradicts Catholic teaching, while others cite scandals as sufficient reason for angrily leaving the Church.  What are the faithful to do amid such chaos and confusion?  First and foremost, we must know and understand the truths and practices of Catholicism, and thereby be better able to explain and defend them.

Beginning on October 4, 2018, Timothy O’Keefe of The Fullness of Truth Apostolate will continue the talks entitled Answering Common Objections that examine and respond to some of the many challenges made to Catholic teaching. These talks will be held in the Holy Trinity Parish Center cafeteria on the first and third Thursdays of each month, from 7-8:30 pm.  They continue from October to June.  There is no set fee, but donations to the apostolate are greatly appreciated.

Holy Trinity Parish Center is located at 331 Elm Street, Westfield, MA.  The Fullness of Truth Apostolate can be reached at (413) 568-4429.

“Catholic Apologetics” Classes

Saint Justin MartyrCatholic Apologetics classes will resume again on Mondays at the Little Sisters of the Poor Saint Joseph’s Residence (1365 Enfield St., Enfield, CT), and Tuesdays at Christ the King parish center (41 Warsaw Ave., Ludlow, MA).  Classes meet from 7-8:30 pm.  The first classes will be held on September 18 and 24.

The Catholic Apologetics course is designed to give students a thorough knowledge of Catholic teaching, with an emphasis on understanding, explaining, and defending that teaching.  It is an antidote to the superficial familiarity with the faith that is common among Catholics today, which makes us easy prey to the many enemies of the faith.

These classes are small, so there is always room for new students.  There is no required commitment to the course; people may come for as long as they choose.  There is no set fee, but donations are greatly appreciated.

If you would like to start an additional group in the southern New England area, I would be happy to consider it.  I’ve been teaching this course for seventeen years now, and am willing to offer it wherever there is a sincere interest in Catholic truth.  In addition to this course, I’m also willing to give one or several talks on the faith, as well as another course entitled, Fundamentals of the Faith.

If you have any questions, please contact The Fullness of Truth Apostolate at:

Phone
(413) 568-4429

Mail
The Fullness of Truth Apostolate
P. O. Box 2301
Westfield, MA
01085

Email
thefullnessoftruthapostolate@juno.com

No, It Is Not Clericalism

 

Christ the King IIIIn the document, Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God, the pope recently addressed the clerical sex scandal crisis.  One term that is found repeatedly in this letter is that of “clericalism.”  Pope Francis apparently feels that the present Church crisis is primarily due to clericalism, and the bishops in America and elsewhere are quickly following his lead.  As a result, one already finds the term “clericalism” in one episcopal statement after another.  Even the media has seized upon it.

I would agree that clericalism is a serious problem in the Church.  It always has been, and it probably always will be.  But what, exactly, is clericalism?

Clericalism is one manifestation of the capital sin of pride.  The glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it in this way:

“Pride is undue self-esteem or self-love, which seeks attention and honor and sets oneself in competition with God.”

In other words, to be proud is to be full of yourself.  It is to have a disordered infatuation with one’s own qualities, achievements, status, and opinions and to crave or even demand praise from others.  We are all guilty of the sin of pride and we especially act on it according to our particular station in life.

Clericalism is that manifestation of pride that afflicts men of the cloth – popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, and deacons.  It takes many familiar forms: misplaced pomp in liturgical and other public appearances; excessive signs of external respect; emphasis placed on clerical opinions on Church matters, to the belittling of the opinions of lay people; an aloofness and air of superiority; a tendency to look upon the laity as personal servants, and to disregard lay concerns as unimportant.

Christ warned the Apostles about clericalism.  He said,

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.  But it shall not be so among you.  Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.  Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20:25–28).

The man who practices clericalism does just what Our Lord proscribes.  He makes his authority over others felt in oppressive ways.  He does not serve others, but insists that they serve him.  And he enjoys every bit of it.  Let me give one concrete example of clericalism.  Many years ago, when I was employed by the Church as an organist, I was socializing in a friary with the priests shortly before a Confirmation ceremony.  A priest who had just been ordained said to everyone present, “When I’m finally made a pastor, it’s going to be ball-and-chain.”  Everyone laughed.  From what I’ve heard about this priest, I’d say the prophecy has been fulfilled.

Now, let’s suppose that the pope and the bishops are correct in their assessment of what ails the modern Church, that it’s primarily clericalism.  If this is so, then I would expect to see some predictable forthcoming changes.  For example, let cardinals be addressed, not as “Your Eminence,” but more humbly as “Cardinal so-and-so.”  Let bishops be addressed, not as “Your Excellency,” but more meekly as, “Bishop so-and-so.”  Forsake the kissing of episcopal rings, and such expressions as the bishop’s “throne” and the bishop’s “palace,” wherever these practices are still in use.  And let’s simplify clerical and liturgical vestments as well, so that the pomp in Catholic liturgy is directed entirely to the glory of God, and not to man.  Such changes could be only the beginning of purging the Church of arcane signs of clericalism.

Does anyone really expect to see these changes?  If you do, then I’ve got a drawbridge I’d love to sell you.

The present crisis is not due to clericalism.  Clericalism does not make a normal heterosexual male want to sexually molest another male or a child!  Such a term only provides an easy escape for those unwilling to admit and confront the far more malevolent problem in the Church; namely, rampant homosexuality.  The liberal pro-gay media has escaped this admission by defining the crisis as one of pedophilia.  The ecclesiastical powers that be have done the same.  But the statistics prove otherwise.  Pedophilia consist of sexual relations between an adult and a child thirteen years old or younger.  There have been many such incidents in this crisis, that is for certain.  And one of the most disturbing aspects of this is the realization that men this sick, with such an extreme sexual-psychological disorder, have been ordained in droves, in spite of the various examinations candidates for the priesthood must pass.  Is this not suggestive of collusion?  However, the statistics reveal that approximately eighty percent of the sexual abuse in the Church has been committed against boys older than thirteen.  In other words, the present crisis is one of bishops and priests having homosexual sex with teenagers and seminarians, boys and young men.  That is the unpopular but well-documented fact.

The present crisis in the Church is not one of clericalism or pedophilia, but widespread homosexual activity, abuse, recruitment, and protection of the guilty.  This latter tendency has unfortunately been receiving all the attention, and it’s in this protecting of the guilty that there is the alleged clericalism.  But every ring of scoundrels protects its own, so there’s nothing unique about this.  The real issue is the behavior itself, the actual sin committed, which is then being concealed and denied.  And that sin is homosexual acts.  Until the pope and bishops can face this ugly truth, the Church will continue to be mired in scandals and to decline in her reputation and her ability to perform her God-given mission.

Although I do not have proof, I think it’s a safe presumption that many holy souls in the Church’s history – men and women from all periods and places – have been afflicted with homosexual desires.  These persons have perhaps suffered in silence, confessed their occasional falls, and striven to the utmost to avoid temptation, by the grace of God.  Perhaps heaven is full of such saints.  However, especially in light of our age’s omnipresent encouragement to indulge in all forms of sexual sin, I am strongly opposed to the ordaining of homosexual men.  This includes celibate homosexual men.  Again, such persons may live lives of extraordinary sanctity, but there is far more to the priestly ministry than only personal sanctity; there is also fidelity to Catholic teaching.

A priest with a homosexual attraction will be surrounded by temptation for his entire life.  The Church prudently and wisely teaches that, in order to effectively avoid sin, we must avoid the near occasions of sin, those circumstances which cause us the most potent types and degrees of temptation, those to which we are most likely to fall, based on our personal history.  A homosexual man in the priesthood, having even the purest and noblest intentions, would nevertheless be contradicting the Church’s counsel to avoid the near occasions of sin.

An equally prudent and wise teaching of the Church warns, “Do not trust thyself.”  Do not ever place faith in yourself, in the confidence that you will not fall to a temptation.  Instead, presume that you will fall, and so, avoid the temptation.  Saint Augustine once advised his fellow priests and bishops, “Don’t ever leave me alone with a woman.”   A homosexual priest would again contradict this invaluable counsel of the Church, recklessly trust himself, and frequently be alone with one man after another.  This is a reliable recipe for the commission of many sins.

There is another reason that I’m opposed to the ordaining of homosexual men to the priesthood, and it concerns teaching the faithful.  To make an extreme understatement – the current state of biblical and catechetical teaching in the Catholic Church is deplorable, and it has been so for over half a century.  There is a consistently narrow selection of Christian themes that are repeated over and over again, ad nauseam, wherever the Church teaches.  Sometimes I feel as if every homily is the same as every other homily, except that the order of words has been rearranged.   And we all know the themes: love, mercy, tolerance, acceptance, blah-blah-blah.  It sounds like a campaign speech from Bernie Sanders.  We hear and read this drivel week after week and decade after decade.  But these themes, as much as they are somewhat biblical, are not accurately presented as Holy Scripture presents them.  They appear to be, not strengths and virtues, but weaknesses and vices.  For example: love, the most over-used and abused word in the modern homiletic vocabulary.  Properly understood, Jesus Christ did not teach about love; He did not say one thing about it, except to warn us about it.  Instead, Christ taught about the virtue of charity, which is about as far from the emotion of love as you can get.

The Catechism defines charity in the following way:

“Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822).

Charity is God-centered, transcendent, and exceedingly holy.  And if it is genuine, then it results in the acceptance of all that God has revealed through Scripture and Tradition, and the conformity of one’s actions to the divine moral law.  But this is light years above the rubbish that is repeated day and night in the sanctuaries, halls, and classrooms of the Church today.  Instead, we hear about love, love, love, without any clarifications that would distinguish Gospel love –  charity – from worldly love – desire, often of the most disordered kind.  After all, rock musicians sing about love all the time.  Is that Gospel love?  Absolutely not!  So then, let our pastors and preachers teach us about the vast differences between charity and love.

I could carry on regarding the other redundant themes that we constantly hear and read about in the modern Church, but I’ll stop with charity.  In my opinion, the above-mentioned narrow selection of Christian themes amounts to a new gospel, a false gospel; it amounts to an effeminate gospel.  The teachings that are presented to us week after week and decade after decade are the by-product of an effete character.  I dare say, it is all that a homosexual clergy, or a homosexual-influenced clergy, is willing to preach and teach.  It is their system of belief, not God’s.  It is the gay gospel of the world, rather than the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For this reason, it is especially weak in the area of sexual morality.

This is not to imply that all or most priests and bishops are homosexual.  Realistic estimates place the number at an average of about forty percent.  But as with the rest of the population, in which homosexuals amount to only about two percent, the political, social, and cultural influence this population has is astounding.  It’s a testimony to the effect a committed and uncompromising group of people can have on others.  If only the Church would get the message.

My favorite spiritual writer – Dominican theologian Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange – once penned a passage that struck me from the first and has remained a personal guiding principle ever since.  In a footnote, he wrote, ‘The greatest thing a man can do is nothing.’  This is pithy Thomistic wisdom at its best.  The greatest thing a man can do is NOTHING!  What on earth does this mean?

It is the common view that the manly man is the character that is quick to curse, quick to punch, and has half-a-dozen women hanging all over him.  He’s the handsome stud who’s sleeping with all the beauts.  But this is exactly backwards.  It takes no strength to indulge in one’s desires.  It requires no heroism to surrender to temptation, vice, and sin.  There’s simply nothing manly about falling.  On the contrary, the strong man is the one who fights his sinful desires and wins.  The Christian hero confronts his temptations like a soldier of Christ, defeats them by the grace of God, and retains his holiness.  In the face of sin, the true man of God stands strong and does…nothing!  That is, he does not act on his temptations, but resists them.  Through the spiritual gift of self-mastery, he overcomes his most potent foe: himself.

This is precisely what the homosexual life style contradicts.  It gives in to grave sin, it surrenders to extreme temptation, and it celebrates these mortal falls as victories in the name of a perverse liberty.  But such a so-called liberty, such libertinism, is actually a dreadful form of bondage.  As Our Lord said,

“Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34).

In my opinion, the presentation of Catholic teaching and preaching has been deplorable for so long because homosexualism – an actual ideology, meaning a philosophy, world view, culture, and religion all based on the homosexual fixation – has dominated the Church on all levels.  The fragmentary gospel that we nearly everywhere encounter in the modern Church is a gay false gospel that has surrendered to grave sin.

Until the Church ceases to ordain homosexual men, the gay false gospel will be the only Gospel we hear.  May God Almighty give our pope, bishops, priests, and deacons the manly courage to confront this evil and reform His Holy Catholic Church.

Furious Righteous Anger

Who can stomach it any longer?  Priests, bishops, and cardinals; Roman collars, pectoral crosses, and purple piping; clergy from the rank-and-file to the high and mighty, having run like maniacal hedonists through the Holy Church of Jesus Christ, molesting, desecrating, and corrupting to degrees and depths it would be hard to fathom even in a secular institution.  It is like a nightmare from which we cannot wake, with media report after media report disclosing behaviors one would expect only from a satanic cult.  And it has been going on for years and years.

Thus far, the bishops have calmly managed the sex scandal crisis and have seemingly believed that the fallout would just go away, that we, the outraged faithful of Christ, would sooner or later forget about it and go back to sleep. The princes of the Church have held their press conferences and sat confidently at their tables and microphones, sipping their little bottles of Poland Spring water and reassuring us in a hundred different ways that the crisis is past, that they’ve established new guidelines, that things are so much better now.  And it has been going on for years and years.

Pardon me, but I’ve been watching this scripted travesty of indignation for far too long – this dainty aristocratic curtsy more properly called “damage control” – and it disgusts me.  Why?  For one, because of the absence of genuine manly anger – even holy fury, such as inspired Our Lord to cast out of the Temple with a whip the money changers.  Yes, if there’s one quality that is lacking in the awesomely up-to-date and totally cool Catholic Church, it’s the virtue of manliness.  Effeminacy is everywhere.  I noticed this when I was in Catholic high school.  It was made still more apparent to me when I was considering a religious vocation and visiting monasteries.  I was even propositioned by a priest in the confessional, a character I later learned was charged with two cases of sexual abuse.  At the end of it all, I decided I would not spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, for fear that some prowling pervert was trying to get into my bed at night.

I dare say, we don’t need any more males in the priesthood.  No – what we need from now on are men.

When the sex scandals first came to light so many years ago, I remember the initial reaction of Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, a man I’ve always greatly respected.   He said, when he first learned about them, that his immediate reaction was to think of…”a bat and a gun.”  That’s all; a bat and a gun.  It was the gut reaction of a man of God who loved God, the faith, and the faithful, and who, when he first heard of the scandals, wanted to respond to the crooks and their crimes with a bat and a gun.  His reaction gave me hope that the scandals would be swiftly and courageously confronted, and that we could trust the leaders of the Church to take care of the problem once and for all.

Nope.  Not by a long shot.

I have not seen a Bishop Bruskewitz for a long long time.  I have not heard of a “bat and gun” reaction from the ecclesiastical powers that be for a long long time.  Instead, I see and hear reactions that are disturbingly measured and calm, and it sickens me.  I wonder to myself, “How can they take this so evenly, as if they’re cleaning up a little spilled milk on the kitchen floor?  Do they not see what we see?  Do they not love what we love?  Or else, are they all a part of it?”

When I finally see a pope, cardinal, or bishop publically lose his temper, pound his fist with anger, send his water bottle tumbling, and demand that the guilty sexual deviants in the clergy do public penance and jail time, then I’ll know that a new breeze is at last blowing through the Church.  When I see substantial numbers of bishops being removed from their pompous stations, then I’ll believe that we truly have a reforming pontiff.  But until then, it will be the same old game with the same old actors and the same old jargon, and a fully merited mistrust and disgust from the laity.

I’ve heard our leaders say countless times that the Church needs “healing,” and I’m still hearing it.  This is absolute nonsense.  No, the Church doesn’t need healing, Your Excellencies.  The Church didn’t sprain her ankle or stub her toe.  She’s not limping just a bit.  On the contrary, if we must use imagery, she’s lying flat on her face in a pool of feces, and the world is triumphantly laughing and walking all over her back.  But the Church hasn’t been injured, Your Excellencies.  No, she’s been betrayed by sexually deviant apostate clergy and cowardly colluding overseers.  So please keep your insulting “healing” comments to yourselves, because they make it sound as if we’re the problem, as if we the laity are the disturbed ones that need the healing.  What the Church needs, following decades of your systematic highly collaborated abuse and neglect, is nothing less than repentance and reform.  Repentance and reform are the only proper Christian responses to grave sin, in case you’ve forgotten your catechism, Your Excellencies.

The fact is, the clergy on a mass scale abandoned the faith and abused the faithful; they molested our children with their bodies and corrupted our minds with their heresies; they drove away our vocations, cried that there was a vocations shortage, and then declared that the only solution was to ordain married men and women; and they desecrated our Catholic institutions with that most disgusting sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, and will one day receive it.   But the problem wasn’t pedophilia, as the liberals would have us strategically believe; the sexual abuse didn’t primarily concern boys thirteen years old or younger, because these amounted to minority of the number of cases.  No, the vast majority of cases involved homosexuality – unnatural sexual relations between older men and young men fourteen years old or older – teenagers and seminarians.  Homosexuality has been the primary problem in the Church for a full seventy years, and it remains the problem today.  Until the bureaucracy of sodomites has been broken by outraged and courageous men of God, the Catholic Church will continue to be the devil’s favorite joke and an effective tool in the promotion of his filth.

Men who have the homosexual disorder must be removed from their influential positions in the Church and barred from ordination.  Unless these reforms are enacted and enforced, we will be living in a professionally managed scandal-ridden Church into the distant future.

It is impossible to imagine what life must be like for holy and faithful priests and bishops, for those heroes of our era who have not succumbed to the moral and intellectual diseases of our age, who fulfill their duties as Our Lord would have them, and yet, who must endure the daily soiling of the priestly image by their disgraced brothers and fathers.  We must always keep these men in our prayers, for they are suffering at least as much as we are.

At this point, I have lost all hope in the cast of characters presently running the Church into the ground.  I have faith in none of them, except perhaps five.  Signs of hope will appear when the old faces pass away and new ones replace them, and not until.  There are two possibilities for such change: either mass resignations or the grave.  I would be happy with either, for God’s Church and her mission are far more important than the reckless reigns of these pompous potentates.

From now on, I will assess the clergy – from pope to deacon – by one clear indicator: furious righteous anger.  Either they have it, or they lack it.  If they lack it, then they are definitely a part of the problem.

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Wherever the Holy Spirit dwells, there is hope. We who possess the virtue of faith know that God will never abandon His Bride.  And yet, in spite of the much-misunderstood promise of Our Lord that the powers of hell will never prevail against His Church, history demonstrates that He allows her to sink to deplorable depths of corruption.  Yet, even when she forsakes Him, He refuses to forsake her.  In fact, in the midst of appalling circumstances, such as those we presently face, God always raises up saints necessary to the challenges of the times.  And I believe He will do so in these circumstances as well.  God will purify, strengthen, and restore His Church with holy men and women, with saintly preachers and prophets formed for the times by the Hand of God.

The only infidels among us are those who give up on God and declare the devil the winner.  No – we must never rest, quit, or surrender in the spiritual battle.  As long as we’re still fighting by the light and strength of God, we’re winning.

A Sad Memory, Indeed

This video recounts one of the saddest days of my life, an event that seemed to be the end of my dearest dream.  On the brighter side, it was also one of the causes that led me to create this apostolate, especially The Fullness of Truth Radio Program.

Regardless of that devastating period and experience, which put a final end to my seeking a religious vocation, I remained firm in the conviction that evil must be overcome by Good.  We must all fight the good fight of faith in the circumstances God has placed us, however unjust they may seem, even if we feel like a hopeless mass of handicaps and shortcomings and less qualified to serve than any other person on the face of the earth.  Sometimes that is precisely the disposition God requires for a task – the painful awareness of one’s own weaknesses.  By the grace of the Almighty, the nobody becomes a somebody.

Ideal Catholicism

Brook Farm PhalansteryMany years ago, when I was a flaming heretic and was far from God and His Holy Church, I was at the same time a devoted idealist.  While attending Quaker meetings and studying Quaker writings, including the Journal of George Fox,  I even more immersed myself in Transcendentalism, the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Amos Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, and so on.  Transcendentalism was a distinctly New England school of thought that rejected traditional western religion in preference for eastern religion.  It held a romanticized pantheistic view of nature, and practiced a simpler more organic manner of living.  It denied such Christian doctrines as preternatural evil and fallen nature, emphasized individual freedom and responsibility, and regarded every person as reformable through education and culture.  Transcendentalism was also intrinsically idealistic, in that it conceived of a relatively perfect society as attainable.  Given enough thought, experience, and experimentation with forms, humanity would ultimately resolve the problems it had created and at last raise a new Tower of Babel that would not collapse in a state of confusion.  In a word, Transcendentalism was utopian in spirit.

The Transcendentalists George and Sophia Ripley put their idealism to work with the founding, in 1941, of the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.   This farm was an attempt to establish a self-supporting utopian community whose life comprised a balance of work and culture.   It was founded on both Transcendentalist principles and the socialist theories of Charles Fourier.  A number of famous American literary figures either lived on, or regularly visited, Brook Farm.   Nathaniel Hawthorne joined the community at its beginning, but remained there for only six months, until he had realized that such a life was not conducive to writing.  His novel, The Blithedale Romance, is a hilariously sarcastic account of his less than ideal experiences living at this utopian experiment.

Brook Farm survived only until 1847 – a mere six years from its founding.  It was never financially stable, and after a period of moderate growth, was devastated by a fire, and later, by an outbreak of smallpox.  And that was the end of Brook Farm; reality was its end.  Apparently, there were elements within man and the world that made the utopian dream an impossible fantasy.  And yet, the fantasies of socialism continue even in our own day

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Long ago, I abandoned the utopian hope.  It was not so much the story of Brook Farm that liberated me.  No, it was Gospel truth that set me free from such foolish vanity.  Holy Scripture, the theological riches of Sacred Tradition, and even daily experience have demonstrated to me the inescapable realities of fallen nature and preternatural evil.  Angelic and human sin are real, and everything that man does is directly impacted by them.  And the remedies to these are found, not in man, but in God alone.

Nevertheless, many people in the last two thousand years have turned to the Gospels as a basis for a sort of Christian utopianism.  Within limits, this can actually work, for the simple reason that such people have turned to God, rather than to human ingenuity.  Many holy individuals have established religious orders with constitutions or “rules” based entirely on Gospel principles.  And unlike those godless utopian experiments, these orders have endured for many centuries, successfully formed members in the life of communal charity and piety, and served as centers of learning and Catholic culture.  The Rule of Saint Benedict is, for example, both a spiritual classic and an extraordinarily successful example of such a constitution founded on the Gospel.  Fifteen hundred years later, the Benedictine order is still flourishing.

However, even the Holy Gospel is checked by a morbid reality.  Indeed, it is the very best manual on the inescapable dilemmas of reality, of the existence of fallen nature and preternatural evil, for it proposes the divinely established solution to both: the salvific intervention of Jesus Christ.   The problem is, the Holy Gospel is ultimately rejected – in part or in whole – by most persons and by many Christians.  Hence, even within the walls of a monastery, convent, or parish, the inability to govern all members and their activities by Gospel principles is a fact of daily life.  Tragically, relatively few souls adamantly strive for the perfection of Christian charity; few seek to acquire a deep knowledge and understanding of the ancient and perennial faith; and even fewer strive to share in the Church’s mission of spreading and defending the Catholic religion.  Most Catholics are content simply to know just a bit about their religion, to practice it on Sunday mornings, and to generally be “nice” people, according to the common definition of that adjective.  And if pressed to be a bit more pious, their response might be, “I’d rather be lukewarm than fanatical.”  As if those were the only two choices!

The truth is – and this is perfectly in accord with Our Lord’s warnings – religion is filled with persons who are only moderately religious, as well as many who are actually irreligious.  And living under a Gospel-based constitution of whatever form – whether in a monastery, convent, or parish – will do little to change the Church’s tepid religious climate.

If this is true in the case of insular Catholic communities, it is all the more true in the case of larger societies such as cities, counties, and countries where there are all sorts of persons with all sorts of beliefs and non-beliefs.  Such diverse communities should be governed by the natural law.  But the Gospel?  In my opinion, it’s simply impossible to govern them by the Gospel, for they have not individually embraced it.

I have arrived at this radical conclusion only after decades of religious searching, studying, reflecting, praying, and teaching.  The Holy Gospel is meant, not for the masses, but only for those persons who would freely and fully embrace it.  It was not given in order to form the constitutions of large communities; rather, it was given to the saints, to those who would repent, believe, be faithful, and by the grace merited upon the Cross by Jesus Christ, be saved.

Christ was not a utopian theorist establishing the basis for a new world government.  He testified before Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world, even if His Church – the beginning of that Kingdom – was first established in it.  His holy Gospel, in all its sacred glory, was intended by Christ to guide, not nations, but individuals and small communities – those who would respond to His call to come and follow Him into a life that this world would mock as absurd and reprehensible.

The Gospel should be offered to every human being.  It should be preached with power and persuasion in every nation and to every religion, philosophy, culture, and world view, to both Jew and gentile, and theist and atheist.  The mission of the Church is to draw into the Kingdom of God the elect, to fill that Kingdom with all who will be saved.  But only so many people will care to listen to the Church’s message.  Some will respond to the divine invitation, others will only appear to respond to it, and many will firmly reject it.  This was all foreseen and predicted by Christ.  One could even say that the mass rejection of the Gospel message is part and parcel of the Gospel message.  As Jesus warned,

“Now this is the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil” (Jn. 3:19).

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Let me take this theme one step further.

It is reasonable for a Catholic to want to live in an ideal Catholic environment, to be surrounded by the blessed sights, sounds, and scents of the true faith, to hear the prayers of the Holy Sacrifice in the morning, the pealing of the Angelus bell at noon, the singing of psalms at evening prayer, and the chanting of the Salve Regina before retiring for the night.  It is understandable that he or she would like to be daily inspired and comforted by a rich Catholic culture, by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Chesterton’s essays, O’Connor’s short stories, Palestrina’s Mass settings, Frescobaldi’s organ works, and Gothic architecture.  It would be wonderful if the Church’s faith could be appreciated by all, so that these pious cultural treasures could be found and enjoyed wherever one wandered on God’s green earth.  But this requires a degree of acceptance of the Catholic Church and faith on the part of the world, and such an acceptance is a grave threat to the integrity of Catholicism.

The hard truth is that the Catholic religion is at its best when it is generally rejected, Catholics are at their best when they are generally persecuted, and the Church is purest, not when her leaders are adored by the world, but when they are generally despised.

I’m not implying that a brutal Islamic State is the cure to all that spiritually ails the Church.  I’m not suggesting that we Catholics must at all times be enduring an apocalyptic degree of persecution, in order to be authentic.  I’m only pointing out the obvious – that the world is not the believer’s friend, and the ideal Catholicism is the result of struggle

I do not want to live in a Catholic country, in a society and culture where the Church is empowered and privileged.  She is, due to the fallen nature of her clergy and laity, as easily corrupted as any merely human institution, and perhaps even more so.  And she can, in the worst of cases, degenerate into a truly satanic state, as can be realized by a brutally honest examination of the clerical sex scandals.  These were the result of weak men who were corrupted by a potent mixture of sexual deviancy, ecclesiastical authority, and the secular world’s adulterous embrace.  Perversity, power, and popularity brought down the Church, and it is a lesson we Catholics must never forget.

Yes, we are every bit as vulnerable to the influences of evil as is the godless world, and perhaps even more so.  For more than any other people or institution on the earth, a preternatural adversary seeks to devour us as a roaring lion – morning, day, and night.  Therefore, we cannot afford to indulge in arrogant utopian fantasies.  We cannot hope to govern the world with the Gospel or convert the masses to the faith of the Saints.  We can just barely maintain the rudiments of the faith in our own little corner.  Even within the sanctuary of the Church, we must courageously recognize that, wherever the Holy Spirit is renounced, absolute power does and will corrupt absolutely.

The faithful are, and are meant to be, only the remnant of a remnant.

 

 

 

Response to an Irish Atheist

Fetus IIThe following piece is part of an online exchange I recently had with an Irish atheist who claims to be a medical doctor and enthusiastically voted for abortion.  He obviously feels that Ireland has gradually emerged from its Catholic darkness, with the outcome of the referendum of May 25 being only the latest proof.  I do expend a lot of time and effort responding to such people, with the expectation that I will probably not be given a response from them.  Regardless, my comments are there for others to read, so it’s worth the effort.

I’m posting this exchange because I think it offers a useful example of the manner in which a Catholic should respond to such charges made by an opponent of this nature.  I do not believe in the milk toast, saccharin, hyper-sensitive, coddle-them-like-little-babes approach that is common today.  If such an approach were effective, then the Church would be filled to overflowing with converts, since everyone in the Church has been using it for decades – popes, bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people.  The fact is, such an approach was not used by Our Lord when confronting His staunch opponents, nor by the Apostles, nor by the great apologists and evangelists of the Church.  It has the effect of misrepresenting the Christian religion as an ideology for the timid and effeminate, so I do not use it.  At all times, Christian charity – absolutely – but charity often requires firmness and directness, as every parent knows.  Treat people like adults, and they just might behave like them.  Treat them like babies, and babies you’ll have.

The atheist’s comments have been altered for obvious reasons, but the substance is exactly the same.  I’ve also given him a new name which I think is appropriate, in reference to Herod the Great, that maniac responsible for the slaughter of the Innocents.  His taunting comments are typical anti-Catholic rubbish such as we hear all the time, which is the reason I’ve decided to post them, along with my response.

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Doctor McHerod’s Comments:

I’m thrilled to know that you admit Ireland is no longer a Catholic country!  Catholicism is a rancid wicked body of beliefs that I had the misery of enduring for a long time.   But now the pedophile priests have had their day and I’m very happy about it.

The Catholic Church bears the responsibility for the happy outcome of the abortion referendum.  You folks have driven away the good and enlightened people of Ireland, so that they can’t get far enough away from you.   But I noticed in your previous comments that you enthusiastically encouraged people to vote against the introduction of abortion in Ireland.   Well, where were you during the pedophile rampage?!  I couldn’t find your enthusiastic posts denouncing such crimes.

The Catholic religion is so filled with flaws, as are all religions.  There are 7,000 supposed gods, and none of them exist, just like your god.   And that’s the reason you don’t stand a chance.

The Irish today are an especially well-educated people that can easily perceive your deception.   But you can’t, so you are doomed!  They have voted for divorce, contraception, gay marriage, and now abortion.  And you still don’t understand it all; you haven’t gotten the message.

The Irish people are finally awake, and they no longer want you around.  So, GOOD BYE FOREVER!!!  CHEERS!!!

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My Response:

Doctor McHerod,

Let me answer your questions directly.  I live in the United States.  When it was discovered that perverted priests and bishops were molesting people here and elsewhere, I was immediately screaming about it more angrily than you are now, – online, in the classroom, and on the radio, and at some risk to myself in my own diocese.  So please spare me the self-righteous finger-pointing.

I noticed that you twice referred to “pedophile” priests.  Nice dodge.  The vast majority of sexual crimes committed by priests – approximately 90% in the US – were not between men and very young children, but between men and boys and men and young men.  That’s not pedophilia, that’s homosexuality, so call it what it is.  The Catholic Church was, and still is, a rat’s nest of homosexual clergy.  As a man who went to seminary for one year and almost entered a religious order, who’s been Catholic since 1990 and worked in the Church all that time, I can tell you this firsthand.

And by the way, what’s so bad about men sodomizing children?   The only aspect your side really objects to is the forced nature of the act, that it was rape.  Well, I couldn’t agree with your side more on that point, but I would go much further with my outrage.  The evil in these sexual attacks is not only that they were forced on others, but in the very nature of the act itself: sodomy.  Whether it’s forced or consensual, whether it’s between a man and a child, a man and another man, or a man and a woman, sodomy is a disgusting, unnatural, perverse, and damnable act.  Do you agree with this?  I don’t know; let’s hear from you.  But if you do disagree, as the radical left does, then the only thing that actually upsets you in these scandals is the forced nature of the acts, and not the acts themselves; which means that, if only they had been consensual acts of sodomy, you would have been fine with them.  And that is disgusting.  But again, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now and let you answer for yourself.  But that’s the social, cultural, political left – crying out with indignation over the sex scandals in the Catholic Church, while promoting and defending sodomy far and wide, night and day, as just another intimate expression of affection.

Now go ahead and say it: “You should be ashamed to still be a Catholic.  You’re directly supporting and condoning an institution of rapists.  If you were truly opposed to it all, you would have left the Church years ago.”

No, Doctor McHerod, I’m directly condoning and supporting an institution of truth and grace that helps people of every type to grow in wisdom, sanctity, and the love of God, and to attain the end for which they were made – salvation.  But are there rotten apples in the Church?   To answer in the affirmative would be an understatement.  There are rotten orchards in the Church – whole hillsides of stinking decaying fruit!  But all such rot is the antithesis of Catholicism.  If you want to know what genuine Catholicism produces, look to the saints, not the unrepentant sinners.  Saints are the by-products of authentic Catholicism, while unrepentant sinners and scandal-mongers of all types are the result of the rejection of it.  So, to heap the whole Catholic Church into one mass of guilt is to make an entirely emotional judgment, not a rational one.  It is to accuse the numberless innocent Catholics – both clergy and laity – of guilt by association.  Well, in that case, we are all guilty because we are all associated with corruption – both that of others, as well as our own.

I know how to support the good in the Church, but avoid the evil, how to condone the Gospel, the virtues, and the sacraments, but condemn whatever is contrary to them.  I direct my resources and support very carefully and attend only the best of churches.  Any Catholic who cared enough could do the same.  If I see something contrary to goodness in the Church, then I withhold my support from it.

How about yourself?  Do you support evil of any type, in any way?  Yes, you do.  You just supported it with your pro-abortion vote.  You are part and parcel of a movement that kills many millions of innocent human beings in the womb.  They will die for the “crime” of being young and defenseless in a society with no heart for them.  In order to pacify your consciences, you redefine them as non-persons.

And do these “non-persons” feel pain?  Why don’t you watch a video of an abortion, and see for yourself whether that tiny victim embraces the abortionist’s deadly instruments, or desperately tries to escape them.  No pro-life propaganda in that approach, but just the demonstrable facts.

Instead of looking to these pre-born children with any sense of humaneness, you take from them their right to live, and concern yourself only with their mothers, whom you care for by allowing them to become the murderers of their own flesh and blood.   In taking from one the most fundamental right of life, you give to another the invented liberty to kill the innocent.

And apparently, this is motivated by your hatred for the Catholic Church and religion in general?  Killing babies in the womb – babies who aren’t even Catholic – is a strange way of getting back at the Church.  In fact, it’s a complete miss that strikes dead a perfectly innocent party.

But let’s take another approach.  By any chance, do you pay federal taxes?  Is your government in any way corrupt?  Have any of your officials committed crimes, been bribed by donors, or failed to fulfill their campaign promises?  Has your government ever supported unjust violence or war any place in the world?  Those were rhetorical questions, of course.  But do you at all give financial support to your government?

Did you ever attend a public school or a college?  Our public schools are filled with sex scandals.  There are now countless instances of female teachers having sex with very young male students.  The latest involves a thirty-two-year-old Ohio woman who had sex in her classroom with a fourteen-year-old boy, and who told him to lie about it to the principal.  The pictures of middle-aged women accused of rape have become a semi-regular feature in the news these days.  Out of a consistent indignation, should we not, therefore, denounce the public school system as a whole?  Should we not withhold all taxes that will be used to support it, and withdraw our children from it?

And what about Hollywood and its decades-long practices of systematic widespread abuse, harassment, and rape of countless girls and boys and women and men?  You know, those rich and famous Hollywood elites who live in mansions or gated communities, who are outspoken anti-gun activists, and yet, make a living shooting guns and glamorizing violence on the big screen?   Surely you’ve heard about Roman Polanski, Harvey Weinstein, Oliver Stone, Kevin Spacey, and most recently Morgan Freeman – that darling of the left?  Except for Harvey, who interestingly has a knack for distributing anti-Catholic films through his company Miramax, all of these people are still out free and enjoying life.  I’ll stop there with the names, but the list goes on and on.

Now are you still supporting the horribly corrupt institution of Hollywood by watching its movies, or have you been too busy taking part in anti-Hollywood protests?  And can you point me to your outrage online?   By your own reasoning, you should be publically denouncing and permanently boycotting Hollywood by refusing to enjoy any of its movies.

Come to think of it, are any of our famously outspoken social justice warriors presently boycotting Hollywood and all its movies?  Hmph, I can’t think of even one that is.

What about the medical field?  Have you ever considered the barbaric practices of medicine in recent centuries, including the horrific mental institutions and state hospitals from the twentieth century which used, for example, electro-shock therapy?  Have you considered the countless doctors in all fields of medicine who have groped women during examinations, or neglected or misdiagnosed patients who then went to early deaths?  How about the countless surgical errors that have resulted in the mistaken removal of healthy limbs or organs, or the errors on the operating table that resulted in worse health crises than the patients had when being prepped?

Doctor McHerod, have you been busily denouncing your own field of medicine and all its personnel for their intolerable cruelties to the innocent?  Or rather, do you save all your indignation and righteous anger exclusively for the Catholic Church, or for religion in general, which you personally dislike?  I see a double-standard of righteous anger here.

We could play this game all day and all night, moving on to such fields as science, the military, the police, and the media.  I hope by now you’ve gotten my point.

The fact is, if you want to play the indignation game and be consistent about it, then you need to withdraw from all institutions and society as a whole to the innocent woods, where you can live in peace with your sensitive social conscience and high standard of social justice.  Until you’ve done so, please spare me the selective indignation directed only at the Catholic Church.  It’s old-fashioned calculated bigotry of the most obvious kind.

The truth is, you’re perfectly fine with corruption and injustice.  The proof is in the fact that last week you voted for the most corrupt and unjust act imaginable – the slaughter of the innocent in the womb.  The abused, the molested, and the raped have a second chance.  With counseling and the compassion and support of others, they have the hope of recovery and a new beginning.  But for the aborted there can be no such hope, but only a voter-approved agonizing end to their brief little lives.

May the God that you reject move you to repentance with His grace, restore your empathy and understanding, and have mercy on your soul before the Day of days when the opportunities for repentance will be past.  I am praying for you, Doctor McHerod.

Addendum:

If anyone would like to propose atheism as a solution to the problems of religion turned rotten, please consider the following atheistic regimes casualty numbers:

  • Jozef Stalin (USSR 1932-39 only): 15,000,000 people murdered
  • Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79): 1,700,000 people murdered
  • Kim II Sung (North Korea 1948-94): 1.6 million people murdered
  • Tito (Yugoslavia 1945-1987): 570,000 people murdered
  • Suharto (Communists 1967-66): 500,000 people murdered
  • Ante Pavelic (Croatia 1941-45): 359,000 people murdered
  • Ho Chi Min (Vietnam 1953-56): 200,000 people murdered
  • Vladimir Ilich Lenin (USSR, 1917-20): 30,000 people murdered
  • Adolf Hitler (Germany 1939-1945): 12,000,000 people murdered
  • Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50): 49-78,000,000 people murdered

Dwarfing these numbers is the casualty count of abortions in America since 1973: 61,000,000 babies murdered.  The present US rate is about three thousand per day.

According to the CDC, the deaths of women due to abortion is a matter of voluntary reporting by abortion clinics.  Chillingly, the number is therefore unknown.

Ireland Legalizes Murder

FetusIt’s official.  Ireland is a pagan nation.  It is pro-homosexuality, pro-contraception, pro-divorce, and pro-abortion.  It is liberal, secular, leftist, and progressive.  It is faithless, immoral, and godless.  It is conformed to the age and has embraced the spirit of the times.  It has burned the banner of the Holy Gospel and stomped on the Word of God.  It has insulted the saints, desecrated the sacraments, and blasphemed Our Eucharistic Lord.  Ireland is a pagan nation.  Period.

The vote to repeal the Irish Constitution’s Eighth Amendment by a two-third’s majority is a victory for ignorance.  Why?  Because a people formed after the Gospel, who affirmed the two Great Commandments, the Golden Rule, the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, and the natural law, and who understood the necessity of these moral principles in creating and maintaining a civilization founded on charity and justice for both the strong and the weak, would never have even considered such a repeal.  It would have been morally unthinkable.  But ignorance of the faith has prevailed, and now it will be helpless pre-born children who first pay the price.  And this price will increase, as the abortion mentality stretches its rancid tentacles throughout Irish society, corrupting its culture, art, and education, strangling Christian virtue, and founding a hundred abortion-related practices and industries.

Legalized abortion will produce laws restricting public opposition and free speech, and will establish abortion mill zones where the Rosary cannot be prayed or pro-life counseling offered to desperate pregnant women on the verge of murdering their own flesh and blood.  Funding for abortion facilities will be drawn from federal taxes.  The government you make YOU fund the killing.  Medical students will be required to take part in abortions as a part of their training, or they will not be licensed.  An underground body parts industry will establish itself, whether legally or illegally.  And any person who openly objects to the new “culture of death” will be regarded as a backwards lunatic who hates women and practices a religion that is a threat to Irish culture and freedom.  You will feel like an unwelcome alien in your own home, among your dearest friends.  Pro-life Catholics will be regarded as potential terrorists for their views.  And then, one deranged individual among the pro-life fold will attack or kill an abortionist, and the laws against pro-life beliefs and activism will suddenly grow shockingly severe.    On and on the abortion infection will spread, like a bacteria from hell, until the same methods that successfully introduced homosexual marriage and abortion will be re-employed to introduce the next leap into the bottomless pit of perdition: euthanasia.

I know the Irish. I’ve lived among them and listened to the stories of their lives for thirty years now.  The Irish clergy left them hopelessly ignorant of the Catholic faith, precisely as happened in the United States.  Catholics were formed to be mere Mass-goers, pew-sitters, and sacramentalists who couldn’t offer an effective word on behalf of the faith they professed, because they studied neither the Bible nor the Catechism.  They were cultural Catholics who received Holy Communion weekly or daily and prayed the Rosary in ten minutes, members of the institutional Church, rather than disciples of Jesus Christ who were willing and prepared to spread and defend the faith, as every Catholic is commissioned to do by virtue of their Confirmation.

I have always identified Irish Catholicism as being unusually deficient in the catechetical domain – and directly related to this, superstitious as well, due to its infatuation with a pre-Christian Celtic spirituality that seems to saturate the Irish soil itself.  All of this has left the Irish folk intellectually lame and spiritually vulnerable to the lies of the irreligious left, until good seemed evil and evil good, until murder seemed like equality and liberty for all.  Finally, add to this the anger aroused by the horrific scandals among the Irish clergy and religious, including the Magdalene Sisters and the Christian Brothers, and perhaps the future was inevitable.  One might even say that the abortion vote signified a denunciation of the Catholic Church itself.  As morally insane as it is, many voted for abortion as a means of registering their opposition to the Catholic Church.  The fact is, the Church lost the Irish people many years ago, so that this political outcome was entirely predictable.  Indeed, in light of the vote in favor of homosexual marriage, a vote in opposition to abortion would have made no sense whatsoever.

Saint Patrick – that holy Brit – has been rebuked by brogues.  Perhaps King Herod the Great – that murderer of the Holy Innocents – would now be a more fitting patron for Ireland.  The druids have arisen to reclaim the Irish ignoramuses for the powers of darkness, with their “black laws of pagandom.”  Yes, child sacrifice is returning to the Emerald Isle, as the land of saints and scholars, once known for producing countless Catholic missionaries who brought the ancient and perennial faith to a world living in heathen darkness, now degenerates into a Guinness-soaked godless domain.  As Father John Hardon once warned, there is nothing as anti-Christian as a formerly Christian nation.

And all of this…in the month of Mary.  May Our Lady of Knock still intercede before her offended Lord.

The battle goes on.  The soldiers of Christ know no white flags.  We do not surrender to evil.  We make no deals with the devil, even as he takes our homes from us.  Jesus Christ, His Holy Gospel, and His Holy Church have already won this war.  All that matters now is fidelity to the true faith, even as our co-religionists burn incense to Baal and offer their firstborn to Moloch.  There is no middle ground here, no neutral position, no moderate view, no place for conscientious objectors.  There is no way to abstain from the battle between God and Satan, between the true Church and the anti-church.  The only option is to choose your side – the right or the left, the sheep or the goats, the wheat or the weeds.

Be faithful…or be damned.