Drop Down Dew

Bethlehem 2

“Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain the just;
let the earth be opened,
and bud forth a Savior” (Is. 45:8).

+T+

I recently made an hour-long trip to another town in Massachusetts, in order to do some urgent Christmas shopping.  On the way up, I chose the quickest and most direct route possible.  But after the task was completed, I decided to zig-zag my way back home.  The general area surrounding the town is quite scenic, and since I had lived there many years ago, I decided to nostalgically wind my way through a number of old familiar places.  I thoroughly enjoyed the long idyllic meandering drive, except for one disturbing feature.  As I drove through one town or village after another, I was struck by the changes in the Catholic landscape.  I passed through no fewer than five consecutive towns in which parishes had been closed.  Many moons ago, I had attended these parishes and presumed they would always be available to God-seeking souls.  The mountains were still in place, the rivers wound the same courses, and the fields had remained where I remembered them.  But in many places, the Catholic Church had tragically departed, leaving those rustic towns partly or entirely deprived of God’s magnificent truth and saving grace.  It changed the scenery in the bleakest way.  For nature had remained, but super-nature had left.  The sun might as well have set over those snowy hills once and for all, for a darkness of another type had prevailed.

That evening, the thought of this tragedy remained on my mind.  Before retiring for the night, I sat at my desk to chant night prayer/compline.  During the Advent season, I sing for this final hour the ancient chant Rorate Caeli, which is one of the four essential chants of the liturgical season.  It is a mournful meditation on the fully merited divine abandonment of Jerusalem, due to her countless offenses.  The antiphon-refrain is taken from Isaiah 45:8 in the Vulgate-Douay tradition.

“Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum.

“O heavens, send your rain upon us, send down the Just One to Israel.”

Another translation sings,

“Drop down dew from above, ye heavens, ye clouds rain down the just one.”

This antiphon is a plea to God for His mercy, that He would not abandon Israel forever, but would one day send the long-awaited Savior.  Going even further, the verses contain a sentiment that seldom fails to bring a lump to the throat.

“Do not be angry with us, Lord.
Remember no longer all our past transgressions.
See, your city of Holies now has been deserted.
Sion has been abandoned.
Jerusalem has been made desolate.
The house of your kind and merciful blessing
and of your glory,
the place where abundant praise
rose from our fathers.”

In light of the present state of the Catholic Church, it is difficult to sing such a text through to the end without pausing for an involuntary swallow or two.  Yes, in many ways and in many places, God has substantially deserted His Church, leaving her desolate.  During the last twenty years, countless parishes and religious communities have been closed; numberless priests and religious have abandoned their vocations, and as many lay people have thrown up their arms in despair and exited the vestibule for the last time.  And where parishes remain and Masses are still offered, what is the actual quality of the faith of those who attend?  How many Catholics truly believe everything the Catholic Church teaches?  It would be impossible to arrive at a mathematically accurate answer, but I would suggest a simple approach: merely observe the number of souls standing in the confession lines on a Saturday afternoon.  Of that miniscule number, possibly a few believe everything the Church teaches.  And they are the “faithful,” if the word is to have any meaning at all.

The current desolation of the Catholic Church is entirely merited.  To be precise, God did not abandon her; rather, she drove Him out.  And she did so with far more than sex scandals, which were the inescapable effects of a cause that preceded them: namely, infidelity.

In so many places and in so many ways, the Church resents God.  She resents having been given so important a place in the divine scheme for the world.  Expressed another way, the Church is in the midst of an identity crises.  For she does not want to be what God has made her, does not want to have what God has given her, and does not want to do what God has asked of her.  She is the one true Church of the one true religion, she has the fullness of God’s truth and grace for our salvation, and she must generously and urgently dispense this sacred treasure far and wide, even at the risk of her own safety.  That is, she must make disciples of all the nations.

I have thought about this resentment almost since the day I returned to the Church in 1990.  I’ve wondered over and over again why the Church seems to loath the gift of her own magnificence.  It seems to me she resents it because of the courageous action it necessarily demands of her.  It is seen, not as an honor accompanied by responsibility, but as a risk to her own comfort and ease.  Better to be a fat sated institution of Dapper Dans than a rough band of evangelists living and eating by divine providence.   This seems to be the common attitude among her clerical and lay masses, and it is the grossest infidelity to God.

This resentment is the motivation behind so much deceptive ecumenical activity, which is only the vice of religious indifference parading as the virtue of tolerance.  Psychologically, it makes perfect sense.  After all, if you resent your own nature and wish you were something else – something far less – then it is only natural that you would enjoy the company of others who similarly deny your exalted nature and assert it is no greater than their own.  They would be affirming your own delusion, which would provide a degree of psychological relief.  This, in my opinion, is the unspoken mindset behind so much Catholic ecumania.  And it is part and parcel of the present desolation.

Saint Paul wrote,

“For what a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows in the flesh, from the flesh also will reap corruption.  But he who sows in the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:8).

The flesh, concupiscence, the innate inclination to sin due to fallen nature has sown and reaped its harvests, first of infidelity, and then of perversity.  Such has been the past achievements of a morbid host of traitors within the Church, some preternatural.  The forthcoming harvest that is presently being prepared by the same pack appears to be the normalization of both – of unbelief and sexual degeneracy as salutary states.

In light of the Church’s recent history, it is impossible that she would not experience the chastisement of God.  But this is reason for hope, for divine chastisement is not an idle temper-tantrum; rather, it is both disciplinary and medicinal.  As both the Old and New Testaments teach,

“The discipline of the Lord, my son, disdain not; spurn not his reproof; for whom the Lord loves he reproves, and he chastises the son he favors” (Prov. 3:11).

“Now all discipline seems for the present to be a matter, not for joy, but for grief; but afterwards, it yields the most peaceful fruit of justice to those who have been exercised” (Heb. 12:11).

The present desolation of the Catholic Church is purposeful.  It is not evidence that God neither loves, favors, nor perseveres within her.  No, just the opposite is true.  God is purifying His bride, so that she might again be faithful to Him and serve His purposes.  But she has lost much, and still must lose much more – her reputation, her wealth, and her liberties.  If only she will reaffirm her identity, spiritual riches, and mission, then the present desolation will give way to a restoration.  And that is what every Catholic must be daily praying for and working towards – a great restoration of the Church.

“Be ye comforted,
be ye comforted, O my people,
for most quickly comes thy salvation.
Why, then, are ye all consumed with grief,
so that thy sorrowing has transformed thee?
I come to save; do not be fearful.
Do ye not know that I am thy Lord and thy God,
the most holy One, Redeemer of Israel?”

“Drop down dew from above, ye heavens,
ye clouds rain down the just one.”

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.

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.

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.