Halloween. Dia de los Santos. Dia de los Muertos. Estos días se tratan de…la muerte. Y de nuestra relación con personas que se han muerto.
Nosotros Cristianos no tememos la muerte. Nuestro Señor Jesucristo ha conquistado la oscuridad de la noche. Ha conquistado la obscuridad de la tumba. El Nombre Sagrado de Jesús hace que tiemblan los demonios.
Y los nombres de Sus Santos también hacen los demonios temblar. Porque los santos también han conquistado la muerte. Reinan en el esplendor eterno de Dios.
Los santos conquistaron la muerte siendo pobres en espíritu, igual que Jesús. Siendo mansos y misericordiosos. Tal como Jesus. Los santos tuvieron hambre y sed de justicia. Lamentaron el pecado del mundo. Aguantaron perseguicion. Buscaron siempre hacer paz. Como Jesús.
Unidos con Jesús en Su santidad divino, los santos comparten en el conquisto de Jesús de la muerte humana. Y nosotros tenemos una relación íntima con esos héroes. Sabemos que nos pueden ayudar. Como buenos amigos con recursos sobrenaturales.
Entre los muertos, muchos son santos. Sabemos sin duda que algunos lo son: Es decir, los canonizados. Como los santos Apóstoles, San Jose, San Francisco de Asís, San Teresa. Dicho eso, muchos de los difuntos no son santos todavía porque…están en el purgatorio. Dios los está purificando de sus pecados.
En el Dia de los Santos, nos alegramos con deleite que tantos de nuestros hermanos en fe han llegado al cielo. No rezamos por los santos; rezamos a ellos. Ellos no necesitan nuestras oraciones. Nosotros necesitamos las suyas.
A cambio, por el mes de noviembre, tomamos una oportunidad para rezar por todos nuestros queridos muertos y comendarlos a Dios. Nuestros parientes y amigos que han muerto; nuestros antepasados. Y rezamos por todas las almas en el purgatorio que no tienen a ningún pariente vivo que pueda rezar por ellas.
Las noches se hacen más largas, y eso nos hace recordar que esa peregrinación de la vida terminara. Pero no tenemos nada que temer. Guardamos esto día sagrado, quedándonos cercas a Jesús en el altar, como los santos han hecho.
As we discussed here in July, the Catholic diocese of Richmond’s record in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse by priests is: conspicuously bad. The way Bishop Walter Sullivan dealt with the victims of Fathers John Leonard, Julian Goodman, and Randy Rule stands out as a genuine national disgrace, a remarkably evil travesty among many, many such evil travesties.
And the Richmond diocese’s February list contained another little neutron bomb: The name Carroll Dozier.
Father Dozier served in our diocese for 34 years, then went on to become the founding bishop of the diocese of Memphis, Tennessee.
Dozier is our own little Ricmond-diocese McCarrick. It would appear that Dozier became a bishop after the diocese of Richmond secretly settled at least one abuse claim against him.
…Cardinal Dolan of New York appeared on CBS This Morning yesterday, repeating the mafia party line: “We fixed this problem in 2002.” Not true, because…
1. Innumerable victims of pre-2002 abuses have yet to receive any justice. The people crying with cathartic abandon at the August 2018 Pennsylvania press conference, announcing the release of the grand-jury report–they knew all too well that the Church had not fixed the problem in 2002. For God’s sake, at that time, the face of the Catholic Church in America was Theodore McCarrick.
Overall, we found the Denver Archdiocese’s investigative process to be flawed at best, and re-victimizing at worst. (p. 33)
[See footnote below for more illuminating quotes from the Colorado report]
….So, my dearly beloved fellow Virginia Catholics: Get ready for the imminent gut punch of our own state AG’s report.
Mr. Tom Lee–to whom I have referred above and in previous posts–he has worked tirelessly for justice for victims of Richmond-priest abusers. He has graciously shared some “inside” information with me.
The Virginia Attorney General’s Office investigators have rooms full of files. They do not trust the dioceses. They will produce a report that will embarrass the living hell out of the Catholic Church in the state of Virginia.
And rightly so.
The day will come. Soon.
But, please: Let’s see this for what it is, my dear ones. A genuine gift from God.
The report will contain the testimony of sex-abuse survivors who somehow found the clarity and courage to call evil evil. The mitered mafia told them, over and over again, to shush. Now, finally, in Virginia, their testimony will see the light of day.
In the long run, facing the truth will cleanse, purify, and renew the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. This imminent Virginia gut-punch will do us great good. Romans 8:28: All things work for the good for those who love God.
Couple more illuminating quotes from the AG report on the three dioceses of Colorado:
“From this lack of experience, presumably, stem weaknesses manifest in some of the investigations we have seen in the Colorado Springs Diocese priest files. Specifically, investigative team members have intimidated victims during interviews by questioning their faith, asked them nothing but leading questions designed to confirm a predetermined conclusion rather than find facts, expressed bias in favor of the diocese, expressed that their goal is to defend the priest and protect the diocese rather than find facts or care for the victim, and threatened victims with dire consequences if they falsely accuse a priest of child sex abuse. This approach to sexual assault victim interviews is extremely ineffective at determining whether the diocese has an abusive priest from whom its children need to be protected.” (p. 177-178)
“…Another flaw in the Pueblo Diocese’s response practices is its consistent pattern of closing investigations as ‘inconclusive’ unless the accused priest admits the abuse or an independent third-party witness confirms he or she saw it. While the Pueblo Diocese generally conducts very thorough investigations designed to uncover additional witnesses and victims, its application of this standard of proof is not an effective way to determine whether a priest presents a risk to children… Indeed, it can potentially lead to an active abuser staying in ministry without restriction. The standard should be ‘if there is a risk to children, restrict access to them.’ That standard would be more consistent with the Pueblo Diocese’s public statements about safety and child protection. (p. 198-199)
Some of us remember when the Washington Nationals, newly arrived from Canada, played farther up the Anacostia River–at a dilapidated old multi-use stadium where the ancient Senators had played the last professional baseball game in Washington, in 1971.
I stood outside Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian parish church on East Capitol street before the home games those first couple seasons, to smile at the fans heading from Capitol Hill towards RFK. And invite them inside to say a prayer if they wanted.
Some of us remember when Anthony Rendon came up from the minors because Zimmerman had to go on the DL for a few weeks. Then Rendon got sent back to the minors. (Praise Jesus they brought him back up again later that season.)
And some of us remember when the Nationals couldn’t even spell Nationals.
We’ve come a long way.
May God’s will be done in Houston this evening.
ADDENDUM: They won! Washington Nationals World Champions, 2019!
The good Lord gave His Apostles something. What exactly?
He gave them the experience of intimate friendship with Him, the God-man. The Apostles lived for three years in close quarters with a uniquely luminous man. (The phrase “uniquely luminous” seems like a preposterously inadequate way of putting it.)
Jesus loved His Apostles, with divine love, while they walked. While they washed-up before eating. While they prepared themselves to sleep. He loved them with infinite divine love when they got tired, or confused, or out-of-sorts. If they got cold on a chilly morning, or sweated under the hot sun, He shared that with them. And loved them in the chill, or in the heat, with the infinite love of Almighty God.
He also gave them His doctrine. He taught them about God, religion, and human virtue. Through Jesus’ teaching, the Apostles came to grasp the mystery of faith. The Messiah had come—God Himself became man. He came to suffer, die, and conquer death. He came to open heaven, to unite earth and heaven, and to unite the human race. Jesus instructed the Apostles in their mission, which they ultimately came to understand.
The Lord also gave the Apostles each other. He formed them into a unique “social network.” (Again, the phrase falls woefully short.) They learned to love Him, and each other, more than anything–more than their bodily survival.
After all: Together, they saw Him risen from the dead. That experience united the Apostles with a bond immeasurably stronger even than the marriage bond of husband and wife; stronger than the family bond of parents and children, or brothers and sisters. The Lord united the Apostles, bound them to each other, with a truly heavenly, eternal bond.
And, of course, above all: Jesus gave the Apostles Himself. He gave them His Body, Blood, soul, and divinity. He made them priests of His holy mystery, priests of His divine flesh and blood.
Maybe in a hundred years the hierarchy will have somehow gotten transformed into a fundamentally sound organization of honest men. After all, it has been such an organization, at various points in the past. Let’s try to do all we can to hasten the day when it is such again.
But all of that is merely a problem of contemporary Church politics. None of it nullifies the gifts that the Lord gave to the Apostles. By His grace, those gifts endure, and we have access to them. Jesus gave His gifts of divine love to the Apostles so that we could have them, too.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God, my Savior… He has looked with favor on His lowly servant… The Almighty has done great things for me; holy is His name. He has mercy on those who fear Him. He has scattered the proud and lifted up the lowly… He has remembered His promise of mercy.
Who said these words? The immaculate Virgin, paragon of all virtues. The Queen of all the saints. Holier than the highest angels. She exalts only God. She recognizes: Goodness, soundness, righteousness–it comes from God. Justice is God’s. [Spanish]
The gospel passage for Sunday Mass cuts very close to home. Two men went up to the Temple. To God’s house, where priests offered sacrifice on the altar. The special building for prayer and communion with the Almighty.
Sounds like church. Sounds like us. The passage could just as easily read: “Two people went to Mass to pray.”
We read: One was a Pharisee. The other a tax collector.
The Pharisees. They knew the ancient Scriptures. Honest Pharisees obeyed them—or at least tried to. The good Pharisees lived for the God of Abraham, longing to keep His commandments and please Him in every way.
Even though they couldn’t exactly keep every commandment. Since the practical circumstances had changed significantly since the Law of Moses was originally written down.
Since Moses’ time, the Temple had been built, then destroyed, then re-built, then desecrated, then re-consecrated. The Hebrews had captured Jerusalem, lost it, re-taken it, then lost it again. The nation had united under one king, then divided under two, then gotten exiled, then restored, then conquered, then partially restored—under a half-Jewish monarch. Who then died, and his children divided up the kingdom, as clients of the Roman emperor.
All the Jews didn’t live near Jerusalem anymore, or even in the Holy Land. Moses never wrote anything about synagogues. Or about Pharisees or rabbis, for that matter. The Pharisees were trying to make ancient Judaism coherent in the cosmopolitan Roman empire.
Tax collectors, on the other hand, lived in a different “psychological space,” so to speak. Pharisees and zealots regarded tax collectors as totally compromised, as traitors.
But the tax collectors probably thought: “Okay, fair enough. Compromised, yes. We have divided loyalties. But don’t we all really? This is the world we live in. The Romans may be foreigners and pagans. But they know how to build aqueducts and keep the peace.”
So maybe we could say: Two people came to Mass to pray. An abstract-minded purist. And a compromised realist. Both came to Mass to commune with the one, true God, Who transcends everything earthly.
One of them prayed honestly; the other did not.
The one saw compromises everywhere, except in himself. “Gosh, all these other people fudge the truth, and long only to fill their bellies, and can’t keep their marital commitments. Thank You, God, that I am not like them! By following some key parts of Your Law, I maintain pure righteousness!”
The Lord might reasonably have asked the Pharisee: “Why did you come up to the Temple in the first place, My child? Did you think I needed you to inform Me, regarding your virtues?
“Do I not see all and know all? Did I not give you clarity and strength of will, in the first place, to enable you to remain faithful in marriage? Have I not given you enough wealth that you can tithe without feeling any pinch? Do you not understand that without My generous blessings, you would be a million times worse than the most-depraved tax-collector? And that, without the economic benefit of the Roman Empire, you would right now be cursing me like Job?”
Meanwhile, the practical realist, compromised as he was, managed an honest prayer.
“O great and mysterious God, behold a compromised man among compromised men. Have mercy on me. Have mercy on us. You are great; we are not. Have mercy. We don’t deserve Your blessings. But keep them coming another day, anyway—if it be Your will.”
Of the two men in the Temple, who prayed more like Abraham? Or more like the holy Virgin? Who saw the world according to the wisdom of the cross?
He loves us this much. We are this bad. This is what we deserve, to die with nothing. He took it upon Himself, for us. We are unworthy sinners, whom God loves out of pure kindness. May He have mercy on us. To Him be all the glory.
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (Luke 12:51)
Every time we read this verse, it comes as a surprise. (Except for the subsequent part about strife between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.)
Since we know that: Lord Jesus came to unite the human race. In the Holy Spirit. Divine love unites all Christians, in Jesus’ Church.
But the path to unity goes by way of extreme solitude. Jesus suffered alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. He died alone, just like every human being must die alone. We reach unity with God in Christ and His Holy Church by way of: the utter solitude of death.
Which means we can never try to domesticate or render saccharine the mysterious unity of Christ’s Church. Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani said it, at Vatican II, after another Council father had given a speech about the “collegiality of bishops.” Ottaviani pointed out: The New Testament records one instance when Christ’s disciples acted in complete unison. When the Lord was arrested, they all fled. (Matthew 26:56)
But the Christ’s mission did not end with His solitary death. He rose in the flesh. His risen flesh unites us. What we have to do is: believe.
If the master of the house had known the hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. (Luke 12:39)
Everyone paid attention to the videos from Rome? Maybe someday our personal responses to this question will define us: Where did you stand, when they threw Pachamama in the Tiber?
But I would rather recount a conversation I had with a Mohawk man. On the Appalachian Trail, a few years ago. He’s a Christian, an Assembly of God preacher. We fell in with each other for a long stretch of walking and talking. He wound up spending a few days praying at St. Andrew’s in Roanoke, Virginia, then continued his journeys.
To generalize about “native American spirituality” or “Amazonian spirituality”—doesn’t seem like a good idea at all. You really can’t generalize, any more than you could generalize about “European spirituality” or “the spirituality of the Indian sub-continent.”
But can’t we say this: All orthodox Catholics, and most native Americans, of north and south, have something in common. We all acknowledge that the human race does not possess the greatest intelligence that exists. We God-fearing people revere the infinitely superior intelligence of our Creator, and the immeasurably superior intelligence of the angels, the non-material spirits–some of which are good, some of which are evil.
Therefore we orthodox Catholics and native Americans also share this understanding: the Creator has endowed His material creation with an inherent order—and that order also surpasses our intelligence.
Not that we Catholics would say that trees, deer, and rivers have “minds.” But we recognize, along with native Americans, that Mother Nature possesses this endowment of organization, unity, and co-operation. Mankind forms but a part of this.
We human beings have a unique role—but not the role of mastermind. We must humbly respect the mystery of Mother Nature’s inner-connectedness; we must seek to co-operate with it ourselves; we cannot presume to understand it completely.
So, my point is: Why would we fight among ourselves, we God-fearing people who respect the Creator’s higher intelligence? When we not only have such crucial presuppositions in common, but also clearly face a common foe.
Namely, the school of willful blindness to the inherently religious dimension of human life. The technocracy. The oligarchy of materialists. That rejects prayer and sacraments as merely projections of inner psychological confusion. That prizes only bodily comfort. That cannot conceive of our human mission to co-operate humbly with God and His laws.
I didn’t just make up this take on the problem, during a walk in the woods with an Indian. This is a thesis that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict both embraced, as we can see in the citations in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’.
A non-Christian native American who reveres the inner mystery of Mother Nature has more in common with us orthodox Catholics than the people who run the world right now. Who know no gods other than man and money.
I heard a debate in which a semi-famous atheist criticized Christianity’s idea of “vicarious redemption.” I am a sinner, guilty of offending God. Christ suffered for me, to free me from guilt. The atheist called that “an evasion of personal responsibility.”
I think we can see the point. A parent would not accept “vicarious redemption” for one child’s wrongdoing by punishing a different, innocent child. ‘Johnny stole the cookie from the jar. I’ll make it right by punishing Lisa.’
No. If that’s what Christ suffering for me means, then we can see why people might reject the idea. Salvation in Christ cannot simply mean putting my responsibility for myself on someone else’s shoulders. That would mean forfeiting my status as a mature human being.
But there’s a flaw in the atheist’s concept of ‘personal responsibility.’ Actually two flaws. Plus the atheist has misunderstood the relationship between the Savior and the saved. First the two flaws in the atheist’s idea of ‘personal responsibility.’
1. For me to acknowledge—humbly, honestly, and freely—that I am a sinner: that is true ‘personal responsibility.’ Because it’s the evident fact of the case. I am a sinner.
The alternative—for me to maintain that I have the innate capacity for moral perfection—that would be an act of great irresponsibility on my part. Cause it ain’t so. No one walking around right now has the innate capacity for moral perfection. Not even Greta Thunberg. No one over the age of seven can claim never to have done anyone wrong.
2. So we take true personal responsibility not by imagining ourselves better, or more morally powerful, than we are. Rather we take personal responsibility by owning our weakness. Which means that, if we had no Savior, personal responsibility would necessarily entail despair.
Because we all want to be good, righteous, just—at least in some way. Everyone has a conscience. Personally responsible people admit: I am not the person I want to be. I have good moments, but plenty of bad ones, too. I have failed to live up to my own ideals.
Personal responsibility would end there, in hopeless disappointment—if we had no Savior.
Which brings us to the second flaw in the atheist’s attack. Namely, his failure to grasp the union between Christ and the Christian.
Yes, I have no hope of living at peace with my conscience without believing in and trusting Christ my Savior. Left to myself, I’m lost. Same goes for all of us.
But the Lord did not save us by offering Himself as a “scapegoat.” He saves us by: Uniting Himself with us. He does not justify us “vicariously.” His perfect justice—the eternal love of the Son for the Father, offered by our brother Jesus on the cross—that justice, that holy righteousness: it becomes truly mine, truly ours, by faith and the grace of the sacraments.
Because He lives unto the eternal Father, so do we. Because He loves purely, so do we. We have no innate capacity for moral perfection. We have the grace of Christ at work in us.
When the Son of Man comes, will He find justice on earth? Will he find the virtuous fairly rewarded and criminals punished proportionately for their crimes? Will He find the world’s goods equitably distributed among honest people living in harmony? Will He find people communicating discreetly, giving each other the benefit of the doubt, working out their problems gently, helping each other generously, rising above petty antagonisms with serene mutual respect? Will He find all this when He comes again? [Spanish]
The judge owed her a hearing. He owed her an investigation into the facts. He owed her his labor as an agent of justice. Why, after all, would we have judges in the first place, if they don’t hold hearings, investigate facts, apply laws, and render just verdicts?
But this judge would not. He wasn’t ashamed to admit to himself that he had no principles. Maybe a powerful friend appointed him a judge as a personal favor, even though he had no intention whatsoever of fulfilling his duties. Or maybe he had grown slothful over a long career of frustrating failure. Maybe he started out as an enterprising young idealist. But year after year, he heard witnesses lie. Year after year, he tried to apply laws fairly, only to have the politicians change the laws for the benefit of cronies. Maybe, year after year, real justice eluded his grasp. So he gave up. Maybe that’s what happened.
Either way–either from the beginning, or after much disappointment—this judge had grown lazy, lazy to the bone.
So the dramatic confrontation ensued. The widow presents her claim. The judge ignores her suit. She grows angry. He ignores her some more. She seethes with righteous indignation. She brandishes her walker. ‘Your Honor, either you hold a hearing, as the law requires, or I will give you two black eyes, so help me God.’
Jaded and cynical and checked-out as he is, the judge knows that the widow has a right to be angry. He knows that people should not defraud widows, and if they do, they should have to answer for it. The judge hardly believes in justice on earth anymore—if he ever did—but he knows that man’s desire for justice, man’s desire for truth—he knows that these desires will never vanish from the human soul. So he has to do something for this widow, or she will break one of his kneecaps with her cane.
One school of 20th-century agnosticism held that you couldn’t believe in God, because there’s too much injustice on earth. What kind of God would allow it? But, on the other hand, the same school of thought also held that you couldn’t reject the existence of God, either. Because if you did, you would try to establish perfect justice by human means alone. And trying to do that, history has shown, only makes things worse. The most cold-blooded murderer is the atheist bent on establishing the perfect human society.
The answer to this righteous agnosticism is our faith in Christ’s Final Judgment. We do not believe in some vague god who ignores all the injustice on earth. We believe in Christ crucified, crucified for the sins of mankind. And we believe that He—the crucified Christ, the truly innocent and righteous One Who suffered for us—we believe that He will come again and set everything to rights.
This innocent sufferer [Jesus Christ] has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive. There is a resurrection of the flesh. There is justice. There is an ‘undoing’ of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright. For this reason, faith in the Last Judgment is first and foremost hope.
The question of justice constitutes the strongest argument in favor of faith in eternal life. In connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word, the necessity for Christ’s return becomes fully convincing.
If Christ is not coming again, then when will our desire for justice get satisfied? When will all the wrongs get righted? And if He will not come, then why bother trying to do right in the meantime? If Christ does not bring justice, then no one ever will, because our human attempts always fall short.
But He is coming again. That’s not really in question. The question is: When He comes, will He find us praying and hoping, longing for justice, like the widow who never gave up?
Anything about the Visitation. The Canticle of Zechariah. The Magnificat.
Anything about the shepherds on Christmas Eve. Which means we wouldn’t have the Gloria, which we sing at every Sunday Mass and feast day.
Anything about the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The Canticle of Simeon, “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace…”
Anything about Mary and Joseph finding Jesus in the Temple at age twelve. In other words, without St. Luke’s gospel, we simply wouldn’t have the Holy Rosary, as we know it.
We wouldn’t know anything about the healing of the ten lepers, which we heard about at Mass this past Sunday. Or anything about the raising of the widow of Nain’s son from the dead. Or about a bunch of other miracles Jesus did.
We wouldn’t know that contemplative Mary had chosen the better part than busy Martha.
We wouldn’t know the parable of the Good Samaritan. Or the parable of the Prodigal Son. Or a bunch of other parables.
We wouldn’t know that Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah about the Paschal Mystery, during the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.
We wouldn’t know that the women of Jerusalem wept beside the Way of the Cross.
Or about the repentant criminal beside Jesus.
Or that Jesus cried out, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit,” before He died.
Or about the Lord appearing on Easter Sunday to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
I’ll stop at twelve, in honor of the twelve Apostles. But there are, in fact, many other details of the life of the Savior—details that we know, that we take for granted that we know—details which we have learned one way, and only one way. Because St. Luke wrote them down for us.
(And we’re not even getting into the fact that we know about Pentecost, and St. Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, and St. Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin, and the first Christian martyrdoms, and St. Paul’s conversion, and St. Paul’s sermon in Athens, and the Council of Jerusalem, and St. Paul’s heroic deeds and explanation of his life–and everything else written in the Acts of the Apostles—we know all that, only because St. Luke wrote it down for us.)
The four holy Evangelists get a unique place of honor in the artwork of many of the most beautiful churches on earth. Everyone know this? The four evangelists hold up the roof and dome of the church, so to speak. Their symbols adorn the tops of the four central columns of traditional cruciform churches.
A unique place of honor. They deserve it. St. Luke deserves it.