Words of St. Francis

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St. Francis’ brief Rule of Life contains sage advice:

I admonish and exhort the brothers that, in their preaching, their words be well chosen and chaste…speaking to the people of vices and virtues, punishment and glory in a discourse that is brief, because it was in a few words that the Lord preached when on earth.

Speaking of the Lord’s words: He sent out his 72 missionaries. The Rule of St. Francis quotes liberally from Christ’s missionary instructions. Since the Way of St. Francis consists simply in following them. Sell what you have, give it to the poor. And come follow Me.

“Carry no money bag.” “Wherever they welcome you, say ‘Peace to this household,’ and eat what is set before you.” Have nothing, except the Gospel. Live as heirs to the Kingdom of heaven.

St. Francis died 794 years ago yesterday. Among his dying words:

Above everything else, I want the most holy Sacrament to be honored and venerated.

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Mafiosi Run our Church: the Evidence

 

goodfellas

Let’s start with this fact:

Well over two months ago, on July 19, a man named James summoned the clarity and courage to accuse then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of long-term, life-destroying psychological and sexual abuse.

If our church did not have mafiosi running the show, what would have happened next? Church authorities would have moved forward immediately with a case against McCarrick. We would quickly have seen the law applied, in the open light of day.

Which law, or laws? The First Commandment, which requires clergymen to keep their vows. The Sixth Commandment, which forbids sex outside of marriage. And the law of nature, which prohibits genital contact between members of the same sex, and gravely forbids sex with immature persons.

Let’s imagine a group of honest people who at some point worked closely with McCarrick. Once that theoretical group of honest people became aware of the gravity of what McCarrick had done, you would think they would begin to clamor relentlessly for an open trial.

Because they would recognize that they need one, to clear themselves from any guilt by association. It’s not fair for people to assume that anyone who worked closely with McCarrick shares in his guilt. But people will assume as much, unfair at it may be.

So the honest people who worked closely with McCarrick would naturally insist on total institution transparency in this matter, with due provision made for the privacy of innocent parties. The honest people would shout for that, even if it meant challenging higher authorities openly.

But where is that clamor? I hear a lot of crickets. So apparently there weren’t any honest people who worked closely with McCarrick. Just fellow mafiosi.

More evidence: No Church official has so much as clearly identified the laws which McCarrick appears to have broken. The application of those laws to this case would require the disclosure of many facts. The mafiosi who run our church have many of those facts in their possession. They don’t want those facts disclosed. So they blow smokescreens.

godfather

Little by little over the course of the past two months, other people who have some of those facts have found the courage to make them public. The former priest who, in 2005, settled a case against McCarrick (and two other abusers) spoke recently to a reporter for the second time. The reporter has published a story revealing new information about that settlement.

But many questions obviously remain. Who, among the clergy, or among the lay employees of the various dioceses (and the Vatican) knew about the settlements involving McCarrick? No churchman has clearly answered this question; instead, the dioceses involved continue to stonewall, as the article cited above makes perfectly clear.

There are lawyers who worked for the dioceses, helping them to arrive at the McCarrick settlements. Those lawyers know important information. The dioceses involved could authorize those lawyers to make all the information touching McCarrick public, so that it could become part of the record. For the sake of an open trial, in which McCarrick would face justice for his crimes.

But the dioceses have not done anything like that. The Vatican has not done anything like that. Why? Because ecclesiastical mafiosi run these institutions.

Let’s remember: If we had only the mafiosi who run the church to rely on for information, we would know practically nothing about any of this. McCarrick’s victims have had the courage to go on the record and have spoken to reprorters. Thanks to them, some of the truth has come out. Meanwhile, the mafiosi who run the church would rather we were still dumb sheep living in a cloudy darkness.

mccarrickAnother question: Does McCarrick admit wrongdoing? Again, if our church were not run by mafiosi, we would know the answer to that question. McCarrick would have faced an open indictment by now, and we would know his answer.

But, as it is, all we know on this subject is: McCarrick’s lawyer says that the accused looks forward to his opportunity to contest the charges against him. Which, as we know, is what mob lawyers always say.

Because I have an old friendship with a mid-level mafioso who has spoken recently to McCarrick, I can tell you, dear reader: McCarrick is unrepentant. He admits nothing. On June 20, the pope ordered the then-Cardinal to ‘a life of prayer and penance.’ But McCarrick repents of nothing. So that ‘order’ of the pope’s is a joke. A joke at our expense.

Let’s give the devil his due: Why should McCarrick repent? No one to whom he must answer has so much as confronted him with the charges. No judge has found him guilty of anything. Right now he can reasonably tell himself that he sits on the sidelines only because of an administrative process. He can think to himself: They are wronging me by not giving me the opportunity to prove my innocence. And he would be right.

…I don’t know if last week’s Senate hearings involved a ‘con job,’ as Judge Kavanaugh and President Trump put it. Looked to me more like an open forum in which two people had the opportunity to give their version of events. Maybe it was a divisive political circus. But it has brought us a million times closer to the truth about Dr. Blasey Ford’s charges than we are to a full reckoning of the charges against Theodore McCarrick. The U.S. Senate, politically divided as it may be, makes the hierarchy of the Catholic Church look like…the mafia, by comparison.

So, as I said, the Senate hearing didn’t look like a con job on the American people to me. But the mafiosi running the church are certainly in the process of pulling a con job on us U.S. Catholics. Conning us into forgetting that the task of arriving at justice in the case of Theodore McCarrick belongs to them. They have the information. They have the jurisdiction. They have the duty to apply the applicable laws. No one else does.

James’ charges against McCarrick remain unanswered. Countless facts about McCarrick’s predations remain undisclosed. So far as we know, no one has so much as confronted the man with the full extent of the accusations against him. He has not received even the opportunity to repent. Justice remains undone.

Why? Because mafiosi run our church.

A Welcome Oasis

st_therese_of_lisieux

We look around for some solid place to stand. We have a hard time finding one.

But of some things we can be sure:

St. Therese of Lisieux died 121 years ago yesterday. There is absolutely no chance that she ever got drunk in high school. Or that she ever falsely accused someone of getting drunk in high school.

There is no chance that St. Therese ever promoted to a higher position a miscreant who belonged in jail. Or that she ever had political motives in accusing a superior of a cover-up.

St. Therese certainly never turned a deaf ear to someone crying out for help. There is no doubt whatsoever that she kept the confidences entrusted to her; she never leaked anything to the press.

She never had worldly ambitions that blinded her to right and wrong. She never moralized at the expense of human sympathy. She never hedged her bets and waited for the next news cycle, in the hopes that her difficulties would drop off the radar, so she could pretend they didn’t exist.

She never got grandiose. She never got belligerent. She never got overly technical. She never cared about anything, except honestly loving Jesus and the people around her.

She wasn’t born perfect. But she preserved the purity of her heart from childhood to death. She had a powerful, precise, inquiring mind. She was a Little Flower with the courage to stride out alone into the dark night of the soul. She believed, through the bitterest physical and spiritual sufferings.

And she is real. She lived in rural France, died at age 24 of tuberculosis, and went to heaven. She is no plaster statue. Her glorified soul offers us a bona fide spiritual oasis.

We need one. We might doubt whether Lord Jesus will find any faith on earth when He comes. But when we think about St. Therese: we can hope that, indeed, He will. A lot of faith–hidden in millions and millions and millions of little corners.

Click here to read Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter proclaiming St. Therese a Doctor of the Universal Church

 

How We Know There’s A Heaven and Hell

Anyone who gives you a cup of cold water to drink will not lose his reward. (Mark 9:41) The reward for humble divine love: Heaven. [Spanish]

Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God than to be thrown into Gehenna. Where the worm of conscience never dies and the fire never goes out. (Mark 9:43) That would be… H. E. double hockey sticks.

Who taught the human race about heaven and hell? Were we born knowing about heaven and hell?

First, this question: How do we know that bodily death doesn’t just mean: The End. How do we know that our souls have an eternal destiny, be it good or evil? How do we know that our souls are immortal?

TitanicWe know for a fact that our souls are immortal for a very simple reason. There’s nothing, other than God, that can destroy a human soul.

Yes, an iceberg can sink a huge ship, like the Titanic. Yes, a flash flood can turn a four-lane highway into a moonscape of potholes the size of pickup trucks. Yes, a teething puppy can turn a new pair of gym shoes into some very expensive dog bones.

But no known force can destroy the spiritual reality of knowledge and free will that animates the human body. We are obviously more than just a delicate chemical balance of elements. We do things like: Shout out the answers during Jeopardy! And propose marriage. And pray for our beloved dead, memorializing them with stones and monuments.

None of this would make any sense at all, if we were just over-grown orangutans. No: the spiritual dimension of our lives gives definitive evidence that we have a higher calling. To live eternally in communion with everything true and good. In other words, we certainly have immortal souls.

So: Were we born knowing that an immortal soul can suffer punishment forever in hell?

I would say: We kind of were born knowing that. We naturally fear the prospect of offending the all-powerful Creator. And we naturally fear death. Not because we fear “nothingness;” nothingness is nothing to fear. What we fear is: an unknown somethingness that involves just punishment.

But our natural fear of sin and death is vague. Most of the precise stuff we know about hell comes from the great teacher and preacher of hell in the Bible. The biblical figure who talked about hell the most.

The prophet Ezekiel? Elijah? Job? Certainly someone from the Old Testament? No. Line for line, verse for verse, the #1 Hell Preacher in the Holy Bible is… Jesus of Nazareth.

heavenstair“Enter through the narrow gate. Because the way is wide that leads to destruction.” “Just as weeds are gathered up and burned, so will it be at the end of the world.” “Do not be afraid of the one who can kill the body, but not the soul. Rather, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” There’s a lot more, in the four holy gospels.

But before we get freaked-out: The Lord Jesus’ teaching about hell is so stark and precise because hell is hell compared to heaven. Jesus fundamentally came to the earth for one reason: To offer us heaven.

Jesus is Himself heaven. He is the eternal Light, the eternal Beauty. He united the Undying Glory to the human race, in Himself. In the holy… Incarnation.

Some non-Christians object to our doctrines of heaven and hell on the grounds that we unfairly teach that only Christians go to heaven. In point of fact, we don’t teach that. We believe that God offers heaven to everybody.

But we do teach: Only Jesus Christ offers heaven, because only Jesus Christ is heaven. Heaven is something so unimaginably wonderful that only the Incarnation could have given the human race the idea.

The eternal Father has prepared this kingdom–Jesus’ Heart. Where every tear will be wiped away. And, as we read in the Sunday-Mass gospel passage, it comes as a “reward.”

Now, without the saving sacrifice of Christ, we could never hope to receive such a reward. But since He offered Himself for us as a living Lamb that constantly gives forth life, we can not only hope for the reward of heaven, we can actually do things that harmonize with Christ’s love and thereby draw us closer to heaven.

Things like giving a cup of cold water to an honest thirsty pilgrim. As we talked about last week: God, in His humility, reconciled us to Himself as one of us. So when we see someone thirsty, we know it’s Him, giving us a chance to love. When we see someone suffering, someone struggling, someone spiritually at sea: we know it’s Him, beckoning us to love.

We have immortal souls. We fear eternal damnation. We hope for everlasting happiness. We love our way there.

I Stopped Believing Him…

…when he wouldn’t answer the question: “How many beers is too many?”

A hostile Democratic Senator had not asked him this question. Rather, the Arizona prosecutor deputized by the Republicans asked, “How many beers is too many?”

The appropriate answer is a number. Three. Maybe four–for a big guy.

Judge Kavanaugh said: ” I don’t know. You know, we — whatever the chart says, a blood-alcohol chart.”

Every young person on earth needs to hear a clear and decisive answer to such a question. Three is too many. We need to hear it especially from someone sitting where Brett Kavanaugh sat at that moment.

…I have prayed for the end of Roe v. Wade every day for twenty-five years. This has nothing to do with politics. I am simply imagining myself in Twelve Angry Men. We just finished listening to the witnesses. And we now find ourselves in the jury room.

She told the truth.

He lives in terror–that he might actually have done it. He can’t remember, because he drank way too much in those days.

The irony is, both of these following sentences are true:

1. Brett Kavanaugh is a basically decent man who doesn’t deserve what he is going through right now.

2. He is guilty of the charge.

When I say that he doesn’t deserve what he is going through right now, I mean:

He deserved a long talk with a police officer and at least one night in jail. He deserved to sit beside his dad in the car, as they drove over to the young lady’s house, for him to apologize personally. Then ask her what he could do to make it up to her. Then give her time to think about it. Then do whatever she asked.

He deserved to have his father tell him that he could not play football that fall, that he was grounded for a year. And that if caught with a beer in his hands, he was going to rehab.

(And of course: Confession and penance at Little Flower.)

Then, by February, the whole thing might have been behind them all. Not that I am blaming her for not saying anything at the time. God knows it took guts for her to say it now.

If he would just admit: It might very well be true. And I’m sorry, and that isn’t really me–redemption is close at hand. And he can join in praying for the next pro-life nominee. And find some peace.

…Let’s not forget that dudette nailed this “#MeToo” thing back in ’02, long before there were such things as hashtags.

Carthusian Graces

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The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear satisfied with hearing. (Ecclesiastes 1:8)

Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. (Luke 9:9)

We find no full satisfaction for our eyes and our ears in this world. So we have to try to see Christ, the eternal Son of God.

Anyone know about the Carthusians? They live this. Live for God only. Live by faith only.

They don’t listen to the radio; they listen to the night crickets and the breeze through the leaves. They don’t watch tv. They watch the sky, the Cross, the tabernacle. They have no internet connection; they connect themselves with all humanity, living and dead, by the social network called the Sacred Liturgy of the Church.

They have never heard of Christine Blasey Ford or Brett Kavenaugh. Though we can be sure that the rule of law would collapse altogether if there were no Carthusians in this world, praying quietly in all the hidden corners where they live. There would be no justice at all, if the spiritual Carthusians were not praying constantly.

On the cross, Jesus Christ won the grace of conversion for every human being. What is the ‘grace of conversion’? Some ineffable interior touch from heaven that makes a human soul turn away from evil and live for God. We won’t understand the limitless divine love involved in this until we get to heaven. In the meantime, we know about it—we know about the hidden mystery of friendship between God and man—by faith in Christ crucified.

sacred-heart-crossIn June we learned about a man that former-Cardinal McCarrick had abused sexually while the man was a teenager. We have learned a lot more horrible things since then. But let’s focus for a moment just on that one man, whose name is Mike.

He had to live for decades watching the priest who abused him in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s cathedral. Watching him rise through the ranks of the Church. He had to watch that very priest serve as spokesman for the US Catholic Church during the sex-abuse scandal that occurred sixteen years ago.

Let’s just try to imagine the miraculous grace of conversion that heaven would have to send to help Mike. To help his spiritual vision penetrate through all this utterly unbelievable hypocrisy and corruption and still see Jesus Christ living, working, helping, and saving souls in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

Lord: Is there enough grace in heaven for this? Help us!

Well, we know there is enough grace in the infinite treasury of the good God. And we know that a true spiritual Carthusian can win a grace like that for another soul. A true spiritual Carthusian can win a grace like that for another soul every day, before breakfast. (Breakfast of bread and water.)

This is what brotherly love demands of us right now. To live and die winning graces like that, for people like Mike.

Holy Father on the Cardinal-Wuerl Train

Donald Cardinal Wuerl, to Tom Fitzgerald of Fox 5, August 15:

“How we dealt with things in the late 80’s/early 90’s is different from the way we would today.”

Mr. Fitzgerald reacted with earnest disbelief. “What could possibly ‘evolve’ about child sexual abuse?!”

Three weeks later, Cardinal Wuerl realized he had no future as the Archbishop of Washington.

Pope Francis gave a press conference on the papal plane yesterday. The National Catholic Reporter (an avowedly liberal publication) notes:

“Journalists aboard the flight from Estonia had planned to ask Francis again about Viganò’s claims [that Pope Francis knew about McCarrick’s abuses since 2013], but were unable to after the pope suspended taking questions outside the scope of the trip.”

Shepherd One
Shepherd One

The pope did, however, say this:

“I take the Pennsylvania report, for example, and we see that the first 70 years there were so many priests that fell into this corruption, then in more recent times it has diminished, because the Church noticed that it needed to fight it in another way. In the old times these things were covered up, they even covered them up at home, when the uncle was molesting the niece, when the dad was molesting his sons, they covered it up because it was a very big disgrace… it was the way of thinking in previous times or of the past time. It is a principle that helps me to interpret history a lot.

“A historic event is interpreted with the hermeneutic of the time period in which it took place, not as a hermeneutic of today passed on. For example, the example of indigenous people, that there were so many injustices, so much brutality, but it cannot be interpreted with the hermeneutic of today [now] that we have another conscience. A last example, the death penalty. The Vatican, when it was a State, a pontifical State, had the death penalty. In the end the state decapitations were 1870 more or less, a guy, but then the moral conscience grew, it is true that always there were loopholes and there were hidden death sentences. You are old, you are an inconvenience, I do not give you the medicine, it went so… it is a condemnation to social death. And about today… I believe with this I have responded.”

We regret that…

a. The reader finds it hard to make any sense out of this.

b. Morals are historically relative? So slavery was okay before, but not now? Where did the early abolitionists get their ideas? Were they wrong, since, at that time, slavery was okay? Was abortion wrong before, then it became okay, and someday it will be not-okay again?

c. To quote Tom Fitzgerald: “What could possibly ‘evolve’ when it comes to child sexual abuse?!”

d. I think the Viewers at Home watching the Cardinal-Wuerl interview of August 15 wound up believing: this man is not honest. Yesterday Pope Francis punched a ticket on the same train.

Diocletian Persecution and Donatism

[WARNING: High-level difficulty quiz. Might need a Catholic Encycolpedia]

Cosmas Damian apse
mosaic depicting Sts Peter and Paul ushering Sts. Cosmas and Damien into heaven

Today, at the altar, we remember the martyrs Cosmas and Damien, who went to their deaths during the persecution of the Emperor…

Diocletian.

Ironically enough, Diocletian appears to have ordered the persecution precisely because he had such piety. As a pagan.

He believed that the Roman Empire would thrive if everyone participated in the cult of the gods, and that the empire would collapse if they did not.

What provoked the crisis was the emperor styling himself as divine, according to the pagan system. Christians soldiers then refused to wear their insignia, because it depicted the emperor as a god. And they refused to take their oaths, because it referred to the emperor as a god.

From that starting point, widespread hideous cruelties against Christians began. The pope was martyred, and the Church couldn’t elect a successor for… how long? Three years. Countless bishops and clergymen were martyred for refusing to hand over the Scriptures for desecration.

This gave rise to which heresy and schism? …Donatist.

Some sly bishops tricked their way out of getting martyred by handing over heretical, non-canonical Scriptures, instead of actual Bible books. The pagan authorities didn’t know the difference, and those bishops squeaked through.

After the persecution finally ended, the Donatists denied the validity of the ordination of the bishops who tricked their way through. The Donatists insisted that if they were real priests, they would have willingly gone to their deaths.

The schism lasted for over 100 years. To finally resolve the issue, it took someone as clever and enterprising as…?

St. Augustine.

A couple morals of this little story

1. We can’t worship the President of the US, or any political leader—or even religious leader. He may be right or wrong about this or that, just like all fallible human beings. We fallible human beings help each other stay honest by challenging assertions that appear to be wrong. (Only exception: Pope of Rome speaking ex cathedra on faith or morals.)

And Moral of the Story #2. We have had big, confusing, painful messes in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church before. And, by God’s grace, we managed to survive.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 20, and Nikko Lane at OnePeterFive

To Kill a Mockingbird Jem Scout Dill

Three children have snuck into the Maycomb, Alabama, county courthouse to hear a trial. The children of the defense attorney, Scout and Jem, and their friend Dill. They sit in the “colored” balcony, because they’re not supposed to be there. It’s too ‘grown-up’ for them.

The accused is black, and everyone but the children know that he will not get justice. At one point during the trial, while the prosecutor cross examines the defendant, something in eight-year-old Dill begins to realize: the truth doesn’t matter in this courthouse. He starts crying. Jem and Scout take him outside for a breather.

A town fixture named Dolphus Raymond sits outside the courthouse, drinking from a bottle in a paper bag. He tries to comfort Dill. “He’s crying because the world hasn’t gotten a hold of him and made him blind to its meanness.”

Raymond offers Dill a sip from the bottle to calm his nerves. Jem and Scout are horrified at first, but turns out: it’s not whiskey. It’s just Coke.

…That’s us, those kids. Sitting outside the courthouse. They went inside to hear their father do his work. They assumed that all the people running things there were basically honest. It had never occurred to them that there are such things as corrupt judges and county prosecutors. Just like we sons and daughters of the Catholic Church assumed. Until the summer of 2018.

Now we’re sitting outside the courthouse in a daze, trying to dry our tears.

We, too, need a little sip of Coke. Here’s one. Excerpts from an article called “The Laity Action Plan for Our Dark Times.”

*

The pope has no answers for us. Do we really need them at this point?

The bishops he has promoted defend him and continually deflect public attention away from him and his camp. And what do we lay faithful do? We sit, we worry, we ruminate, we pray.

Is this enough?

With the hierarchy covering for themselves and their allies amid this scandal and the lower clergy without the power to implement change in this present pontifical climate, our Church leaders remain static. It seems the Church, like its lay members, as an institution (innocently and guiltily), is stalling, waiting for change to occur with a pope who has given no indication of making changes and reforms, no indication of admitting fault, no indication of stepping down.

Let us not forget what started all of this: sexual abuse of minors, adolescents, and adults alike by clergymen and the continued cover-up from the lowest to the highest levels of the Church. These victims call for us to break the static, even when it is apparent that Francis and company have no intention of acting on anyone’s behalf but their own.

Being the voice of Jesus Christ’s Church when society will call you crazy is what sainthood is all about… This is especially true in light of the scandal: when the Church’s leadership are outed as perpetrators of injustices against the people, the Church will require strong, saintly lay defenders of the faith moving forward.

The best way to seek our Lord’s consolation is by getting back to the basics of our faith. Attending daily Masses on a regular basis, spending time in adoration with the Blessed Sacrament, and engaging regularly with a confessor in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation are all wonderful ways we can return to what makes us Catholic – and thus seek the solace we so desperately need as His damaged but unbroken Church.

Let’s reclaim our place in the Church as its driving force. This starts with the seemingly mundane, daily activities we can take part in in our local parishes. Be a strong leader of your parish. Get involved. Join councils and committees at your parishes and in your dioceses. Be the support the victims in our own communities need.

The strength of our Church as a whole starts with you. It starts at home.

What does this have to do with the scandals we face today, right now? Pope Francis calls us as lay Catholics to lead the Church out of a scandal that he refuses to face. So be it. This is how we lead.

While the response by the Church’s leadership has been unacceptable up until now, Pope Francis may get what he asks for. He calls us to take this scandal into our own hands. Through his inaction and silence, he may be inadvertently provoking us to do just that. Take Pope Francis’s influence for what you will, but the lay faithful will be the force the Church needs to overcome this dark time. These initiatives – fervent prayer; a desire to defend Church doctrine, tradition, and values; and enabling ourselves to lead our Church on our local levels – may seem small, but the Lord moves mountains with our small actions.

Mother Teresa put it wonderfully: “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” That’s what our Church needs right now. That is what we can do.

Immediate Love

Say not to your neighbor, “Tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once. (Proverbs 3:28)

sacredheartHe does not delay in giving, Almighty God. He gives the morning every morning, first thing in the morning. He makes the songbirds sing. He keeps the earth under our feet, air in our lungs, and His Body, Blood, soul, and divinity in our tabernacles.

He never delays. He gives what He has to give right now, and what He has to give is everything. He loves infinitely right now. Always.

How can we keep up with that? After all, we don’t have that kind of immediacy of love. As St. Stephen put it, in his speech to the Sanhedrin, in the early days of the Church: We have uncircumcised hearts and ears.

Our only hope is total self-abandonment. Forgetting our selves. Believing in, praising, rejoicing in, and serving faithfully the all-goodness of God. He will give us our true selves, too. If we just let go, and love.