Daring Prayer and Evangelization

El Greco Christ in Prayer

Abraham negotiated with the Judge of the world. About the possible innocent souls in Sodom and Gomorrah. In the course of these negotiations, when Abraham had worked the Lord’s cut-off number from fifty down to twenty, Abraham acknowledged, “I have dared speak to my Lord thus.” [Spanish]

He dared.

Some people grow up scared of their fathers, afraid to ask anything, for fear of bad repercussions. And some people grow up counting on both parents for understanding and compassion in every possible circumstance. Abraham had begun to learn that pure prayer to God Almighty involves more childlike confidence than fear.

Ready for some Greek?  I wouldn’t put you through this, but this particular Greek word appears in the New Testament 41 times. And it’s in the Catechism.

Parrhesia. Childlike openness, frankness, confidence and boldness.  Speaking with the knowledge that the listener will understand and indulge you.  That the listener loves you.

When you pray, say “Father.” Father. In other words, speak with parrhesia. The disciples had asked the Lord Jesus, “How do we pray?” When you pray, children, say ‘Father.’ Dare to say, “Father.”

After all, Christ revealed, in His own prayers, how to speak to the Father with confidence:

Father, I give You praise, because what You have hidden from the wise and the learned, You have revealed to the merest children.

Father, take this chalice from Me. But not My will, but Yours, be done.

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.

Father, I pray that they might be one, that I might live in them as You live in Me, and that their joy might be complete.

Father consecrate them in truth.

The incarnate Son spoke to the heavenly Father with consummate parrhesia.  Christ always took for granted: the Father knows all, understands all, guides all toward the true good. “The birds of the air and the flowers of the field neither toil nor spin, yet your Father in heaven provides for them.”

St. Paul expresses what parrhesia means like this:  “Christ pours His Spirit into our hearts, and we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

The Roman Catechism of Pope St. Pius V explains:  We call God Father, with the bold confidence of beloved children, because:

sistine

1. He made us out of nothing in His own image and likeness.

2. He unfailingly provides for our needs by exercising His tender providence.

3. He redeemed us from the condemnation we deserved through His Son’s perfect sacrifice, and He pours out heavenly grace through the ministry of the Church.

In other words, Almighty God has shown Himself to be the very compassionate, gentle, understanding, and indulgent Father that Abraham boldly talked down from wrath to mercy. God has shown Himself to be the Father Who patiently waits for our repentance, longs for our reconciliation, forgets our iniquities, forgives the injuries we have done Him, and grants us an altogether fresh start in Christ.

All this makes us bold and confident in another way, also. In prayer we speak to the Father fearlessly, as His beloved children. We also speak that way before the world, about the Father.

Because we know how generous and trustworthy God is, we have nothing to fear from this world. Come what may, we stride forward in confidence to fulfill our mission: to make the Good News of the good heavenly Father known.

Children don’t imagine that they have to know how a car works. They just say, “Daddy, can you drive me to the park?” They don’t imagine that they must understand the chemistry of cooking.  They just say, “Mommy, can you make me some macaroni and cheese?”

Our heavenly Father does not require us to strategize extensively about how to gain souls for His kingdom through artful persuasion and clever tactics. He can devise tactics a million times more cleverly than we can. Our role is: to bear witness. To offer confident, childlike testimony about the goodness of God.

Testimony that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. That God is the loving and kind Father of the whole human race. That He rules His kingdom of justice and peace with an open Heart. That the Holy Mass contains all the riches and wisdom of God. That the Church is a real family, to which everyone can belong.

Heavenly Father, we boldly ask You lovingly to give us boldness. We securely petition You for confidence and serenity in prayer, and in all our interactions in this world. We know that You know what we need before we ask You, and that You grant liberally all that we ask in the name of Your Son. So we trustingly ask You in the name of Jesus to give us the grace of His unfailing, rock-solid trust in You.

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The Edifice of Lies + Pope Gaslights Again

For decades, Mr. Phil Lawler has written about the problems in the Catholic hierarchy. He just announced solemnly that he cannot do it anymore. Combat fatigue.

The straw that broke his camel’s back? The appointment of a new bishop for West Virginia. From within the Wuerl-Lori-McCarrick-Bransfield Edifice of Lies. An institution some of us call ADW, Inc. (ArchDiocese of Washington)

Mark Brennan.jpg
His Excellency Mark Brennan, new Catholic bishop of West Virginia

To reply to Mr. Lawler:

On the one hand, we understand and sympathize. His Excellency Mark Brennan certainly arrives in West Virginia already compromised.

How? Allow me, dear reader, to explain what I mean.

At some point in April or May, someone on the inside of the ecclesiastical Bransfield investigation went to the Washington Post with two sets of scandalous revelations.

1. Details about former-WV-bishop Bransfield’s lavish spending.

2. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori’s active suppression of the fact that: some of that spending was bribes paid to him.

(“Wait!” Mr. Aw-shucks by-gosh Bill Lori says, “I told you they were not bribes!” To which the reasonable people of Planet Earth reply: Sir, the recipients of bribes rarely recognize the unreasonable gifts they receive as bribes until after the briber’s wrongdoing gets exposed by someone else–the wrongdoing that you ignored, because it was your ‘friend’ doing wrong.)

wuerl loriAnyway: the leak blew the lid off the church-mafia’s attempt to scapegoat Bransfield quietly, without any public airing of details.

Now, where did Mark Brennan sit when the leaker leaked? At the table in the backroom meeting where everyone “agreed” to remove the list of bribes from the Bransfield report? Only God and the insiders know the answer to that.

But: wherever he sat exactly, His Excellency Mark Brennan had an obligation to do something as soon as he became aware of Lori’s dishonesty. Namely to denounce it openly.

He did not do that; he has not done that. Brennan sang Bill Lori’s praises to assembled reporters in Wheeling on Tuesday morning.

So: Mark Brennan sits on his throne, compromised. Just like Wilton Gregory sits utterly compromised on the throne in Washington, smiling endlessly at the exposed liar Donald Wuerl.

But, Mr. Lawler: Please take this on board. You acknowledge that you do not know Mark Brennan. I do.

In the photo above, he stands in front of the doors to St. Martin of Tours parish in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He served there as a genuinely generous shepherd for thirteen long years. I have admired Mark Brennan ever since I first met him, in 1997.

So your unworthy scribe can say, with some insight: Among the made men of the ecclesiastical mafia, Mark Brennan stands out as an extraordinarily humble and honest person. He actually knows how to put in a hard day’s work, as opposed to just talking endlessly about doing so. Mark Brennan has more intellectual curiosity in his little finger than a banquet-room full of Loris, Wuerls, McCarricks, and Bransfields all nervously slapping each other on the back.

Problem is: This relatively honest and fatherly mafioso has managed to let Pope Francis gaslight the living daylights out of him.

Allow your servant to try to imagine a bishop tasking me, as follows:

‘Er–Father White: You will succeed a pastor of thirteen years incumbency. He retired ten months ago. After he retired, I determined that he did some real bad things and launched a ‘probe.’ But the details are all top secret.

‘You, Father White, will: Take over the parish. And you will negotiate your predecessor’s penance with him. And enforce it.’

Now, hearing such an assignment put to me, I think I would say: ‘Hold the phone there. You expect me simultaneously

a) to sympathize with and comfort the poor, faithful people who my predecessor harmed, and

b) sympathize with and comfort the poor, faithful people who found a way to love him anyway, for thirteen long years, and

c) serve as my predecessor’s impartial judge, jury, bail bondsman, and baseball-bat-wielding repo man?

Instead of replying brainlessly, “Thanks for your trust in me, chief!” I think I might say something that rhymes with Duck Crew.

“Shouldn’t you, Excellency, our superior, take care of judging and punishing my retired peer? Shouldn’t you do your job?”

What honest person can simultaneously embrace the flock left behind as a shepherd and give a fair trial, and impose a fair punishment, on the accused malefactor? Not possible for one person to pull off. This is why professional jurists do things like recuse themselves from cases in which they have a personal interest.

Bransfield does, after all, have a right to a fair trial, like anyone else. He may be guilty of serious wrongdoing. But not a whole lot more guilty than most bishops. He’s hardly one black sheep in a flock of whites. He’s a gray among grays, when it comes to spending faithful Catholics’ donations on nouveau-riche creature comforts for themselves.

I would feel sorry for my old diocesan brother Mark Brennan. If it weren’t for the fact that he owes it to the world to speak the truth. Bransfield is hardly the only straight-up fraud and liar on the stage right now. Lori, Wuerl, and Bergoglio are all straight-up frauds and liars, too.

“Understand” the Mystery of Faith

Representation_of_the_Sower's_parableJesus Christ is Himself the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, and the Bread of heaven.

He unites us and gives us the hope of genuine communion with God and among ourselves.

In the Person of Jesus Christ, we encounter the divine Love, the very inner-mystery of God.

The Lord says: He who has ears ought to hear this. Which means pretty much everybody. Ought to hear that Jesus lives, that He makes everything right with His infinite rightness, that in His Church we find mercy and love and heaven.

The Lord says: Receive this Word of God, and understand it. That’s the seed that falls on good soil.

Understand it? What does He mean? Since, in fact, we receive the Word of God with faith. We neither see nor know the tri-une and incarnate God. So how can we possibly understand Him?

Short answer: We cannot and do not understand God during this pilgrimage. But that’s not the ‘understanding’ of which the Lord speaks.

He means: Understand everything else by the light of the truth in which we believe. Start with Christ. By the light of His divine truth, understand everything else.

We believe in Him. So we don’t give up on loving each other, no matter how impossible it might seem to do that. We believe in Christ. So we untiringly seek the truth in every situation, even the apparently hopelessly complicated ones. We believe in Jesus. So we hope for good things to come, even when everything seems hopeless.

The country and the Church only seem to be confused and divided beyond repair. They are not, in fact. Because Jesus reigns. By cleaving to Him, we will be able to help make things better.

That’s the spiritual gift of understanding. We understand: what may seem hopeless is not, in fact, hopeless. What may seem to contradict our faith in God, does not, in fact, contradict it.

It just gives us a chance to believe better, hope more deeply, and love more generously.

WV Paper Trail

On Friday afternoon, Pope Francis intervened in the Bransfield affair. He “sanctioned” Bishop Bransfield…

Bransfield communique
(from the Wheeling-Charleston diocese website)

An innocent question: For what reason did Pope Francis impose these sanctions?

Not easy to draw a conclusion about that. Since the Vatican communique has nothing whatsoever to say about Bransfield’s actual crimes. As usual, you have to do extensive background research, even to begin to understand the oracles of the Church mafia.

Archbishop William Lori

In March Archbishop Lori had suspended Bransfield from ministry pending a review of the case by the Holy See. Lori made no mention whatsoever of any particular crimes of which Bransfield had been found guilty by an ecclesiastical judge.

Then an insider leaked to the Washington Post the details of the report that Lori had sent to Rome. And also leaked the version Lori had not sent–the one that disclosed the money he had taken from Bransfield.

The leak forced Lori to address the matter with a public letter, to try to explain away his backroom subterfuge. In that June 5 letter, Lori reported that investigators had determined that “allegations” against Michael Bransfield of “sexual harassment” were “credible.”

“The team uncovered a consistent pattern of sexual innuendo, and overt suggestive comments and actions toward those over whom the former bishop exercised authority.”

Lori went on to write, “It should be noted that due to privacy concerns and at the request of those who alleged harassment by Bishop Bransfield, the alleged victims and their personal accounts, which for them are a source of deeply-felt pain and humiliation, will not be disclosed by the Diocese.”

Strange thing to write, since one of the victims had filed a lawsuit against Bransfield, and the diocese, two months earlier, in which the victim explicitly recounted the details of an incident. An incident that rises to the level not just of sexual harassment but of sexual assault.

Nothing in Lori’s June 5 letter even so much as accuses Bransfield of any recognizable specific ecclesiastical crime, much less finds him guilty of any.

Lori also wrote in his June 5 letter that “the investigative report determined that during his tenure as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, Bishop Bransfield engaged in a pattern of excessive and inappropriate spending.”

Lori went on to acknowledge, however, that Bransfield never departed from any of the normal rules of financial oversight.

Lori explains that in this way: Bransfield’s “management style and personality undermined the effectiveness of diocesan policies, controls and oversight procedures. In some cases, it is apparent that the judgment of diocesan personnel was impacted by the culture of fear of retaliation and retribution that the former bishop fostered.”

A believable-enough characterization. But also lacking any specific accusations of concrete criminal acts.

So maybe we can understand Pope Francis’ “sanctions” in one of two ways.

1. As a medicinal punishmen, aimed at the bishop’s repentance. After all, Michael Bransfield finds himself increasingly close to the end of his earthly pilgrimage.

But Bransfield, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, flatly denies all the accusations against him.

So maybe the pope’s sanctions are not so much a medicinal penalty as a kind of “plea bargain.” The prosecution decides to skip the hard task of making a case based on clear laws and concrete evidence, and the defendant accepts a token punishment.

2. On the other hand, the Vatican communique about the sanctions claims that the pope has acted out of “sincere concern for the clergy, religious, and laity of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.”

That would seem to mean–or should mean, anyway–that the sanctions intend to restore justice and equilibrium to the life of the local church.

As they are, they manifestly do not do that. All the particulars of restitution are left to future negotiations between Bransfield and an as-yet-non-existent person. (Apparently we’ll learn the new bishop’s identity tomorrow. )

And the pope has made no provision whatsoever for the possibility of an irreconcilable dispute arising in the course of the restitution negotiations. Considering the fact that Bransfield denies all wrongdoing, such an dispute seems inevitable. Unless the next bishop of Wheeling-Charleston decides just to forget the whole thing.

…This would be simply an embarrassing joke of a situation, if it weren’t for the fact that we have to face this:

The lawsuit filed by Bransfield’s sex-assault victim in West Virginia asserts a conspiracy on the part of McCarrick and Bransfield, to give Bransfield access to young men upon whom he could prey. (McCarrick participated in Bransfield’s ordination as a bishop in 2005.)

Now, this claim probably amounts to nothing more than legal boilerplate, intended to intimidate the defendants into settling the case for a large sum. As far as we know, no one has the kind of hard evidence of an episcopal sex-predator conspiracy that could hold up in a court of law.

But now, a year after James Grein went to the New York Times, we Catholics find ourselves with a pretty stark choice.

Either to believe by some impossible mental gymnastics that the pope really means well–but for some reason can’t attain forthrightness and clarity when it comes to sexually predatory bishops.

Or to recognize: Pope Francis cannot, will not clean up this mess. Because either he simply does nor have the mind, or the will. Or: he is himself a sexually predatory bishop, or wishes he were.

Easter in July

Mary Magdalene Tiberias Jerusalem church
painting in the Russian Orthodox church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem

Mary Magdalene loved the Lord Jesus enough to seek restlessly for Him. Then she found Him—or He found her. She learned that He had risen from the dead.

The Bible tells us that Mary Magdalene announced the resurrection to the Apostles. One tradition reports that she traveled to Rome to tell the Emperor Tiberius that Jesus had risen.

Mary presented an egg to the emperor as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. Tiberius replied, “That man no more rose from the dead than that egg is red.” Whereupon the egg turned red—the first dyed Easter egg.

Mary also apparently sailed to France, where she proclaimed the Gospel, then lived as a hermit until her death. (Presumably on July 22.) They preserve her remains in a Gothic basilica outside Marseille.

Three years ago Pope Francis raised today’s commemoration from the rank of Memorial to Feast. Christians have commemorated Mary Magdalene on July 22 since time immemorial. During the Middle Ages her feast day was a holy day of obligation in England.

Anyway, today’s feast gives us a little extra Easter, in July. Mary’s beloved Lord rose from the dead, to give us life. Praised be the Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever.

Basilica St Maximin w tomb of Mary Magdalene
Basilica of St. Maximin, with the tomb of Mary Magdalene

Virtue of Study

Christ_in_the_House_of_Martha_and_Mary

Study wisdom, that you may give an answer to him that criticizes. (Proverbs 27:11)

God commands study. Lord Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part. Because she chose to listen, to learn, to exercise her mind, to study. [Spanish]

Our Creator has equipped us with minds, made to know the truth. Our bodies need food and fluids, so we get hungry and thirsty. Likewise, our minds need the truth. So we want to know, we want to learn, we strive to inquire. Our natural desire to know the truth leads us, ultimately, to God. Everything comes from Him and leads toward Him.

But of course the Lord did not equip us all mentally in the same way. He does not command us all to study the same things by the same methods. To the contrary, He has arrayed His all-but-endlessly beautiful universe to attract our study in an all-but-endlessly vast array of ways.

He gave us each our own particular interests and takes on things. We all have different kinds of minds. Some people like reading more than others. Some people like tinkering with engines. Some people like cooking, gardening, sketching, architecture, psychology, politics, math, equestrian dressage, blue-grass harmonics. You name it.

aquinas
see Summa Theo. II-II q. 166

All truth, all beauty, all healthiness and fullness comes from God. So the study of anything good and true leads to God. We individually study different good and true things, in different ways. But for each of us to come into his or her own, we each must study. To fully realize our potential, we must exercise and apply our minds in a humble, dutiful, disciplined, and focused manner.

Why? In Dante’s Inferno, the first thing that the poet’s guide says about the damned is: “They have lost the good of the intellect.” Heaven involves knowing The Truth fully, and resting in His utterly clear light. Hell involves losing the truth altogether and falling into the darkness of utter confusion.

God commands us to study. We can disobey, and go wrong, in two ways.

1. Because study requires strenuous mental effort, our lazy bodies rebel. It’s easier to doze than to read. It’s easier to eat dessert than to do experiments. It’s easier just to conform my shallow thinking to the same lame ideas that everyone else has, rather than seek wise counsel, engage in debate, and carefully form solid opinions of my very own.

Which Christian heroes do we most admire? The martyrs, of course. The martyrs throughout the ages have made it their business to seek the truth about God and to adhere to that truth with a deep certainty. A martyr’s well-studied conviction makes him or her fearless of death.

That’s what Mary did at Jesus’ feet: She courageously sought the truth about God. The truth to which she could cling with unswerving courage, deepening her knowledge by prayer and meditation.

So the first way we can go wrong in the exercising of our minds: failing to exercise them. Intellectual indolence. Becoming conformist mental couch potatoes. Cowards in the face of the difficulties involved in acquiring solid knowledge.

2. But there’s a second, equally dangerous trap. Namely: undisciplined, fruitless, shallow study—also known as empty curiosity. Minds running after trifles, fake news, or presumptuous over-statements.

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to learn sublime wisdom. Grasping Jesus’ words required humble concentration. Because she did not hear idle gossip. She did not hear silly vignettes or sweet little romances. The Sermon on the Mount contains the most important wisdom ever imparted to mankind. But reading it isn’t exactly ‘entertaining.’ The gospels are no comic books.

Nor does it fall to us human creatures to study and learn everything. Mary never imagined, as she sat at Jesus’ feet, that she could learn things beyond the scope of her limited mind. We human beings take the most-important things on faith. We have great minds–compared to squirrels. But compared to God and His angels, even the greatest human geniuses know practically nothing.

Now, school kids of course think of summertime as a welcome respite from the rigors of study. But we adults cherish these months as an opportunity to follow Mary to the feet of the Christ. To put aside some of our usual workaday cares, sit quietly, and apply our minds to the truths that are worth living and dying for.

Sabbath, Passover, Mass

tabernacle

Christ reigns over the sabbath day. We keep the sabbath by celebrating Holy Mass, the Passover of Christ.

The ancient Israelites languished in slavery in Egypt. God had compassion on them. He liberated them through the Passover. They marked their doorposts with the blood of the unblemished lamb. They celebrated the feast with their loins girt, sandals on their feet—because the strife of that night would not end with death for them, but rather: freedom.

Holy Mass holds all this drama in its mystery, of course—and more. At the altar, we can rest in the Lord Jesus’ triumph, in His priesthood, in His undying life.

All we need is faith, faith in the whole beautiful unfolding of heaven that God has done, with the Holy Mass of Christ crucified right at the center.

West-Virginia Audit

Gordon Gekko

With impressive boldness, lay people in West Virginia have banded together and won a promise from Archbishop Lori. Lay Catholic Voices for Change threatened to withhold donations until an independent auditor checked the diocese’s books. Lori promised that such an audit will occur, with a report to be published for everyone to read.

Of course, the Archbishop currently sits on another, more important report. The findings of the investigation into former-bishop Michael Bransfield’s free spending and sexual harassment of seminarians and young priests. Lori has insisted that he will not, cannot publish that one.

And, of course, Archbishop Lori, in his letter making his promise, clearly explains how he never could possibly have done anything about this before now, and how he himself makes an honest living, and lives in a reasonable domicile, and meets with committees even when he’s tired, etc…

…Dear reader, you ask: Why so obsessed with West Virginia, Father Mark? To the point where you lose your temper and fling around bad words?

1. It’s our sister church, united with us by two centuries of intertwined history.

2. It could have been us. Richmond.

Pope John Paul II named one Philadelphian, Francis X. DiLorenzo, bishop of Richmond less than nine months before he named another Philadelphian, Michael Bransfield, bishop of Wheeling-Charleston.

Walter Sullivan had turned 75 years of age, and submitted his resignation, three months before Bernard Schmitt, then the incumbent in West Virginia, did the same. The bishop/sausage-making apparatus churned out two Philadelphians in quick succession for these openings. If Sullivan were a few weeks younger, or Schmitt a few weeks older, it could easily have gone the other way.

PhiladelphiaSkyline
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

After all, neither DiLorenzo nor Bransfield had any particular affinity for either Virginia or West Virginia. Neither of them came with any talents or dispositions particularly suited for ministry in Virginia or West Virginia.

Anyway, during the ensuing thirteen years: West-Virginia Catholics lived through the ever-growing sense that something was rotten in their state of Denmark, so to speak.

Our bishop lives way too high on the hog. Drinks too much. Travels outside the diocese more than he should. Yes, he has some winning qualities. And an awful lot of rich friends, apparently. But I can’t shake the sense that he acts more like Gordon Gekko than like Jesus Christ

So people complained. Up the ecclesiastical chain of command. People who cared about true religion, serving God, the spiritual integrity of His Church, etc.

But, for thirteen years, the Church powers-that-be were like: No, people. Nope. This is normal. Quit complaining.

Metropolitans of Baltimore O’Brien and then Lori; papal nuncios Sambi and Viganò; Popes Benedict and Francis: Quit complaining, West Virginians. Bransfield’s cool. This is normal.

Thirteen years of increasingly painful cognitive dissonance for priests, seminarians, Catholics paying attention. Thirteen years of ever-increasing surreality.

Could have been us, here in Richmond.

(Some might say: Wait a minute, Father! That was us. Our Philadelphian pushed us way into the realm of the surreal, too! …Ok. Fair enough. But that’s a topic for another day.)

Anyway: After thirteen years of Quit your complaining! West-Virginia Catholics now have received some slender vindication. They rightly complained.

But it seems like cold comfort to me. After all, the problem always was: Why is the shepherd of the flock so into himself? Why so preoccupied with himself?

As I mentioned, Archbishop Lori wrote the Catholic people of West Virginia a letter, promising an audit. The letter focuses on one particular person.

–One of of the West-Virginians who took a chance, speaking out  to try and right the ship? No.

–The brave soul who leaked all the information about the bribes to the higher-ups, that forced Lori’s hand to concede to an independent audit? Did Lori find the courage actually to thank the leaker? By no means.

No, Archbishop Lori’s letter to the Catholics of West Virginia focuses on the one person that concerns William Lori. The one person that truly preoccupies him. The same person he has focused on during all his numerous interviews and statements on the subject of the church crisis in West Virginia.

You guessed it: Just like Michael Bransfield’s main preoccupation in life has been, ultimately, Michael Bransfield, William Lori’s perennial concern is, above all, of course, William Lori.

The shepherd writes a letter to a confused and disenchanted people. About himself.

In one way or another, that’s basically what’s been happening for the past year, all up and down the East coast, and other parts of the country, too, for all I know, and in Rome. That’s what drives me to use bad words and conclude that our ecclesiastical situation totally sucks.

We are in the thrall of a mafia that may or may not be riddled with homosexuality, but which certainly lives its entire nervous, inept life in front of the mirror.

He Who Is

 

Moses burning bush

I am Who am

God alone is. Simply is. By His own infinite exercise of existing.

Everything else that exists, exists because God gives existence.

To understand this is to understand all, the inner truth of everything—the mystery, so to speak, of the cosmos. God has given existence to all these things that are not Him, but exist like He exists, as opposed to not existing—things like the earth, us, trees, the sun and moon, water, etc.—He has given being to all these non-divine things; He has shared being with them, for a reason.

To communicate with us. To draw us to Himself, lift us up to Himself, make us His friends. His intimates.

We worship Him for His awesome majesty. We cannot imagine the power and beneficence that possesses being absolutely and shares it generously. We respond to His love with love.

He Who is is: the infinite communion of eternal love. His Son, meek and humble of heart, revealed the divine love, the tri-unity. Everything that He has made draws us into that communion.

Ecclesiastical Discipline in Our Province

Knestout Lori

The discipline of Catholic bishops relies on the oversight of Archbishops, and the pope. If our bishop did something wrong–like, for instance, suspending the ministry of a priest without a commensurate cause–the wronged person must seek justice from the Metropolitan Archbishop of the ecclesiastical province, or from the pope.

Here in Virginia we find ourselves in the ecclesiastical province of Baltimore. If Bishop Knestout does wrong, we appeal to Archbishop William Lori, or to Pope Francis.

We would appeal to them, that is, if we thought we could trust them. I have pretty thoroughly documented for you, dear reader, why no reasonable man can trust Pope Francis to do justice. What about this question: Can a reasonable person trust Archbishop William Lori?

Long-time readers might remember my noting last September that Archbishop Lori made a public statement about another one of his suffragan bishops, Michael Bransfield. Bransfield had just retired as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Lori referred to “troubling allegations” against Bransfield.

Now, what I found most troubling about Lori’s statement was: We, the general public, had no idea what these ‘troubling allegations’ were.

A decade earlier, Bransfield had been accused–by a convicted pederast–of sexually abusing minors in Philadelphia (Bransfield’s hometown). Bransfield had been exonerated.

And Catholics in West Virginia had gone to their local press with complaints about Bransfield’s apparently profligate spending.

They went to the press in 2006, a year after Bransfield became West Virginia’s shepherd. And they went to the press again in 2013, shortly after Pope Francis became pope–and supposedly set a new standard of simple, poor living for bishops. (Even though the pope actually lives in a $20-million Vatican hotel, paid for by a donor-friend of Donald Wuerl.)

Archbishop William Lori

Anyway, no Metropolitan Archbishop of Baltimore had so much as acknowledged those earlier complaints about Michael Bransfield. No churchman had ever referred publicly to any ‘troubling allegations.’ Not a word.

So what in the world was William Lori talking about, last September?

Actually, it was not difficult to see through the smokescreen. The long-slumbering hand of ecclesiastical discipline had bestirred itself to imitate action. The McCarrick Affair had exposed to the world the utter paralysis of the prelates of the Catholic hierarchy, when it comes to disciplining each other. So Lori–and Pope Francis–had something to prove.

Of course they had no trouble finding “troubling allegations” against Bransfield. All they had to do was search their own files, where repeated complaints had languished for years. (Probably in the same Vatican drawer as the McCarrick sex-abuse settlements from a dozen years ago.)

Anyway, Archbishop Lori proceeded to announce this past March that a ‘preliminary investigation’ had run its course. Bransfield should no longer minister as a bishop or priest. At least not in Lori’s territory.

That would have been the last anyone ever heard about any of this. Except: Someone on the inside had gotten fed-up with William Lori’s endless self-serving nonsense. Some insider(s) decided to provide the Washington Post with extensive documentation of the case.

Question #2: Why had the complaints against Bransfield gone unaddressed for over a decade? Maybe because Bransfield had greased the palms of his ecclesiastical superiors? (Using diocesan funds.) Including, of course: the palm of William Lori.

Investigators found that Bransfield had given Lori checks totalling $7,500. In February, Lori privately attempted to suppress that information. In June, it leaked.

Lori had known about the allegations against Bransfield for years. Lori attempted to suppress that piece of information. This month, it leaked.

mccarrick…An old, familiar pattern, my dear ones:

During the 80’s and 90’s, aggrieved individuals went to the Metropolitan Archbishop, and to the papal nuncio, seeking justice. They reported the wrongdoing of then-bishop (and later Archbishop) Theodore McCarrick.

Nothing happened.

(Until investigators from outside the hierarchy uncovered something. In the fall of 2017.)

During the 00’s and 10’s, aggrieved individuals went to the Metropolitan Archbishop, and to the papal nuncio, seeking justice. They reported the wrongdoing of bishop Michael Bransfield.

Nothing happened. Bransfield retired. Then, because the McCarrick Affair rattled the cage: An investigation!

Which led to: Lori getting caught covering up his role in the earlier cover-up.

…The mafia of self-righteous tinpot dictators that reign over our Church do not realize how corrupt they are. They always have some cockamamie rationale to try to paint themselves as angelic. William Lori styles himself a thoroughgoing Boy Scout. But I would rather seek justice from Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall.

We live in a windswept wilderness when it comes to ecclesiastical discipline, my dear ones. We might as well face that fact. We will need another Council of Trent, and an ensuing century of saintly self-sacrifice, to recover from the reign of these prissy, dishonest a-holes. But God will provide.