Friday, June 30, 2017

Separating Brainwashing From Evangelizing Children

I came across an awesome article by soon-to-be-deacon Joe Heschmeyer the other day, where he addressed the following question: "Is teaching children religion brainwashing?" Apparently, as he mentioned in his essay, 86% of respondents to this question on thought the answer was "yes". How profoundly sad. Religion, once seen as a virtue (and still seen as one by the Church, see CCC 1807) by virtually all people in the Western world, is now seen as a vice, and has even been called "child abuse" by certain proponents of the new atheism; of which I would argue is a new religion in itself... but I digress.

The entire article is an excellent read, and I urge everyone to read it before continuing. Here's a good sampling from Heschmeyer's essay:
As Christians, we’re called to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world (Matthew 28:19-20), but in a special way, to teach the next generation about the faith. The Shema Yisrael, the core of Jewish morning and evening prayer, comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-7: 
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." 
So you can’t be a faithful Christian (or Jew) and not teach the faith to your children. But it’s more than that. Christianity isn’t just your dad sitting around musing about what the afterlife might or might not be like. The God of the Universe entered history in the Person of Jesus Christ, and He taught, died, and rose from the dead. And Christians don’t just believe in this as as an abstract idea, but have a personal relationship with this same God. So it’s not just speculation on the Christian parents’ part: it’s rationally trusting the expert, the one Person qualified to tell us these things. It’s also sharing the most meaningful relationship you have with your loved ones. 
And finally, not teaching your kids still teaches them something. If you really believed Christianity was the most important truth in the world, if you really believed it was the surest way to knowing God and to happiness in this life and eternity in Heaven, you wouldn’t hesitate to share it with the people you loved most (especially those entrusted to your care for formation: your children).
That same selection from Deuteronomy is something that I often see included in my recitation of Compline (Night Prayer) at the end of each day. It's a beautiful thing to reflect on, and whenever I read it, I think about my own kids. Heschmeyer brings up a great point; why would you hesitate to share the faith that comes from Truth Himself with your own children? This essay is a great answer to the question that was posed on, but I'd like to add a couple of points to my own, piggybacking off of what Heschmeyer has written.
Jesus Falling Under the Cross

Friday, June 23, 2017

Decree From Bishop of Springfield Lays Down Directives For Those in Same-Sex "Marriages"

About a week and a half ago, Bishop Thomas Paprocki released a decree "Regarding Same-Sex 'Marriage' and Related Pastoral Issues". The secular media jumped all over this yesterday, with painfully erroneous ways of misrepresenting Church teaching. Dissenters such as New Way Ministry, as well as their supporters such as Fr. James Martin, also denounced the bishop's decree. However, everything seemed to focus specifically on one small section of the decree, namely on funeral rites:
“Unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death, deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites. In case of doubt, the proper pastor or parochial administrator is to consult the local ordinary [bishop], whose judgment is to be followed (cf. c. 1184).
Fr. Martin replied very quickly on his Facebook page:
If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. They must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments, women who has or man who fathers a child out of wedlock, members of straight couples who are living together before marriage, and anyone using birth control. For those are all against church teaching as well. Moreover, they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a "sign of unjust discrimination" (2358).
I would have to conclude, as have others, that Fr. Martin, who echoes what the editors at New Ways Ministry had to say, is way off base here. In all honesty, he's pretty much wrong.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Discussion on Abortion and "Personhood" With a Utilitarian

Recently, the ever-awesome Secular Pro Life posted a guest blog by a woman who suffers from turner Syndrome. An excerpt from the article is below:
"Instead of turning 30 reminding me that I'm getting old, it reminds me I'm living—and it's a wonderful feeling. I will wear every grey hair and every wrinkle as a badge of honour. I get to enjoy a life that's all too often left to 'choice' and deemed 'not worth living'—without even being given a chance. 
"My mom is 'pro-choice' and believes it should have been up to her whether or not to abort me if she had known. I'm so thankful that my diagnosis was safe with me in the womb and that I'm alive—instead of my life being reduced to a statistic."
A heart wrenching reality this woman has to live with, that her mom would actually say these things to her own daughter. But what really disturbed me was one of the commenters on the article. This man, from the UK, was a self-professed utilitarian. This was the first time I really was able to get into a deep conversation with one such person. While his ideas are scary, perhaps even monstrous, my interlocutor was pleasant throughout our discussion, never threw any personal attacks, and explained his point of view in an intelligent manner. But it's his worldview that is problematic. While reading through this dialogue, one will see that not only does he reject the personhood of most life in the womb, but also of some people who may be in a vegetative or comatose state, as can be seen by him saying they "often resume personhood". His comments will be in red, mine in blue, and various other commenters in different colors. My interlocutor's initial reply to the article itself is below:

Tom: This is merely confused counterfactual thinking. She'd never have suffered with the thoughts of having not existed or regretted her missed existence had she have been aborted in the first-trimester do it's a moot point.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Priest Resigns After Implementing Traditional Changes: Why Is "Restoration" a Negative Thing?

A couple of days ago, a local news story out of Charlotte broke regarding a Catholic priest. Apparently, after being pastor at a small parish for nearly three years, Fr. Christopher Riehl resigned after several of his parishioners expressed their displeasure with his more traditional directives that were implemented. A rift had risen in the parish, with those who were complaining about his leadership splintering off to hear Mass at a dentist's office in "exile", as some described it. From The Charlotte Observer:
The pastor of a Catholic church in the N.C. mountains whose conservative leadership style split the congregation and drew national media attention has resigned. 
In a Facebook post, the Rev. Christopher Riehl of St. John the Evangelist parish in Waynesville wrote that he was “worn out or burned out” and for his own well-being needed to take a sabbatical. 
He did not mention the rancor at the parish, where he’s been pastor for nearly three years, or the petition by more than 100 members to have him removed. It was sent to Bishop Peter Jugis, who leads the 46-county Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.
The National Catholic Reporter published a January article on the clash between Riehl and many parishioners in the church of about 250 families. Some of those members have left St. John’s. 
The article cast the divide as one of a new pastor who preferred traditionalist approaches to the liturgy and church governance versus parishioners who cherished what had been St. John’s post-Vatican II style of a greater role for the laity and more modern worship and music. 
Vatican II refers to the Second Vatican Council of the early- to mid-1960s, when the Roman Catholic Church, for example, permitted the use of local languages for a Mass that had traditionally been celebrated all over the world in Latin. 
According to the National Catholic Reporter article, Riehl threw out popular hymns and replaced them with the ancient Gregorian chant. When the music director was relieved of her duties, the article said, most of the choir resigned. 
A group calling itself Appalachian Catholics in the Smoky Mountain Region said in a statement earlier this year that Riehl and some other conservative priests assigned by Jugis to small parishes in the mountains “seem to be more intent on taking the church back to pre-Vatican ll days rather than minister to the people. They seem to be steeped in doctrine and theology, but are unwilling to participate in ecumenical activities, and are lacking in compassion, love and mercy. They are doing the job of the theologian, but not the job of the pastor. This is directly opposed to what Pope Francis and Vatican II are teaching us.”...
In his June 4 Facebook post to members of his “parish family,” Riehl wrote that his leaving was not prompted by anything other than his own need to take some time away from parish ministry. 
“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that I have decided, of my own free will and my own instigation, to resign my position here at St. John’s,” he wrote. “I have found that I am worn out or burned out and for my own well being need to take a sabbatical. There was no incident or event, just a feeling that I need some time away from full parish ministry. I have absolutely no questions or doubts about my vocation to the Priesthood of Christ.”
A very sad state of affairs, indeed. NCR (more aptly called the Fishwrap or National Catholic Distorter, by others), also ripped Fr. Riehl over a year and a half ago in an earlier article, which I will quote more below. One commenter on the recent developments in this story said the following:
This new trend is disturbing to me - out with faith, hope and love ... in with appearances of reverence. I am glad these parishioners fought back against this movement of clerical snobbery. I get the sense that some of these younger priests just want to say Mass in what they perceive to be a reverent, or legal, style, without parishioners. It seems like they are removing the communion part of the faith. I hope priests like this can see that their approach is deeply flawed.  
I am now starting to understand why our Holy Father talks so much about clericalism, rigidity and legalism in the Church.
The only trend that is disturbing is the trend of disobedience and the trend that wants to see the Latin Rite purged of all it's legitimate traditions. This whole episode leads me to compare and contrast the Latin and Byzantine Rites a bit. But more on that in a bit.
St. Gregory the Great- Jusepe de Ribera

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More From the Enlightened Mind of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

I've written a few posts on here regarding Bl. Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a young 20-something saint who was born, raised and died in New Jersey in the first few decades of the 20th century. An American saint through and through, and I've come to appreciate her even more after reading her biography, written by Sister Mary Zita Geis. I learned many new things about this valuable intercessor of ours, and my devotion to her has certainly grown as I try to figure out how I can attain at least some of the holiness that she exuded throughout her life.

First, I learned that she was certainly a mystic. While the visions she had aren't described in too much detail here, she did experience visions of our Lord and Lady, as well as an interesting encounter with St. Therese, the Little Flower. But most of her experiences seemed to be internal, and in the writings she sent to her spiritual director, he understood that she was definitely receiving spiritual consolations from our Lord such as ecstasies, raptures, visions and locutions.

She also mortified herself daily in many different ways, offering up even the smallest of sufferings to our Lord. For instance, she at times never touched the pew in front of her while kneeling during Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, and when rapt in front of the altar itself, she never let her feet touch the ground as she kneeled before the Blessed Sacrament.

Another interesting tidbit was that she was quite into sports. Particularly, that "boys' game" known as baseball! Of course, baseball is my favorite sport, and to know that she enjoyed playing America's pastime, as well as basketball, makes her same ever more closer despite her nearly unrivaled holiness and submission to God's will. She also took part in Spanish club, as well as drama club and glee club at high school, and performed in and wrote many plays during her high school and college days. Again, this is something still done by many of our high schoolers today. Yet through all these similarities with us Americans today, she was oh so very different. Her piety and desire to conform to God's will is truly an example to us all, and I can't wait to see her become canonized so that all of the United States will properly be able to venerate her as they do St. Elizabeth Ann Seton today.

So in the biography, I came across a couple of her spiritual conferences that were not included in her posthumous book, Greater Perfection. Remember, she wrote these secretly as the rest of he congregation thought that the convent's priest was writing them. Finding these felt like finding a long lost b-side from one of my favorite bands. I'd like to share one of those conferences here, as many of these are hard to find on the Internet, as it certainly moved me, and I hope it does the same for the reader here:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflecting on the Different Interpretations Given for Amoris Laetitia

I had refrained from posting this long exchange I had had regarding Amoris Latetia for a while, but it seems that the controversy surrounding it just won't go away. I decided it was time for me to post this lengthy discussion so that others can see what is at stake here. We have several bishops contradicting several other bishops on the interpretation of AL. That in itself is scandalous, and even more so are some of the interpretations we've gotten, namely from the Bishops of Malta.

This exchange is mostly with a person I had already talked a bit with on the subject. Unfortunately, this time around it didn't end so well, as my interlocutor, who is a 50-something with a degree in theology, didn't think I was worth the time as I was simply an "autodidact". The thing is, my sources all came from saints, popes, and bishops... as well as our Lord! At the outset, he would interact with my arguments, by the end, he refused to. How my questions were continually dodged will be obvious. Please note, that I don't claim to be a know-it-all. I don't. But the Church does. I asked more than once, that if I was wrong, then show me my error! It didn't happen; my arguments were instead ignored. Perhaps I could've been more pithy, but as I'm a student, I learned a lot through this exchange, and citing as many sources as possible helps me keep things straight. I can only hope that in this excessively large post, someone is able to understand the point I'm trying to make, and can see the evidence I have from the Tradition of the Church to back it up. That is, AL has not changed Church teaching on the reception of Communion for the divorced and remarried that continue to live together more uxorio. My words will be in blue, my interlocutor's in red, and eventually, my words will turn back to black to interject towards the end.
The Apparition of Christ to the People- Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov