Friday, September 30, 2011

What's A Priest to Do?

There was a funny anecdote circulating on the internet a while back about the “perfect” priest.
The Perfect Priest: The results of a computerized survey indicate the perfect priest preaches exactly fifteen minutes. He condemns sins but never upsets anyone. He works from 8:00 AM until midnight and is also a janitor. He makes $50 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, and gives about $50 weekly to the poor. He is 28 years old and has preached 30 years. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all of his time with senior citizens.
     The perfect priest smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls daily on parish families, shut-ins and the hospitalized, and is always in his office when needed.
     If your priest does not measure up, simply send this letter to six other churches that are tired of their priest, too. Then bundle up your priest and send him to the church on the top of the list. In one week, you will receive 1,643 priests and one of them will be perfect. Have faith in this procedure.
     One parish broke the chain and got its old priest back in less than three weeks.

I open with this anecdote to say that I do greatly appreciate the challenges faced by priests and bishops. I appreciate the thankless job they do, and I appreciate the seeming impossibility of the tasks set before them. I am not unaware of their burdens; as a wife and mother, I face some of the same challenges!

There are several points I could (and will!) make about this anecdote. For today, I would like to focus on this:

There are lots of “special interest” groups who want the priest to cater to their needs and desires. How is a priest to balance all of these needs – some of which conflict with each other? One way would be to make a decision based on what the Church expects of you, and of us as the Body of Christ, rather than on what parishioners demand of you. Liturgy committee members may have their own agenda (“Why can’t we have the children do a dramatic presentation of the Gospel at Christmas Mass?”), and musicians may similarly have their desires (“Why can’t we sing the Beatles song ‘Let it Be’ for a Marian feast?”). The Traditional Latin Mass fans are clamoring for the extraordinary form of the Mass, or at least some Latin to be included in a Novus Ordo Mass (“But,” the priest reminds himself, “I don’t know Latin!”). The youth leaders want a youth Mass. The Hispanics want a Mass in Spanish (“But,” the priest reminds himself, “I don’t speak Spanish!”). The women want a Women’s Mass. The men…well, the men don’t really care what kind of Mass they have as long as it’s over in 45 minutes.

So, what is the priest to do? I suggest that he look to Holy Mother Church.  What kind of Mass does the Church say we are supposed to have? What does the GIRM say about celebrating Mass? What do the rubrics say? What do the Vatican II documents say? (No, no, no. I mean, what do the Vatican II documents really say?) One priest of my acquaintance accused me of being too much “by the book”. I protested, “But…that’s why we have a ‘book’!” I should say “books”, I suppose. If one looks at all the pertinent documents, then we see that the Mass is not subject to the whims of either the priest or the people. And it is supposed to be universal. Why would we have a “special” Mass for youth vs. women vs. “progressives” vs. “traditionalists”? Mass is Mass. The rubrics are laid out for the priest. The music is mandated: Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony hold “pride of place”. There is no mention of OCP in Musicam Sacram.

But I’ve found few priests who are convinced that the rubrics, the GIRM, the pastoral letters, the papal encyclicals, and the various instructions are actually meant to be more than gentle suggestions.

I found a letter about a priest who took a stand, though. I don’t know the date of this post, but I know it’s been at least a year. No matter, it’s a great statement, and I wish more priests would act this way:

Father Jay Flaherty, the pastor of Holy Cross Church in Pigeon Forge, gave a heartfelt message on Jan. 2 so profound that it’s worth repeating. He said “I am no longer Father Jay, but Father Flaherty.”

He began by explaining the Catholic Church’s rules for Mass and the Eucharist, and addressed parish volunteers. He reminded us of God’s presence in the tabernacle. There’s a family-life room for visiting, eating, and unruly kids, with Mass on TV.

He spoke of growing disrespect for the host, such as the time one was found with a cough drop stuck on it. One must fast for one hour from food, drink, or chewing gum before taking Communion, Father said. “And if I or the eucharistic ministers see any of this, that person will not receive Communion. Don’t leave early; stay until Mass ends!”

Father addressed respectful attire, especially for ushers and those on the altar: ties, long pants, dresses, and no shorts. Latecomers must wait outside until after the homily, because “I do not use notes, and I get distracted.”

He ended by saying, “If you don’t like these changes, you can go worship elsewhere. You can complain to the bishop or go all the way to the pope.” As a priest, Father Flaherty is accountable for how he leads his flock to God. You could have heard a pin drop during his homily, but the congregation applauded at the end in agreement.

He had hit the nail on the head. I hope his message resounds throughout the diocese.

I’d like to see it resound throughout the whole country.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dr. Ed Peters on Fr. Pavone

I think it is well worth reading all of Dr. Peters's posts on the Fr. Pavone situation. See his blog, In the Light of the Law. Dr. Peters explains the issue from a canonical viewpoint, and his comments are enlightening with respect to the general principles at stake in the conflict between Fr. Pavone and his bishop.

What is Rome Thinking?

I admit that today I am feeling particularly frustrated and irritated with some of the bishops in this country. I'll try to remain charitable while at the same time speaking the truth.

First, let me say that I have seen some encouraging examples set by a few...very few...bishops. For example, Archbishop Dolan wrote a stern letter to Obama - yay! I do appreciate this, but at the same time, I picture Obama smirking at the letter and saying, "Yeah? Or what?!"

But then there is the matter of Bishop Cupich in Spokane. Here's a post from Mark Shea's blog, Catholic and Enjoying It!:

Yet another reader who used to live under Bp. Cupich echoes the other traumatized prolife readers who have written to describe the wreckage wrought on the prolife movement by this shepherd everywhere he has gone:
     Spokane prolifers should prepare to stand strong without the leadership of their priests who are bound    
     to  respect and obedience. It is only going to get worse in the upcoming election year when priests will
     want to support prolife candidates. The prolife movement survived here due to the steadfastness of the
     laity. You can do it. Nothing is impossible with God.

I have not heard one positive word from people who attempted prolife work under Bp. Cupich. It looks like the prolife movement in Spokane is not merely on its own: it is facing opposition from its bishop. Sad. On the bright side, as my reader says: nothing is impossible with God. It's not the end of the prolife movement in Spokane. Just a setback. There are still ways to do God's work there, particularly for laity. Time to get creative! Start by doing it with love for Bp. Cupich and not in an atmosphere of polarized media circus as in Amarillo. Perhaps he will finally see that the prolife movement is on his side and not a liability.

And now our diocese will be subjected to Bishop Cupich's idea of what the music for the new translation should look like. Frankly, having watched some of the you-tube video of his ordination as bishop of Spokane, I'm not particularly optimistic.

We still anxiously await the appointment of a new bishop for our diocese. But while I HOPE for a good bishop, I dread the possibility of what we might get. I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that Bishop Skylstad and Archbishop Vlazny are doing some of their own lobbying for a particular type of bishop, if not a particular man. There has been some grass roots effort to express to Rome the need for a strong, orthodox, EF-friendly bishop. I guess I didn't think I needed to add "pro-life" in my request, but maybe I should have.

What's the chances Rome is listening to the likes of me? After all, these bishops are all buddies, aren't they?


Monday, September 26, 2011

"Top Ten Reasons to Live"?

A form in the Diocesan Chronicle has as its title "Top Ten...Reasons to Live". This strikes me as odd to begin with. Is this for a suicide prevention task force?'s for a youth conference. Go figure.

Okay, so that's not REALLY what it's about. The form asks us to list the “top ten things our youth should know to live a happy and fulfilling life”. The organizers of the youth conference want to share our lists with the youth, and have the Youth Council "discern the TOP TEN to be shared with the youth” at their conference.

The first thing that struck me was that it is taken for granted that it is important to live a “happy and fulfilling life”. That’s pretty much the by-word in our world today, isn't it? Happy. Fulfilling. Until the next happily fulfilling thing comes along.

I’m a convert, and so I was not raised with the Baltimore Catechism, but I know that one of the first questions asked in that little book is “Why did God make you?” The answer: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”

I notice that it does not say that God created us to be happy in THIS world. It says we are to know, love, and serve Him, and be happy in the NEXT world.

I taught religion at a Catholic high school while I was in my RCIA year. I remember a student making the statement (in response to what, I do not recall) that one should “always follow one’s heart”. Looking at me expectantly, the student then asked, “Right, Dr. Boyd?” Without even thinking, I answered, “Oh no. Don’t follow your heart. Your heart will lie to you at every opportunity.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 says, “More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.”

Don’t trust your heart. Trust in the Lord (with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding). Trust the precepts of  the Church.

It strikes me that the “top ten” things our youth should know are the Ten Commandments. That’s the beginning of knowing, loving, and serving Him. And that’s what we are called to do, whether or not it makes us feel “happy” or “fulfilled”.

Maybe I’ll send in the form, listing the ten commandments. Perhaps I’m just too pessimistic, but I don’t expect it will even find its way onto the table at the Youth Council.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Compare and Contrast

Our diocese is about to hold its annual clergy assembly, and one of the topics of discussion will be "The Changes in the Music for the New Mass". Both clergy and laity will be able to experience this presentation.

I admit I know nothing about the presentation. However, what I read in the "Diocesan Chronicle" does not leave me hopeful that the changes will be in line with the mind of the Church. The presenter, we are told, has a "firm belief in the primacy of congregational song" and this has shaped the music program he has directed at his parish for 16 years. The "Chronicle" article continues: "Strong insturmental leadership, combined with...student and adult cantors and a dedicated adult choir has contributed to liturgy that is, in the word's original sense, the 'work of the people'."

These words hold nothing but red flags for me. "Congregational song"?!? I imagine the congregation singing "On Eagles' Wings" and the like. I do not imagine we're talking about Gregorian chant.  "Instrumental leadership" always suggests to me lots of guitars, but I could be wrong in this case, of course. And despite the attempt to tie "work of the people" to the word "liturgy", I strongly suspect that what this really means is that the people are doing exactly what they want with the music, and are not paying attention to the Church's statements concerning the primacy of chant, the primacy of the organ, or any other guidelines concerning what is to be considered sacred music. I said...I could be wrong.  It's happened before.

Still, if descriptions matter, I think I would prefer a different program: "Mystical Body, Mystical Voice". I have not experienced this program, either. But look at the description: it "is grounded in sacramental theology and the liturgical rites of the Church"; it seeks to help the faithful "to understand the beauty of what [the new translation] offers for the enrichment of their knowledge and fruitful liturgical participation"; and it includes "an introduction to the new English chants of the Order of Mass." Much more is said in the brochure I received.

I think there's a battle going on. The purveyors of "church music" - those who get money for their compositions and their publishing efforts - will want to continue in the same vein they have been pursuing for the last 40 years. The people who seek to raise the standard of our liturgical music - to make it truly liturgical, to keep it focused on worshiping God rather than ourselves, and to make it an integral part of the Mass - will be pushing for a heightened awareness and understanding of the role of music in the liturgy, a greater understanding of liturgical and sacramental theology, and greater ACTUAL (not "active") participation in the Mass.

Let's not settle for a re-hash of what we already have in terms of dumbed-down music that sounds like the Protestant church down the street.  Let's up the ante. Let's raise our minds and hearts to God. Let's challenge ourselves.

Oh...I'm not suggesting that we picket the Diocesan Center during the presentation. I am suggesting that we ask our pastors for something that is less milk and more meat.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Let them eat cake!"

Ah, the trials and tribulations of those who would like to have the extraordinary form of the Mass offered in our diocese...sigh.

Over the last six months, while giving lip service to his "support" of the EF Mass, our stand-in bishop (known as our Apostolic Administrator) has effectively removed the only priests willing and able to say that Mass in Bend. This is important because the Society of St. Gregory the Great (I serve on the Board of Directors) has been sponsoring a monthly EF Mass at the old St. Francis church since 2008. People come. People want the Mass.

First, the AA took away our primary celebrant by simply restricting him to saying Mass in one single location in the whole diocese. This was not a punitive action; this was not a suspension of faculties. It was a capricious, ill-conceived notion instigated by a vindictive and power-hungry person in the chancery office. The AA went along with it, even though it's pretty clear that it was a bad decision. Other priests do not support it, and at least one priest knowledgeable about canon law has told the AA that he is violating some important rules. So be it. We await a new bishop, or a decision from Rome, whichever comes first. Or maybe both, depending on who we get for a bishop.

Back to our story: Two different priests from the far reaches of the diocese then traveled lots of miles for lots of hours to celebrate that Mass for us, as a stop-gap measure.

Then a newly-ordained priest became available to say the Mass for us in the Bend parish. It even appeared that there would soon be a weekly, rather than monthly, EF Mass available at the historic St. Francis church.

Then...gosh darn it! That priest just HAD to be moved to a different parish - about as far away from Bend as you could get and still be in this diocese - due to circumstances beyond anyone's control (yeah, right). I'm sure the AA is really very sorry about all this. Not.

Now it comes to light that the powers that be in the chancery office think that maybe it would be a good idea to have that pesky EF Mass at the one location where the first priest is allowed to say it. This location is "only" an hour's drive from Bend. Yes! "Let them eat cake!" (I have an even better idea! Road trip to Rome, folks! I'm sure we can find a good EF Mass there!)

So let's get this straight: it somehow makes sense for 30 or so people to make a 2-hour round trip drive to attend Mass in a chapel that (un)comfortably seats a maximum of twelve congregants, rather than to allow the priest in question to simply say the Mass at the church in Bend. Let the mountain come to Mohammed, I guess.

I would like to see the same suggestion made to people who prefer the ordinary form of the Mass: "This week, we are having the EF Mass at 10am in the parish church. Those of you who prefer the Novus Ordo may attend at X church, an hour's drive from here." Get ready for a lynching.

This situation is ridiculous. Either the AA is stupid (which I doubt), or has it in for the EF Mass (hmmm), or is very deficient in administrative skills (evidence mounts from other decisions he's made), or simply doesn't care. Or some combination thereof. I wish I could be charitable enough to believe he really does care about the people who want the EF Mass, and who would really like to have it on a weekly basis. But, having had a personal conversation with the man, I'm 99.9% sure he doesn't.

Pray for a new bishop. A good bishop. A bishop who supports liturgical integrity, reverence, and beauty. Who will shepherd the people and be a father to his priests. Oh...pray for our AA, too. He is accountable to God for whatever ill effect his actions have on the faithful under his care.

Pray. Fast. Pray and fast.

Friday, September 23, 2011

You Go, Bishop Olmsted!

Good news!

This seems to me to be a bishop who talks the talk AND walks the walk. In the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has now limited reception of Holy Communion to the host alone, in most cases. Naturally, the “it’s my right” crowd is crying foul. But the Diocese of Phoenix has issued a nice statement and Q&A page that addresses the issue.

I think it is of prime importance that they mention the fact that widespread offering of the chalice inevitably leads to overuse of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. I’m all for limiting that. Mass is not about how many of the laity can be utilized in one capacity or another around the altar and sanctuary. We do not "actively participate" (and that translation should be more along the lines of "actual" participation) in Mass through physical actions like ushering, passing the collection plate, "bringing up the gifts", serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, singing in the choir, or serving as a reader. We particpate in Mass and we "assist" at Mass through prayer.

That's not the only good news coming out of this diocese: last August the news was that the Cathedral of that diocese will now use only male altar servers. What a breath of fresh air that should be! That one is not a diocesan-wide decision, and not one made by the bishop, apparently. The Rev. John Lankeit, rector of the Cathedral, said he made the decision on his own, in hopes of promoting the priesthood for males and other religious vocations, such as becoming a nun, for females. Either way, he surely has the bishop’s approval.

To me, the most significant thing about these developments in Phoenix is that we can see a bishop who is following the GIRM, which is an instruction, after all, and not a suggestion. It seems he is aware of the importance of the liturgy for the salvation of souls.

He handled that whole deal about the abortion at a Catholic hospital very well, too.

Misleading the Faithful

The Vortex continues to trap and expose the lies and falsehoods of the homosexual agenda in our Church. Yesterday, Michael Voris mentioned the programs and presentations the homosexualists have so kindly (not) prepared for the faithful. He brought to light an essay by Paul Lakeland which appeared on the Washington Post website a week ago. The article irritated me so much that I decided to use the Fr. Z Protocol to comment on it; in other words, here it is with my emphases and comments.

Time to talk about sexuality in the Catholic Church
By Paul Lakeland

The difficulty many people have in understanding this teaching is the gap between affirming gays and lesbians as made in the divine image and loved by God while condemning sexual activity among gays and lesbians as “intrinsically disordered.” This teaching puts gays and lesbians in no different a position from heterosexual unmarried Catholics, who are also expected to refrain from sexual intercourse. No. The Church, in #2357 of the CCC says: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.” The Church does not say that the attraction between heterosexual unmarried people is disordered. It says that the proper context for the consummation of that sexual relationship is marriage. Marriage between one man and one woman. On the other hand, unmarried heterosexuals can get married and thus, in the church’s eye, then engage legitimately in intimate sexual activity. Since same-sex marriage is not considered possible by the church, gays and lesbians are called to life-long celibacy. Apparently, it is all about sex. If you view pro-homosexual websites, you see this pretty blatantly. It’s about who can have sex with whom. That’s why we have an organization like the NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) which essentially promotes the legalization of pedophilia.Many people, not just gays and lesbians, would like to see the church change its teaching on homosexuality. The Church is not a democracy. Many people would like to see the Church change its teaching on issues that are their own pet peeve. It doesn’t work that way. Recent surveys show what may to some be the surprising fact that Catholics form the American Christian denomination most favorable towards either same-sex marriage or civil unions (74 percent at the last count). In itself that doesn’t mean they are necessarily right or that the church will bend to such a statistic, but it does suggest that the gap between the current position of the teaching church and the apparent convictions of Catholics gives us something that we have to discuss. No. What it suggests is that catechesis in this area has been very poor, and that the homosexual political agenda has had the upper hand in forming the consciences of the people of this country. I think these “convictions” are a nod to political correctness, not a moral conviction.As to whether Catholic Church teaching will ever change on this topic, it’s hard to say --though one should never say never. Teachings have changed in the past and they could do so again. Some teachings have not changed, and never will. There. I said it. Never. Because Truth is Truth forever and always and cannot be changed, even if 99.9% of “Catholics” want it to. What seems fairly sure is that they won’t change because the church will recognize same-sex marriage or partnership as a matter of human rights. If the teachings change they will change because of a religious or, more accurately, a theological justification. Those who believe such a change can or should occur focus on Catholic understandings of the goodness of creation, which includes the goodness of all human beings as God made them. I think Mr. Lakeland has forgotten about original sin. Disorder follows from the fallen nature of man. By grace, we can overcome the disorder. If all human beings are "good" just the way "God made them", then why do the same people who follow the homosexual agenda seem to be the ones condoning the killing of babies in the womb who might have Down syndrome, or some physical deformity? Isn't this "the way God made them"? Let us also remember that there IS NO "GAY" GENE. One cannot claim to be inherently homosexual (though there is the possibility that some are, in which case they have a heavy cross to bear, and they are called to a life of celibacy. Others are called to seek help to change their disordered thinking and desires.).The biggest obstacle to change in the church is the centrality of “the natural law” in official Catholic sexual ethics, meaning by this term that sexuality is “ordered” to procreation and that while sexual pleasure is a legitimate and even God-given good it is only appropriate in relationships that reflect this “ordering,” namely, heterosexual marriage. Why is “ordered” always in quotes here? It’s a clear concept, if not very well understood these days. Still, I think it is pretty obvious to most people that a man and a woman fit together sexually, and a natural result can be a new life. But it is equally obvious that two men or two women do not fit together sexually, and no baby can result from such a “union”. So if the teachings on homosexuality are to change, that will probably have to be part of a larger change in the way the church understands sexuality, which would also have implications for other hot-button issues in Catholic teaching like premarital or extramarital sex, contraception, sterilization and so on. They are hot buttons because liberal “Catholic” theologians have made them into such, not because there is a legitimate issue at hand. And apparently, Mr. Lakeland would like Church teaching on the related moral issues to change as well. Right now, there is no sign that the church is ready to make such a momentous move. Thanks be to God. At any rate, such a “momentous move” would only be a reflection of the error into which theologians like Mr. Lakeland have fallen. But that is no reason to delay having an honest, open conversation about sexual diversity and the Catholic Church. “Honest”?! Really?! I think not, Mr. Lakeland. You have already obfuscated the issue with a duplicitous characterization of Church teaching and a failure to adequately take into account the natural law. Your reasoning is intentionally skewed to accommodate the homosexual agenda.

Paul Lakeland

Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies

Director, Center for Catholic Studies

Fairfield University

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This calls for a limerick...

Fr. Rodriguez, who lives in El Paso,
Was caught speaking truth out of class-o.
“Gay marriage” is wrong,
He said all along.
But apparently he was too crass-o.

More bishop bumbling?

This just in on Fr. Z's blog:

"EL PASO, Texas — The Rev. Michael Rodriguez was transferred to a new parish because his stance on morality and the upcoming recall election “raised serious issues regarding whether his participation could be attributed to the Diocese of El Paso” and his parish, El Paso Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said."

Read more on Fr. Z. Not too long ago, Fr. Z had posted a video of Fr. Rodriguez as he addressed a city council meeting. In that video, at least, Fr. Rodriguez made it perfectly clear that he was not representing the bishop, and that he was not a diocesan representative per se. He stated the teaching of the Catholic Church, and he did so concisely, respectfully, and passionately. I sent him an email of support, and I also sent a letter to his diocese expressing my appreciation of his willingness to speak the truth in a secular forum.

Not coincidentally, in my mind, Fr. Rodriguez is a priest who is willing and able to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form, if memory serves me correctly.  Yep, here it is. I watched some video clips on his parish website and saw that Fr. Rodriguez is aware of the importance of "good liturgy".

What a shame that such a priest is not getting support from his bishop. Oh, wait. It's probably a matter of "pastoral prudence".

To be fair, I'm sure Bishop Ochoa knows much more than I do about Fr. Rodriguez and his activities.  So be it. And I hope Fr. Rodriguez is obediently assuming duties at a new parish. I don't plan to picket the Diocese of El Paso, nor do a plan to circulate a petition to "Free Fr. Rodriguez".

Still, this makes me wonder. Again. Further. Why is it so wrong for a priest to speak the Truth? And why won't more bishops do the same?

To Bash, or Not To Bash

I don’t really want to bash bishops. I agree with the concept of respect for the episcopal office; I agree that bishops are human beings, too, and thus not incapable of errors; I agree that obedience to a bishop’s decrees is required of the faithful. Sometimes, it seems to me, bishops act in highly irregular ways. Yes, we may have a media slant on the issue at hand, or the bishop may have very good reasons for taking some particular action, and we may not be privy to all the information he has used to guide his decision. Still, there are times when you just have to shake your head…and maybe shake up the community by asking some questions or making some comments.
I want to respect bishops. I do respect the office. I try to make my respect for the office lead to respect for the individuals. But when confronted with story after story appearing to reflect episcopal laxity, negligence, and even hostility toward orthodox priests, it is difficult not to become frustrated and resentful. It is hard not to see the "good" bishops as exceptions to the rule.

For instance, the recent case of Spokane Bishop Cupich telling his priests and seminarians not to pray at abortion clinics is very concerning. What are we to make of that? Should we remain silent because he is, after all, a bishop?
Today I see on LifeSiteNews that an elderly Canadian priest has been suspended for denouncing abortion and homosexuality. I have to wonder why a priest who is willing to speak the Truth is silenced – not by the civil authorities, but by the very Church whose teachings he defends!  The vicar general of that priest’s diocese cites “pastoral prudence” as the reason for the suspension. A very convenient concept, that: pastoral prudence. Much can be silenced in the name of pastoral prudence.
I’ve been a Catholic for 9 years. I have had personal interactions with only two bishops. Certainly, I should not judge all bishops by the two with whom I’ve interacted. However, I have also read of the actions of many other bishops, and the negative reports have vastly outweighed the positive.
Human nature leads us to characterize groups of people based on our interactions with only a few of the representatives of those groups. You can call it stereotyping, if you want, or you can call it “schema formation” which is a concept I studied as a grad student in psychology. We have limited capacity for holding information, so we tend to reduce our experiences to common denominators.  So, when we see many negative stories about bishops, we eventually form a negative view of that group. Is it fair? No, not to individual bishops who are doing their jobs. But it’s a fact of life. And the way bishops can change that view is to have more of them standing up for the truth that the Catholic Church teaches. I think it’s been quite a while since a bishop was martyred.
M personal experiences have certainly colored my impression of bishops: One bishop with whom I and an associate spoke regarding the issue of the extraordinary form of the Mass was quite condescending in his attitude toward us and the laity in general. He made it clear that he felt no compunction to obey Rome; "I'm my own superior" he told us. He made sweeping generalizations which he apparently expected us to believe. For instance, he told us that many of the irregular liturgical practices we mentioned were not abuses because “it’s done that way in many places in the US”. He maintained that liturgical abuse is “a matter of perspective”, and that if the priest says the words of the consecration properly, then little else matters. He also maintained that even if a translation of the Latin prayers of the EF Mass are provided, “people won’t read them”. I find this kind of reasoning ludicrous, especially from a bishop.

The other bishop with whom I have had personal interaction was fond of saying, “You may be right, but there are more important things than being right.” Hard to argue with that kind of “logic”! (He was also known to invoke “pastoral prudence”.) When I complained about a priest who had maligned me and my family, allowing and possibly encouraging our good name to be trodden upon, even in a town 90 miles away, this bishop said there was nothing he could do about it. Why? Because he didn’t have first-hand knowledge of the situation. All I could think, as I stood there with my mouth open, was “I’m telling you it happened. You spent 45 minutes on the phone with my husband listening to the story. And there’s NOTHING you can do?” In matters of institutions and individuals failing to reflect Church teaching, he liked to use the rationale that “I have the authority, but I don’t have the power” to correct them.

I know I’m not the only one with this kind of experience. We are seeing more and more evidence of bishops who, essentially, are not faithful to the teachings of the Church, especially where homosexuality, artificial contraception, and even abortion are concerned. Michael Voris has had much to say about the homosexuality issue the past two days, and I think he has good points.

So what do we do? Do we turn a blind eye and a deaf ear when bishops say and do scandalous things? Or do we respectfully, but firmly, announce that “the emperor has no clothes”?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lessons from Sheep-herding

The following paragraphs are excerpted from my article “Lessons in Sheep-herding”, which appeared in Homiletic and Pastoral Review in November 2008. If you are interested in reading the entire article, please email me.

…The relationship between dog and shepherd is important, too. My dog instinctively knows what to do with the sheep – at least on a basic level. She wants to achieve a balance where they are motionless, but still grouped together. She circles them, she nips at the heels of those who stray, and she endeavors always to keep them under her control. However, she needs to learn that we are a team: I, as the human shepherd, have a plan that I wish to implement with her help. She must pay attention to me, as well as to the sheep, and follow my instructions. One of my mentors watched my dog work, and commented, “She needs to work for you. Right now she’s just working for herself.”

If you take out the word “dog” in the above paragraph, and substitute “priest” and/or “bishop”, I think you have a good picture of the Church! Priests and bishops want to protect their flocks, keep them together, prevent strays. They may even have some “instincts” that help them to achieve this, and they certainly are given graces by virtue of their ordinations that enable them to accomplish God’s will. But they must also be attentive to the Good Shepherd; they must be aware of His plan and carry out His instructions. Otherwise, they are working for themselves, not for God.

We can also alter the picture slightly, and perhaps achieve a better working model of the Church today if we put the Vicar of Christ, the Pope, in the position of the Good Shepherd. Now the issues at hand become quite clear: the Pope must issue the directives; the bishops must obey the Pope; the Faithful must obey the bishops. When the chain of command breaks down, the dogs run amok, and the sheep are led astray.

In herding sheep, I am the shepherd, and my dog does her best to follow my instructions…most of the time! Now and then, she decides it’s better to “go bye” than “away to me”. Once she’s taken action on her decision, it is futile for me to call her back; sometimes it “works” and she keeps the flock together, but usually she succeeds only in scattering them, and we have to do some repair work. Generally, I have a plan, and I want my dog to take a particular action whether or not she “agrees” with me. If she fails to follow my commands, we fail to move the sheep according to plan. It’s as simple as that.

In the Church, our Holy Father is issuing commands to the bishops. Certainly, he is infallible in matters of faith and morals, but we are all required by the obedience of faith to follow his teaching even if it is not issued ex cathedra. Most importantly, the bishops must follow the Pope’s directives, or their flocks are going to scatter. It seems to me, in my limited experience as a Catholic and in my reading of the history of the Church in the United States, that we have had many instances of bishops failing to obey the commands of the Holy Father, resulting in confusion amongst the sheep…er, laity.

My admittedly limited reading of historical Church documents and their implementation in the US has led me to the conclusion that American bishops, especially since Vatican II, have felt that they are entirely within their rights to disregard these documents. I believe this is an outgrowth of the fact that our nation was founded and shaped primarily by Protestants who sought freedom both from foreign monarchs and from the limits those monarchs set on religious practice. As Catholics became increasingly integrated into mainstream American life, they too came to view that “Bishop of Rome” as a foreign domination they’d rather avoid. This image must have been made even more apparent to American Catholics during the time of John F. Kennedy’s political career, as allegiance to the Pope as a potential threat to the integrity of JFK’s presidency was made an issue at that time. I’ve heard more than one lay Catholic refer to “that bunch of celibate old men in Rome” making rules that grates on American sensitivities.

…[Several examples of bishops avoiding obedience to the Pope are given.]

When bishops are unfaithful to their promise of obedience, it seems that several messages are sent to the Faithful. First, these bishops imply that they do not consider the Faithful intelligent enough to recognize the disparity between their actions and the words of the various documents. The laity has easy access to the documents described above, and many of them can and do read them! If a bishop then directly – or even indirectly – opposes them, at least some of the laity will notice. If they don’t, any number of “bloggers” will pick up on the discrepancy and make it public. More and more, reluctant bishops will have to endure their Faithful crying out, “The emperor has no clothes!” And it is undeniably an insult to the intelligence of the laity for bishops to maintain their “innocence” when the evidence is there in black and white.

Second, the bishops seem to be saying that they can ignore the directives of the Vatican with impunity. When bishops issue their own statements or directives that can be seen to be in conflict with what those of the Holy Father, they practically shout from the rooftops that they do not recognize the authority of the Vicar of Christ. And yet, we are all called to obey those in authority over us.

When bishops disobey, they send a third message: “Do as I say, not as I do.” They are saying, “I want you to obey and honor my directives, even though I am not in obedience to the authority above me.” This approach to leading the Faithful backfires in the long run, just as it does in parenting. By setting an example of disobedience, bishops invite their priests as well as the Faithful to engage in that very same behavior with regard to the bishop. Perhaps this helps explain the existence of groups of self-described “loyal dissenters” such as the so-called “Voice of the Faithful” and “Call to Action”, which many bishops consider the bane of their existence. And yet these groups are ostensibly doing exactly what has been modeled for them by some of their bishops and priests.

Good stuff

If you haven't taken a recent look at In the Light of the Law blog by Dr. Ed Peters, you should. He has excellent commentary on a couple of issues. In particular, he addresses Fr. Pavone's situation, and comments on Dr. Peter Kreeft's recent comments about bishops.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Limerick-ian Commentary

Ode to the Struggles of Pro-Life Priests

A priest named Fr. Euteneuer
Sadly fell under Satan’s power.
Amidst all the din
He confessed his sin,
But he’s absent in this dark hour.

 Next, Fr. Corapi stands accused,
Though he says he’s being abused.
“Not guilty!” said he,
And “Unleashed!” claimed to be.
Now the faithful are left all confused.

Michael Voris, while filming in Rome,
Received some attacks from home.
They said, “Your tax status
Has gone on hiatus”,
But he’s still protecting the womb. (Okay, I know it’s not really a rhyme, but it’s the best I can do!)

His bishop first said Fr. Frank
Has too much cash in the bank.
They both went to the press,
And it’s really a mess.
I think we have Satan to thank.

To be continued...

Friday, September 16, 2011

More logical consequences

Another "logical" consequence of abortionist thinking:

"A Palm Beach jury has awarded a couple $4.5 million dollars because medical professionals did not alert them soon enough that they needed a hitman in surgical scrubs to kill their child before it was too late.

"Ana Mejia and Rodolfo Santana would have much preferred to kill their son had they known in advance that he was not perfect.  For this inconvenience, a jury of six (who clearly themselves should not have been allowed to be born either for obvious mental deficiency) awarded Ana and Rodolfo Mengele gobs of dough."

See the rest of Pat Archbold's blog post here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughts on the Fr. Pavone Situation

Fr. Frank Pavone has been recalled to his diocese by his bishop. There are plenty of reports of the letters and responses between the two, and many articles and commentaries have already been written.

An excellent canonical view is provided, of course, by Dr. Ed Peters at his blog, In the Light of the Law.

My own thoughts, for whatever they are worth: Satan is seeking the ruin of souls. Duh.

On first hearing of the Fr. Pavone situation, I immediately thought of Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, formerly of Human Life International. Then I thought of the sad Fr. Corapi scene. And finally, I thought of two cases I know of personally but which are quietly unfolding in their own dioceses with no attention from the media.

It seems to me that Satan is working especially hard to undermine the pro-life work of priests. He doesn’t care if a priest is innocent or guilty; he just wants his name besmirched and the faithful to be scandalized. Fr. Euteneuer admitted guilt; Fr. Corapi denied everything; Fr. Pavone is not even really accused of anything, mention being made of Priest For Life’s financial management, but no substantive accusations having been made.

Now the questions are raised, though: Is Fr. Frank mismanaging the finances of PFL? Is he being disobedient to his bishop? Is he taking incardination into a diocese too lightly? Should people continue to donate to PFL? I don’t think anyone seriously believes that PFL has NOT been doing good, solid, pro-life work for the past decade or so, but now aspersions have been cast.

Bishop Zurek's communications on the matter seem very confused and confusing. Initially, he says he is concerned about Fr. Pavone’s “stewardship of the finances of Priests For Life” (see his letter); then he accuses Fr. Pavone of letting his fame go to his head. But later, Msgr. Harold Waldow, apparently speaking for the Diocese of Amarillo and the bishop, states that Fr. Pavone is only being called back to the diocese because he is “needed” there (see article here).

In my mind, confusion reigns supreme in all this.

Satan took out Fr. Euteneuer, who gave in to temptation and fell. Personally, I think Fr. Euteneuer handled the situation correctly by confessing his sin, expressing his remorse publicly, and quietly following whatever orders his bishop gave him. Unfortunately, Fr. Euteneuer’s excellent book on exorcism has become unavailable through its publisher and through mainstream outlets as a result. And of course, we no longer have the benefit of Fr. E's blunt and enlightening editorials via Human Life International.

Fr. Corapi fell hard. Was he guilty as apparently charged? We may never know. But more visibly, he refused to comply with the orders of his religious superiors, and unilaterally declared himself no longer a priest, essentially. As far as I am aware, his teaching has always been orthodox, but now it is unavailable through Catholic sources because of his unwillingness to be obedient to the Church he says he loves. He’s marketing it himself, but how far can that go? He said he didn’t want to “crawl under a rock and die”, but I’m thinking he managed to do something pretty close to that.

Now Fr. Pavone is attacked. Are the charges valid? We don’t know. As Dr. Ed Peters notes, both sides have valid points from a canonical standpoint. But, again as Dr. Peters notes, both sides are making some errors in terms of presentation in the media. The result is confusion and scandal for the faithful.

So two leaders are basically out of the picture, and a third is trying hard to keep himself in the fight. They're not the only ones, of course; I know of at least three other priests facing such difficulties. They are not in the media limelight, so you won't see their names in headlines. The fight is going on constantly, though.

To top it all off, this afternoon another story has surfaced on LifeSiteNews: Spokane Bishop Blase Cupich has “apparently urged diocesan priests and seminarians in a September meeting not to pray outside abortion clinics”. What kind of nonsense is that!?!

Satan is working overtime. Duh.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Logical Consequences

LifeSiteNews recently ran a story with the headline “Shock: No jail time for woman who strangled newborn because Canada accepts abortion, says judge”. Read the whole story here.
Shocked? Well, yes and no. I’ve thought for years that this is the logical outcome of acceptance of abortion, but I guess I never really thought it would happen. I remember reading a story years ago about a college girl who gave birth in a bathroom and then put the baby in a trash can. I remember the horror I felt at such a thing happening, but also remember thinking about the ludicrous fact that while she was condemned for her actions and did some jail time, abortionists are killing thousands of babies each day and yet what they are doing is legal. What is the difference between what the college girl did and the abortionist does? It is only a separation of a small slice of time and the difference of physical location.

I’ve also thought about the laws we have regarding unborn babies. For one thing, of course, abortion is legal (not safe and rare, as its proponents say they would like). It is therefore legal to kill an unborn child. But wait…if a pregnant woman is murdered and her unborn baby also dies, there’s a double murder. Wikipedia’s entry on the subject says, “The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a "child in utero" as a legal victim, if he or she is injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

So, it’s okay to kill some unborn babies, but not others. How do we know when it’s okay and when it’s not? It depends on whether the baby is “wanted”. That begs the question, “Wanted by whom?” Even if the mother says she does not “want” her baby, others often do: the baby’s father, the baby’s grandparents, and even unrelated strangers who would love to adopt the child.
The incongruity of the law on the subject of the killing of unborn children is evident also in the push to pass a “Personhood” amendment to the Constitution. This amendment would essentially define the “fetus” as a person. That would make it difficult to justify the legality of abortion. So there is a war going on right now in that arena, because pro-abortion groups know they must prevent that amendment from becoming reality if they are to stay in business.
Here are the two lines of thinking:

1) the “fetus” is not a person, not a child, not entitled to life, until a particular milestone has been reached. This milestone must be defined by law, and “logically” we would engage scientific which means to determine that milestone. This won’t happen, though; science has already stipulated that life begins at conception. That’s why the groups following this line of reasoning are intent on “clarifying” the exact date a fetus is aware of pain, or is “viable”, or is cognitively aware of itself (this last definition is being pushed by some extremists and bodes much ill for all mankind. Think about it.)

2) the “fetus” is a person from the moment of conception. If that is true, then the life of every unborn baby is to be protected by the same laws that protect “born” people. That means no abortion. None. For NO reason.

There are logical consequences of each way of thinking. But remember: the validity of the logic depends on the truth of the premise. I’m afraid the world is bordering on insanity on this issue, and is willing to deny the truth in order to pursue the logic of the culture of death.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

John B. Watson

My pre-sleep musings last night turned to psychologist John B. Watson. The thoughts sprang from a fundraising email message I had received from LifeSiteNews which mentioned that a group called B4U-ACT is pushing for, essentially, legalization of pedophilia, and that the mainstream media has turned a blind eye to this outrage.
As we see more and more moral atrocities committed, society becomes more and more “accepting” of evil. It’s not an accident, either. There are groups and forces that are determined to push their disordered view of morality on us, and they are combining the use of emotional manipulation with the use of the media in an efficient fashion. If the secular groups themselves are not smart enough to use these resources, Satan certainly is.
Back to John B. Watson: he was principally involved in establishing the psychological school of behaviorism; the main thrust of this perspective is that behavior is modified by the environment, and so can be manipulated in any way the administrator of rewards and punishments chooses. A famous quote from Dr. Watson:
“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors…”
Watson is famous – or perhaps infamous – for his “Little Albert” study, in which he conditioned a young child to fear a cute, fluffy, white bunny by pairing the bunny with a loud noise which startled the baby and made him cry. Watson was able to condition a generalized fear in this infant of anything white and fuzzy.

Dr. Watson moved on, some say, to doing "sex research". The problem: this "research" involved his research assistant, Rosalie Rayner, and himself. His wife wasn’t happy about the situation, and a huge scandal ensued. Watson was drummed out of academia. Of course, that would never happen in today’s world. They’d probably just make a reality show out of it.
At any rate, after losing his university job, Watson went into advertising. We have him to thank for many of the methods advertisers use to get us to buy their products. And what is one of the primary ways to make us “like” stuff? Sex, of course. Sex and advertising. Sex IN advertising. The more we got used to seeing sex stuff on TV, the more it was used, in advertising and just in general. It’s pretty blatant now, of course.
My point? Well, I’m a psychologist by training. I guess I just find it interesting that I can see a thread winding between Watson’s principles of behaviorism, the American public’s willing acceptance of sexual references everywhere we turn, and morally corrupt organizations like the North American Man-Boy Love Association (promoting pedophilia) and Planned Parenthood (promoting abortion and contraception).
I don’t believe for a moment that we can be entirely manipulated by our environment, or by the powers-that-be who do the manipulating. But we can certainly be manipulated to some extent, and we must learn the ways to counter the conditioning we are receiving at the hands of the mainstream media. Critical thinking is a good defense.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Irritations at Mass

Knowing that we would have to attend an OF Mass (Novus Ordo) this past weekend, I was planning to do a little compare/contrast piece to highlight the differences between them, and discuss how that makes a difference for me personally, spiritually.
That will have to wait. Right now, I find myself preoccupied with what went wrong at Mass on Saturday night. It really doesn't have much to do with the differences between the "new" Mass and the "old" Mass.
Father became very agitated when a car alarm went beeping away on the street just outside the church, and several people got up to see if it was theirs, and to take care of the noise. “Everyone is leaving!” he exclaimed. Twice. “Everyone”? About 5-7 out of 60 or 70. And then, in a dither, he threw up his hands, left the ambo, and sat down in a nearby pew to wait for the people to return. So much for the points he made in his homily on the ills of wrath, anger, and irritation!
Well, of course, we can certainly forgive him for becoming annoyed at the interruption! Such things are annoying and distracting. Let’s move on to that homily which was so rudely interrupted. Besides the wrath-and-anger part, he talked about 9/11/01, of course. He had announced from the start that this Mass was for the 9/11 victims. That’s fine; I have no problem with that, really. But then he said that God had gathered up all those souls who died in the terrorist attacks and carried them to Heaven. God told them, said Father, that the worst was over and they were going to enter into a place much, much better. Or words to that effect.
In short, all of those souls went straight to Heaven.
If that is true, if we really believe that, then why are we praying for them? Why is the Mass intention for them? Why did we take a “moment of silence” at the end of the homily to pray for them? If they are truly in Heaven – every single victim – then they do not need our prayers. We need theirs.
I was horrified at the fate of those victims. Still am. Yes, I think we should pray for them. But I don’t believe that God swept them all up and took them to Heaven. I think that a very large number of them probably went straight to…dare I say it?...PURGATORY. And despite the fact that being in purgatory means a soul is on its way to Heaven, my understanding is that purgatory is not pleasant, and it is certainly not more pleasant than what we are currently experiencing on earth.
At Holy Communion, I was not surprised – having attended this Mass before – that Father placed a cassette player on the altar so that we could hear a nice song for communion (there is no choir at this Mass). This practice seems to me to be a particularly egregious affront to Our Lord.
And finally…just because Father can play a musical instrument and is fairly good at it does not mean that he should perform a tune of his own composition in honor of the 9/11 victims immediately after Holy Communion. In the parish hall after Mass, perhaps…but not during Mass. In my humble opinion.
For a related post by Fr. Z, see "Too Fussy or Righteously Annoyed..."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Worthwhile links for today's Mass

Fr. Eric Andersen of Medford, Oregon, has a nice homily for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Novus Ordo).

Fr. Geoge Byers at Holy Souls Hermitage has a profound 9/11 post with photos and excellent thoughts on forgiveness.

Fr. Z has an interesting note on the secret for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost (Extraordinary Form).

I especially like Fr. Z's parting comment on that post:

"As the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross approaches, be still and consider what the Lord has done and the great mystery we yet face."

I'm just sayin'...

For several reasons, mostly to do with the “shortage” of priests, our preferred Mass – the extraordinary form, offered at a parish 45 miles from our house – is unavailable for a few weeks.
Our alternatives are few, and they are all the Novus Ordo Mass – not that I have anything against the ordinary form of the Mass, per se. But as it is celebrated in most of the parishes around here, it leaves a lot to be desired. This is mostly due to the music: The musicians, in most cases, are pretty darn good. But the music is OCP music; most of it is just bad music. And bad music sung well is still bad music. There’s not much you can do to salvage it.
But here’s a question for you: Why is it that the extraordinary form of the Mass gets bumped when the priest is too busy? (I’m NOT criticizing our priest here. He has worked hard to learn the EF Mass, and he has defended our right to have it, and he celebrates it for us every Sunday…okay ALMOST every Sunday.)
I’m just pointing out that we are still relegated to the “back of the bus”. No one really questions why the Sunday EF Mass has to be suspended. No one asks why we can’t suspend the 9:30am Sunday Mass instead, and just tell everyone to come to the 1pm “Traditional Latin Mass”. Oh…and by the way, why does the EF Mass always have to be at an odd time – always working around the established schedule of the OF Mass?
We all know the answer, I think.
Okay, I guess it can be argued that it’s better to inconvenience the handful of faithful EF Mass attendees, rather than the group that fills about ¾ of the church at 9:30. But wait a minute…what if we don’t disturb their time at all? Let’s simply have the EF Mass at 9:30! Wow. I can imagine the letters to the bishop, should THAT happen! OMG! The people MUST be allowed to have “their” Mass! Right? Hmm. Think about it. Think about those who consider the EF Mass to be “their” Mass. Does the shoe fit both feet?
Seriously, I think it would be very beneficial for the 9:30 crowd to get a taste of their Catholic heritage in the EF Mass. They are NOT going to come to the 1pm Mass, because they “like” their 9:30 Sunday schedule. The EF Mass must come to them. What would be so harmful about switching the times now and then? Imagine the pastor announcing: “On the third Sunday of every month, the EF Mass will be celebrated at 9:30am. Those who prefer the Novus Ordo may attend at 1pm.” Who knows how many of those who show up at the EF Mass would find something worth pursuing, should they have the privilege of experiencing it a time or two?
Of course, every priest in this diocese knows he would be lynched at the end of Mass if he made such an announcement. Now there’s a sorry commentary.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Illusory Catholic Hospital, Part I

Whenever I drive into town, I pass by St. Alphonsus Medical Center. And every time I drive past that red and white sign, I get a little irritated.

Why? Oh, I’m so glad you asked! Well, I’m irritated because I’m Catholic. The hospital is allegedly Catholic, too. But I’m becoming more and more certain that there is very little about it that is “Catholic”, other than the fact that Mass is said in the hospital chapel three times per week. For one thing, I looked at their website. The word “Catholic” does not appear there at all. And yet, the Diocese of Baker lists St. Alphonsus as one of the Catholic hospitals located within the boundaries of the Diocese.

About three years ago, I looked at every Catholic hospital or medical group website I could find on the internet. I found that many mentioned their “Catholic tradition” and also made note that they were in compliance with a document issued by the USCCB called “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services” (ERDs for short). Catholic hospitals are supposed to adhere to the document. Notice that the title of the document says “Directives”. It does not say “guidelines”, or “suggestions”, or “options”.

About a year and a half ago, thinking I might write an article about Catholic hospitals, I made a quick survey of Catholic medical group websites: there was little mention of the ERDs. Perhaps the vast majority of “Catholic” health service organizations have decided that the ERDs are optional.

In February of 2010, Bishop Robert F. Vasa severed the relationship of the Diocese of Baker with St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. His primary concern was that the hospital had been performing tubal ligations; apparently, nothing was hidden in this regard, as the hospital’s Board had assumed that strict adherence to the Ethical and Religious Directives was “optional” – or at least subject to their own interpretation of them.

This was a justified and necessary move on the bishop’s part, and imparts a strong message that the Catholic Church is serious about its stand on sterilization. However, it is doubtful that this message has had any effect on “Catholic” hospitals and medical conglomerations. After all, what are the consequences for the medical organizations? There do not appear to be any negative consequences at all, in a material sense; in fact, the administrators of such institutions would perhaps see a clear path to performing sterilizations – a “service” for their community that will doubtless bring in some additional funds. When St. Charles lost its Catholic affiliation, a Bend hospital official noted that he was disappointed in the split, but that “we have an obligation to provide comprehensive health care services to our patients while remaining true to our values of compassion and caring for all." Though that may the hospital’s motivation, one might suspect that the Board of Directors sees a negative consequence of not offering such “services”: a loss of potential income. And the phrase “comprehensive health care services” should not go unnoticed: this language has been used repeatedly by pro-abortion groups and individuals as a euphemism for abortion on demand. It makes one wonder whether abortions are currently being committed at St. Charles.

Sometimes I think I should take a different route into town.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The "New Translation"

A conversation I worry would be common among Catholics:

“So…what do you think about the changes in the Mass that are coming soon?”
“What changes?”
“You know…the new translation…?”
“Translation of what?”
“Ummm…well, have you heard about the third edition of the Roman Missal…?”
“No, but I heard something about a new Sacramentary.”

But the USCCB wants us to know that:

“The entire Church in the United States has been blessed with this opportunity to deepen its understanding of the Sacred Liturgy, and to appreciate its meaning and importance in our lives. Parishes should now be in the planning process for the implementation, with a goal toward executing that plan in the coming months.  The parish’s leadership and various sectors of the parish community should be catechized to receive the new translation.  Musicians and parishioners alike should soon be learning the various new and revised musical settings of the Order of Mass.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Prayer for Election of a Bishop

This is the collect from the votive Mass for the election of a bishop. May we have a holy shepherd in the Diocese of Baker soon.

Deus, qui pastor aeternus,
gregem tuum assidua custodia gubernas,
eum immensa tua pietate concedas Ecclesiae (Bakeriensis) pastorem,
qui tibi sanctitate placeat,
et vigili nobis sollicitudine prosit. Per Dominum.

Lord God, you are our eternal shepherd and guide.
In your mercy grant the Church (of Baker) a shepherd
who will walk in your ways
and whose watchful care will bring us your blessing.
We ask this through Our Lord…