Sunday, December 8, 2019

The wolf will be a guest of the lamb

Stroke

Dear friends, this week it was discovered that I have had a pretty serious stroke.  Serious in that the part of my brain that has been affected was fairly large.  Through the Grace of God, however, I have had zero noticeable effects of this stroke.

I spent 4 days in the wonderful care of doctors and nurses at St. Francis Hospital as they tried to figure out why the stroke happened.  Despite their diligent work, they could not locate the source of the stroke. 

They have referred me on to the Mayo Clinic, where I will visit in a few weeks.  The Mayo Clinic specializes in cases like mine that defy the normal battery of tests and procedures.

I know that before, during, and after (and always) that there are lots of people praying for me and for their priests.  I appreciate that, and ask for your continued prayers.

I am very much at peace, and have been given medication to ensure that until I can get further diagnosed, I will not have another stroke.

I have been given the green light to carry on with my priestly ministry as normal with the encouragement from the doctor to take it easy. 

Thanks again for your ongoing prayers.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Strengths and Weaknesses of NCYC 2019


Weaknesses

1 – There were zero talks on what I would consider the top 5 threats to the Catholic Faith of teenagers.  Nothing on:
a. How science and Catholicism are compatible
b. Catholicism and homosexuality
c. Catholicism and transgender issues
d. How to respond to the new atheists (nor was there anything on how to respond to the old atheists)
e. Catholicism and same-sex marriage

I have no idea why the top 5 threats our Catholic teens were not addressed head on.  They may have been mentioned at some point in some break out session, but you would have no way of knowing.  Those 5 topics need to be the TITLES of talks.


2 – Intentionality.  Every conference needs to welcome in people at the beginning and recognize where they are, but then there needs to be an intentional plan to help them MOVE to a new place, closer to the Lord.  I did not feel like NCYC did that.  At some point there needs to be an intentional ….”we’ve talked about the ways in which we are hurting and broken…and so now we are all moving towards confession…this is what confession is…we now have an opportunity to do that…and then this is Jesus in the Eucharist and adoration…this is the fulfillment”

It just seems like all weekend there are confessions available without intentionality and then there’s adoration but it isn’t a moving the group, together, through those stages nor through catechesis.  I’m not blaming Mark Hart’s talk on adoration because it was PHENOMENAL…I just mean I’d like to see an intentional and catechetical movement that everyone knows about and is working on.


3 – Our young people need to see liturgies (Mass, liturgy of the hours, and adoration) that are the liturgical rites of the Church, and not amended.  There is a humility in submitting to the liturgical texts and rites of the Church. 

4 – a lack of silence in adoration.  The group adoration in Lucas Oil stadium had really loud music playing almost completely throughout adoration, and I think there was literally about 90 seconds of silence.  Imagine how powerful it would be for our young people to be in a place where 18,000 people were all together in silence.

And you don’t need noise to cover over confessions.  Priests know how to do confessions quietly, or you could also move confessions out into the concourse.

I’m sure some will accuse me of bemoaning all of his lack of silence to my young people, but I literally made a commitment to not say a word or make weird faces or in any way express my discomfort with the lack of silence, but as my kids walked out of adoration, they expressed to me an exasperation with how adoration went. 

Also with regard to silence, I went to the adoration chapel set up in the convention center.  The following things interrupted it.  I was never able to have more than 10 minutes of silence in the chapel despite trying numerous times.
1 – adoration ended so that there could be a teaching Mass
2 – a religious order giving a talk while Christ was exposed, and then proceeding to invite everyone forward to be blessed by an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.
3 – A priest giving his vocation story while the Blessed Sacrament was exposed
4 – my young people wanted to go to the chapel so we did, and there was a reflection/homily being given
5 – after that, my young people were hoping for silence, but an organist started in with music and asked everyone to join him in the songs

Young people want and can handle silence, and those who haven’t experienced it will be moved by it when they experience it.  We don’t have to keep the young people moving/talking/singing…let them spend time in silence with the Lord, particularly as our world gets louder, more frantic, and more under the iron grip of the dictatorship of noise. 

Have an adoration chapel where only adoration takes place.  Do all the other prayer/music/Masses/blessings/witness talks somewhere else.


5 - You have tons of seminarians at the conference.  Let them serve the liturgies.  They are contemplating giving their lives to the Church...why not hold them up and let them do what they have received tons more training for?



Strengths



1 – I bring my young people to NCYC mainly to see thousands of other young Catholics who are willing to give Jesus Christ and His Church a try, and many who are living it vibrantly.  My young adults go to 7 different public high schools, and most of them have only 1 or 2 other Catholics in their entire school.  NCYC is a 45 minute drive to show them thousands of other Catholic teens.

2 – Every single speaker that we heard was absolutely amazing.  The keynote speakers of Immaculee Ilibagiza, Mark Hart and Sister Bethany Madonna were mind-blowingly great.  Our breakout presentations that we attended were also very much loved by our group.

3 – There was a nice emphasis on chant and beautiful liturgical music.  I know my group appreciated that very much.

4 – I loved the lectio divina modeling that took place.  That was a great idea!

Monday, December 2, 2019

same-sex marriage and Catholicism

Same-sex marriage is THE issue that finishes off whatever vestiges of Catholicism were still lingering in lukewarm Catholics.

“I’ll do the “no meat on Lenten Fridays” thing, but if you’re saying my sister/friend/cousin can’t receive Communion if they marry whomever they want, I’m out!”

Sunday, December 1, 2019

We worship a God who "waits"...

so we should be people who "wait" as well






The point: we worship a God who waits, so we should be people who wait.  

1)     God waits and does not come as Jesus Christ.  He waits for thousands of years of the Old Testament, through awful leaders, horrible sins, giant failures of His people, horrible persecutions and famines, God waited.  Of course it is not an inactive waiting, God was very much at work in both holding everything in existence allowing everything to exist, active through an infinite number of interventions, most that we won’t know about until the end of time…but God did not yet come as Jesus Christ until, as the Bible puts it, the world arrived at the fullness of time.

2)     God also waits in that He has not come back to wrap the world up yet.  Through horrible persecutions, great sufferings, awful wars, horrible sins etc. the curtain still remains up on the world…the world continues and God waits for the fullness of time.  Of course God doesn’t sit on the sidelines, it is not an inactive waiting, God was very much at work in both holding everything in existence allowing everything to exist, active through an infinite number of interventions, most that we won’t know about until the end of time, but God has not returned.

We worship a God who waits, so we should be people who wait

Waiting seems terrible.  No one else makes us wait – everyone responds instantly – Kroger usually opens a new checkout line if the person in front of you has too many groceries, Amazon will deliver your package today…But God waits, and in this season of Advent in a special way, the Church asks you and I to wait.

A couple of things about this waiting:

1)     Is it an inactive waiting?  No!!!  Jesus says in the Gospel today “Stay awake”…the readings urge us to vigilance…and that is the type of waiting we are called to…the type of waiting that God does – a vigilance and an alertness to every single thing that is happening, action and intervention when needed, and so the same for you and I.  We wait, but we are alert, and we are still acting. 

2)     This “waiting” to me is best lived in prayer.   When we pray, it is the waiting of God
a.      It is not the waiting to get in to see a doctor
b.      Our contemplative prayer in Advent (and always) is a sitting WITH the doctor…the waiting with Him in prayer is what heals us and refines us

We worship a God who actively, alertly, lovingly and vigilantly waits.  This Advent, let us be people who also actively, alertly, lovingly and vigilantly wait as well!

Sunday shopping, sports, restaurants, etc.

I will never shop on Sunday, and have tried to cut out Sunday restaurants (once or twice in the past 5 years) - I am hoping to never do it again.

I'm not sure where these exceptions came in paragraph 2187 of the Catechism of things allowed to happen on Sundays.




I am also in favor of getting rid of CYO sports on Sunday.

So I'm not sure how either "sports or restaurants" DON'T make unnecessary demands on others.

"I don't want to make any unnecessary demands on you, but I need someone to ref my kids soccer game, and someone has to make me a sandwich"?????

I'm not debating the Catechism, I just share all this as the fruit of some research and thinking over the years on this subject, along with sharing this quote from the Catechism as well.  What are your thoughts?  Why do you think the Catechism includes sports and restaurants as things that are necessary?  Is it the inclusion of something unique to a particular culture?


Perpetual Adoration and the fallen away Catholics


Fixing the public school system

How to fix the public school system: teach philosophy. Philosophy can be taught in a completely "secular" way according to even the strictest understanding of that term.

It would also greatly help our Catholic schools as well.

Start in about 4th or 5th grade. One class a year on the history of thought and thinking. Most kids sit around asking the serious questions of life around 3rd-4th-5th grade anyways, and most of them don't know that their questions are the same questions that many great thinkers have been writing about and working on (and even "asnwering") for millennia.

When I was in the seminary learning philosophy, I regularly thought:
1) This is AMAZING!
2) These were the same questions I was thinking through and wrestling with since 3rd grade.

"Rethinking" Catholicism

‪“If the Church was not directly instituted by Christ, then it has to be rethought ceaselessly, reorganized according to rational schemes answering the needs of the moment”‬

‪Cardinal Robert Sarah‬
‪“The Day is Now Far Spent”‬

Christ as coach and teacher


Thanksgiving

The candles are lit.  The linens are fresh.  The chalice is prepared.  Everything is ready for Thanksgiving ad orientem!


A statement from my Dad on Roncalli

Given the recent situation that has made the rounds concerning Roncalli High School, I wanted to share this message from my Dad.  Prayers for all involved!

Read the message by clicking here: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1101402553986&ca=85d34caa-71f4-4782-8d43-85100d14ce77&fbclid=IwAR275hvNVknOD7pYGBl7SmIt712dWFMysawKHlBZv2Oqnr3QSN5OZ_Kh2oY

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Kanye and Zacchaeus






Kanye West is one of the more famous music acts of the 2,000’s, selling about 40 million rap and hip hop albums in that span.

Lots of profanity and so forth

Kim Kardashian is Kanye’s wife, and she is probably more famous than Kanye

If you don’t know who they are, I promise you’ve seen their faces in the grocery check out lane every week for the last 15 years.

About a month ago, Kim Kardashian and her three children were baptized in the Armenian Orthodox Church

Kanye started hosting religious revival prayer services

And this past week, Kanye released a gospel hip-hop album titled Jesus is King

This is not a homily about the text of any of the songs – but there is some good stuff in there – I’ve listened several times….

I would still suggest first reading Scripture, the Catechism and about 200 saints

But the same applies to me too – I would suggest Scripture and the Catechism and hundreds of saints vs. anything I’ve ever written as well

What I want to preach about today is not the text of a song but the reaction Kanye’s conversion has received both inside and outside Christianity

Some have said they think he is insincere

Some have said they think he’s doing it just to make money

Some think he may be sincere now, but he’ll backslide
HE MIGHT!  HE MIGHT BE INSINCERE…HE MIGHT BE DOING IT FOR THE MONEY…HE MIGHT be sincere now, backslide, reconvert, backslide 80 more times…I have no idea.

But it strikes me that Kanye is very much like Zaccheus in the Gospel today. 

Worldly, wealthy, and when Jesus comes and dines with him, it says

“The Pharisees grumbled saying, “He has gone to eat at the house of a sinner”, but folks, he has dined with Saint Peter, Saint John, Judas, Zaccheus, and You and I – we have no idea where our story ends, or where Zacheus’ story ends, nor do we know where Kanye’s story ends….some people that Jesus dines with become saints, and some are Judas’

But this also is not a “do not judge homily” – although we shouldn’t judge a person’s conversion from afar…I should judge actions…If Kanye makes his old music again, I can judge that act…if people who are close to me do something wrong, I should judge that act and speak up…but armchair authenticity judgments from 1,000’s of miles away are gross and wildly inaccurate.

Here is the point of the homily: and it is in the first reading: God rebukes us little by little
Rebuke might turn us off, so let’s rephrase it as “God is patient and showing you the next little thing to work on, to change, the next vice to remove, the next virtue or habit to work on

God is patient with you and I, God is patient with Zacheus, God is patient with Kanye, God was patient with Saint Peter, and God was patient with Judas.
Some respond to God’s nudges, his little by little

God doesn’t usually show us ALL the things we need to fix in ourselves because it might crush us or get us to despair

Some might read the saints and despair – Therese or John of the Cross is so far from who I am
Maybe….but God works with us little by little

And perhaps, for those who can’t handle Therese yet, the words of a Kanye or even a person like me might be the way God chooses to nudge them forward, little by little

Conclusion: I ask you to ask God today “Lord, what is the next thing you are calling me to do…the next step to take…what is a small thing I need to get rid…and a small thing I need to add?”

Jesus wants to dine with us too…and the Pharisees will grumble…but God is working with us little by little.  We thank God for his patience and we get to work with a sense of urgency…because our salvation, as always, hangs in the balance

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Stop trying to "find yourself"!

"Who am I?" is a really strange question

Homily for All Saints




All Saints – the feast day for our time, because we’re not sure who we are anymore. 
Thomas Howard - Who Am I? Who Am I?
He said if you were given phrases like “Who Am I?” or “Identity Crisis” “my self concept” you know they would be phrases uttered in our own day.
“all of art, movies, poetry, painting – it all assumes that somewhere we lost ourselves and must grope for any straw of affirmation that may float by in the dark…we send up flares signaling “Help!  What are we?”
And so we consult gurus, sages, horoscopes, palm readers, fortune tellers, or you join a group that will nudge you along toward an answer by getting you to sit in a circle with them, or breathe with them, or dance with them, or work through your hangups with them

When did this happen?  When did the question “Who am I” push itself to center stage?  Probably somewhere after the Renaissance when in the 18th-19th centuries we exiled the gods, but we had nothing left to contemplate but ourselves.

A certain distance has to be between the asker and the thing they are asking about, so when we ask about ourselves, that means there has to be some unnatural divide in us
And then comes Christ to show us salvation, but we might be offended that he just seems to give us a lot of commandments…the beattitudes, deny yourself, love your neighbor….
After all, we might say, I must find out who I am before I can do anything else?
But God would say “must you?”  In the Bible, there is a curious lack of any suggestion that our business is to first find out who we are.

Conclusion: but in doing the things of God, REALLY praying, REALLY serving the poor, REALLY fasting, REALLY being humble I discover my real freedom and personhood not in looking for it but in learning to love God and my neighbor

It is dangerous to preach about yourself on all saints day…but let me just say that very imperfectly it has been THROUGH doing the things I’m asked to do, imperfectly, that I have come to settle in who I am, in a way that the long years of searching have not

Often with Saints, we are drawn to their stories
“What would it look like if I lived like Saint Francis?
Or Therese who died as a teenager?
Or King Louis, or Saint John the Baptist, or Dominic, or the Blessed Mother or St. Joseph…
And those are all good.

But what we must know, in this age where we question our identity and think we have to find ourselves first before we hop on the train with God, is that we won’t find ourselves UNTIL we pick up a shovel, and get to work doing the things God is asking of us, and when we do that, we’ll wake up one day somewhere we never planned being a person we never planned on our own, and could never have known when we were 18 or 50 or 90 and trying to find ourselves
What any person’s life will look like when they begin to follow God … it is anyone’s guess, but you and I will be as varied as St. King Louis of France is from Saint Damien the leper
As different as the bookish and brilliant Thomas Aquinas is from the warrior St. Joan of Arc

Do you want to know who you are? In your baptism, you are a son or daughter of God…now get to work living that…and the question “who am I” will evaporate and never be a concern again.

Monday, October 28, 2019

A supply-side approach to the Eucharistic Crisis

In learning that only 25% of Catholics under 40 believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, most of the discussion has been from the demand side ("What can we do to get people to want/believe in the Real Presence?")

We also need to be looking at it from the supply side.

1) What, as a Church, are we "supplying" around the Real Presence? (read: "How is Mass celebrated?")

2) Among the VASTLY different ways that the Eucharist is "supplied" to people, are some MORE effective in communicating to the "consumer" that Christ is "Really Present"?

3) Can bishops do anything to change the way the Eucharist is "supplied" in their diocese in order to move it towards what imparts to the "consumer" that Christ is truly present, or are they essentially powerless, and thus subjected to the whims of how any particular priest/parish chooses to "supply" the Eucharist?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Cardinal Sarah on the Amazon Synod

4 quotes on the Amazon Synod in Cardinal Sarah's new book
"The Day is Now Far Spent"


"If, in a missionary impulse, each diocese of Latin America generously offered one priest for the Amazon region, this region would not be treated with so much disdain and humiliation through the fabrication of married priests, as though God were incapable of raising up in that part of the world generous young men willing to make the total gift of their bodies and their hearts, their whole capacity to love and all their being in consecrated celibacy.”

..........

“If because of a lack of faith in God and because of pastoral shortsightedness the Synod for the Amazon region met to decide on the ordination of [married men], on the fabrication of ministries for women, and other incongruities of this sort, the situation would be extremely serious.… The Spirit blows where He wills, certainly, but He does not contradict Himself and does not create confusion and disorder. He is the spirit of wisdom. On the question of celibacy, he has already spoken through the councils and the Roman pontiffs.”

.........

“If the Synod for the Amazon region made decisions along the above-mentioned lines, it would definitively break with the tradition of the Latin Church.”

..........

What would I be today if missionaries had not come to live and die in my village in Guinea? Would I have had the desire to be a priest if they had been content to ordain one of the men of the village? Has the Church grown cold to the point where among her children there are not enough magnanimous souls to get up and go off to proclaim Christ in the Amazon region? I think, on the contrary, that the prospect of a total gift to God can wake up the drowsy souls of many young Christian men. It is necessary also that we bishops have the courage to call them!”

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Jean Paul Sartre and Catholicism

I've never heard of any foundational Catholic authors/theologians/etc. who converted to atheism on their deathbed


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

ONE OF MY PARISHES HAS A CHRISTMAS CD!

We've been so blessed at my parishes with wonderful sacred music through the years.  Our wonderful director of sacred music for the past 7 years, Mr. Edward Atkinson, put this Christmas album together that I hope you'll consider downloading and sharing with others.  


Thanks for helping our little parish be a light to the poorest community in Indiana!

You can access the site by clicking here: https://www.stambroseschola.com/restoration/


Monday, October 14, 2019

Former Parishioner on the Ground in Syria

Prayers and anything else appreciated.

A former parishioner is working on the ground in Syria as a researcher collecting info for global news sources. This person is in the direct line of fire, knows what is happening and what help is needed.

correct info: https://rojavainformationcenter.com/

donations: http://hskurd.org/en/


Sunday, October 13, 2019

"I am a better scientist than you"





Saint Pope Pius X once said that there is a great heresy, a false teaching, blowing through the world in our day – and he called it the collection of all the world’s heresies into one – and he said it is basically the denial of the supernatural.

The longer I’ve been a priest, the more I see what he’s saying.  If you think the world is a machine, and everything is determined by chemistry and biology and that everything that happens in the universe can be calculated, then the problem is this – there is no gratitude.

Not thankfulness, because there’s nothing to be thankful for.  It is all science, and math and physics and genetics and neurons, it all has an explanation, even though no one has the explanation, many people tell themselves “surely smart people have the explanation for everything” or at least “surely someday smart people will FIND an explanation for everything”

As a person who wants to see everyone happy and at peace, who wants to see everyone know and follow Christ, what breaks my heart in this denial of the supernatural is that so many people tell themselves a monstrously awful thing: so many today say that if they saw a miracle, they would certainly recognize it. 

Let me say that again, people tell themselves the lie that if they saw or experienced a miracle, they would know it.

Since people tell themselves that they don’t experience any miracles, since they don’t see anything miraculous happening, there is nothing to be thankful for, nothing to have gratitude in our hearts for, so we become a hard and cynical people who rip each other apart on line, are lonely, and addicted and depressed because nothing miraculous ever happens.


We’ve said before that the current generation is walking away from the Faith at an epic level, and it is happening today around the age of 13, and the studies suggest it is largely over this supposed clash vs. science and Faith.

I want to say something here: I’ve talked before about the fact that I studied math, but I realized I need to say something if it might help a teen who sees “what can be proved by science” and Catholicism proposes as being at odds.

I was the Calculus student of the year in high school, and I was the math student of the year my junior and senior year in college, and I was really close to going and working on at least a masters in mathematics before deciding to go to the seminary.  I know it is absolutely gross to talk about yourself, but I would say I’m probably better at math and science than 98% of 13 year olds – I know – a really high bar.  But St. Paul does this also to make a point – he says no one was a more devout Jew than I. 

I say this about my science background in order to say “I’ve never seen anything in math or science that contradicts anything in my Catholic Faith.  AND, on the other side of that, I’ve had tons of things that I’ve seen in math and science that have confirmed and strengthened by Catholic Faith.

But if me making a fool of myself talking about college math doesn’t help, I also reached out to a medical doctor, two people I know who are in med school, and the best chemistry brain I’ve ever seen, and I’ve asked lots of Catholic scientists and mathematics people the same questions.  None of them report ever having their Catholic Faith challenged by anything in science, and they also report, though, what they have seen, as strengthening their Faith a great deal.

Gratitude comes from realizing we’ve been given something, that there is such a thing as kindness and love, and gifts, and that we’ve been given a gift.

And what is the gift?  What are the miracles we’re missing?

One of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a while was a video clip of about 90 seconds.  CNN host Anderson Cooper was interviewing Steven Colbert who is the rare Hollywood person that doesn’t brandish about his Catholicism but also never seems to be ashamed of it.

And the video gets right to the heart of what we’re discussing – miracles – gratitude and whether we have anything to be thankful for at all.  Whether anything special ever happens or we’re all just chemicals bumping into each other in a machine.

Anderson Cooper, in the midst of a larger interview where I’m told they dive into politics, set that all aside and go watch the 90 second clip.

Colbert lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash when Colbert was only 10.  Cooper starts to ask Colbert a question, and as Anderson Cooper asks the question – he gets choked up.  The question he gets out through tears is this:

“you once told an interviewer to love the things you most wish had not happened.  You went on to say “what punishments of God are not gifts”  Do you really believe that?

Colbert says “Yes, it is a gift to exist, it is a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering, there’s no escaping that…if you are grateful for your life, you have to be grateful for all of it”

They went on to talk more about suffering and Christ and Catholicism, and it was, in my estimation, the Church’s teaching on the gift of existence even in the face of suffering, all condensed into 8 minutes.  I hope you’ll go seek it out.

Colbert said, in that interview, the key Catholic rebuttal to those who want to strip out mystery – it is a gift to exist

We are grateful when we are given gifts.

And gratitude is what fuels religion, it is what fuels our Catholic Faith and our world view.

I’m here tonight/today because God has given me many gifts – some I see, but MOST  I don’t see

9 run off after being healed from leprosy and don’t think to say thanks. 

They don’t see the miracles of their own healing, so they run off without a word of thanks, on to the next thing.

Many of us do the same

Don’t tell yourself that if a miracle happened you would know it

Let us be the Samaritan who sees the miracle of his healing, and return to Christ.  Let us also say to Christ tonight and always the two words that will totally change our relationship with Christ: “Thank you”


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Faulty Interpretations for This Coming Weekend's Readings


Ambiguous and/or non-Catholic sermon topics for this weekend’s readings:


1) “In the first reading, we see the curing of Naaman the Syrian.  Jesus later mentions in Luke 4:27 “And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian”, and that sends the Jews into a FRENZY of anger and they try to kill Jesus right then and there.  In our own day, lots of pharisaical Catholics don’t want to hear that God is working outside the walls of the Catholic Church.  They want to keep Christ in and want to keep others out.  They want to exclude and judge.  “Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13).

RESPONSE: In the Old Testament, God’s Covenant was with a particular people (nation).  The people who were upset with Jesus were upset that He was saying that God can also work outside the Jewish nation.   Now the New Covenant is open to EVERYone.  Any halfway decently catechized Catholic knows that God works outside the walls of the Church as well, but that He desires to draw everyone to the Church even when He works outside it.  So those who “lock people out” would only be those who tell other people “you need not worry about becoming Catholic…there’s nothing here for you that you don’t already have outside the Church.”  They are the ones locking people out and not entering in themselves.




2) Jesus went to the lepers in the Gospel today, a place where some don’t want him to go.  Today there are places where some mean Catholics do not want the Church to be present.

RESPONSE:  This is false.  Every true Catholic wants the Church to be as present as possible to every person on the planet.   That is why men and women, through the centuries, have chosen celibacy and even the missionary life…in order to bring the Gospel to ends of the Earth.  That missionary option needs to be encouraged and celebrated.

Also, St. Augustine says about this weekend's Gospel: “The lepers may be taken mystically for those who, having no knowledge of the true faith, profess various erroneous doctrines. .. leprosy is a blemish in color, when true things appear clumsily mixed up with false in a single discourse or narration…It is plainly implied that leprosy is false doctrine which the good teacher may wash away.”  Augustine is saying that it is clear that Christ desires to purify and wash away from people false doctrines.  Speaking about such false doctrines as if they were something that the Catholic Church should celebrate would be dangerously wrong, in the same way that people would not suggest that a healthy person would benefit from contracting leprosy.

The Church has historically, through missionaries, teachers, etc. never been afraid to go to a place where non-Catholic ideas reside, but always with the goal of bringing people TO the Church, “curing of the leprosy of false teaching” as Augustine suggests.  

All of us, in bringing the Gospel to places where it isn't celebrated (workplace, school, larger community, etc.) should show up and say "you all follow false teachings!  CONVERT!"  But working for the conversion to the Church of all we meet is a call we've been given by God.  We ignore and/or demean that call at our peril.




3) “Our second reading says that the “the Word of God is not chained”.  Unfortunately, in our own day, many bad Catholics want to chain up the Word of God and keep people from receiving the Good News of the Gospel.  Many bad Catholics today want to keep people from the Eucharist because they want priests to be celibate men.”

RESPONSE: A priest is not just a sacramental dispenser, a functionary whose role is only significant because of the sacraments he “produces”.  A priest is to be conformed to Christ, and is called to be a type of “alter Christus” to the people.  So the priest has value apart from his ability to administer the Sacraments.   We don’t go to Mass to see the priest, but the priest’s presence among the people, in his celibacy, continence and chastity, is an important aspect of Catholicism, and celibacy has a long history (when lived)of being a dramatic and effective sign that impresses non-Catholics that the Church is always seeking to invite to a conversion to the Church.  People in every age recognize the fact that a person being willing to give up marriage (and sexual expression within marriage) means a person believes, in a more radical way, the things he or she is seeking to offer (in this case, the Truths of Catholicism).

The Catholic priesthood has also been historically understood to be connected to the Old Testament temple priesthood, where God required that the men who would offer sacrifice practice a period of abstaining from sex for several days in preparation to serve at the altar. 

Canon 277 also says: “Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are bound to celibacy which is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart and are able to dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and humanity.” 

I also submit Chesterton: ““It is true that the historic Church has at once emphasized celibacy and emphasized the family; has at once (if one may put it so) been fiercely for having children and fiercely for not having children. It has kept them side by side like two strong colors, red and white, like the red and white upon the shield of St. George. It has always had a healthy hatred of pink. It hates that combination of two colors which is the feeble expedient of the philosophers. It hates that evolution of black into white which is tantamount to a dirty gray. In fact, the whole theory of the Church on virginity might be symbolized in the statement that white is a color: not merely the absence of a color. All that I am urging here can be expressed by saying that Christianity sought in most of these cases to keep two colors coexistent but pure.”   
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 6

In the past, what has led to an explosion of the Catholic Faith around the world was a consistent call for heroic missionaries.  Are we issuing that call anymore?




4) “In the lepers that Jesus visits in today’s Gospel, we see that Faith is present prior to full incorporation into the Church.  So we see that non-Catholics and even non-Christian peoples are capable of possessing Faith even prior to evangelization.  So we can leave them where they are and not work with urgency to bring them to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith.”

RESPONSE:  First of all, it is important to note that the 10 lepers in the Gospel this weekend cry out for Jesus!  By name.   And that matters.  They do not cry out for some other deity.  They cry out for Jesus.   Theopholus notes: “They do not merely supplicate or entreat Him as if he were a man, but they call Him Master or Lord.”

And secondarily, yes, Catholicism acknowledges that Faith in God can be present even prior to baptism and prior to a participation in the sacraments of the Church.  St. Thomas  Aquinas says it this way: man receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly; and yet when he actually receives Baptism, he receives a fuller remission, as to the remission of the entire punishment. So also before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit: but afterwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fullness of grace and virtues III q. 69 a. 4. 

There are specific gifts that Aquinas notes for those who are baptized:  1) incorporation in Christ, 2) enlightenment and 3) fruitfulness.  So we should want all to come to the Church and join in the sacramental life of the Church so that they receive these amazing gifts.  Again, it is why countless missionaries gave up everything – they went to help incorporate people into the life of the Church; to INVITE (never force.  Always invite.  Where anything other than invitation to the Church has been used, the Church condemns that OUTRIGHT)  them to a new reality altogether, a life as a Son or Daughter of God through baptism, not through continuing to do what they have been doing, nor to live as they had been living.  I can’t believe we have to say this, but it is important that a person become Catholic.  If we understand Catholicism, we should desire that everyone join us in the Church.

Aquinas also teaches that those who are not baptized will at best enter into purgatory.   Suppose, therefore, catechumen to have the desire for Baptism (else he could not be said to die in his good works, which cannot be without "faith that worketh by charity"), such a one, were he to die, would not forthwith come to eternal life, but would suffer punishment for his past sins, "but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" as is stated 1 Corinthians 3:15 (III 68 a. 2 ad. 2). 

We cannot be content to let people outside the Church continue to live outside the Church.  Again, without force, our hearts should desire completely that all know the Life of Christ in His Church.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Review of Infiltration


I will say up front that I’ve known Dr. Taylor Marshall for many years informally.  We both hopped on “Catholic Twitter” about the same time, and, as time goes by, you see a person’s stuff pop up and you find yourself saying, over time, “I agree with that person a lot.”  No one agrees 100% of the time, but over the years you start to informally befriend those you keep coming across and those you share ideas with.

I was blessed to be able to be a chaplain this summer for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land that Dr. Marshall led.  It was asked that we do the Latin Mass each day, so I was a little intimidated by that prospect as I only celebrate that form of the Mass once a week.   I didn’t know how intense Dr. Marshall and the other 90 people coming on the trip would be.  Let me tell you something, I’ve never been with 90 nicer people than the 90 people I went on pilgrimage with this summer.  Dr. Marshall and his wife Joy brought their 8 children and there were lots of other young adults there, and the pilgrims were just super normal and super down to Earth. 

I share this so that you know 1) my bias and 2) I hope this gives a bit of insight into the Dr. Taylor Marshall I’ve had the limited chance to get to know. 

Dr. Marshall’s notoriety has also exploded over the last 18 months in the wake of the (formerly Cardinal now Mister) McCarrick story that broke in the summer of 2018.  Dr. Marshall had a podcast that had started prior to the scandal breaking, but it was his episodes, particularly the ones where he joined with Timothy Gordon, that put him in the Catholic spotlight.

Dr. Marshall and Tim Gordon, from the moment the McCarrick story first broke, started talking frankly and clearly about the story in a way that the average Catholic could understand (also in a way the average priest could not say things!).   This awful and (still very much ongoing) scandal needed (and still needs) the sort of frankness and directness that Dr. Marshall and Tim Gordon have been bringing to this topic for the last 18 months, and their viewership has grown exponentially.

In covering the twists and turns of any major story, any good reporter that is able to explain to people what is happening in clear English will naturally unearth lots of interesting and noteworthy information from interviews, from their own research, and from information sent to them as people see the platform that the reporter has. 

So we now come to the book “Infiltration” by Dr. Marshall which was published by Crisis Publications in early 2019.  The book strikes me as essentially a combining together into one book the written record of the research and information gleaned from his podcast over these past 18 months.  I found the book to be concise and full of good information that I had never seen before.  I would say that the material laid out in the book is stuff that the average Catholic can understand, and is also important information that every Catholic needs to know about.

So let’s get to the critics of the book.  The criticisms I’ve had the chance to come across generally fall into three categories:

1) “Infiltration” is not academic enough.  It contains good research in places, and then it blends in the author’s own hypotheses in a way that serious research does not.  It is not as polished as the Oxford Dictionary, and there are accusations dropped in that are messy and not always explained.

2) In a related criticism, “Infiltration” is too “conspiracy theory-ish” in nature.

3) More research should have been done before publishing.


My response to criticism 1: the book is written in a style similar to Dr. Marshall’s podcasts, and that, in my mind, explains the book’s success so far.  A lot of the people lamenting that “Infiltration” is too informal are some of the same people that can’t get anyone to read their books.  It is fairly obvious why people are drawn to Dr. Marshall’s podcast; he speaks in plain English.  People, it seems to me, are fed up with “Church talk” and want to hear, in plain English, what’s going on and what should be done.  There will always be jealousy by those who want more people to listen to their version of what is happening, but can’t say it as clearly and concisely as the people that are garnering praise and attention for their clarity.

“Infiltration” isn’t written in theologian-speak.  I don’t believe I saw any instances of the words “ecclesiology” or “Christology” or any other of the myriad of theological jargon that, while at times important, puts the average Catholic to sleep really quickly.


My response to criticism 2: yes, Dr. Marshall puts in some of his own hypotheses, but I would say to the critics “You mean you really can’t tell where he’s inserting a hypothesis?”  To me it is quite obvious where he is speculating and where he is sharing a fact.

As to the book being to “conspiracy theorist”, I would say, first of all, the whole premise is that there is some kind of conspiracy, so that would imply that the book is “conspiracy theory-ish”.  Secondly, consider the fact that the following things all are matters of historical record, and are not “theories”:

1) Bishop Athanasius Schneider endorsed the book. 

2) Paul VI in a HOMILY in 1972 REALLY said: “no its’s not mysterious; through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the Church of God”

3) Pope Pius IX really did approve the apparition of “Our Lady of La Salette”

4) Leo XIII in 1890 published the Saint Michael Prayer.

5) Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich really wrote in the early 1800’s that Satan would be unleashed on the world in the second half of the 1900’s. 

6) Fatima happened, and even if nothing has been hidden (John XXIII’s secretary has said the second half of the third secret was hidden) there is much to pay attention to.  That some in the  Church have covered up and never revealed parts of what the children were told to share with the world is a “conspiracy theory” in the sense that there is strong evidence that people conspired to do something, but regardless, Fatima itself really happened is not a conspiracy theory and has much to pay attention to.

7) VENERABLE Bishop Fulton Sheen actually said, in a book, “He will set up a counter church which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God.  It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.  It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.”  That is an actual quote, not a conspiracy theory.

8) A former Communist agent Manning Johnson testified before the United States House in 1953: “Once the tactic of infiltration of religious organization was set by the Kremlin…the Communists discovered that the destruction of religion could proceed much faster through infiltration of the Catholic Church by Communists operating within the Church itself…This policy of infiltrating the seminaries was successful beyond even Communist expectations.” (public record…not a conspiracy theory on the internet)

9) In 1958, 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass, and today it is only 22%.  That’s not a conspiracy theory.

10) In 1965 there really were 49,000 seminarians and in 2002 there really are 4,700. Not a conspiracy theory.

11) Cardinal Danneels is the one who first let everyone know there was, as he himself termed it, a “Sankt Gallen Mafia” of Church leaders.  That’s not a conspiracy theory.  He said it.

12)  Alice Von Hildebrand reports that Bella Dodd confessed to her and Dietrich that Russian Communists were working with 4 cardinals high in the Vatican.  If you don’t trust Alice Von Hildebrand, and put her in the conspiracy theorist category, I don’t know what to tell you.


As to the final criticism that there needs to be more research: I agree, as I’m sure Dr. Marshall agrees and lots of other people agree.  Dr. Marshall is a father of 8 children working hard to raise a family and teach online and so forth, does anyone actually think one person would EVER be able to unearth the depth of this situation?

The Spotlight story that broke open the abuse crisis of 2002 in Boston had a team of 5 full time reporters working on the story for years.  How many reporters covered Watergate?  But Dr. Marshall, through first interviewing victim James Grein, uncovered an eerie connection with McCarrick and Sankt Gallen (I’ve noticed some professional Catholic outlets criticize “Infiltration” and then turn around and reference the information Dr. Marshall unearthed in his interview with Grein, all while not crediting Dr. Marshall with discovering the info.  That’s plagiarism where I come from.  The same has been done to some of the stuff that Church Militant and George Neumayr have discovered.  They’ve been described as non-professional, and then, by the same groups, have their work non-professionally plagiarized).

I am confident in saying that Dr. Marshall would love nothing more than to see lots of other people continue to do a deep dive and investigate all the strands of this story.  That no one else seems willing to look any deeper into this story, given what Dr. Marshall has already been able to unearth and pull together, will certainly only add fuel to the fire of those who are tempted to see conspiracies.

I’m thankful for the work being done by Dr. Marshall, the book “Infiltration” very much included!