Saturday, December 29, 2018

Parents are called to be artists - Holy Family 2018 homily

The Catholic Church has long been connected with art and beauty
A way to point to the higher things beyond our every day reality also help us to see that we are always surrounded by such things that point us to those higher truths 

Saint John Paul II – “a letter to artists”
“None can sense more deeply than you artists, ingenious creators of beauty that you are, something of what God at the dawn of creation looked upon the work of his hands. A glimmer of that feeling has shone so often in your eyes when—like the artists of every age—captivated by the hidden power of sounds and words, colours and shapes, you have admired the work of your inspiration, sensing in it some echo of the mystery of creation with which God, the sole creator of all things, has wished in some way to associate you.
There has always been a fruitful dialogue between the Church and artists which has gone on unbroken through two thousand years of history.
In fact, this dialogue is not dictated merely by historical accident or practical need, but is rooted in the very essence of both religious experience and artistic creativity. The human craftsman mirrors the image of God as Creator.”

So we promote and have promoted beauty in the Church for 2,000 years – promoted art and artists

I say all this to say that as Catholics, as important as the vocation of an artist is, the people who have the greatest ability to mold, shape, craft and create something of infinite worth are families – and primarily parents
            In 2 Sentences at the beginning of the Book of Genesis, God sets everything in place, and God also lays out all the most fundamental things that are under attack today
      God created mankind in his image; male and female he created them.
And in case it isn’t clear, God reiterates in the next chapter: That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body

The greatest work, infinitely more than the mona lisa or Beethoven’s 5th, is a human person, and the parents, and thus the larger family as well, is offered the role of helping shape and form that human child into a saint – to teach, to nurture, to train
Artists, when inspired and motivated to create something, will forego sleep, money, food, etc. because they have a vision of what they are creating.  Parents are called to operate under the same inspiration – to see their vocation to be artists, co-creators, given a role to play in the shaping and formation of a human person

God doesn’t just dictate this from on high – it is through the family that Jesus Christ is trained and shaped and raised.  Most of his life is unknown, time with his family, time working, time being taught and trained and loved and formed by parents.  God models this and opts for this

The world seeks to rip apart everything in Genesis.

People are not made in the image and likeness of God
God did not create them male and female
People should not be fruitful and multiply
Marriage is not a man and a woman leaving their father and mother and becoming one body

The Catholic Church, and this parish, are a place that radically is for families – we stand behind parents who are making the RADICAL and COURAGEOUS choice to accept God’s call to be artists of people – co creators of that which has infinite beauty – a human person

We thank all families for their yes to cooperate with the plan of God, a plan that He first lived himself in coming into the world through the formation of parents and family

Friday, December 21, 2018

20 Quotes that Struck Me on My Retreat

1)      Paul VI: “There is a great disturbance in this moment in the world of the Church and thus it is the Faith that is in question.  What is happening today reminds me of the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke, “When the Son of Man returns, will he still find Faith on Earth?”  Books are being published in which the Faith is denied in important points, yet the bishops remain silent, as if they do not find anything strange in those books.”

2)      “Cadrinal Ciappi, theologian from the pontifical household from 1955 to 1989, in a letter reveals that “in the third secret of Fatima, it is predicted, among other things, that the great apostasy in the Church will begin at the top.”  – Antonio Socci, “The Fourth Secret of Fatima

3)      [on the unreleased part of the third secret of Fatima, a caller calls in to speak with Father Malachi Martin. Father Martin was able to read the entirety of the third secret of Fatima.  The caller says that they know that the secret] speaks of a Pope who “would be under the control of Satan.  Pope John [XXIII] was reeling, thinking that it could have been him.”  Father Martin responds: “Yes, it seems that this person would have had a means of reading or would have been given the contents of the secret.”  - Antonio Socci, “The Fourth Secret of Fatima

4)      “One remains horrified in the face of a council [Vatican II] that pronounces itself on everything, but does not proffer a single word on the ideology of a regime [Communism] that since 1917 had realized (and was still realizing in those years) on a planetary scale the most immense and bloody work of eradication, extermination, and persecution of the Church in its bi-millennial history. Pius XII was attacked furiously for years because, according to his critics, he did not formulate clear and public condemnations of Nazism during the war (which is, however, untrue).  But John XXIII has received only applause for having contracted this “silence” with the Kremlin.”  - Antonio Socci, “The Fourth Secret of Fatima

5)      “All of the priests who maintain the possibility of a dialogue with the deniers of God and with the Luciferian powers of the world are mad, they have lost the Faith, they no longer believe in the Gospel!  They thus betray the Word of God, because Christ came to bring to Earth a perpetual alliance only with men of goodwill, but not ally Himself with men thirsty for power and dominion over their brothers.  The flock is dispersed when the pastors ally themselves with enemies of the Truth of Christ.”  - Saint Padre Pio, 1963

6)      “Union of the soul with God is not accomplished so much in the sweetness of prayer, as in embracing perfectly the holy Will of God.”   - Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, “Divine Intimacy

7)      “Even when obstacles are put in the way of good results from his apostolate, we must still be patient and pray much.  Neither must his patience diminish when his capabilities seem to be out of all proportion with the work he has to do.”  - Fr. Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange O.P., “The Priest in Union With Christ

8)      “God never confers a power on anyone without, at the same time, giving them the necessary means for the worthy exercise of that power.”  - Fr. Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange O.P., “The Priest in Union With Christ

9)      “While the Reformation and the Enlightenment begin as allies (The Christian and the secular versions of rejecting the Natural Law and Catholicism), their intellectual grandchildren grew into bitter 21st century rivals in America.  In fact, you know these grandchildren as the “religious right” and the “secular left”.  – Timothy Gordon, “Catholic Republic

10)   “What God has told me, take for truth I do.  Truth Himself speaks truly, or there’s nothing true.”  - St. Thomas Aquinas, Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1381

11)   “There is always a danger in human nature of watching self, and in prayer is a worse plague than anywhere else.  Watching self at prayer is not prayer and being too concerned about where we are is a good way to hinder development.  When a person is really fervent in his love for God and totally intent on pleasing Him, he cannot stop to bother about his own progress as though it were some kind of game to acquire points…when we know we have given ourselves wholly to Him and our desire is to cooperate with Him, we do not desire to know where we are but what He wants.”  - “A Guide to the Stages of Prayer According to St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila

12)   “The miracles of the Church seem to me to rest not so much upon forces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.”  - Willa Cather, “Death Comes for the Archbishop

13)   “Ah well, that is a missionary’s life: to plant where another shall reap.”  - Willa Cather, “Death Comes for the Archbishop

14)   “He did as the angel had commanded him, and he took Mary into his home.”  - Matthew 1:24

15)   “What is this Eucharistic vocation in the opinion of St. Peter Eymard?  It is a special attraction of grace, gentle but compelling – as if Christ were saying to the soul: “Come to my sanctuary.”  Provided no resistance is offered, this attraction gradually becomes supreme.  The faithful soul responding to this invitation finds peace, as though it had discovered at long last its natural home and spiritual food: “I have found my resting place.”  - Fr. Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange O.P., “The Priest in Union With Christ"

16)   “The angel awaits an answer.  Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, o loving Virgin, in their exile from paradise.  Abraham begs it, David begs it.  All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death.  This is what the whole Earth waits for, prostrate at your feet.  It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned…”Behold the handmaid of the Lord”, she says, “be it done to me according to your Word.” – St. Bernard, “A Homily in Praise of the Virgin Mother

17)   “Priests who remain faithful to Mary are fired by her with extraordinary zeal.  This is particularly true of those priests who consecrate themselves to Mary in the way suggested by St. Louis De Montfort.”  - Fr. Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange O.P., “The Priest in Union With Christ

18)   “The fool, who has no understanding of our dignity and our hopes, accuses the Creator of injustice, pointing out signs of imperfection in the designs of Divine Wisdom.  He is like a savage who one day goes into one of our building yards.  There he sees stones scattered about, materials lying on top of one another, workmen carving metals and cutting away marble; and the spectacle preserved by this activity, he sees only a picture of confusion and ruin.  He does not know that the apparent disorder will, one day, engender an order of admirable perfection.”  - Fr. Charles Arminjon, “The End of the Present World

19)   “Man is alive as long as he waits, as long as hope is alive in his heart…our moral and spiritual stature can be measured by what we wait for, by what we hope for.”  - Pope Benedict XVI, “Angelus Address to Begin Advent, 2010

20)   “Our heart is an altar.  The victim placed on this altar is our evil inclinations…the sacred fire, which must burn night and day on the altar of our heart, is the love of Jesus Christ.”  - Father Charles Arminjon, “The End of the Present World

Monday, December 3, 2018

Comparison of the Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching with the USCCB List

I've been blessed to be a part of a study group of Catholic Social Teaching, which has been a passion of mine since being asked to teach it to high school seniors for 2 years right after I was ordained.

The Church has compiled almost 200 years of Catholic teaching on societies into what is known as the "Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching."  It is a lengthy but very important compilation, and many people throw the phrase "according to Catholic Social Teaching" around but don't appear to have any but the faintest of understanding about what the Church actually teaches. 

"Catholic Social Teaching" is a phrase that a person can use and be fairly sure no one will correct you.  It has even become popular over the past several decades among Catholic politicians seeking to justify every policy under the sun.

What I've put together below is something I consider to be a FASCINATING chart of the major chapters of the Compendium of Catholic Social teaching as compared to the points that the US Bishops highlight as the "7 key points of Catholic Social Teaching"

The reasons I share this is that in reading through the Compendium several times now at this point, I don't see anything that merits singling out any item on the left as being "more important" than any other, with the exception of "The Dignity of the Human Person".  The Church does say all over the place that "The Dignity of the Human Person" is the fundamental principle.  But I'm not sure what would allow SOME of the ones on the left to make the cut and not others.

It is interesting to look at what major points of Catholic Social Teaching on the left did NOT make the cut.

1) The Common Good
2) Universal Destination of All Goods
3) Subsidiarity
4) Fundamental Values of Truth, Freedom and Justice
5) The role of business and economy at the service of humanity
6) The Political Community
7) The International Community
8) Peace, war and just war

A few notes:

1) I would also say I personally prefer "marriage" and "family" getting their own topic versus being combined into one, and I think their phrasing by the Compendium is more dramatically appropriate for our time

2) Some of them, as found as chapters in the Compendium, would need to be reworded before describing them as a key point of Catholic Social Teaching.  You wouldn't just say "A key principle to Catholic Social Teaching" is "The political community".  I wouldn't say, as some might suggest, "well, we left it out because it wasn't phrased well."  My response would be - "rephrase them"

3) I do not want to theorize about why the 8 points listed above did not make the cut, but I think it is a good conversation for people to have - "on what criteria were these 8 excluded, and on what criteria were the 6 (besides dignity of the human person, which clearly belongs) chosen?"

Marian Consecration Podcast: Day 29

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Marian Consecration Day 24 (November 28th)

The Root of the "Bishops and Priests Having Sex with Young Adults" Scandal

"Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church.  What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture?  In India, I would suppose that the evil would demonstrate a similar tendency to be "good" Hindus or "good" Moslems.  I do not mean that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious.  I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them"

- Martin Buber in "Good and Evil" -
Footnoted in M. Scott Peck's "People of the Lie"

We've all been hearing so much about "clericalism" as the root of the "Bishops/Priests/Cardinals having sex with young adults" scandal.

That notion has been challenged in many places.  I've argued from the moment I heard the "clericalism" defense that it is a convenient thing to blame because we can't even define clericalism.  We've been preaching to seminarians for 50 years "BE LESS CLERICAL" and all we've seen is the sexual crimes by clerics MULTIPLY.  So maybe we need a new strategy besides telling priests and seminarians to be less "clerical"?

In reading all of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and any other accounts I can get my hands on, one thing has become clear to me - the clerics who are sexually assaulting people are the ones that BLEND IN.

The criminals are the ones that get the parents/families to TRUST THEM

Whatever clericalism is, its opposite is being able to blend in with families and be "one with the people"...BUT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT ALMOST EVERY SEXUALLY ASSAULTING CLERIC DID...THEY BLENDED IN

No one was saying "Let's let our son Johnny go on a camping trip with "Father arrogant" and "Father entitled""

If we are going to lay this scandal at the feet of "clericalism" (which we can't even DEFINE) then the evil wins because it continues to remain hidden

Here's an idea - let's study the actual criminal clerics.  What were the patterns?  Some quick things we might learn scientifically:

1) What percentage of them were praying a daily holy hour?
2) What percentage of them prayed a daily rosary?
3) What percentage of them fasted once a week?
4) What percentage of them prayed their breviary faithfully?
5) What percentage of them took their annual 5 day retreat?
6) What percentage of them were striving for going to confession once a month?

You could ask them these questions in about 30 seconds.  I'm sure there are other questions we could ask them as well.

I GUARANTEE you the percentages for all 6 of those questions above is VERY low.  There may be other data as well. 

But I am completely dismayed that we don't seem to be taking any kind of a psychological nor a scientific approach to this crisis in the priesthood, but are instead blaming some term that can't even be defined.

We are fighting an enemy that WANTS to remain hidden, even hidden from those who are guilty - to root it out is going to involve enforcing external policies that help root it out and make it easier to spot, both by the clerics themselves and by those who supervise them.  As Jesus said: "Some demons can only be exorcised through prayer and fasting"

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Preparation for Total Consecration: Day 9 (November 13th)

Sarah Kroger

This may not come as a surprise to you if you've read this blog through the years, but I'm not a big "praise and worship" guy.

One artist that I do really enjoy listening to while driving around Western Indiana is an artist I first encountered at a Focus SEEK Conference a few years ago.

Young adult Catholic artists need our patronage and support.

Run over to iTunes and pick up her music - it will be a great $20.  My "Sarah Kroger Playlist" on my iPhone is definitely my favorite one.

Here are some samples:

She has a new single that just came out:

This is a great song as well:

And this is a great duet with Audrey Assad.  Listen to the whole things.  When it changes about half way through.  Wow!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sports and Catholicism

Blessed to be a part of this program

It gives EVERY Catholic school coach the tools to use sports to bring people closer to Christ.

It also does this without adding any additional work load to a priest/chaplain/pastor.

Help encourage your parish or diocese to take advantage of this MUCH NEEDED program!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Prayers for Day 2 of Preparing for Total Consecration

If you'd like to read along with the prayers, the text of today's prayers can be found in the description of today's podcast

Monday, November 5, 2018

Joe Donnelly voted AGAINST Kavanaugh

I still can't believe that Senator Joe Donnelly voted AGAINST Judge Brett Kavanaugh after the flimsy nature of the allegations became so apparent. 

Even now, the accusations continue to fall completely apart

I'm thankful that Mike Braun looked at the evidence that was available to us all, and was supportive of Judge Kavanaugh throughout the process.

Day 1: preparation for Marian Consecration

These would be the prayers for November 5th if you are preparing to make or renew your consecration on December 8th.

You can, of course, use these prayers to renew or consecrate yourself on any other Marian feast day as well.

example: if you chose to consecrate yourself on December 12th, you would start with day 1 on November NINTH.

Here's a chart for when day 1 would be, depending on the date of final consecration:

Here's the prayers for day 1 so you can follow along if you'd like:

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"Mass is TOO REPETITIVE and boring!"

“He has no need, as did the high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, he did that once for all when he offered himself.”  Well, the natural question might be, then, “what in the world are we doing here offering a sacrifice? 

It continues to be offered because the curtain has not dropped on this world.

Assertion 1: we live in this strange in between time.  If the world had ended on Easter Sunday, that would have made sense to me.  Christ resurrects, and that’s the ball game folks.

And yet it didn’t end.  We go on.  We’re still here.

And this world in which we wait has been mapped out, engineered, measured, and digitized and quantified.  Your phone tells you your destination is .9 miles on the left.  We know the chemistry that is behind everything.  The northern lights are solar winds hitting our atmosphere at the right angle.  We have mapped out space and the orbits of the planets.  We know the weather coming our way – we tell ourselves we have subdued the earth.  To a dangerous extent, we believe we are in control

We tell ourselves that we live in a world that has no room for magic nor the unexplainable

But that is a lie. 

The “Fear of the Lord” that we hear about in the first reading is a sort of awe toward God – a belief that God is in control, and if God is in control, then we are not, and if we are not, then the mapping of our world is not definitive.  There ARE, then, things that we can’t explain and there are things that we can’t control

As Catholics, as I preached on All Saints Day, seeking God, seeking that relationship with Jesus is something we are called to do.  And at the same time, one of our most important aspects of our Faith as Catholics is, when really lived, it reminds us about the magical and enchanted nature of the world around us.  We call priests to have them whisper prayers of forgiveness over dying loved ones because we believe it forgives them their sins.  We believe that bread and wine become God.  We believe we have angels watching over us, that we can befriend dead saints from ages past, that we are tempted by demons, that pouring water on someone while saying the right prayer makes a person a son or daughter of God.  We believe that priests can, through prayers, drive out demons.  We have Masses in cemeteries, we have statues that weep, saints that bleed with the wounds of Christ, and believe the Blessed Mother has definitively appeared to people as the sun danced in the sky – to be Catholic is to believe that there is magic in the world.  Awe.  Surprise.  Mystery.

But this…the Mass…is the source and summit of everything we do.  It is a participation in the one sacrifice of Christ.  And so we surround it with incense, music, architecture, vestments, beauty, Scripture, and silence

So, then, what about the protest – “Father, that all sounds nice, but I find Mass really boring.”

Here’s what G.K. Chesterton, the great convert to Catholicism said on the subject, and I think this is really important.  ““Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. [UNCLE JOHN]
…For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

I would say, then, that if we are bored at Mass, then perhaps that is an indictment on us.  I think to whatever extent I may find myself bored at some particular Mass it is on me, and not something I can blame God for.  Something I need to examine my conscience about, not walk away from Catholicism over.  Perhaps it is my fault. Something I need to change.

Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are also people who say they get bored with their spouse – the same old thing every day

Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are also people prone to saying they are bored with their job.  Another day.  Another pay check.  Nothing interesting happening here today

Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are also people who are bored with their same old kids.  Another day.

Perhaps those who say they are bored at Mass are like some of my DePauw students, who literally have some of the best food in the world – I promise you’ve never seen anything quite like the food at DePauw – I would have been 500 pounds if I ate in their dining room in college – every food of every variety is there and it is all absolutely amazing – and some of them complain that it is always the same.

If you really despise Mass or find it repetitive, are you that way with other things too?

Would you appreciate your spouse, your children, your food, your job, would you appreciate them more if they were taken away?

We come here for Mass tonight/today – probably close to the 7,000th of my life and close to the 5,000th of my priesthood – Christ HAS offered himself once perfectly, but the curtain hasn’t dropped on this world just yet. 

Perhaps you struggle in the (quote) “awe of God” department.  Whatever in your life is telling you things are every boring or free of magic and power and infinity, get rid of it.

Jesus tells us that a key to our salvation is becoming like little children.  In participating in this, the one sacrifice of Christ, may we, like children, cry out, over and over, until we depart this world forever – “DO IT AGAIN!”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

On My Tenth Anniversary of Ordination

Ten years ago today I was ordained a deacon for the Catholic Church at St. Meinrad by Archbishop Daniel Buechlein.

This morning, I picked up a book called "The End of the Present World" by Father Charles Arminjon.  I bought the book because St. Therese said "Reading this book was one of the greatest graces of my life"

I'd like to share a part of his intro, because I feel like I read it for a reason this morning on my 10th anniversary

"Perhaps we shall be accused of expressing this or that assertion of ours too crudely and starkly, and of broaching the most serious and formidable points of Christian doctrine, without, at the same time, modifying and softening them so as to adapt them to the prejudices or apathy of certain souls, unacquainted with such grave considerations...

Jesus Christ is the great luminary of our intellects, the food and life of our hearts.  He is never better understood, or more loved, than when He manifests Himself in the integrity of His doctrine and the most eminent splendors of His divine personality.  The example of the Apostles, announcing the gospel amidst the twilight of paganism, and boldly preaching Jesus Christ crucified before the Roman Senate and amidst the philosophers of the Areopagus, is enough to tell us that truth is attractive to souls naturally Christian, and that it enlightens and convinces them only insofar it is is presented to them in all its strength and all its clarity."

Said another way - watering down Christianity to make it appealing only makes it less appealing.  Every.  Time.