Monday, September 30, 2019

On a Civil War

I am no Trump apologist but we ARE heading for a civil war IF we keep acting the way we're acting.

It seems VERY important to point that out so we can reverse course!

One year ago I gave this homily: "I am scared for our country"

Let's talk.  For real.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A former parishioner's funeral and the Mass

Lieutenant Colonel Gary Gretter Service from Bill McKnight on Vimeo.

This is video highlights from the burial for Gary Gretter, a parishioner who moved back to Virginia about two years ago because of health reasons.  Gary died several months ago.  Gary was one of the more humble men I've ever met, so much so that I didn't even know he was a Lt. Colonel.  This footage is absolutely stunning.

Most people that watch this will not be able to help being deeply moved.

What makes it stunning?

1) Precision of movement.  Everything has been prearranged, there is absolutely nothing that is impromptu

2) Uniforms.  People are dressed up, and, whether it is the family or the military folks assisting in the service, all who might walk by or see this service would know, by their dress "Something important is happening here."

3) The music.  It fits the occasion, and it is not something the people in attendance say "play something that we can sing along with so we can join in"

4) Latin.  Others who have watched it, particularly former marines, have responded "Semper Fi".  That is the Marine motto, but it is interesting even here that having something in a language that isn't the vernacular seems to carry more weight.

5) The reverence.  The way the body is treated and the way the flag is treated shows to ANYONE watching, even if they've never seen a casket before and even if they've never seen an American Flag before, they would know, by watching this ceremony that the body and the flag are both HIGHLY valued by those who are in attendance.

1-5 can also be said about the Catholic Mass when it is celebrated well.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Catholicism and Yoga

Number one question I’m asked as a priest: “Father, can I do Yoga?”

Me: “No. but as a follow up, why would you want to?”

Person: “it’s like normal stretching”

Me: “Then just do normal stretching, since it is NOT attached to Eastern non-Catholic spiritualism”

“But Yoga is just body movements!”

Me: “So is genuflecting, giving someone the middle finger, making the sign of the cross...most of the best and worst things in the world are “body movements”. We must recapture the Catholic understanding that the body and soul are connected”

Person advocating for Catholic-Yoga: “But praying and stretching are so peaceful!”

Me: “It’s important to work out and take care of ourselves. But do you know what is more peaceful than stretching while praying...JUST praying. (Rosary/Scripture/adoration/holy hour/etc.)

Some have said Fr. James Martin is prompting some kind of “Catholic Yoga”. Well, I typically believe the exact opposite of Fr James Martin. That he likes “Catholic Yoga” does not surprise me in the least, sadly.

Some were saying St Ignatius asked for “Catholic Yoga” to be created. If so, I would confront St Ignatius on that, as Paul confronted Peter.

There’s no “Catholic Ouija Board”
There’s no “Catholic Tarot Cards”
There’s no “Catholic Chakra Wheels”

There’s no “Catholic horoscope”
There’s no “Catholic seance”
There’s no “Catholic Yoga”

Lead a life of tranquility

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Some Important Vatican Notes on Celibacy

Some quotes on celibacy from “The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests” (59-60)

"The example is Christ, who in going against what could be considered the dominant culture of His time, freely chose to live celibacy.  In following him the disciples left “everything” to fulfill the mission entrusted to them."

"For this reason the Church, from apostolic times, has wished to conserve the gift of perpetual continence [no sex] of the clergy and choose the candidates for Holy Orders from among the celibate faithful."

"In today’s cultural climate, often conditioned by a vision of man lacking in values and incapable of giving a complete, positive and liberating sense to human sexuality, the question of the value and meaning of priestly celibacy is often presented, or at least the question of its strict rapport with ministerial priesthood."

"Difficulties and objections have always accompanied, throughout history, the decision by the Latin Church to confer ministerial priesthood only on those men who have received from God the gift of chastity in celibacy." 

"The difficulties which some present even today are often founded on pretentious arguments."

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Coming Home to Catholicism

This was a great episode of The Journey Home.  I hope you can watch it all.  Very charitable with TONS of great quotes and takeaways.

Here were a few of my favorite quotes:

“Any answer to the question: “Which Church should I attend?” that doesn’t have as its singular conclusion “Whichever Church Jesus established” results in consumerism.  [if that’s not what I’m asking] I’m therefore going to some place that [just] makes me comfortable or that I THINK is right”

“And actually we don’t know what we ought to think about certain contested issues in the Scriptures; we wrestle with exegetical questions all the time, and you can’t always sort that out with more exegesis.  Wonderful exegetes disagree with each other so frequently.  And so is there a divinely protected organism in the world that is able to discern for us or settle those matters for us?”

Catholicism and Slavery

The Battle of Prayer!

My goddaughter (middle) at prayer at my sister's rehearsal

My favorite picture of all time goes well with my favorite part of the Catechism (by an order of at least 10) on "The Battle of Prayer"

I hope you can read every word:

2725 Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.


2726 In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures. Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they "don't have the time." Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone.

2727 We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of "this present world" can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer is a mystery that overflows both our conscious and unconscious lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, being unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life.

2728 Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have "great possessions,"15 we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.


Facing difficulties in prayer

2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.16

2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: "'Come,' my heart says, 'seek his face!'"17

2731 Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit."18 If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.19

Facing temptations in prayer

2732 The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Recognizing the Church

“But one thing eventually became clear: my happy evangelical view of the Church’s “unity” as being nothing more than the worldwide clutter that we had under our general umbrella, was, for good or ill, not what the ancient Church had understood by the word unity. As an evangelical, I could pick which source of things appealed most to me:… And in one sense, variety is doubtless a sign of vigorous life in the Church. But in another sense, of course, it is a disaster.

The Montanists [heresy] were certainly zealous and earnest and had much to commend them: the difficulty, finally, was that they were not the Church. Likewise with the Donatists [heresy]. God bless them for their fidelity and ardor and purity, but they were not the Church...[heresies raised throughout history] did not remain open questions forever. 

There was one Church, and the Church was one. And this was a discernible, visible, embodied unity, not a loose aggregate of vaguely like-minded believers with their various task forces all across the globe.  

The Bishop of Antioch was not analogous to the general secretary of the World Evangelical Fellowship or the head of the National Association of Evangelicals. He could speak with the full authority of the Church behind him; these latter gentlemen can only speak for their own organization.”

Thomas Howard
“Recognizing the Church”