Tuesday 30 April 2013

A Prediction Concerning Catholic Marriages

The new laws in Europe, and soon to be in Great Britain, concerning civil marriages for "gays" will not only affect teachers and registrars who may have to leave their jobs, but the very institution of Catholic marriage.
Catholics "marry" twice-one getting a civil marriage license, or registrar's "marriage" and the sacrament of Matrimony. The Church may be forced into a position wherein she no longer can accept civil unions at all. Why?
To avoid any sham sacramental marriage, the Church may have to reject civil marriages across the board.
What this would mean for Catholic sacramental marriages could be a series of losses of marriage legal status, rights, tax breaks, allowances, etc.
I think Catholic marriages will be forced to go underground 0r without legal definition or legal protection. One of the possibilities, that once civil unions are legal, the Catholic Church will have to leave the business of accepting civil status and only accept sacramental status. In other words, the Church may be put in a position where she only recognizes sacramental marriages, which means, that Catholic married couples will be seen by the State as merely living in concubinage and therefore, without any civil or tax rights.
This has already happened here, in England under the persecutions, when Catholic marriages were not seen as valid by the State, as only Anglican ones were. I predict this will happen both in America and in England, as the only way the Church will be able to avoid gay marriages. That is, no civil involvement at all.
Therefore, Catholic married people will not be recognized by the State as married and will not benefit from marriage tax breaks, etc. If you do not think this is a possibility, I suggest a careful reading of the history of marriage in England. Before 1836, everyone except Jews and Quakers had to get an Anglican license, that is, be married in the Anglican Church in order to be recognized.  See the pattern? Parliament decides the process, not the churches. Also, after 1836, with the new registry laws, the license costs as much as 250 pound sterling in today's money, which would have been very difficult for some people, including Catholics. Here is a short quotation from a site here which is not exhaustive but interesting.

 The Ecclesiastical Courts Act 1855, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857,  and the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 gradually moved marriage regulation into the hands of the State.

Saturday 27 April 2013

I Love Our Parish

While it is often true that we have reasons to complain about our parishes, we all need to know that great parishes exist.

Please set your DVR's  and VCR's for EWTN's presentation of Where Heaven Meets Earth on April 30th (6:30 ET or 5:30 CT).

Times will vary by where you are in the world.  Record it.  Share it with your parish priests. 

This is how the church will grow!

Wednesday 24 April 2013

When you are Engulfed in Flames - David Sedaris [you won't stop laughing - and feeling guilty for laughing]

Three Sheets to the Wind: Lack of Leadership: Minimalists Do Not Become Saints

The lack of leadership in the Catholic Church in Great Britain has come to a head. I shall put some links at the bottom of this post, which is a cri de coeur. Thank God for the new men coming up out of the seminaries and for the younger priests. I especially praise the ones in the Dioceses of A and B and Westminster, who have remained orthodox. Not only do they have, many of them, "life experience", as converts or older men, but even the young ones are of a new mindset. That mindset is simply "orthodoxy". Those Millennials who are choosing to follow God know their history, the history of their Church, and know the horrible signs of the times.

But the leaders, the bishops, except for a few, are out of touch not only with the young priests and sems, but with their own congregations. Catholics are floundering on the rocks of individualism, secularism, relativism and all the modernist heresies which have entered the Church.

Why? We know about the famous "magic circle", and we know about the old boy club which has existed for at least forty years in choosing leaders for the Church in Great Britain.

We know the Gospel has been watered down in the face of false ecumenism and we know that compromises happen daily and are taught daily. We know that there is little meat in most sermons. We need meat, not milk, but we are not given substance and guidance on the real moral and doctrinal apostasies of the day.

Why? The glorious blood of the martyrs, who died not only for Christ but specifically for the authority of the Pope, Rome and the Holy Mass would not understand so many of our present bishops.


Leaders are both born and taught. I had leadership training in highschool and in college. But, with that training came a grave awareness of the responsibility all Catholic adults have not only for their own souls, but for the souls of their children and the adults with whom they come into contact.

There is no sense of responsibility for souls in the Catholic statements which are promulgated in Great Britain. I know many priests who never read the letters from their bishops on civil unions or other important topics from the pulpit, merely leaving them in the back of the Church for people, maybe, to pick up. I know priests who refuse to talk about abortion or contraception, as they claim they will lose members of their flock. 

Why these blind spots in our leaders? Why?

Can we blame bad seminary training in the past? Can we point to the over-influence of Anglicanism, creating the sense of the false via media?

I have come to the conclusion that it is one thing. Too many of our Catholic priests and bishops are not pursuing personal holiness. Personal holiness must begin with orthodoxy. One cannot be in dissent and be on the path of holiness. If one is dissenting in any way, one has not begun the walk the road of perfection.

Only the perfect see God. And, this movement of grace starts here and now.

If one does not pursue perfection, which includes purgation and purification of the mind, intellect and will, one weakens the Church. Apostasy begins with the setting aside of daily prayer. I heard one priest tell some sems that he never says his breviary. Not only is he not living up to his own vocation, he is polluting young men to whom he said this.

We have been taught here in GB to just do the minimum. Minimalists do not become saints.

Too many British Catholics fear "zeal" and "enthusiasm", and I am not referring to charismatic manifestations, but merely the total giving of one's self to God and His Church.

The Church in GB has been weakened by the lack of the pursuit of personal holiness. This is not to be found in experience or emotion, but hard work in meditation and contemplation, penance and self-denial.

For the most part, the leaders do not exhibit the virtues and the discernment necessary to help the laity. Laity, help yourselves.

If one does not pursue holiness, which is found on the road of perfection, one will lose the gift of discernment and no longer be able to judge in prudence and in temperance, in justice or in courage.

I need not give examples. I give links for your reflection.

"The kingdom of God is at hand and the violent are taking it by storm." Hopefully, those who do violence to themselves in penance and self-denial, that is the saints, include you.





Friday 19 April 2013

Teaching Contracts

For many Catholic schools we are at the tail end of contract season.  The season generally begins in early March with teachers being asked to declare whether they intend to return, and in April, they are either presented with a contract for the next year, or not.  The timing of these contract offers is significant when looking at stories like this one.

I would expect many stories like this during our current season, but I'm probably going to be disappointed. Why the expectation?  Why the disappointment?

First I should say, I wasn't expecting every person with same-sex attraction to be outed and denied a contract at Catholic schools.  Some live celibate lives, teach from a solid Catholic faith, and are wonderful teachers.  This isn't a gay witch-hunt.  It really shouldn't be.  It needs to be something deeper.

My expectation, or maybe hope is more accurate, is a feeble thing.  I pray that Catholic schools will become bastions of passing on the Magisterium of the Catholic Faith.  I pray the the teachers in our schools will by thought, word and deed, transmit the faith to young people in a way that weaves it into the very fabric of their young souls.  I hoped that the real discrimination Catholics are experiencing under our government at this time would awaken the strength of the hidden saint in all of us, especially teachers.  But that isn't what is happening.

The HHS mandate as it is written requires all employees of Catholic schools to be profoundly Catholic, or the entire school, and in most cases the parish, must contribute with school and parish dollars, to the culture of death.  If they refuse to comply, they must either close the school or submit.  My expectation was that schools would be holding onto their contracts, or including a caveat that if the mandate is not undone, there would be no jobs for heretics.

Wouldn't that be a powerful testament to our faith?  What if a bishop somewhere announced that the Catholic schools in an entire diocese would close if they didn't stand against the HHS mandate in hiring practices?   Wouldn't that be the ultimate throw-down?

Instead, too many of our Catholic school children will continue to hear from their teachers about how they voted for Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Biden, or any of the other advocates of death.  These nice men and women will explain that they did it because they want to help the poor.  These nice teachers will be attractive young mothers and fathers, or maybe grandparents with pictures of the 1.8 grandchildren on their desks.  They may never have discussed their votes with the pastor, but they sure do mention it in class.  They will be the Eucharistic Ministers that give Communion to students at school Masses.

My expectation, my feeble hope was that the media would be buzzing with stories of hundreds of teachers who did not have their contracts renewed.  The Catholic blogs would be going  nuts with stories of beloved teachers who are being denied Communion in front of their students.  These teachers would take to Facebook and Twitter talking about the big-bad-pastor who told them they couldn't be Eucharistic Ministers at school Masses.

My disappointment is that, by not seeing these stories, Catholic schools are no longer any different from public schools. 

Saturday 13 April 2013

The Gardener Martyr - April 13th 1642

                                                     Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs

The Venerable John Lockwood was a Yorkshireman who gave up family wealth to become a priest.

In all likelihood, his period of ministry probably is the longest of any during the times of Catholic persecution in England and Wales as he laboured in the vineyard for forty four years before being apprehended at the age of eighty seven.

He was taken at the home of a widow, a Mrs Catenby, (also Gatenby) with whom Fr Lockwood had lodged in his later years.

While tending his small garden he was seized by the authorities and, being too frail to walk or ride, was roughly tied across the horse and taken to York.

He was quickly sentenced to death along with a brother priest, "Mr" Edmund Catherick, both being drawn on hurdles through the streets of York

At the gallows, Father Catherick was due to be hanged first but his nerve failed him at the last.

Seeing this, Fr Lockwood, claiming the privilege of age, and demanded to be executed first.

Too weak to climb the crude gallows ladder, he paid for two bystanders to help him ascend.

As he reached the platform he asked Father Catherick how he was fairing.
Father Catherick responded:

"In good heart, blessed be God; your good example has strengthened me"

Both men won their crown on April 13th 1642

Martyrs of England and Wales - Ora pro nobis

Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Monday 8 April 2013

Understanding What We Must Never Forget

In the last quarter century, there has been a progressive  effort from intellectual iconoclasts to revise history about the Holocaust to besmirch the Catholic Church and particularly Pope Venerable Pius XII.  The criticism stems from charge that the Vatican did not do enough to save Jews during the Second World War, especially considering that the Giuseppe Cardinal Pacelli had been both the nuncio to Germany as well as the Vatican Secretary of State before assume the Chair of St. Peter.  In fact, historian John Cornwell charged that Pope Pius XII was Hilter’s pope, and the Vatican’s inaction weakened the Catholic Church and sealed the fate for the Jewry in Europe.

Soviet Leader Josef Stalin dismissed Papal power in the world by sarcastically quipping “How many divisions did the Pope in Rome have?”  Thus there is the reality that a Vatican condemnation stronger than Pope Piux XI 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (“On Burning Concern” originally released in German) condemning Nazi neopaganism and the “so called myth between blood and state”  would have only worsened the lot for Jews in the still publically obscured holocaust.  

This sensational charge of “Hitler’s Pope” flies in the face of contemporaneous praise of Pius XII as a righteous gentile by prominent Jewish leaders, as well as documentary evidence from the likes of historian Rabbi David Dalin that Pius XII ordered Vatican envoys to aid persecuted Jews in occupied Europe and the Catholic Church opened facilities in the Vatican and Rome to shelter thousands of Jews from the Nazis. 

In fact, it should be noted that there were prominent clergy who were aligned with Hitler–the grand mufti Hajj Amin al-Hussein.  At the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals, there were allegations that the grand mufti  who advised and assisted the Nazis on carrying out Hitler’s Final Solution.  The Ba'athist party was a pan-Arab Socialist party which Ba'athist founder Michel Aflaq saw Nazi Germany as a model and were in power in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and the Assads in Syria.   It seems as if these slanderous charges against Pius XII were borne from anti-catholicism as well as exploiting a tragedy by obscuring those truly culpable. 

Holocaust historian Rafael Medoff has published “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith” which examines the action (or lack there of), attitudes and apathy that FDR and the American government had during the Second World War as it relates to saving Jews from the Shoah.  Medoff charges that the FDR Administration failed to do relatively simple measures which would have saved many Jews, because FDR’s vision of America only encompassed having a small number of Jews.  Medoff wrote that: “In his private, unguarded moments, FDR repeatedly made unfriendly remarks about Jews, especially his belief that Jews were overrepresented in many professions and exercised too much influence and control on society.”  Hence his Administration went out of its way to discourage and disqualify would be Jewish immigrants.  

Had FDR quietly permitted immigration quotas to be filled to the legal limit, it would have saved 190,000.   But the Administration opposed legislation which would have permitted the entry of 20,000 German Jewish childen, supposedly as it would set a precedent that would take away American jobs. 

Medoff also suggests that the US could have bombed concentration (extermination) camps like Auschwitz as the US Army Air Corps would not be diverted as they were  targeting sites that were only five miles away from that infamous death camp that were gassing 12,000 victims a day. 

This sort of nationalistic antipathy towards Jewish refugees is not surprising, considering the post-war antipathy towards Aliyah Alph and Aliyah Bet Jewish immigration as fictionally depicted in Leon Uris’ 1957 epic novel Exodus.  But Medoff’s evidence indicates that FDR was not the humanitarian and champion of the forgotten man myth that has developed, at least as applied to Jews in occupied Europe. 

Medoff’s  thesis needs to be scrutinized to validate its bona fides. Trying to corroborate the slanderous charges in Cornwall’s Hitler’s Pope” discredited it to fair minded historians, but  not before the damage was done in the mind of popular public opinion.  

Although Medoff is a prolific Holocaust scholar, but his interest is not simply in documenting what we should never forget.  Medoff has long postulated that the U.S. State Department has downplayed anti-Semitism in current diplomacy and feeds into a history of Foggy Bottom linguistic sleight of hand to achieve political objectives.  

Being informed by this critque may help pragmatic policy wonks understand the Benghazi bungling, blindness to Ba'-athist atrocities in Syria and ignoring the spontaneous 2009 Green Revolution in Iran.  It also gives context to the Janus treatment of Israel, where President Obama talks a good game about standing with our Israeli partner, but stabs Israel in the back on the Palestinian land issue  regarding the 1967 borders, existential threats from the Revolutionary government in Iran as well as quotidian provocations from the terrorist Gaza State.

h/t: The Daily Caller

[originally published at DCBarroco.com]

Happy Annunciation, 2013, Monday April 8th

The Angel and the Virgin of Annunciation - Bicci di Lorenzo - 1434

Perhaps, after the Crucifixion, the most painted event in the Gospel is the Annunciation. Mary's "yes" begins the turning of the tide for sinful humans. Her purity resonates here and the angel seems particularly eager to tell her of the event.

One of my favourites is this one following.

The Annunciation - Fra Angelico (Detail)

And, one more for your meditation. Mary at prayer when the Angel comes in....

The Merode Altar Piece - Robert Campin (Detail)

Sunday 7 April 2013

On Being Human: the body and the soul

The supernatural is humanized and the human is supernaturalized through the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord. 

The truth of this has been known to the Benedictines for centuries. The great Rule of Benedict takes ordinary, everyday occurrences and puts these into an order which allows a Catholic seeking perfection to find it.

Benedict was the inventor of "time management", which we all need. When I was teaching at the college and university level, the first day, besides introducing and explaining my syllabus for the course, homework was given on time management. The students were given a grid I copied which included each hour of each day in a week. The students had to write down what they were doing in each time slot. The sheet above is what I gave them to use.

In the next class, they shared these with me privately and I found up to seven extra hours of study MINIMUM out of wasted time for study hours.

Those who became disciplined about their time succeeded.

Those who did not care about scheduling simply did not do a well in my class and in others.

Benedict's idea is the same. Organize a day with prayer and work to maximize one's time with God. The Rule covers every detail of a day, a week, a month, a liturgical year.

Why is this important for us busy lay people?

Our lives become wastelands of lost time. Do you have a long commute? Do your lectio divina on the Tube.

Do you have an hour at lunch alone? Go to Mass or Adoration. Schedule God into your time.

Are your married? Give your wife/husband time for prayer daily. Make sure your children are setting aside time for prayer.

This is supernaturalizing the day. The human can be made holy.

The holy can be made human. Ordinary things like dinner time must become times of communication and even teaching.

No grazing...

Think about Benedict's Rule and see if parts of it fit into your family life. 

My mother made us be quiet after our snack when we came home from school. We talked and then we were given quiet time.

We had to be comfortable being with the family and alone. This is the way of humans.

We are all called to perfection in our lives. This is not a dream or an unreal goal.

But, this takes work and scheduling.

For a single person, this should not be a problem at all.

For marrieds, each spouse must help the other develop skills of prayer and the reading of Scripture. For parents, this is a necessity of child formation. Parents, it is your duty to teach your children proper time skills.

In this Eastertide, think of supernaturalizing the natural and naturalizing the supernatural.

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