Wednesday 25 June 2014

The Party Spirit

The "party spirit" has nothing to do with balloons or cake.

Few Catholics understand what the “party spirit” is and how it comes about. Factions have been within the Church since day one. St. Paul refers to such in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17,  in Roman 12: 9-21 and Romans 14: 1-12.

St. Paul tells us that the party spirit is a spirit, or demon, of division. Divisiveness is never from God within the Church. Divisiveness is not the same as criticism, which should include positive solutions to problems.

For example, one may criticize a catechetical program in a church, but not offer to find alternatives which may be better or teach. Those who judge and criticize merely to stir up trouble build the doorway for the party spirit.

Divisiveness usually means three things. Firstly, that a lack of charity and forbearance has crept into a parish or a group. This lack of charity comes from concentrating on people’s sins and failings, rather than encouraging their good points.

Secondly, egotism, which rears its hydra head, creates division. Egotism must be heard, seen and is in everybody’s face. Egotism is not humble ever and defends itself constantly.

Thirdly, the seeking for power creates a party spirit. To the extreme, this seeking of power creates entirely new churches, such as the four churches found in the 1960s on one corner in my home town, all split-offs from the other. Division caused confusion, anger, even hatred.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, St. Paul tells us where the party spirit comes from.

“But understand this, that in the last days, there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, love of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, loves of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people.”

The last phrase must include the discernment to know when to avoid and when to correct.
Avoiding means not being friends with those who are untrustworthy of the Gospel of the Lord. Avoiding means that if one does not avoid slanderers or the abusive or the arrogant, on becomes like them and loses the gifts of discernment, temperance, and prudence.

We do not have to win every battle and even fight every battle in the Church. Some battles require great holiness and purity of heart. Some require patience and intense prayer and fasting.

How does one avoid strife in groups? St. Paul has the answer, “Put on then, God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience, forbearing one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all of these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”Colossians 3:12-15

One must find peace within one’s self in order to spread peace and only those who have found peace, through meekness to God can truly stay away from unnecessary conflicts.

Grieving the Holy Spirit, another one of Paul’s inspirations, comes about when people engage and encourage, wrath, anger, bitterness, clamor, and slander. See Ephesians 4: 25-32 on these points.

If one reads all the epistles, one finds the theme of communal harmony is almost in each one. If St. Paul had to address divisiveness over and over, one can see that it can be a persistent problem.

I cannot refer to all the passages on this theme, but list a few ways to avoid divisiveness in the Church, in our parishes, in our communities, in our families, and so on.

One, look to one’s own sins in humility and truth. If one sees the horribleness of one’s own weaknesses and failings, one cannot judge nor cause dissension by pointing to another’s faults.

Two, think on Christ and not on one’s self. If one is truly in love with Christ, the Bridegroom, one supernaturally wants to love His brothers and sisters and find creative ways to show this love.

Three, forgiveness covers a multitude of sins and failings. To forgive is to forget, which some priests do not teach. I would hope people in my life forgive and forget instead of constantly saying a litany of my faults to me. This concentration on negativity rises from unforgiveness and even hatred. The negative litany destroys community.

Four, egotism must go. The rule of the saints and the great teachers on purity of heart, mind and soul tell us that the ego stands between us and God, between us and His Perfect Will in our lives, between us and the community, between us and eternity. If the ego is not destroyed, we shall not see God after our particular judgment as we have chosen our self-will over Him.

Lastly, egotism and narcissism constantly fall back on talking about one’s self and one’s grievances. As we say here in Iowa, “Get over it, he (or she) is not that into you.” I have discovered that really most people are truly not interested in me, but only in themselves. This should be a freeing experience of grace, enabling one to concentrate on God and not one’s self.

St. Paul wraps up this discussion so poignantly: “I hear that there are divisions among you ; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”

The genuine are not those who cause the factions, but the Truth of the Gospel itself causes factions-however, we can teach, preach, instruct, but never judge. “For if we judge ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened, so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

The genuine are those who allow God to purify them and those who cling to the orthodoxy of the Church in all things.

Let us allow God to chasten us first before we have the audacity to chasten others.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Evangelium Conference 2014

Evangelium 2014 will again be taking place this year in Reading. It will be a wonderful occasion for those who seek to use the internet to evangelise to deepen their knowledge of the Catholic Faith and to meet with others who are committed to evangelisation.

Registration is open for the seventh Evangelium weekend residential conference on the theme of explaining the Catholic faith in the modern world, 1 – 3 August 2014.

Are you interested in the Catholic faith, but lack the time or opportunities to learn? Do you wonder why the faith exists or how to flourish as a Catholic? Do you face challenges in living, sharing or defending the faith in secular society? Do you lack friendly support? Are you uncertain what you should be seeking in life, or what God is asking of you for your life? The Evangelium conference provides an opportunity to meet these challenges and to help participants, especially young Catholics age 18 – 35, to live a more abundant Catholic life. Over a single afternoon and weekend, the conference provides:

  • dynamic talks by excellent speakers
  • mix with other young people who share your faith
  • discuss and talk informally with our speakers
  • daily Mass and eucharistic adoration
  • opportunities for confession
  • relax in the beautiful grounds
  • opportunities for sport and evening entertainment

A new feature of the conference from summer 2014 will be the ability to build a personalised short course of four sessions, with a summaries and references provided for ongoing reading, selected from one of the fourfold areas of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: CREED, SACRAMENTS, MORALS, and PRAYER. Annual conferences that present a variety of talks within these themes will enable regular participants to build up a body of knowledge year by year.

Guest speakers for Evangelium 2014 will include:

  • Rt. Rev Philip Egan, Bishop of Portsmouth
  • Joanna Bogle – Broadcaster and Writer
  • Lynette Burrows – Journalist, Social Commentator and Family Rights Activist
  • Mary Killeen – Director of Marriage and Family studies at Maryvale Institute
  • Fr Marcus Holden – Maryvale Tutor, Custodian of the National Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate
  • Dr William Newton – International Theology Institute
  • Fr Armand de Malleray – Chaplain of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter
  • Fr Andrew Pinsent – Theology Faculty of Oxford and former CERN physicist

Visit the website to book your place on the Conference.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

From The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost

Cardinal Manning cuts to the quick concerning why so many people who are baptized and confirmed, have the gifts of wisdom and counsel, as well as discernment, and still go astray, into foolishness.

Here is his answer. I use his words which are found in the long perfection tradition in the Church, similar to those of other saints, reiterated by me, concerning the loss of discernment. Let the holy and expert Cardinal answer: “This gift of counsel lies dormant in them; it is oppressed, kept down by their own mental and moral faults. They have made their ear dull of hearing and their eye dark so that they cannot discernThe first great antagonist of this spirit of counsel is the wisdom of the world.  And the wisdom of the world is the fashion and opinion of men possessed with the spirit which is of the world and not of God. The maxims, the traditions, the habits of thought, and the habits of life which spring from flesh and blood…these things stifle the voice of counsel.”

Too many Catholics do not want to admit that the thinking of the world perverts their own minds and therefore, their consciences.

Manning states the problem better than I do. “The love of pre-eminence; the inordinate desire of their own proper excellence; a ser-conscious straining to be spiritual guides of other men, to correct their faults, to criticize their actions and their states before God, and to go about setting others right—these are some of the least perceived and subtilest workings of pride….The greatest intellects are sometimes found in the smallest moral characters. The want of counsel makes them to be strange mixtures of greatness and littleness.”

I have struggled on this blog and my own blog to know what and when to state some things critical of others or even of groups. One must look carefully at one’s self to look at motives and leanings, the lack of purity and the need for healing. I have chosen to back off from criticizing the clergy, for example, believing that I cannot judge publicly and that it is better if I pray for those I think have gone astray and are no longer good pastors.

The other great sin of those who have received baptismal and confirmed gifts is that of presumption. Manning notes this, “This presumption, the root of which is in all of us, will, if indulged, destroy and utterly extinguish the gift of counsel.”

I have seen this happen among good people who are working in the Church. I have seen this in fellow bloggers, as well as in myself. One must be willing to let God deal with us, take us through purgation.

Presumption can lead to becoming rash and not praying to God for guidance.

It can lead to impetuosity, which is of the flesh, not the Spirit, states Manning. “They invert the divine order; and having set out in the way of their own choosing, they come to crosses and sorrows.  Then, they begin to ask for counsel, and perhaps they ask it of God; but they ask it too late. They are already so committed that they cannot go back. At last they so persuade themselves, that they will not follow good advice even if it were given.”

This is why we need to find good spiritual directors, which is so hard at this time.  We cannot fall into a pattern of trying to force our will upon the Will of God. How silly it is to think that we can make God’s will give way.

Manning quotes the great St. Augustine: “Thou, O Lord, givest counsel to all that ask. If they ask of Thee divers things, Thou always answerest he same; Thou answerest clearly enough, but they will not hear Thee, for they ask the things they desire, and they wish to make Thy will bend to theirs. Thou answerest that which is Thy will, and they hear what they will not; and therefore they do it not. He is the best servant who does not desire that God should say the things that he wills, but who desires himself to will the things that God says.”

This is the reason for the Dark Night. The purgation of self-will and “self-counsel” that is the “pride of his own will, and the pride of his own judgment” must happen.

Submitting to the Will of God really means giving in. Manning states, “When you kneel at the holy Mass, put your heart upon the paten and let it be offered up. God will counsel you. If you do His will, even though it cross your own, then you have the surest sign that you are not following your own choice.”

This purgation of the will leads, finally, to purity of heart.  That is the reason for such purgation. One has to stop playing God and let God be God in one’s life. 

Manning advises us, “Desire, then, to please God above all things, and all things shall be added unto you. If you cannot do all you desire, at least desire great things for His sake.”

This is what it means to become like a little child. Children who have good parents implicitly trust those parents in love.“Freely choose His service; for it is your freedom, and its own exceeding great reward,” which are the Cardinal’s last words on this subject.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Report: 2014 Blue Mass

On the Sunday after Ascension, 1 June 2014, the Knights of Columbus Woodlawn Council 2161 Traditional Latin Mass Guild hosted a Blue Mass at St. Titus Church in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, to honor members of the Aliquippa Police and Fire Departments, and the Beaver County Sheriff's Office, and to invoke God's blessing and protection upon them.

Additional photos and a brief report can be found here.

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass.

Monday 2 June 2014

Wise as Serpents; Guileless as Doves

We, as the blogging Catholic media, are entering into a new phase. I can see it and sense it. The main stream media has finally realized how powerful the blogosphere is and is beginning to highlight problems, from that point of view.

A note today in the news states that the msm is in decline because of the online media, including bloggers.

But, Catholic bloggers are now under the spotlight. We have to turn a corner. This is the "turning time."

From now on, the blogging community must be wise and prudent in the ways of the world. We not only must be professional, we must argue in rational discourse and not on the level of the personal.

I taught logic and argumentation for years and have written on this blog last year on the importance of rational discourse.

Two rules: stay with the objective facts and never use personal names or get involved in personal arguments.

Debate is absolutely necessary. Apologetics in the Catholic Church demands an objectivity and the virtues of prudence, temperance, justice, as well as courage.

If we are to be taken seriously, we must be serious in our approach.

Here is a review of rules for rational discourse in the form of questions:

1) Is the argument coherent, clear, based on facts?

2) Is the diction used objective?

3) Is there a clear common basis for discussion?

4) Are the arguments concise and open to modification if necessary for coherence? This does not mean changing the inherent truth of the argument, but modifying approaches.

5) Are all, and I repeat, all emotional arguments and feelings set aside?

6) Are subjective arguments rightly seen as irrelevant?

7) Are those involved courteous and patient?

8) Do the parties involve invoke fact and details supporting the objective argument?

9) Are inflammatory words, ad hominems and ad populums avoided?

10) Are both parties involved in the discussion or is the argument merely one-sided, and therefore, only a harangue or rant?

11) Are the bloggers aware of civil rights, legal actions, and the entire media world of libel cases to be avoided at all costs?

12) And most importantly, do Catholic bloggers understand that they do not merely represent themselves, but the entire Catholic Church? There is a cult of individuality which makes many people forget they are part of the Church and represent the Church when writing.

If we merely want to write personal views and opinions, unless our minds are like the mind of the Church, we should not call our blogs "Catholic".

Thinking like a Catholic is being in the long rational tradition of debate and manners.

Pray, reflect, think, then act. We do not have to give our opponents fire with which to burn us.

We do not have to ask for persecution, and in fact, we are to avoid it if at all possible.

To do otherwise is to both cause scandal to the Body of Christ, and to damage any chances of evangelization. Our first job is to save souls, not "be right".  Evangelization is not the same as church politics.

Matthew 10:16
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) 16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Abortion Act Guidance - but what about the criminals?

Guidance in Relation to Requirements of the Abortion Act 1967 from the Sexual Health Policy Team, Public Health Directorate at the UK Department for Health

Andrea Duncan - Programme
Manager, sexual health and HIV
This document was published by the DoH on 23 May 2014.  Who or what is the Sexual Health Policy Team?  It may be possible to find this out but it is not easy to do so.  One person who is deeply entrenched in the sexual health political scene and who is certainly one member of the Sexual Health Policy Team is Andrea Duncan.  

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