Killing baby girls in the name of women’s rights is an obscenity.
Stop Sex Selected Abortion.
Can you imagine Jesus using a word like catechesis?
How many blank stares would He have gotten if He had announced, “The Father and I are consubstantial?”
That might have ended His mission right there. No one would have been able to charge Him with heresy since they wouldn’t have had the first clue what He was talking about. Think about it: No Calvary, no redemption and no salvation for humankind, all because of the obscurity of the word “consubstantial.”
Unfortunately, that is exactly what is happening to a lot of individual people in the world today. People are by-passing the Church that has the words that lead to eternal life, or they are shunning its teachings, because they don’t “get” what religious leaders are trying to tell them.
The Vatican plans to survey Catholics around the globe in an attempt to figure out why their message isn’t getting through to the faithful. Since I am a sort of Catholic (there are days when I feel pretty marginal in my worthiness to say that) I am going to give my own completely unsolicited idea as to what might be done to improve the ability of Church teaching to actually teach.
In my humble opinion, our religious leaders need to teach more like Jesus and less like their theology professor.
I’ll wager it was a small group in their theology classroom, and it will be a small group in heaven if the leaders of the Church don’t clear their palates a bit.
Jesus taught people all the truths that all the theology these guys have stuffed into their heads is based on, and He taught it in accessible and simple terms. There really is a difference between being simple and speaking simply. Direct language, used in straight-forward declarative sentences, communicates. Obscure language in sentences that are long strings of dependent clauses hung together with commas, confuses.
It really is as easy as that. Eloquence is not necessary for communication. But clear thinking and direct language are.
The reason I’m focusing on this is twofold:
1. The number one gripe I hear from other pew-sitting Catholics has nothing to do with gay marriage or contraceptives. It is about being forced to say ugly words like consubstantial. I don’t personally hang out with Catholics who actually read the Pope’s encyclicals. I also don’t personally know a Catholic who lies awake nights worrying about the color of the Pope’s shoes.
These people exist, and they make a lot of noise. But they are very small in number compared with the huge Catholic ocean of believers who just want know what they need to do to get to heaven.
2. The fact that Church directives of every sort fail to communicate with the just-tell-me-what-I-need-to-do-to-get-to-heaven crowd leaves these people wide open to be led by those who do bother to read the various communications. In short, it leaves them at the mercy of people like me.
The Catholic blogosphere has become a sort of second magisterium. Sadly, this bogus magisterium of the blogosphere often trumps the true magisterium in terms of the fidelity of its followers. The temptation to become a tin-plated god for a lot of hapless people runs strong in some folk. I lost count a long time ago of the number of things I’ve read in which members of the laity excoriate the pope — the pope! — because he doesn’t live up to their itty bitty interpretation of things.
That is a natural outgrowth of vague, inaccessible teaching from the Church itself. If those who are charged with leadership don’t lead, that creates a vacuum that someone else will step up and fill. We don’t need more demagogues in the blogosphere, but we will get them so long as the Church continues to communicate in such an inaccessible way.
I think that the Church needs to teach its teachings in language that is clear-cut and that communicates.
It can begin by finding a better word than catechesis.
I’m having a Mama kind of time.
My 88-year-old mother goes through phases. It took me a while to figure out that these were phases, rather than permanent situations. I don’t know what causes them, and I don’t know why they end. But I do know that while they are making their passage I have a hard time balancing with them.
This latest phase is, “I don’t know what to do.”
Here’s how it works.
Mama: I don’t know what to do.
Me: What do you mean?
Mama: I don’t know whether they’re picking me up for my job (adult day care) or what.
Me: They’ll be here at their regular time. You just need to go to bed and get some rest so you’re ready to have fun tomorrow.
Mama: Well … OK. But I don’t know what to do.
Mama: I don’t know what to do.
Me: What do you mean?
Mama: I can’t remember.
Me: It’s Ok. Just go back to bed and get some sleep and it will be ok tomorrow.
Midnight. 2 am, 3 am. 3:30 am, 4 am, and on until she leaves for Adult Day Care
Mama: I don’t know what to do.
Me: What do you mean?
Mama: I’m afraid they won’t pick me up for my job (adult day care) on time.
Me: Don’t worry. I’ll take you if they don’t pick you up. Now just go back to bed and get some sleep.
Driver for Adult Day Care: Your mother has been calling me since 4 am, wanting me to come pick her up.
Director at Adult Day Care: Your Mother called us every few minutes from 5 am on, wanting us to come get her.
Mama: I’m home now. I want you to come take me for a drive.
Me: I’m so tired.
Mama: Oh sweetie, you need to stop working so hard and get some sleep.
Me: Yeah. You’re right.
Mama: Now, I want you to take me for a drive.
If I sometimes seem grouchy, absent-minded or just plain goofy, remember this and cut me a little slack. It’s just a phase. It may go on for days, weeks or months, but at some point, Mama will start sleeping through the night again and she will be blissfully unaware that there ever was a time when she didn’t know what to do. I don’t know exactly how it happens, but it does.
This last slow walk with Mama is a surprisingly beautiful time with its own surprises and profound touches of grace. Even when I am groggy and nauseous from lack of sleep, I am still glad that I have her. Contrary to the nonsense our culture teaches us, it is a gift to be old and full of years, both to the people who live it and to the people who take care of them.
Everything I ever needed to know about love, I learned from my parents. I am fortunate indeed that my Mama, even as she wakes me up to the beat of her own internal metronome, is still teaching me.
Pope Francis managed to make Forbes most powerful list, and he did it without a single Tomahawk missile.
I would guess that this is a bow to the pope’s worldwide popularity. What is ironic is that despite the fact that the pope has none of the trappings of raw power that the other members of the Most Powerful list possess, he really does have a kind of power.
The power to persuade through love and hope is and always has been the most potent kind of power that anyone can possess. What these other people have is the power to destroy — through weapons, taxes regulations., or expenditures of monies. They can, if they are careful, creative and deeply good people, shape this power to the purposes of good.
But Pope Francis has the healing power of Christ at his disposal. This acts on the many cruelties and sins of individual lives in the same way that water acts on stone. It slowly wears away the rough edges and transforms, but it does it so gradually and painlessly that the observer can not see it as it happens.
What is interesting is that every Christian has access to this same healing power, if they will just use it. Scripture tells us that love is stronger than death. I don’t think this refers only to physical death. I think it refers to our whole death-worshipping culture and, on a personal scale, to the many little deaths of cruelty and indifference that we encounter in our daily lives.
Love is stronger than death. God’s love is stronger than the entropy of decaying civilizations and the slow deconstruction of wasted lives. His love cancels out the annihilation that is the core craving of all deep evil.
God’s love is the not just the transforming power in human society. It is the glue that holds everything, everywhere, together. We see the corrosive effect that rejecting God has on individuals, on their belief systems and their overall behavior. We see it writ large on societies that fall away from Him. But the truth is, God is still holding those people and this world in existence, even as they reject Him. If God ceased to love existence into existence, there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, anywhere. Existence itself would cease to exist without the power of God holding it in place.
When the scriptures tell us that He holds us in the palm of his hand, they are telling a truth that is simultaneously metaphorical and literal. We exist because He wills existence itself into being. And yet, for all that incomprehensible power and grandeur, He cares for and knows each of us as the individual lights that we are.
The Holy Father, who speaks for His Son’s Church, does have power. It is the power of the words that lead to eternal life spoken to a world dedicated to following after its own death.
The new bishop at the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis was marked for death before he was born.
If his mother had listened to her doctor, she would have aborted her baby. “You’re carrying a freak,” the doctor told Judy Cozzens during her fifth month, “you shouldn’t continue this pregnancy.”
When Mrs Cozzens refused to have an abortion, the doctor told her she would have to get another physician. She did, and the baby was born reasonably healthy. He suffered from the skin disease eczema and developed asthma in his childhood.
Now, he is the new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis.
Freak becomes a bishop. That’s the quick and easy storyline describing the path Father Andrew Cozzens took to becoming the next auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
But, here’s the strange part — the person who called him this name was a doctor. And, he pinned this label on Father Cozzens, called Drew throughout his childhood, without even seeing him.
In fact, Father Cozzens was still in his mother’s womb.
This takes some explaining, and so it was that his parents, Jack, 75, and Judy, 69, took a good chunk of time on a recent afternoon recalling the circumstances surrounding the birth — and life — of their No. 2 child, a boy who remarked to another doctor when he was just 4 years old that he was going to “do the Lord’s work” someday.
The drama began during Judy’s fifth month of pregnancy. She was teaching part time at a Catholic school in Connecticut. Her stomach hurt, and she figured she was getting the stomach flu that had been going around the school.
“Then, all of a sudden, I realized I’m getting my pains every five minutes, and I realized I was in labor,” she said. “So, Jack met me at the hospital and we went in. I almost lost [the baby], but they stopped the labor.”
She felt relief, but only momentarily. The tension over her son’s condition skyrocketed the following morning when the doctor came in to talk to her about what was happening.
“He said, ‘You’re carrying a deformed fetus, and you need to not continue with the pregnancy’” she said. “And, I said, ‘What do you mean? This is my baby.’ And, he said, ‘No, you don’t understand. You’re carrying a freak, and you shouldn’t continue with this pregnancy.’” (Read the rest here.)
How many times have you heard a bishop try to explain away his actions concerning a child-molesting priest by saying “But we got him counseling. It was what the experts advised?”
And how many times, when you heard that, did you think, “Mr Bishop, nobody’s that dumb?”
There appears to be a growing move to legitimize child sexual abuse in our culture. It started a long time ago with the book Lolita and moved forward through lots of movies, books and plays such as American Beauty and others. I remember quite clearly the outrage in certain quarters when the government took a stab at holding Roman Polanski accountable for raping a 13-year-old girl.
In the words of one famous comedienne “It wasn’t rape-rape.”
It is increasingly becoming a fact rather than a conjecture that the sexual abuse of children is only really terrible in our society when it is committed by a Catholic priest, or occasionally, a famous football coach.
My colleague Dr Gregory Popcak has published a post raising the question of whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation.” The phrase “orientation” is loaded up to the top with political correctness. It has become something of a synonym in the popular imagination for an inborn trait or illness, like, say, Down’s Syndrome.
Dr Popcak makes clear that the DSM has not changed its definition. The gray area was there all along. It comes from the dilemma of how to define people who are sexually attracted to children but don’t molest them. My understanding is that the DSM considers the sexual attraction to children as an orientation and the practice of molesting children a disorder.
That’s a fine cut for a layperson, and it explains much of the confusion in the public mind.
All this takes us back to the cry of so many anguished bishops that they were just doing what the “experts” told them when they gave child molesting priests a dose of counseling and then put them back into parishes where they could molest again. The confusion about whether or not the DSM has moved pedophilia into the gray area of “orientation” is freighted with questions that can lead to all sorts of wrong-headed actions on the part of people ranging from law enforcement, to legislators and on to Catholic bishops.
We need to temper our enthusiasm for advice from various professional associations with the awareness that many of them are too much the captives of political pressure and public opinion. This can hamper the genuine scientific value they offer. Some of the psycho-babble we read is more an attempt at political blackmail aimed at changing laws or “normalizing” destructive behavior than it is actual scientific understanding.
If trendy public opinion is going to be the guide of our professional associations, then those associations become worthless except as dues vacuums to pay for junkets, staff and glossy publications.
The bishops were wrong when they drop-kicked the Scriptures in order to follow the psychologists, especially since many of these psychologists were themselves hand-picked employees. They were morally wrong and they failed in their charge to be shepherds of the people God gave them to care for.
The fact that some of them can’t seem to get the message is not only infuriating, but it raises — at least for me — serious questions about the commitment to Christ on the part of these specific bishops. I am not talking about all bishops everywhere. But if, after all this time, a bishop still can’t figure out that priests should keep their hands off the children in their parishes, I am out of patience with them.
However, if Catholic priests are the only ones who are treated with public approbation because of their child molesting, then there’s something wrong with our mechanisms for public approbation. I read recently about a famous disk jockey who had made plans to meet a woman overseas so he could have sex with her seven year old daughter. British celebrities also come to mind. Where’s the approbation to equal the appall at priest child sexual abuse over these things?
One thing I’ve learned from my time as a member of the board of directors of an organization that rescues trafficked women is that men purposely buy children for sex, and pimps purposely sell them right here in America. They do it all the time. Where, gentle reader, is the outrage over that?
The question — which is the same question each of these satanic moves backward into the pit asks of us — is are the victims of this things, or are they people? In this instance, the question is, are children things, or are they people?
When someone does something so terrible to a child, their “illness” becomes an academic question in my mind. As a lawmaker, my response is that they should be put in prison and never let out again. I mean that. They should live out the rest of their days and die in prison.
If that sounds harsh, so be it. I am not going to change. Not on this.
I know of no other way to keep our children safe from these people than to lock the predators up.
Why do non-Catholics want so desperately for the Catholic Church to change its teachings?
It’s fascinating, the amount of emotion at least some non-Catholics seem to have about Catholic teaching. I can tell you that when I was in the anti-God period of my life, I did not give one whit what any church taught. I paid them the ultimate diss of not giving a care.
But from what I’ve seen on this blog, there are a large number of people who claim to be atheist or some what-not version of what I was in my anti-God period, who appear to think about Christianity, the Catholic Church in particular, 24/7. They appear to be, in a word, obsessed with the minutiae of Catholic teaching.
If you doubt this, go to some of the atheist blogs. All they ever talk about is God, Christian teaching, and the Bible.
There are a few issues in particulate that really rev their engines. They are:
When someone confronts them with the obvious inconsistency implied in their obsessive demands that a Church they claim is a stupid cult alter teachings that they claim are based on a myth, they start denouncing Catholics for using their rights as American citizens to vote and advocate according to their consciences.
It’s as if it offends them that Catholics have the same rights to vote, free assembly and to petition their government as other citizens. I suppose it’s true that it does offend them. Because one takeaway I get from reading the comments from most (not all, there are a couple of clear exceptions) of these people is that they are, at base, bullies.
I also think that the core reason they keep coming around here to drop off their load of insults (most of the truly insulting ones never see the light of day on this blog) is that they are either mental on some level, or, whether they will admit it or not, they are God haunted people who desperately want what the Church offers, which is peace with God, eternal life and a spiritual home. It’s just that they can’t bring themselves to go to God on God’s terms. They want Him — meaning His Church — to come to them on their terms.
These are people who refuse to be forgiven for their sins. What they want is to have the Almighty ratify their sins. They are obsessed with finding, not absolution, but vindication, from a Church they claim they believe is a fraud.
However, that’s just my reaction. Yours may be different. I’m going to throw this open for discussion.
Why do you think nonbelievers are so obsessed with the Catholic Church?