We’ve Officially Jumped The Shark – Fr. Z and Voris Out To Sea…

… Someone once referred to me as a “celebrity blogger”. I guess because I receive monetary compensation for my writing maybe? Or maybe it’s because I was invited to the Vatican’s Blog Meeting in Rome last year. But so were 149 other bloggers. And I have it on good authority I was there for comedic relief and the decision was not based on my merits as a writer or a Catholic. I’m nominal at best.

No. That’s not me. When I think “Catholic Celebrity” a dozen names come to mind, but not my own. I think Lino Rulli, that hater of pale girls. Or that priest that used to be on EWTN. No, not that one. The other one. Wow, being on EWTN sounds more dangerous than showing up for work on the USS Enterprise wearing a red shirt

At the top of my mental celebrity list are Fr. Z and Michael Voris. Now don’t mistake me. Referring to someone as a celebrity isn’t meant as an insult. Celebrities are just individuals who are widely known by a group of people. They are generally admired. Admiration is not a bad thing either. It’s ok to admire people who are good or do good, like Fr. Groeschel. I admire Lino Rulli for his candor and wit. Fr. Z for his infinite knowledge of the Catholic faith. Micahel Voris is admired by many for his dogged determination to expose lies and falsehoods and his mesmerizing man hair.

It only makes sense that two of the top renown Catholic internet personalities, Fr. Z and Michael Voris, should have their paths cross at some point. Perhaps to write a book together on Catholic teaching or to give talks on the spiritual benefits of Advent traditions, or take a cruise together. Wait. What?

If you made it past the two minute mark, God bless ya.

Please permit me to express my utter disbelief and give two reasons why the idea of a Lenten cruise just simultaneously blew my mind and made me laugh hysterically.

1) For the most obvious reason; It’s duiring Lent.

You know, Lent? That penitential time of the year when we celebrate the gruesome crucifixion of Our Lord by taking lavish “retreat” cruises around the Caribbean.

Oh. You’re being serious.

Look, I get the need to take a vacation. I need a vacation. Right now. And a stiff drink… but A Lenten retreat at sea? At least back up your pretense with a pilgrimage somewhere that has even the tiniest semblance of desert atmosphere. Or, I don’t know, go somewhere legitimately holy. If an apparition of Our Lady has been seen floating in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean, then forgive me. Just calling something a “retreat” during that particular liturgical season doesn’t necessarily make it Lent-ful or appropriate in practice.

2) The obscene cost.

I find it terribly gauche that the promotion video claims the purpose of this thousand dollar cruise is to spiritually “reinforce” our faith. I can name a dozen cheaper and more spiritually beneficial ways to reinforce my faith and none involve an all you can eat seafood buffet and Vegas style show tunes.

Last I checked, daily mass is offered free everywhere. Confession is usually weekly and also free. Unless they’ve changed that and there’s now a fee. I don’t know. It’s been a few months. Look, if you’re seriously looking for a way to “recharge”, “reinforce your faith”, and “rest in faith” then go to Adoration! Also free, I might add.

Just don’t do it like this unless your intent is to make everyone around you uncomfortable.

The idea that a Catholic needs to spend this type of money in order to experience some spiritual fulfillment just blows my mind. Call it what it is and pass around the plate. The $1083.89 cost of this trip is for the privilege to be in the company of Fr. Z and Michael Voris and to bask in the luxurious comfort of a cruise ship. Again, better company and comfort can be found in Adoration. Challenge me on that.

I’m not arguing with Voris that pilgrimages and retreats can indeed reignite the fires of our faith. It’s why people flock to holy places by the hundreds of thousands every year and push themselves beyond their physical limitations to walk the Camino across Spain. Rome is never lacking for pilgrims. And yes, these trips cost a pretty penny. There are very few true pilgrims anymore, begging alms and lodging along the way.

Spending the money on a pilgrimage to visit relics and holy sites is not a bad way to spend money. Neither is going on a retreat. And neither is doing any of these things with the company of a priest. However, retreats are usually held in monasteries and convents which charge very little for their accommodations. They don’t have entertainers and staff to pay so the savings are passed on directly to you. How thoughtful of them.

You see where I’m going with this. This voyage at sea is clearly not a retreat. There’s a ginormous difference between spending that kind of dough on an actual pilgrimage to Lourdes or going on a retreat at Clear Creek and a cruise to the Caribbean on a luxury liner. One is at a holy site & the other is a place where holy people live, usually in austere conditions. So what of a cruise ship in the middle of the Caribbean then? Pardon me, but this retreat seems to imply that merely being in the company Fr. Z and Michael Voris surrounded by like-minded Catholics is the source of “holiness” and exactly what one needs to recharge spiritually during Lent.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit this cruise sounds like a rockin’ good time. I’d pay that amount to go hang out on a floating castle with cabana boys bringing me an endless supply of fruit drinks out of coconut shells. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a good time and if you got the cash laying around why not take a cruise and rub elbows with Catholic aristocracy. But to call it a retreat is kind of insulting.

Just call it a cruise with Fr. Z and Michael Voris. No shame in that. Fr. Z is a lot of fun to hang out with in a bar and if people want to pay to be in his company that’s their prerogative, but it would be more prudent to leave the “retreat” nonsense out of it and pick a more appropriate time on the liturgical calendar.

Lastly, I wonder how they’ll manage to pull off the liturgical logistics for a boat full of neo-con purists. Aren’t Voris’s fans usually the ones that have a very low tolerance for liturgical impurities and anything modern looking? Will there be a chapel on the Ruby Princess and will it have altar rails? And if not will Michael Voris do an exposé on the mass that Fr. Z celebrated in a make shift chapel that didn’t have kneelers?

Really, this is such a phenomenally unwise move for Fr. Z. As Terry noted, “Voris is pretty much a persona non grata with many bishops, dioceses, not to mention the USCCB.” I mean for goodness sake, his business can’t even identify as “Catholic”.

Then again who knows. Maybe I’m dead wrong. Casinos, confession, and show tunes certainly has a Catholic Kitsch factor going for it.

In which case, party on.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • http://www.facebook.com/curtjester Jeff Miller

    You might be interested at what Pope Benedict XVI recently said when speaking to the Apostleship of the Sea. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/november/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20121123_apostolato-mare_en.html

    Now as someone who spent 20 years in the Navy spending years of life at sea, the idea of a Lenten cruise is totally penitential to me even if I got to meet Fr. Z.

    Now maybe a real Lenten cruise would be one that only went to crappy ports of call, and had grouchy pursers and bad food. With maybe a set of those really abstract Stations of the Cross that inhabit so many parishes.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      Elderly women in Bo Derek braids lounging poolside does sound pretty penitential now that I think about it.

    • Nan

      I read “inhibit” so many parishes.

  • David L Alexander


    This isn’t about a Catholic apostolate sponsoring a cruise (not a bad idea), nor about bringing a Catholic priest along (a really good idea, for reasons the good Father himself has stated). This is about having it during Lent, and calling it a “retreat.” I’m already catching heat for calling them out on this …


    … which is why there’s gonna be a sequel by the weekend. Stay tuned.

  • http://twitter.com/byzcathwife priest’s wife

    I agree 100%- call it a get-together with a good priest

  • GeekLady

    I don’t know, spending over a grand to be trapped on a ship with Michael Voris sounds pretty damn penitential to me.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1557361413 Laura Lowder

    Oh, God luv ya, Girl. The announcement about this cruise thing just had me throwing up my mouth. I HATE the whole celebrity priest thing – “let’s go on a cruise with Fr Z because we’re so friggin’ holier than everybody else.” I still need antacid and a mouth rinse.

  • Tom

    I’ll let the Heartbreak Kid give my feelings on this (even if he did revert to an Evangelical Church): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrHkxroKkd8

  • Cordelia

    Oh, Kat – you do this kind of thing so well! (And I’m kinda partial to GeekLady’s take on it, too…)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003366527204 Steve Robinson

    Ah, yes… the Delusion Tours has reached the Catholic Church. We ARE one! :)


  • tj.nelson

    I know you hate this – but: ROFLMAO!
    Anyway – I’m not sure just anyone can claim to be hosting an official “Year of Faith” retreat when they were told they couldn’t use “Catholic” as their business identity.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      You make another excellent point. I like Fr. Z but he needs to walk away from this for the sake of his reputation.

      • ANNE_JMJ

        What is wrong with a Priest saying Mass, hearing confessions, or giving a religious talk?
        Does priestly or missionary work stop at the Church door, or only at locations you choose?
        Don’t you think Jesus wants to save the Souls of those on a ship or on any islands?
        This will be a strong witness for many, and could bring some back to the Church, or make others curious enough to inquire about the Faith.
        Did God tell you something that he did not tell anyone else?

    • ANNE_JMJ

      Interesting that the heretical, schismatic, and scandalous “National Catholic REPORTER” still uses the name “Catholic”.

  • ladyinblack

    It’s really not a bad idea to have a week someplace where Catholics can talk to each other and make friends. I’ve been in situations like this myself and benefited greatly from it. Such things could also be called a sort of retreat, just like pilgrimages can. I have no problem with that.

    The fact that it’s during Lent, not so much. That’s kind of strange. The fact that it’s a little bit of a celebrity priest thing, that’s strange too.

  • Mary Griffin

    The thing I find most heartening about this ludicrous decision by Michael Voris and Father Z is that even though people like and respect these guys, there are still a lot of people saying “what the…”
    The only ones we follow like little lambs is our Savior and His Vicar – the rest are just dumb sinners like us. If we haven’t learned that in 2000 years of history, then we haven’t learned anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1355813796 Michael Richer

    Maybe they’re using keelhauling & walking-the-plank as penances (befitting the locale of the cruise)…

  • Michael

    Quite a few folks in the Catholic blogosphere / media do seem ironclad in their belief that since they’re totally on board (no pun intended) with Catholic orthodoxy and orthopraxis, anything they then do with a quick coat of Catholic slathered on is AOK. Hopping on the Luxurious Penitence in the middle of Lent and calling it a retreat is a bad, bad idea. Things like this happen and then they wonder why so much of the MSM and indeed the United States alternately laugh at or ridicule Catholics. I can just hear myself trying to defend orthodox Catholicism against those suuuuppperrr grroooooovy feel-good folks now that Fr. Z and Michael Voris will be scheduling their presentations around lifeboat drills and shopping excursions.

    • ANNE_JMJ

      Since you apparently think you are so” holy” as to criticise others whom you do not know,

      Prove your statements. Where in any Church document is a cruise a sin? List document and paragraph number of Church Document.
      Also prove exactly that all attendees will be shopping.
      Stop the lies. Admit that you do not know what each and every attendee will be doing.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

        You’ve been banned for being overly obnoxious.

  • David Wendell

    The “retreat” is probably a mistake. But I still like Voris and Father Z.

  • Lydia

    I’m a protestant, so perhaps I shouldn’t have an opinion, but…I sympathize with the feeling that there’s something gauche about a Lenten cruise. Fine and good. But what’s with all the comments to the effect that there’s probably something wrong with Voris’s organization because he isn’t allowed to use the word “Catholic” in the name? I mean, c’mon, isn’t that a tad naive, to put it mildly? You all know quite well, or should know quite well, that the American bishops are neither wise nor consistent in applying that standard, that they allow schools that have “coming out week” and other totally offensive stuff to retain the Catholic label, while trads like Voris who dare to criticize various bishops who persecute trad priests (for example) are treated as an embarrassment and told to remove the word “Catholic” from their organization. It’s a blatant double standard, and *by no means* is the fact that he was asked to remove the word “Catholic” some kind of reliable indicator that his organization is bad or wrong or that faithful Catholics should shun him. Give me a break! I would have thought the readership, etc., of this blog of all things should know better than that. Moreover, Voris’s eventually willingness to comply with the order should show his willingness to be obedient to his local bishop, even though he disagreed with the order, which I guess ought to appeal to you as Catholics. Something really weird about this reaction to the “remove Catholic” order.

  • Lydia

    Okay, sorry, not “all the” comments. One, to be precise, and an apparent agreement with it, adding up to two, total. But still.

  • David L Alexander
  • http://www.facebook.com/agni.ashwin Agni Ashwin

    Hey, whatever helps the economy.


    Instead of being so judgemental, please read the CCC and the use of the media by those who call themselves “Catholic”.
    Why do you condemn those who are in unity with the teachings of the Church as printed in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”?
    Where is your unity? Or is yours merely the sin of Envy?

    It is not your job to criticise others. You are to judge sin, not people.

    The last time I looked in the CCC, cruses were not on the list of sins. Are you making up your own sins now?
    Please apologize for your silly, envious, and wrong blog article.

    If you want to condemn, why not the heretical, schismatic, and scandalous “National Catholic REPORTER” ?


    Below are from the CCC. Evangelization takes place everywhere.
    Mass, Confession, good example, and other religious activities on a cruise ship can set a great example for others who have fallen away from the Faith or don’t know much about the Faith.
    Perhaps Jesus has a plan that we do not know about to save other Souls.

    People from all over the world attend cruises. Missionary work is not limited to any specific location.

    The CCC is clear – a cruise during lent is NOT listed anywhere in any Church documents as being sinful.
    However, envy, slander (damaging personal opinions about people doing non-sinful activities), is sinful on bloggers parts.

    CCC: ” 1095 For this reason the Church, especially during Advent and Lent and
    above all at the Easter Vigil, re-reads and re-lives the great events of
    salvation history in the “today” of her liturgy. But this also demands that
    catechesis help the faithful to open themselves to this spiritual understanding
    of the economy of salvation as the Church’s liturgy reveals it and enables us to
    live it. ”

    CCC: ” 1438 The seasons and days of penance in the
    course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of
    the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times
    are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies,
    pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and
    almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)”.

    Please do not be silly in responses, because you can not judge what others will or will not be eating either.
    Condeming people is wrong, you may only condemn known sin.

  • JaneC

    My parents are fans of a singer who “hosts” an Irish music-themed cruise every year. They always advertise on the flyers that there will be daily Mass and a novena as well as the fun stuff. I think that’s a much better model: wholesome family fun with easy access to daily Mass, confession, etc., and not pretending that it’s a retreat (and not during Lent).

  • Alexandra Campbell

    so I have been hunting down the origins of this whole voris retreat cruise brouhaha and it seems it started here. and crescats post is pretty funny and not mean-spirited…whereas all the more recent stuff has gotten pretty strident and vicious on other sites…interesting blog 0′sphere phenomenon…probably make a good dissertation for someone, studying how wildly out of control and mean these disembodied internet conversations can get, even among people who are supposed to be trying not to commit sins, especially against others in their group…I can only imagine how awful people treat each other in comboxes where no one is even trying to be Christian…it is very entertaining…almost a “guilty pleasure” to track down and read all the mean-spirited stuff…sad somehow

  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    I promise to read all of this but had to pause and say LOLZ over the “red shirts on Star Trek” observation. Okay, continuing reading….

  • http://www.lisagraas.com Lisa Graas

    Baby Jesus (in the person of a fellow parishioner) brought me and my kids a Christmas meal and presents. I hope that is the closest I ever get to being a professional, famous Catholic.