Judge a tree by it's fruits, man!
I got an e-mail last night from a friend of mine. We had been discussing the current LCWR review. He was under the impression (as so many are) that the Vatican was trying to stamp out the personal freedoms of poor, innocent nuns just trying to live our their vocation serving their communities.I admit I got rather heated at the thought of these women being pitied as a result of the media's false stories of heroism in the face of the big, bad Vatican. These women should never - EVER - be held up as the gold standard for Catholicism. The women in question shouldn't even be held up as a bad example of Catholicism. Many have given up being Catholic long, long ago and just haven't 'fessed up to it yet. Thus, use them as a bad example of Protestantism. Please leave the word "Catholic" out of their mess.Anyway, this friend chided me for my harsh words. He quoted the oft repeated (and incredibly misunderstood) line from Matthew 7: "Judge not lest you be judged."*Sigh*I've already sent this friend an e-mail detailing my feelings on the matter (candidly as I'm apt to do). However, I felt this a topic very necessary to broach with the general population as this quote is so often used by people in an attempt to bow out to political correctness. In my opinion, it's nothing more than an excuse to hide one's insecurities behind a veil of false nicety. Let's say my mother is driving a car. We're about to take a curve too harshly. Considering there's a canyon to the left of us, if she continues speeding, we're likely to tumble into the abyss.
Do I refrain from telling her to slow down because I'm afraid I might hurt her feelings for criticizing her driving?
No. I like my life.
Instead, I'd say, "Hey Mom, you need to apply the brakes because if you don't, we're likely to take a tumble neither one of us will enjoy."
Would I be judging my mother to be a bad driver? No.
Would I be judging her behavior to be bad? Yes.
Might she feel as though I'd judged her to be a bad driver? Yes, it's a possibility.If she feels as though I've passed a negative judgement on her, does that mean I have? No.Even knowing that she might have her feelings hurt as a result of my criticism, should I refrain from suggesting she slow down? NO.As I've said in previous entries, I simply do not have the personality to sit on the sidelines while someone is acting in a way that is either harmful to self or others. I can't. I automatically put a familiar face on these folks and my decision is made - political correctness be damned. That is exactly what we are asked to do as Catholics. The quote "Judge not, lest ye be judged" is often given as a means to stifle this responsibility. However, if we read juuust a little bit further, we'll come to understand that this misrepresented quote (found on everything from billboards to memes to T-shirts) means something much different than the sound byte it's utilized as.Here is the quote in its entirety (from the New American Bible, so the wording is slightly changed):
Jesus said to His disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Matt 7:1-5In other words, use your God-given intellect to discern judgement. It isn't necessarily meaning we should condemn, but it's certainly charging us with the responsibility of properly judging all things with equality. In fact, there are quotes all over the Bible specifically commanding this of us.In the gospels, Luke echoes Matthew in Chapter 6 with "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven... For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."John (7:24) relays Jesus saying "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteously."In Proverbs (3:21), "Preserve sound judgement and discernment."In the Letter of St. Paul to the Phillipians (1:9-11), "And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God."And my favorite (also from Luke 6) stating, "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."
"See the good that we do and give glory to God."
That being said, we have a Christian responsibility to judge that which is presented to us in this world... ESPECIALLY when that which is presented wreaks of evil. We must not allow such evil to continue spreading as a cancer. The Body of Christ - OUR spiritual body - must be protected. If we remain silent as these "religious" continue to misinform, polarize and confuse the general population, we commit a sin of commission. We allow a greater evil to exist both within our ranks, and within ourselves through our silence.
This is exactly how the atrocities of WWII were accomplished. Sure there were plenty of folks who disagreed with the Nazi ideals. However, too many were silent for too long.
First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
I, for one, cannot endure such silence. I cannot wither away behind a false veil of "live and let live" when that includes allowing misinformation to fester and spread to my friends, family and children. No. It is my duty as a Christian to call evil out where it is and shed the light of truth upon the dishonesty and willful desecration of the Faith.
And those Christians among you who read this (be you Catholic or otherwise), this is your duty as well. We must work together to bring the light of Truth to others. We must not allow the lies, the half-truths, the confusion to tear souls away from Christ.
Judas, too, was ordained a priest.
So the entry from yesterday was a lot more venomous than I had originally meant for it to turn out. I guess I was still a lot more angry and disgusted than I thought.
Anyway, a comment on one of the articles gave me pause. The woman wrote, "Jesus gave Communion to Judas, even knowing that he had betrayed Him, didn't He?"
He did! And He most certainly knew that Judas had already betrayed Him. In fact, as I mentioned before, Louisa Piccarretta described this scene in The 24 Hours of the Passion. As Jesus knelt before Judas to clean his feet, His Heart was torn in agony as He foresaw the end Judas would meet because of his stubborn refusal to ask forgiveness. In Judas, Christ saw all priests who would fall away from their callings. Yet still, He persisted in His blessings, He persisted in allowing Judas to partake of the Eucharist.Soon after reading this comment, I came across one of Maria Valtorta's visions in which Jesus appears to 500 followers after His Resurrection. Sts. Peter and John are present, and Jesus teaches them the importance of obedience and perseverance. He says to them:"And remember also that I did not refuse Myself even to Judas of Kerioth… A priest must try to save, by all possible means. And let love always prevail, among the means used to save. Consider that I was not unaware of Judas' horror… But, overcoming all disgust, I treated the wretch as I treated John [the Beloved Disciple]... One must work even then… always… until everything is accomplished."Honestly, I have no idea how I came across that particular passage save for Divine Providence. In my own arrogance, I had also disregarded Church teaching by reacting with such anger towards Johnson. I think Christ wanted to remind me that I needed a bit more humility and a lot more charity if I wanted to fancy myself a follower of His.Well played, Good Sir, well played. So while I'm still disgusted by Barbara Johnson's actions (those actions being her willful attempt to commit a sacrilege and her subsequent lambasting of Father Guarnizo), I no longer wish that she and her hoard of supporters drop off the Catholic radar. Instead of praying for an early bout of Spring Cleaning that sees them all ostracized or relegated to protestant denominations, I should be praying that the Holy Spirit alights in their hearts so that they can see the error of their ways and return to the faithful, Catholic fold. After all, in the same vision, Jesus stated to the crowd:And those that for any reason should separate from the Mother Church, would be members cut off, no longer nourished with the mystic blood that is Grace coming from Me, the divine Head of the Church. Like prodigal sons, separated through their own will from the paternal house, in their short-lived wealth and constant and graver and graver misery, they would be blunting their spiritual intellects by means of too heavy foods and wines, and then they would languish eating the bitter acorns of unclean animals until they returned to the paternal house, saying with contrite hearts: "We have sinned. Father, forgive us and open the doors of your abode to us". Then, whether it is a member of a separated Church, or an entire Church - oh! if it were so, but where, when will so many imitators of Me arise, capable of redeeming these entire separated Churches, at the cost of their lives, to make, to remake only one Fold under only one shepherd, as I ardently wish? - then whether it is only one person or an assembly that comes back, open the doors to them.And may they all feel the Light of the Spirit. May their minds be opened to His Wisdom, and may their egos be enveloped by His Glory. May mine, too.However, let not this testimony give anyone the opinion that I will no longer strike out against such folly in the future. I still stand behind my opinion that this woman should be barred from the Eucharist until she reconciles herself to the Church through means of a true confession. I still stand behind my opinion that the priest did exactly what he should have done in preventing the sacrilege to occur. I also stand by my opinion that the superiors who shot out an apology should be ashamed of throwing their brother under the bus when he was only acting in the way our Church teaches he must (in protecting the Eucharist from sacrilege and by refusing to allow the public to be led astray by erroneous pastoral example).May this brave and blessed priest ever feel the smile of Our Lady upon him, and may his superiors learn the error of their ways, seek forgiveness, and move forward with greater faith and solidarity.
Escher rocks my socks. <3
I cannot even tell you how much I despise the phrase that creates my title. It's like an MC Escher painting (Escher, BTW, is my favorite artist). You know something's just a bit off, but you're not sure exactly what it is until you take a deeper look.
This phrase is the calling card of Cafeteria Catholics. Chances are, if someone starts off labeling themselves as Catholic only to snarkily comment about Church teaching two seconds later, they are the cafeteria variety (translation: they're not actually Catholic).
Oxymoronic disclaimers like this exist in all forms. "I'm not racist, but listen to this black joke..."or "Look, I 100% believe men and women are equal, but let's be honest..." or my favorite, "... homosexual joke..." *pause as folks look on, obviously uncomfortable* "What? I've got plenty of gay friends, so it's okay."Ay yi yi. A friend of mine posted this article to Facebook (regarding the resignation of Bishop Zavala) which garnered quite the response. He headed the article with: I think the Church needs to rethink the celibacy mandate for priests... The first to respond, I said: This isn't an issue of celibacy. We've gotta do a better job of screening applicants. We've also gotta do a much better job of solidifying a proper support system for priests who are under ridiculous amounts of stress from being stretched too thin and having too, too much expected of them.My heart breaks for priests these days... we are lucky to have ANY, and things like this are good (if disappointing) reminders that they are men... human men with human failings the same as us. That we expect them all to be living saints is tragically fallacious. May Our Lady protect our priests... ♥Pretty soon, however, responders were adamantly decrying the "old-fashioned" and "sexually repressive" celibacy rules as nothing more than remnants of a greedy Church that realized priests with families would water down earnings through inheritance.Now, while I realize that celibacy for priests is not dogma (especially considering we do actually have some married priests through conversion and/or reconciliation with Rome), I don't feel as though it's simply an outdated practice meant to hoard Church resources and repress sexuality either. Celibacy is not just about refraining from sex. It is the understanding that one's objective in life is all-consuming, resulting in the refusal of hinderances to that objective. For a priest, this objective is to bring as many souls to Christ as possible through becoming as Christ-like as possible, thus things like romantic relationships, drug habits, or even arrogant pride are hinderances to that objective (hence the vows of obedience and chastity). Priests understand that when they take upon themselves the mantle of priest, they are "in persona Christi" (or, acting in the person of Christ). Their personal goal is to become enflamed with the love of Christ, since that Christ-like love will radiate out towards the people and pull them closer to Heaven. This personal goal - to attain such Christ-like holiness - is not an easy thing. It is an on-going process that requires dedication and constant vigilance.Romantic relationships detract from this goal as the priest is no longer able to remain vigilant / dedicated to being in persona Christi. Instead, he is forced to split his time between catering to the people and catering to a family. I'm not saying holiness is impossible to obtain for married folks. Quite the contrary. However, a priest models his married life after Christ. Married folks model the Holy Family (St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother). Marriage is the sacrifice of two persons for one another. Well, marriage in the way it's supposed to be, anyway. The wife submits herself to her husband, and the husband submits himself to his wife.For a priest, he follows the example of Christ who submitted FULLY to His bride, the Church (even to the point of death and on-going imprisonment). The Church, in turn, is expected to fully submit to her Spouse, Jesus (though we're notoriously awful for doing that). Just as the faithful should obediently submit to the teachings of priests (so long as these priests are in good standing with the Church, of course, and aren't teaching anything contrary to dogma).Anyway, would I be super against priests being allowed to marry again? No. Christ, Himself, chose married men to be His first priests. However, upon choosing these men for this ministry, all "left their families" to focus on their mission. Mind you, they did NOT abandon their families. Instead, they lived as Essenes did - celibate and apart from their wives. But I digress.Celibacy is not the root issue of these types of stories. Celibacy also isn't the evil, archaic or sexually repressive thing current generations attempt to paint it as. Allowing priests to marry isn't going to solve our problems, and may very well bring up new ones (scandal of infidelity, divorce, wayward children desecrating holy things, etc, etc, etc). Ah well. I'm curious if any one else has thoughts on this. I'll admit it's not something I've really delved too deeply into.
Warning - this is going to be another one of those "My Pastor is better than your Pastor" entries. Ha ha ha.In all seriousness, though, my pastor is incredible. It's like every week, my heart has to grow bigger just to fit more appreciation and love in there for him. I sometimes wonder if that's what's going to happen in Heaven when I finally meet Jesus face-to-face. Am I going to have to explode repeatedly from the love that keeps springing forth from my heart? Ha ha. Our wonderful priests really are precursors to what we can expect when we meet the man they vowed to serve. I've been so blessed to have so many amazing priests in my life. Anyway, the homily. I'm going to paraphrase and summarize, but here's the idea:He said, “Ya know, Halloween is a great time for kids to pretend, for a day, to be anyone they want to be. It sparks their creativity, and creativity is a blessing from God. Sometimes, though, us adults forget that Halloween is for kids. We dress ourselves up in Catholic movements, we speak a good Catholic game, but when it comes down to brass tacks, we don’t always act with true Christian love in our hearts. We put on the mask of Christianity, and tell ourselves that we’re better than we are. We lack humility, just as the Pharisees did. We exalt ourselves in public, we look for praise and respect. But God sees through those masks to the heart of who we are. He sees what is in our hearts. There’s no tricking God. The best we can do is lay bare our souls to Him and strive to live by His Gospel every day.” I really, REALLY liked that analogy. We really do tend to ignore (or make excuses for) our sins while picking apart those of others. Instead, may we open our eyes to the truth, and own up to our faults so we can better correct them. Let’s leave the pretending to the children… if we’re claiming to be Catholic, let’s TRULY be Catholic (that means YOU, Cafeteria Catholics!!!).
Let's take care of some business that apparently needs to be repeated... again... for the thousandth time...Gov. Andrew Cuomo, you are NOT a Catholic. Please, for the love of all that's sane and good in the world, STOP PARADING YOURSELF AROUND AS IF YOU ACTUALLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT BEING CATHOLIC MEANS.You are about as far removed from Catholicism as it gets. In fact, you're actively working AGAINST the Church and pretending it's all for the sake of equality. Your stances on (and continued work for) such things as abortion and gay marriage effectively excommunicated you. Congrats! What you did (and continue to do) was (and is!) so OUT-OF-LINE with the Church that you didn't even NEED your bishop to sign off on your excommunication! The anti-Catholic acts which you CONTINUE to be a party to were cause enough to cut you off from the Church. And since a "Catholic" like you probably has no idea how excommunication works, go look up Excommunication Latae Sententiae. That oughta clear it up for you.In fact, Cardinal Burke (who heads the highest court of the Vatican, BTW) hit home this point about Cuomo when he said,
In other words, you can't say you love kittens when you're shooting them with bee bee guns. You can't say you are concerned about the environment as you toss 30 plastic bottles out of your car as you speed down I-95. You can't say you're a Catholic if you reject BASIC truths of our faith. So Gov. Cuomo, if you still had ANY confusion in that already mangled mind of yours, allow me to set you straight - you're not Catholic. I don't care that you're not Catholic. What I DO care about is your consistent proclamation that you ARE Catholic. Do you have any idea how confusing that is to folks? Let me explain it this way...You frequent one of the nicest country clubs in the nation. You know their dress code, you've abided by their dress code for a good ten years or so. Then one day, you decide to walk in wearing cut-offs, flip flops and a t-shirt. At first, folks are pretty taken aback when they see you. The waitress probably pulled you aside and explained the dress code. One or two of the patrons probably tried doing the same. But you kept coming back, week after week, insisting that cut-offs, flip flops and Tees were perfectly normal attire. Those not part of the county club see you walk into the club and assume that's normal attire. Even some IN the club - who KNOW better - begin to question the rules since you refuse to listen to the staff and continue to trample on their requests for you to adhere to the code. See how things begin to get murky?So if you wanna believe in abortion and gay marriage and even aliens from Jupiter, go right ahead. Just don't call yourself a Catholic, because you're NOT and you bring shame to our name. You are a disgrace, and I want your name NO WHERE NEAR my faith. Until you come to terms with the fact that YOU don't get to write the rules of Catholicism, I don't want to hear the word "Catholic" fall from your lips again.Dang it - this is why I'm so anti-Cafeteria Catholics. They do more to destroy our faith than the atheists do! *Deep breath*So what brought all this on? On Wednesday, Gay City News reported a journalist asked Cuomo what he thought of the arguments against gay marriage that were presented to him. His response? “There is no answer from the opposition. There really isn’t. Ultimately, it’s, ‘I want to discriminate.’ And that’s anti-New York. It’s anti-American.”*Face palm*So glad the repeated letters from several bishops, the citizen protests, the fact that almost all the other states refuse to participate in this farce, and the mountain of letters Cuomo and the NY representatives got leading up to this were "no answer." I see... good to know that we're all "anti-American" for voicing our opinions. Good to know that this "anti-American" outpouring of vocalization in favor of the views held by the majority of voting citizens has labeled us so negatively by the Governor of NY. Deplorable.May God grant me patience. I simply have no more for this man. He needs prayers, specifically to the Holy Spirit. May he have his eyes opened up to the Truth. If he cannot reconcile his ideas with the Church, then may he at least understand his harm in continuing to call himself Catholic (especially one that partakes of the Eucharist).In the meantime, let's pray for his Bishop and parish priests... may they have the brass to handle him accordingly with patience, charity and, if necessary, tough love.
- "Based on what is widely reported about the governor’s consistent support for abortion in New York, I see no other way to interpret his abortion-related conduct except as sufficient to warrant withholding of holy Communion from him under Canon 915... We find self-professed Catholics [Cafeteria Catholics, anyone?], for example, who sustain and support the right of a woman to procure the death of the infant in her womb, or the right of two persons of the same sex to the recognition which the State gives to a man and a woman who have entered into marriage. It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself publicly in this manner."
Aside from the horrible grammar, the magnet to the left correctly defines someone who is commonly referred to as a "Cafeteria Catholic."
In a cafeteria's buffet line, you're able to walk by and pick up an apple, leave the spinach, take some pasta, and ignore the porkchops. No one will think twice about your decisions, because as an adult individual, no one can really tell you what you can and can't eat.
This is why I think the term "Cafeteria Catholic" is a bit of a misnomer. These folks who pick and choose which doctrines of the faith they'll abide by and which are too "ridiculous" are not Catholics at all, especially when they choose to blatantly defy dogma as if these irrefutable teachings are suppositional and subject to societal pressures (proponents of abortion or homosexual marriage within the Church, I'm talking to you!). In effect, they are Protestant (considering that the definition of Protestant is someone who disagrees / protests Catholic Church teaching).
The best article I've seen explaining this phenomenon is linked here for your benefit.
To summarize the article, a Catholic is expected to accept all teachings defined by both the extraordinary Mageisterium and the ordinary magisterium. You don't have to like it, or even understand it fully (though it's encouraged to try!). Trusting God's motion through His Church is our greatest act of faith, humilty and love.
Now, I am not suggesting that all Catholics must blindly accept doctrine and ignorantly spout Catholic "facts" without a basis of meaning and context. On the contrary, I encourage ALL Catholics (and non-Catholics if so inclined) to learn more about our rich history and nuance. If you find yourself disagreeing with the big issues (like Jesus being fully God and fully Man, the Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception, the teaching of Transubstantiation, etc), and you can't reconcile the teachings with what your research has uncovered for you, then you are simply not Catholic. Since Catholicism cannot bend to accomodate your interpretation, it's simply time to find a religion that does. Don't remain within a religious institution that you follow only for convenience or laziness. If you're going to be a Catholic, be a true Catholic. If not, find a religion that better suits your theology (there are plenty to choose from!) Don't be a cafeteria Catholic who will only further divide and confuse those Catholics who remain.