Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Thursday, 29 September 2016

US Bishops Laud Amoris Laetitia's 'Hopeful, Positive Tone"

The USCCB says they like the "hopeful, positive tone" of the Holy Father's post-synodal exortation on marriage.
What a joyful optimism must the Holy Father enjoy, to be hopeful and positive about unions, 50% of which he guesses are invalid.
I just don't think it is "myopic" to see the contradictions and ambiguities that rise almost to the level of error, nor do I think to call attention to them indicates a lack of love for or obedience to the Pope.

I had a friend in theatre who used to say of appearing in a lousy vehicle and still giving the best performance you know how, "It's like draggin' a dead horse around the stage and pretending it don't stink."
The USCCB has set itself the task of dragging a rather noisome animal there.
God bless them.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

"Dives", Not a Bad Guy, Once You Get To Know Him

The Holy Father addressed catechists.

We all know the story from this past Sunday's Gospel, the rich man and the poor man who begged at his gate, yearning for scraps from his table.
The Gospel of today, which recounts the story of the rich man and Lazarus, “helps us understand what it means to love,” Francis continued.
He noted that the rich man is not presented as a bad person, but simply as suffering from a “terrible blindness”
Yeah, that's it, got it?
Not. A. Bad. Person.
So......just condemned to eternal damnation for not payin' attention.
You know, Jesus is telling us that the Father somehow allows the rich man to endure agony, to be tormented in fire until the end of time, even though he wasn't a bad person.
Does that sound to you like the way God does things?

Of course, not to worry, because just as with Sodom and Gomorrah, God changes his mind. You remember...
God creates an authentic relationship and pushes us to be daring. As daring as Abraham’s intercession prayer in favor of Sodom. A city upon which nobody would have bet a dime. His intercession prayer and his will to dare save Sodom. The city is saved because some righteous ones are there, even though a few of them. But the city is saved above all because Abraham, a man of prayer, is not a relentless accuser, he doesn’t speak against but in favor. 

Monday, 26 September 2016

Profanation of the Eucharist, the Sanctity of Marriage, and "Venue Shopping"

I am, if it is not too glib to say so, a great "fan" of the Church's "annulment" process. (The scare quotes are in recognition that there is no such thing as annulment in the Church, rather, there is a process for discovering the nullity of a putative marriage.)
The gracious and generous manner in which the process is handled in this country, at least, has benefited me greatly.
I note this to admit upfront that I am hardly a disinterested party.
It is for this reason that while it seems wrong to me, I cannot oppose the Holy Father's reform of said process - I know that the American experience is not the universal expedience, and another discipline may be necessary in other parts of the Catholic, and catholic, world.
And the fact is, I also was slightly injured by the process in a specific case, that the Tribunal's office is to find the truth, not to kiss boo-boos and make them better.
As it happens, in the case I mention, there were 3 plausible defects, and two of them would have been evident to a blind pig.
Alas for me, a hotshot lawyer, (only newly canon lawyer, after half a lifetime of practicing civil law in his civilian life,) was fascinated by the less obvious one, and insisted upon arguing it, delaying the final decree by months, and moving us past a window of easy attendance by my immediate, far-flung, and fecund family.

Patently, it is not.

One of the disgraces of the annulment process in the United States, (again, stipulating that I am eternally grateful to the process and to those who promulgated it, tho venue shopping didn't come in to it,) was the disparity in the application of Canon Law from diocese to diocese, and the practice of those who were aware of it, to venue shop.
Whatever one makes of the merits of the dispute, one conclusion seems ineluctable: Whether by design or not, what Pope Francis effectively has done is to opt for decentralization on one of the most contentious issues in Catholic life today.Barring some further clarification or decree from Rome, what we now have is individual bishops, or regional groupings of bishops, determining whether the answer is “yes” or “no” in the territory under their jurisdiction.
Yes, exactly - so what is to discourage venue shopping now on a global scale?
"Oh, no, I live here but I belong to the GERMAN/Roman Catholic Church so I'm allowed to...."
(I use the Germans as an example because I have little doubt that anyone willing to pay the tax will be admitted, parochial boundaries be damned.)

How would this possibility enhance the unity/fidelity/sanctity of the Body of Christ?

Please Stop Talking About "Changing Church Discipline"

A very worthwhile piece in the Catholic Herald on the Amorous Letitia wars...
... but this:
 "But the issue which grabbed most attention was the possibility that Pope Francis might change the discipline on Communion for the divorced and remarried,"
is compounding what I think is a terrible error in much of the reporting on the issue.

Is it merely Church "discipline" that sacramental marriage is indissoluble?
Is it merely Church "discipline" that for a married person to have sexual relations with a person other than ones sacramental spouse is adultery?
Is it merely Church "discipline" that adultery is a grave sin?
Is it merely Church "discipline" that receiving Communion when in state of grave sin endangers ones immortal soul even further, compounding the sin?
Is it merely Church "discipline" that those who are in a state of mortal sin with no intention of amendment of life can not be admitted to Communion?


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

"The Halls Are Alive With the Sound of..."

I grew up in old houses.
Most of my relatives had old houses
I spent the largest part of my adult life in what was, for all intents and purposes,an historic mansion.
The first house we owned was in sight of its centennial.
The house I live in now is far from new.
I kind of like creaking floor boards and old hardware.
I have said, many times, "Ah, it's just the house settling...." and it made me happier to be settling in to a sofa, my bed, whatever.

But I fear that everything has changed, once you've had a rat...

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Ratzinger the Reasonable

Admit it, you thought this was going to be about Regensburg, didn't you?
We need to be reminded that although the efforts by the great reformer and patron saint of all Europe certainly found an echo down these centuries in this Future Doctor of the Church, (hereafter, FDotC,) it was another Benedict by whom the Pope Emeritus is said to have been inspired to name himself.

So why should it surprise anyone that he is a nurturer of communion, a bringer of peace?

Catching myself up on some old, (by which, in the Age of Twitter, I mean having occurred this summer,)  sectarian shenanigans, which involved a terrible blurring of the line between Faith and political loyalties.
And by "terrible" I do not mean merely extreme, but also very bad. (I may write more about that anon, anon.)
When the argument strayed more onto the churchy side of things, I came across the same quote from the then Cardinal Ratzinger, several times and it tickled, but yes, saddened me, that it was used by both sides in the argument, and both thought it demonstrated the same truth about Pope Benedict, ne Joseph R.
Rad Trads seem to use it as evidence that Ratzinger was an Evil Progressive. Foggy Proggies, likewise used it to prove that Ratz had those fusty old Trads number, and roundly condemned them.
See his words for yourself. In 1982 he wrote:
Was the [2nd Vatican] Council a wrong road that we must now retrace if we are to save the Church? The voices of those who say that it was, are becoming louder and the followers more numerous. Among the more obvious phenomena of the last years must be counted the increasing number of integralist groups in which the desire for piety, for a sense of the mystery, is finding satisfaction. We must be on guard against minimizing these movements. Without a doubt, they represent a sectarian zealotry that is the antithesis of Catholicity. We cannot resist them too firmly.
QED! (whatever you want to D....)
But both used the quote dishonestly, for he continued, in the same paragraph:
But we must likewise ask ourselves, in all earnestness why such contractions and distortions of faith and piety have such an effect and are able to attract those who, by the basic conviction of their faith as well as by personal inclination, are in no way attracted by sectarianism. What drives them into a milieu where they do not belong? Wh have they lost the feeling of being at home in the larger Church? Are all their reproaches unfounded? is it not, for example, really strange that we have never heard bishops react as strongly against distortions in the heart of the liturgy as they react today against a Missal of the Church that, after all, has been in existence since the time of Pius V? Let it be said again: we should not adopt a sectarian attitude, but neither should we omit the examination of conscince to whihc these fact compel us.
I am so tired of dishonesty in debate.
We see that Papa Ratz, as ALWAYS, was moderate, modest and reasonable ..... and above all, CATHOLIC.
Could he be our president?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Censoring the Gospel

I rant regularly about the Lectionary.
Poor Himself, who really doesn't care, has to put up with it, and much of my bluster is no doubt uninformed.
I think the Three Year Cycle is an unmitigated disaster.
I find the suggestion that it is a boon to homilists, who would otherwise have difficulty coming up with material over the years less than compelling - what has put it in their heads that the Gospel text must be the main, or even in the minds of some, only source for their ruminations?
Not only are there three other scriptural texts, (don't forget the psalm or canticle!) every Sunday, and the prescribed Introit and Communion antiphon if they're doing it right, and occult Offertory, (it's still there, albeit veiled from our eyes and banned from our books,) there is the Ordinary.
Why, you could preach on the First Eucharistic Prayer every Sunday for the rest of your days and not exhaust the topic!
(I must interject at this point, one of the finest homilies I ever heard was on the Pax dialogue, delivered by the great Msgr Andrew Wadsworth on Saint Irenaeus' memorial.)
Yesterday for the first time, I noticed that the portion of the prescribed Gospel dealing with the Prodigal is bracketed! It may be left out!
I was unfair in my opinion of a bright and attentive high school student, Catholic schools all the way, who told me she'd never heard that story except in Godspell.
Well, came to learn her parish, with a strong RCIA program, never used the Lenten cycle of readings in which the parable is contained, because they always defaulted to the Year A,
Because ... scrutinies.
And now I realize if she never heard it in late summer, it would have been because, at the (at most 4 times,) it might have come up since she was old enough to understand, (with three years passing in between hearings, mind you,) I know for near certainty that none of those parish priests ever read the long form of anything, especially not in warm weather.

Now this past week I heard something that took me aback, and frankly, with all the licit options made available to celebrants and associates, and sanctioned shortcuts, I've no doubt the man in question thought he was doing anything wrong.
But the deacon simply stopped short after the Beatitudes and left out the... what shall we call them? the "Woes"? the "Damnabilities"?
But woe to you who are rich,for you have received your consolation.

But woe to you who are filled now,for you will be hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now,for you will grieve and weep.

Woe to you when all speak well of you,for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.
Yeah, who wants to hear that...

Deplorable and Deplorabler

Poor Fr. Fox.
For saying that a Catholic can, in good conscience, vote for either the lesser of two evils or abstain from voting, he is ripped by a crazy woman, (who makes her choice quite clear.)

evShe uses a tactic I am seeing more and more, not just from crazy commenters, and careless on-the-fly bloggers and conversationalists at parties, but from actual "journalists," and that is to repeat over and over the accusation that ones target has said something "amounting" to something deplorable, but steadfastly refusing to supply actual quotes, even out of context.
The tactic is used by both sides, of course, the Trumpite right winger against Fr Fox, the liberal Twitter over-lord against a Breitbart gadfly.
Too much reading of Jane Austen, and her free indirect speech!
All I need to do is vaguely describe what I want people to think you said, and damn you for my words, I needn't actually quote you and be honest about it.

You'd think Catholics especially would balk at such dishonesty deception, lies, this method having been used against the Church for.... well, forever.
(Soon to be saint,) Fulton Sheen, anyone?
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
The devil's having a grand old time this election.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Same Old Same Old?

The fringe on the left oft circles around and is discovered to be not all that different from the fringe on the right, have you noticed?

"We’re very interested in revealing the truth...and yes we have some material... that will be published"

"I have in my I have here in my hand a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department"

Hate giving them clicks, but I feel compelled to follow links with damning headlines shouting that "so-and-so said/confirmed/claimed that....!" only to find (usually,) that any actual quotes from said person in the know, as opposed to the wishful-thinking gloss of the author, says/confirms/claims nothing of the sort.

I'm not even really disappointed any more, even when it's someone on "my side" doing the prevarication lying.

I admit, it's a little different, it's still painful when the selective quoting and dissembling comes from certain quarters.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Care to join the "Heresy of the Month Club"?

This isn't new at all, not sure why it popped up on the screen, but USCatholic is so dependable...

Really, why settle for a measly little Trinity when you can have a Quaternity?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

And One MORE Thing....

.... about the souls's immortality --
An ordained blogger has written:
I was taught... that if God ceased even to think about us we would cease to exist. It is only through the power of God that we are. This seems to imply to me that we can be annihilated in body and soul! 
Yes. And yes. And no, not really.
Because God knows us.
He knows EVERYTHING, and we, collectively, and each of us individually, are something which He knows.
This is reassuring, for it follows that the Almighty Lord of the Universe cannot cease to know that which He knows, He cannot cease to think about us, He cannot cease to know us, He cannot UNknow us.*
Like Prince Hal, He can, He might, say, "I do not know you," idiomatically denying our acquaintance with Him, (and if we fail in the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy He tells us He most certainly will,) but He will yet have knowledge of us.

The Human Soul Is Immortal.

(*This is like the dumb paradox kids like to address to deny the Lord's omnipotence -"Oh yeah? well can He make a stone so large He can't lift it?")

No, It Is Not True That "We Never Really Die As Long As Someone Remembers" Us

I understand such heretical nonsense, the denial of our immortal souls, in movies and tv scripts.
It's the warm-fuzzy of the Viaticum/Extreme Unction/Anointing of the Sick the way the  "unity candle" is the secular culture's warm-fuzzy of Matrimony, since it doesn't understand the sacramentality of marriage, but knows something is missing is missing without ritual.

I understand that, I accept that.

But how is such   bull*  *t   finding its way into Christian thought and speech, into eulogies and sermons and saccharine poems on the back of memorial cards, even into homilies at Catholic funeral Masses?

Stop it.

Just. Stop. It.

So the lonely and friendless in this life will be even more so in the next? your continued existence is dependent on some other human being, and their managing to escape the scourge of Alzheimer's or senile dementia?
What a wonderful world...

(Yeah, yeah, all of this is compounded by "theological discourse" of the sort that may or may not have been conducted by an aging atheist and an elderly member of the hierarchy, but which has been allowed to stand uncontradicted by the latter:
Q: What happens to that lost soul? Will it be punished? And how? A: there is no punishment, but the destruction/annihilation of that soul.  All the others will participate in the beatitude of living in the presence of the Father. The souls that are destroyed/annihilated will not take part in that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is finished,) 
but what are you going to do?)

Dear NYTimes -- Stop Othering

Are you aware of how dismissively "other" this declares your black readership to be?

#HereIsMyAmericaHow well do we understand the multifaceted lives of black Americans? Or the lives of anyone of color?

I used to be painfully aware of this casual and unthinking othering in regard to women, (TV Guide would have no trouble describing a crime-fighting duo as "a reformed criminal and a woman," "a hard-nosed cop and a blonde,") and I had to fight this in a former parish where we would have bi-lingual programs and the Spanish was given phonetically.
To consider maleness, or whiteness or English speaking-ness a default is to belittle woman, blacks, Spanish speakers.
Is the white anglophone male even normative anymore?
Shouldn't the flagship of there is no abnormal therefore there is no normal be beyond this?