A Catholic Blog for Lovers

A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, September 28, 2002
Lord Jesus, save me!

"Lord Jesus, the one whom Thou lovest is sick" (Jn 11:3).
The one whom Thou lovest is strayed.
I have lost Thee.
I cannot find Thee.
Find me.
Seek me.
I cannot find Thee.
I have lost my way.
Thou art the Way.
Find me, or I am utterly lost.
Thou lovest me.
I do not know if I love Thee;
but I know Thou lovest me.
I do not plead my love, but Thine.
I do not plead my strength, but Thine.
I do not plead my deed, but Thine.
The one whom Thou lovest is sick.
I dare not say:
The one who loves Thee is sick.
My sickness is that I do not love Thee.
That is the source of my sickness which is approaching death.
I am sinking.
Raise me.
Come to me upon the waters.
Lord Jesus, "the one whom Thou lovest is sick."

- Vincent McNabb, O.P.

Balm for my (wounded) heart

My last word about myself at least for a while. I hope I have already said enough for those who have ears to hear. I realize this letter may be somewhat "self-serving" but so be it. I consulted with three persons whose opinions I value before posting this, and one said no, two said yes and my own heart agrees with these two. Forgive any self-indulgence on my part. Please be gentle!

Today I read some comments on some blogs about me that really hurt even as they are spreading false, very false, innunedos about me. Very ugly. I have had pain and humiliation already due to my weaknesses and failures, for which I hope I have repented. Never in a million years would I thought I'd see what I have seen in "Saint Blog's Parish."

But when I am hurting like this I have a letter, stored in my Bible, which I pick up again and read - never without deep emotion. I hope it is not too personal to share on my blog but it is, to me, a beautifully crafted letter and I hope that anyone who knows me personally might see glimpses of me in Redemptorist Father Max Pauli's generous and gracious words. Of course, it may even say more about Max himself, who, sadly, died some years ago from a heart attack as a young and fine priest. I received this letter shortly after I had requested laicization, based on a mutual understanding with my Provincial, in 1988.

May 7, 1988

Dear Jerry,

Thank you so much for your note. When I heard the news from Simmy (I called him about Mark Doorley’s ordination and he said, “Isn’t it awful about Jerry Bugge?” and I said what do you mean and then he paused a longish while and said are you sitting?...), I felt completely depleted, I felt that something truly wonderful had leaked out of my universe. I never saw you that frequently, but knowing that I might see you, that I might open a (Redemptorist) common room door and there you would be, knowing that the untamed unexpectedness of you was part of us and was a part of me - put some gold on my ordinarily pewter world.

After I heard the news, I can’t say that I was depressed, but I certainly was a little flatter. J.F.K. died again, the New Frontier was dead, I was expected to adjust to a flat earth which had edges you could fall off, just like that, with no safety nets as part of the package deal.

Of course, for years I had known that there was something too frenzied about you, too much a part of the moment and not enough a part of the eternal, something that needed either to be laughing or to be weeping. I tried to broach this subject with you on some trip we were taking from West End to Baltimore, and even in my Christmas note I felt I was on shaky ground by indirectly bringing it up again. I love you very much, but I always felt that there was something about you that was near to explosion.

But no matter what the fatal flaw was, no matter what the hubris, there was something about you on the right track, something romantic with a romance of God and something oversized and heroic. Maybe those qualities are what endeared you to me, allowed me to do some minor league planet hopping myself.

But no matter what flatness may be mine at the moment, I am not defeated, and your sense of the káiros of the right now allows me to continue on my plodding way. I may not win the race, but I am committed to finishing it, at my own turtle pace. And maybe along the way I’ll do a few sprints, to the surprise of the spectators, and they will be sprints in the spirit of Jerry Bugge.

Of course, you are still my friend, and of course I will be in touch with you when I come to Baltimore. And thank God you wrote me. Maybe not in a common room, but somewhere, around some corner, I will be walking and there you will be, and not all the goodness will have vanished from the world.

Yours in the Redeeming Lord,

Max Pauli, CSSR

O Felix Culpa!

"Is the pain in my own life all waste? Has no strength or even sweetness sprung out of my past sorrows? And when I look back on my sins, may I not sing Te Deum laudamus for all the pride they overthrew, all the humility they fostered, and all the gentleness and sympathy they begot. God has led me through many ways not of my own choosing - now high, now low - now in broad daylight, now in midnight gloom, and now in pelting storm. Yet though I am evil, He is good; and great, yea, omnipotent in goodness, since He has drawn good from the heart of evil, and He will build a home of everlasting life on the ruins of sin."

- Vincent McNabb, O.P.

Call To Action approves Black Wednesday's List

"The charter called for transparency, and this week, Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore created an uproar in his archdiocese when he released the names of 56 priests and men in religious orders who had been accused of sexual abuse. Although a lay Catholic reform group, Call to Action, praised Cardinal Keeler, some priests in his diocese denounced him for naming accused men who had never been convicted in civil or church courts."

Notice, too, it says, "accused of sexual abuse" while any number of those listed did not commit "sexual abuse" if words mean anything anymore. But this is one of the consequences of such a shoddy list which lumps all together and doesn't make distinctions and doesn't, for example, give others a chance to clarify, especially those already dead and buried (with full burial rites of the Catholic Church).

Friday, September 27, 2002
More on Black Wednesday

I just received a phone call from a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and he tells me that the outrage among the priest deepens and doesn't blow over as Cardinal Keeler told me it would "in a few days" in our phone conversation on Black Wednesday. Another priest of the Archdiocese told me: "If Keeler ever had his priests, which I don't think he had, he has lost them now forever."

At least one priest has a letter prepared to insert in the Sunday Bulletin expressing his disagreement with the decision to publish this list (Father Ed Miller at Saint Bernadine's).

He said the chancery is saying that emails are mostly in favor but this priest (one of Baltimore's best) thinks they are lying about that. He says that he has not run into one person, clergy or lay, who does not think it was a bad, bad decision. This guy gets around, by the way (and is being pursued by the media a good deal too).

He also reports that the priests of the Archdiocese of Washington and the diocese of Harrisburg have been assured a similiar action will not be taken.

I also heard several times on Black Wednesday from the Provincial of the Redemptorists who is outraged and expressed this to the Archdiocese as well. His first concern, though, was my own wellbeing. The Provincial is a dear friend of mine and we have known each other since first grade in OLPH in Brooklyn NY!

My pastor, a Benedictine, reports the same about his Archabbot. He was furious at the listing of one of his monks who served in Baltimore years ago and against whom charges were made but never proved or admitted.

The religious orders were not consulted but presented with a fait accompli - given no time to give feedback or to inform those on the listing of the impending humiliation. I had been told after I bellowed my pain about learning about this by reading my name on the internet (I really didn't think it would be there knowing that I never sexually abused anyone and was never accused of this either), that my Provincial had been informed and was told to contact his own men.

I immediately called the Redemptorist Provincial who told me that this is a lot of mularky (his language was stronger) - he was called the evening before on his way out of the house and the next morning, Black Wednesay, he received a fed-ex with the finished product to be released later that very day! He was furious!

It seems to me that Cardinal Keeler may well live to regret this decision, so destructive in so many ways, such as naming the those already dead against whom nothing was ever proven or admitted.

What other institution would ever do this? What other institution would publically kick its wounded - and even its DEAD?

I sense one thing deep in my gut: Black Wednesday's action was, on many levels, "unCatholic." (Can you imagine the Pope doing this for the priests of the diocese of Rome or for the universal Church - with a "list" on the Vatican website?).

"Of Whom I Am The Chief"

Georges Rouault, Jesus Christ and the Pharisees

This is a piece I wrote while a member of a Byzantine Mission (happy memories!). I need to hear this message over and over. I realize it's somewhat long: but I truly hope it might be of interest, and of some help, to others. I also hope it is a celebration of the essential unity of the great tradition of both east and west, united in their love of the Savior. And I hope it is a hymn of praise to Him whose very name brings me hope!

Immediately before Communion in the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom we pray a prayer that takes us right to the heart of the Gospel, The Glad Tidings. The priest already has invited us to the Banquet with the awesome words: "Holy Things for the holy". And in an act of honesty and humility we exclaimed: "One Alone is Holy, One Alone is Lord, Jesus Christ..." And then we confess that Jesus Christ came to call sinners, "of whom I am the chief" (I Tim 1:15). Honoring St. Paul's words that we dare not eat and drink the Body and Blood of the Lord unworthily (l Cor 11: 27-29) we also confess that we are wretched sinners and eat and drink "for the forgiveness of sins!"

It is the Lord Himself who invites us to partake of His Mystic Supper and we know that He "eats and drinks with sinners" (Lk 15:2). But having confessed our sins and trusting in His mercy we hope against hope that we might no longer give Him the betrayer's kiss but that we might indeed spend "the rest of our lives in peace and repentance" as we pray more than once in the great Litanies of the Church's prayer.

There is a big difference between the sinner who does not confess his sin, and does not repent, and those who know their sin and wretchedness and their need of God's Mercy. As we open our mouths that He might fill it (Ps 81: 10) we know ourselves to be "redeemed", brands plucked out of the fire (Zech 3 :2), not worthy to be counted as sons but indeed unprofitable servants..... (Lk 15-18; Lk 17: 10) yet called to the closest intimacy with the One who loves nothing more than to forgive and who "takes away the sins of the world" (Jn 1: 29).

What a delicate balance! Abyss calls to Abyss (Ps 42: 8): "the abyss of our misery calls to the abyss of His mercy" (Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity). No room to take credit -- as if the Eucharist is a "reward" for our own goodness and righteousness. I am the chief sinner! I am the only one who I know for sure has sinned! I cannot judge others -- only God knows the interior state of the other. In a real sense I am the ONLY sinner I know for sure -- for I know I have turned away from the Creator to the creature, that I have NOT done His will in my life, that I have chosen "self" over Christ, that I have not used my self, my talents, my gifts to serve others or for the glory of God. 0 Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!

Thank God that over and over in our Liturgy we simply respond to innumerable prayers and petitions with the cry from our abyss to His Abyss: Lord, have mercy. Kyrie Eleison. In the atmosphere of the Divine Liturgy there is a wonderful sense that "ALL IS GRACE" (Rm 4: 16), that all comes from the Merciful Heart of God, that we can boast in nothing of our own but only in the Lord and "in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6: 14).

This is so close to the very heart of the Gospel. Perhaps no more clearly portrayed than in that most beautiful story found in the 7th chapter of St. Luke's gospel. Here Our Lord dines in the home of Simon, a Pharisee. Simon, calculating and cautious, did not show Our Lord any special signs of welcome -- apparently he fulfilled the letter of the law of courtesy out did not move into the spirit of genuine hospitality. During the feast a women "known to be a sinner" audaciously breaks into the home and in an act of grateful love makes a fool of herself in front of the host and the guests.

Like the Bride in the Song of Songs she seems mad with love, only interested in finding "Him whom my soul loves" (Sg 3: 3). And she anoints Jesus' feet with precious ointment mingled with her tears, and kisses them and dries them with her own hair! What love! No wonder many of the saints saw in this woman the magnificence of heart they desired more than any other gift! Here is a "symbol" for all ages of what it means to adore and love........ and allowing one's heart be broken by the Savior as a jar of precious ointment broken and outpoured.

Simon is scandalized! She is a sinner! "If this man were a prophet he would know who and what manner of woman it is that touches Him........Simon finds out that Jesus does know and discovers for himself that Jesus is truly a Prophet. But what Simon does not yet know is that more than a Prophet, Jesus is a Savior. His very Name proclaims the forgiveness of sins! (A beautiful prayer of the Christian tradition is "O Jesus, be to me JESUS!"). And in his story and question to Simon, Jesus once and for all overturns all attempts to establish relationship with God on the basis of self-righteousness and one's own merits and works.

"Simon, who will love more? The one who is forgiven less, or the one forgiven more?" And even Simon answers rightly: the one who is forgiven more. And in that answer is our HOPE: there is hope for any sinner, any mess-up, any failure, anyone at all! "For to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little".

The heart of the Gospel: Sin gives us a claim on the heart of God! As a sinner I can give Him an opportunity to do what He loves to do most of all: to forgive, and to take upon Himself our sin (as He did on the Cross!). Yes, the heart of the Gospel: St Paul says that "where sin abounded, there grace did the more abound" (Rm 5: 20). In a most beautiful Easter Hymn of the Roman Rite the Church sings in the light of the Risen Christ: 0 Felix Culpa! 0 Happy Fault! 0 truly necessary sin of Adam, that merited for us so great a redeemer!"

If it is thus for the greatest sin of all: the murder of the spotless Son of God, how much more for every lesser sin! When St. Augustine commented on the great Pauline text 'that all things work together for good for those who love God" (Rm 8: 28) he added "etiam peccata" -- EVEN OUR SINS. Our sin becomes, under the Cross of Christ and in His Heart pierced and opened, a blessed fault that merits for us so great a Savior. THAT IS THE GLAD TIDINGS!

Yes, we are at the heart of the Gospel here. David, fallen into the serious and terrible sins of adultery and murder, prays in the great Penitential Psalm: "Give me back the joy of Thy salvation. Let the bones You have crushed rejoice. A broken and humble heart, 0 God, You will not despise" (Ps 51). Already a foretaste of the greater joy in the heart of God finally revealed by Jesus over the one sinner that repents, more than over the ninety-nine that do not need repentance (there are none!).

Peter, denying his Lord three times, is now invited by the Lord to excel in love and is given three new opportunities to love "more than these" (Jn2:15- 17). Paul, persecuting the Church of God, persecuting the Lord Himself, the chief of sinners, boasting only of his infirmities, yet acknowledges that "God's grace has not been in vain in him, and that others glorified God in me" (Gal 1:24). Our Lord Himself points to the publican, to the younger son who squandered his inheritance, to the penitent woman, to the Good Thief on the Cross as models to those who would follow Him into the Kingdom of God.

Yes, it was Our Lord Himself, the very Sanctity of God Incarnate, who cried out: "Amen, Amen I say to you: the publicans and prostitutes enter the Kingdom of God before you' (Mt 21:31). May we never "sanitize" the gospel, forgetting "the folly of the Cross." Our Lord does not look for 'decent citizens" to enter, but those who know their wretchedness and know the joy of His salvation! The Beatitudes proclaim clearly who are the honored guests at the Banquet of the Lamb!

"In heaven there are no upright, successful types who, by dint of their own integrity, have been accepted into the great country club in the sky. There are only failures, only those who have accepted their death in their sins and who have been raised up by the King who himself died that they might live" (Robert Farrar Capon). "Those whom the Lord will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy" (Is 51: 1 1).

This gospel theme that sin is not a barrier to the kingdom but, acknowledged and repented, is the key that unlocks the door to the Kingdom, is taken up by great Christians throughout the centuries. We have the dramatic story of St Mary of Egypt, a notorious harlot who repented and become one of the greatest of the saints (lovers). The Desert Fathers and Mothers: so aware of their sins, seeking the Mercy and Grace of the Lord, with the prayer of the publican always on their lips and in their heartss: Have mercy on me a sinner. The Jesus Prayer itself, the heart of the spirituality of Holy Orthodoxy, is just an echo of the publican's prayer.

We have the reflections of a Julian of Norwich who says that God showed her "that sin will be no shame but an honor to man, for just as for every sin there is an answering pain in reality, so for every sin a bliss is given to the some soul. Just as different sins are punished by different pains according to their seriousness, so shall they be rewarded by different joys in heaven..... With this showing God made mention that St. John of Beverly, in his youth and tender years, was a most valuable servant of God .... Nevertheless, God allowed him to fall .... Afterward God raised him to grace many times greater, and by the contrition and humility he practiced in his living, God has given him joys in heaven many times surpassing what he would have had, had he not fallen .... All this was shown and done to make us glad and merry in love."

The great Little Therese of Lisieux had to deal with this teaching of Our Lord. She saw on the one hand how Jesus calls sinners and not the righteous, she sees - and envies - the audacity of love of the great penitents. And yet she has been like the Elder brother of the parable, always faithful, always at the Father's side, and knows that He says to her, too: "Everything I have is yours". But that is not enough! Only those who know Jesus as Savior have a claim on His heart! The royal banquet is reserved for those who "were lost and are now found, who were blind and now see". But then she ingeniously learns the secret! A father walking with a child down a rock-strewn path could pick the child up after she stumbles and falls on any of these rocks. But he could also, in an act of anticipating love, go down the path and remove the rocks beforehand!!! It is the same deliverance, the same mercy - the some weakness but in one sense even greater in its fullness of "redemption".

Thus the holiness of Mary, the Mother of God: "The Almighty has done great things for me and Holy is His Name" (Lk 1: 49). Mary, redeemed more perfectly and not a trace of self-righteousness or boasting in herself! All glory to Him whose "mercies are from age to age" (Lk 1:50) And Therese, too, as she matures becomes more and more aware of own weakness and inability to live in perfect charity. "O God, I am happy to feel myself small and weak in your sight, and my heart is at peace in joy".

And in the very last sentence of her beautiful classic "The Story of A Soul" she magnificently affirms the heart of the Gospel: "Since Jesus has reascended into heaven, I can follow Him only in the traces He has left; but how luminous these traces are! how perfumed! I have only to cast a glance in the Gospels and immediately I breathe in the perfumes of Jesus' life, and I know on which side I run. I do not hasten to the first place but to the last; rather than advance like the Pharisee, I repeat, filled with confidence, the publican's humble prayer.

Most of all I imitate the conduct of Magdalene; her astonishing or rather her loving audacity which charms the Heart of Jesus also attracts my own. Yes, I feel it; even though I had on my conscience all the sins that can be committed, I would go, my heart broken with sorrow, and throw myself into Jesus' arms, for I know how much He loves the prodigal child who returns to Him. It is not because God, in His anticipating Mercy, has preserved my soul from mortal sin, that I go to Him with confidence and love.........."

If all this is true - no wonder St Paul had to ask: "Should we then sin, that grace may abound?" (Rm 6: 1) "God forbid", he cries out. Sin is sin is sin and God hates sin. Sin is disorder. Sin brings death. "The wages of sin is death" (Rm 6: 23). We are called to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. "Whoever is born of God does not sin" (1 Jn 3: 9). Dead to sin, alive to God: so is Christ risen, so are we who are baptized into Christ (Rm 6). Called to be saints, to be divinized. Sin can never be acceptable! The saints teach us to hate sin which is an offense against the love of God. Their motto was always: Death rather than sin!!!

Yet we are sinners! We are weak! And even as we struggle against sin, and even as, please God, we may indeed grow in grace and holiness: the weakness that we all know, the abyss of our neediness and misery, the nothingness of our own goodness will never go away! Indeed this is the very weakness that we can embrace and transform into grateful love. Our hearts can finally be warmed by the "Love Divine, all loves excelling" (Charles Wesley), and through the Holy Spirit our hearts can be transfigured and, from within, we can love with the very love of God Himself.

The saints point the way in this, too. Utterly aware of their poverty, they know the riches of God's grace. And they lead us into true holiness: always a Grace, always His work, always a fruit of the Cross and Resurrection of the Sun of Justice, Our Lord Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and we will know the evil of sin and the grace that abounds through repented sin! And we will turn away from sin and turn to the Heart of the One who forgives and "who makes all things new" (Rev 21: 5).

So much more could and perhaps should be said. I only point to some themes of the gospel. But I sense that these are important to hear and hear again! I know my own sin, I know that I am "of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot" (The Hound of Heaven). Yet I also know the desire of my heart that I would know the closest intimacy with the Lord: the only love that could ever satisfy the longings of my (wounded) heart. Perhaps some others, too, are so aware of their sins and failures that they believe they will never know the fullness of life and love in Christ. These words are written to give hope to us sinners. Perhaps a great saint can express it far better than I am able:

"Any soul, even laden with sins, captive in its vices, held by its pleasure, imprisoned in its exile, locked up in its body, nailed to its worries, distracted by its concerns, frozen by its fears, struck by manifold sufferings, going from error to error, eaten up by anxiety, ravaged by suspicion, a stranger in a strange land, and counted with those who go down to hell -- every soul, I say, in spite of its damnation and despair, can still find reasons not only to hope for forgiveness and mercy but even dare to aspire to the nuptials of the Word: as long as it does not dare to sign a covenant with God, and to place itself under the yoke of love.... For the Bridegroom is not only a lover: he is Love. You will say: yes, but also is he not honor? Some affirm this: as to myself, I never read anything of that kind. I have read that God is Love" (St Bernard).

How glorious the song of praise that should ring out from the depths of our forgiven hearts, how generous our love of Him and others! He forgives our sins, even the sins of each of us sinners, who knows himself to be "the chief." Glory to Him who shows His omnipotence most especially in the forgiveness of sins. Glory to Him who will "restore the years which the locust has eaten" (Joel 2: 25). Glory to Him whose Mercy is our only hope: "I will call this to mind, as my reason to have hope: the mercies of the Lord are never exhausted, the mercies of the Lord are never spent; but they are new each morning" (Lam 3: 21-22). 0 Jesus, be for me: JESUS! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Glory to the Heart of Jesus forever!

A bit more....

I notice that many persons think that no matter what the circumstances every inappropriate sexual contact with a minor is sexual abuse and that there is a victim, to whom amends must be made. I absolutely agree that if there is sexual abuse whatever amends that can be made must be made.

But is every case "sexual abuse"?

For example, suppose - just suppose - someone (who was, let's say, hitchhiking and picked up by the driver) lies to the driver and tells them that they are over 18 (though they really are 17). Then suppose - just suppose - that they make sexual advances and even begin to inappropriately touch the driver - suppose - just suppose - that this adult gives in to weakness - and inappropriately touches the one who initiated (and lied about age). Then suppose - just suppose - these are pulled over by the cops for a traffic violation. Suppose - just suppose - the initiator lies to the cops and says that the other has a gun and was making sexual advances on them. Suppose - just suppose - that the cops know the party and know they are involved in a profession older than the clergy (!) - and find there is no gun. But because the accusation was made and an admission of some inappropriate behavior by the driver, misdemeanor charges were entered. Suppose - just suppose - these charges were dropped since the initiator did not even show at court and the reputation of the "minor" was well known by the police, and was put in the STET docket. And suppose - just suppose - that after a few years the entire police record and court record were expunged so there was no public record anymore (though there were files kept by the Church which apparantly doesn't know how to expunge anything anymore but rather whose representatives post them in public for all to gape and gasp and perhaps jump to rash conclusions).....

Would this be "sexual abuse of a minor?"

P.S. That last question is the only point I am trying to make here....

A bit more....

On and off I hope to say a few more things about the "list" and my own situation (though I realize I must exercise prudence considering the nature of the internet).

Here's something a bit ironic:

Besides not spelling my name correctly (what does that say about accuracy?), the list gives the facts of my assignments wrong as well. I was stationed at (my beloved) St Mary's Annapolis from 1972-77 and in 1985. And yes due to the indiscretion I admitted to (I am not a good liar) my faculties were removed for Baltimore though I did receive faculties "ad hoc" for some weddings. (If you knew the specifics you would know why the faculties were removed but I do not intend to say too much on the internet, of course).

The listing, which seems to be an attempt at some "rump-covering" says that after my admission my faculties were removed. Thus they did the "right" thing.

What the website blurb doesn't mention is that in my new assignment I was given full faculties of the diocese, which I enjoyed from 1986 until I requested laicization in 1988 - and that the bishop who gave me these faculties was the then Bishop of Harrisburg, William Keeler......

Go figure.....

Today: The Saint of Charity: Saint Vincent de Paul

"The Church teaches us that mercy belongs to God. Let us implore Him to bestow on us the spirit of mercy and compassion, so that we are filled with it and may never lose it. Only consider how much we ourselves are in need of mercy.

Extend your mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His Mercy from us?" (Saint Vincent de Paul)

"Since Christ willed to be born poor, he chose for himself disciples who were poor. He made himself the servant of the poor and shared their poverty. He went so far as to say that he would consider every deed which either helps or harms the poor as done for or against himself. Since God surely loves the poor, he also love whose who love the poor. For when on person holds another dear, he also includes in his affection anyone who loves or serves the one he loves. That is why we hope that God will love us for the sake of the poor. So when we visit the poor and needy, we try to be understanding where they are concerned. We sympathize with them so fully that we can echo Paul's words: "I have become all things to all men." Therefore, we must try to be stirred by our neighbors' worries and distress."(Saint Vincent de Paul)

Thursday, September 26, 2002
No words...

Come, Holy Spirit!

Email sent yesterday to Cardinal Keeler, the vicar Bishops, Chancellor, and a few others:

"There are no words to express my outrage, pain, devastation at reading my name on the Archdiocesan website today.

Last year, I almost died. I spent five months in the hospital and nursing home, I am now disabled. I have made a good recovery, all things considered, and life was once again good. Until today. When I read my name in the list of those accused of sexual violations ON THE INTERNET, I wished I had died.

Can you imagine learning this ON THE INTERNET? And I NEVER SEXUALLY ABUSED ANYONE (when I told the details of my case to the Cardinal today he said "I wish I had known that." But it's too late now... the devastation and damage has been done, no matter what follows). And the information on the website is inaccurate.... even my name is misspelt!

I have spent months on the internet defending the Church, the cardinals, the bishops in regard to the current crisis and got a lot of heat for doing this. I have spent years building a website to celebrate the beauties and joys of being a Catholic. I have loved and served the Church as best as I have been able.

And then today..... the blow comes unexpectedly and cruelly beyond all words. Not only me and others still living BUT EVEN THE DEAD!!!!!!

How could this be done????????

I have had, I think, until now a certain sense of what is Catholic (despite failures, sins, and mistakes) and I know that what was done today is sinful and evil even. I am sure there are "reasons" tendered. The Cardinal spoke with me today and communicated some of the "reasons." No. I know differently. And so does everyone I have spoken to so far.

I have been told by a good priest who attended today's meeting that the priests are very angry and very alienated. I am quite certain this doing has put a wedge between the Archbishop's Office and the presbyterate of Baltimore. I spoke with the Redemptorist Provincial and he expressed his deep sense of outrage and what has transpired and wondered how any priest could trust again.

I do not know how I am going to deal with this. I know that my embarrassment and humiliation will not make life easier for me in my recovery. I know my outrage and disillusionment will be costly to me. I do know that I will express my outrage and pain in ways I believe appropriate.

I am sure my pain will mean little to any of you really. I can understand that since the institution is what matters and not wounded human hearts. I never thought the Church would wound me so. Never.

I have learned another painful lesson today - I hope I can make it into tomorrow......

I can't express my pain, too, and seeing links to this list on other blogs, but I guess I should expect that... Maybe, just maybe, some may reconsider their own attitudes seeing this happening to one who is a part of the blogging parish..

I hope I made the right decision in posting this (otherwise I would have to shut down this blog).

I have wonderful friends and family with me now, even as I tremble to know my name is now out there on the internet and in The Sun and The Catholic Review for all to see.....

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I've been struck by a lightning bolt (metaphorically speaking) and am very charred. Discerning what to do with my blog. Keep me in your prayers. Thank you.

A Favorite Icon, A Favorite Prayer

Perpetual Help, Never was it known...

A photo of the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you do I come; before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy, hear and answer me. Amen!

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Neocatechumenate Is Providential Response to Secularism, Says Pope

Celebrates Recent Approval of Statutes with Founders

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 23, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II considers the Neocatechumenal Way a providential response to the religious indifference shown by many societies.

The Pope expressed this view Saturday when he met with 1,200 priests and catechists of this new ecclesial reality, to celebrate the Holy See's approval of its statutes. Approval came June 29.

Present at the meeting, which was held in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, were the founders of the Neocatechumenal Way: Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, and an Italian priest, Father Mario Pezzi.

The founders had met a few days earlier at a center in Porto San Giorgio, Italy, to reflect on the Vatican's decision, which gave juridical framework to this reality that arose in Spain in 1964.

The Neocatechumenal Way, also called the Neocatechumenate, has 17,000 communities in 105 countries, spread over 900 dioceses and 5,500 parishes. More than 1 million lay people worldwide follow the Way, as well as 1,500 seminarians (who receive formation in the 49 Redemptoris Mater diocesan seminaries), and 800 priests.

"How can we not thank God for the fruits brought by the Neocatechumenal Way in its more than 30 years of existence?" the Pope asked during the meeting.

"In a secularized society like ours, where religious indifference increases and many people live as if God did not exist, many people need to rediscover the sacraments of Christian initiation, particularly baptism," the Holy Father continued.

"The Way is without a doubt one of the providential answers to this urgent need," he said. "Suffice it to see your communities: How many have rediscovered the beauty and grandeur of the baptismal vocation they received!"

"How much generosity and zeal there has been in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially to those most fallen away. How many vocations to the priesthood and religious life have been awakened thanks to this endeavor of Christian formation!" the Pope added.

The Holy Father said that the recently approved statutes should constitute "a clear and sure rule of life, a fundamental point of reference so that this process of formation, whose objective is to lead the faithful to a mature faith, might be realized in a way that is in keeping with the doctrine and discipline of the Church."

Therefore, "the approval of the statutes opens a new stage in the life of the Way," John Paul II emphasized.

"The Church now looks to you for an even more intense and generous commitment to the new evangelization and the service of the local churches and parishes," he added. "Therefore, you, priests and catechists of the Way, have the responsibility to ensure that the statutes are faithfully applied in all their aspects, so that they will become an authentic leaven for a new missionary thrust."

Moreover, "the statutes constitute an important help for all the pastors of the Church, in particular for the diocesan bishops, to whom the Lord has entrusted pastoral care, especially the Christian initiation of people in the dioceses," he said.

The statues, made up of 35 articles, define the Neocatechumenal Way as "Christian Initiation" -- it is not an association, movement or religious congregation -- which places itself at the service of the dioceses and parish priests. It does not function as an independent entity.

Kiko Argüello later told Vatican Radio that, following the approval of the statutes, he has noticed a great change in attitude, even among journalists who were very critical of the Way.

Church of Saint Leo in Catania Italy built by the Neocathecumenal Way - notice centrality of its baptismal font and its depth as well!

My Big Thin Rockin' Greek Celibates

Maybe there are some new things under the sun, after all!


Piece by piece, I am posting one of the most beautiful, challenging, important statements of the Teaching Office of the Church: the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Paul VI "On Reconciliation Within the Church". It seems to me the need for this is even greater perhaps than when Paul VI sent this powerful and poignant letter to the Church. I hope and pray it will be of help to some (myself included). My hope is that we will read it "on our knees" so to speak. Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Peter and Andrew, west and east, embracing in the love of Christ


The process that we have described takes the form of doctrinal dissension, which claims the patronage of theological pluralism and is not infrequently taken to the point of dogmatic relativism, which in various ways breaks up the integrity of faith. And even when it is not taken as far as dogmatic relativism, this pluralism is at times regarded as a legitimate theological stand that permits the taking up of positions contrary to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff himself and of the hierarchy of bishops, who are the sole authoritative interpreters of divine Revelation contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture (23).

We recognize that pluralism of research and thought which in various ways investigates and expounds dogma, but without disintegrating its identical objective meaning, has a legitimate right of citizenship in the Church, as a natural component part of her catholicity, and as a sign of the cultural richness and personal commitment of all who belong to her. We recognize also the inestimable values contributed by pluralism to the sphere of Christian spirituality, to ecclesial and religious institutions and to the spheres liturgical expression and disciplinary norms. These are values which blend together into that "one common aspiration" that "is particularly splendid evidence of the catholicity of the undivided Church" (24).

Indeed we admit that a certain theological pluralism finds its roots in the very mystery of Christ, the inscrutable riches whereof (cf. Eph 3:8) transcend the capacities of expression of all ages and all cultures. Thus the doctrine of the faith which necessarily derives from that mystery - since, in the order of salvation, "the mystery of God is none other than Christ" (25) - calls for constant fresh research.

In reality the dimensions of the Word of God are so many, and so many are the viewpoints of the faithful who explore them (26), that harmony in the same faith is never immune from personal characteristics in the assent of each individual.

Nevertheless, the different emphases in the understanding of the same faith do not prejudice the essential content of that faith, since these emphases are unified in common assent to the Church's magisterium. This magisterium, which is the proximate norm determining the faith of all, is also a guarantee for all against the subjective judgment of every varied interpretation of the faith.

But what is to be said of that pluralism that considers the faith and its expression not as a common and therefore ecclesial heritage but as an individual discovery made by the free criticism and free examination of the word of God? In fact, without the mediation of the Church's magisterium, to which the Apostles entrusted their own magisterium (27) and which therefore teaches "only what has been handed on" (28), the sure union with Christ through the Apostles, who are the ones who hand on "what they themselves had received" (29), is compromised.

And once perseverance in the doctrine transmitted by the Apostles is compromised, what happens is that, perhaps in a desire to avoid the difficulties of mystery, there is a quest for formulas deceptively easy to understand but which dissolve the real content of mystery. Thus there are built up teachings that do not hold fast to the objectivity of the faith or are plainly contrary to it and, what is more, become crystallized side-by-side with concepts that are even mutually contradictory.

Furthermore, we must not shut our eyes to the fact that every concession in the matter of identity of faith also involves a lessening of mutual love.

In fact, those who have lost the joy that derives from the faith (cf. Phil 1:25) are driven, to the detriment of fraternal communion, to seek glory from one another and not to seek that glory which comes only from God (cf. Jn 5:44). It is impossible to substitute the spirit of faction, which leads to discriminating choices, for the sense of the Church, which recognizes in all the same dignity and freedom of the children of God (30), and in this way also to deprive charity of its natural support, which is justice.

It would be vain to try to improve ecclesial communion in accordance with the type shared at the level of factions. Must not we all, on the contrary, make ourselves perfect through the Gospel? And where does the Gospel manifest fully operative its divinely begotten power if not in the Church, with the contribution of all believers without distinction?

Finally, this spirit of faction reflects negatively also upon the necessary harmony of worship and of prayer, and it manifests itself in an isolation dictated by a spirit of presumption which is certainly not in accordance with the Gospel and which precludes justification before God (cf. Lk 18:10-14). We try hard to understand the root of this situation, and we compare it to the analogous situation in which contemporary civil society is living, a society which is divided by the splintering up into groups opposed one to another.

Unfortunately, the Church, too, seems to be in some degree experiencing the repercussions of this condition. But she ought not to assimilate what is rather a pathological state. The Church must preserve her original character as a family unified in the diversity of her members. Indeed, she must be the leaven that will help society to react, as was said of the first Christians: "See how much they love one another!" (31).

It is with this picture of the first community before our eyes - a picture that is certainly not idyllic, but one that was matured through trials and suffering - that we call upon all to overcome the illicit and dangerous differences and to recognize one another as brethren united by the love of Christ.

23. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Del Verbum, 10: AAS 58 (1966), P. 822.

24. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 23: AAS 57(1965), p.29.

25. St. Augustine, Epist. 187, 11, 34: PL 33, 845.

26. Cf. St. Ephrem the Syrian, Comnent. Evang. concord. 1, 18. Sourc. chrét. 121 P. 52.

27. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 7: AAS 58 (1966), p. 820.

28. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 10: AAS 58(1966), p. 822.

29. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 8: AAS 58(1966), p. 820.

30. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 9: AAS 57(1965), p. 13.

31. Tertulllan, Apologeticum, XXIX, 7; Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina I, 1, p. 151.

Monday, September 23, 2002
Collapsing Church?

I just read in a comment on another blog something I see quite often lately - talk of "the collapse" of the Catholic Church in the U.S. It is imminent, some seem to think.

My own intuition is different and I perceive that the Church is, all things considered, doing rather well of late. In fact, she is doing, it seems to me, surprising well! These have been difficult days, no doubt about it - with a good deal of humiliation, shame, and even horror at what has been perpetrated by members of the clergy and how it was handled. Rough and hard days, yes.

And yet...

My own parish, Saint Benedict in Baltimore, seems to be doing rather well. This year's RCIA began last week with far more than double the attendance of last year's. Our attendance and collections seem to be up a hefty bit lately (I post the bulletin weekly and see the figures and compare). The good spirit between our pastor and assisting priests and the "laity" abides in respect and joyful good humor. Our Archdiocese, too, seems to be doing quite well on important levels. The number of seminarians has increased and the waiting list for many Catholic schools has grown longer than ever it seems (even as the numbers of homeschoolers increase as well).

I read similiar things from all over; and have read almost no reports of a parish "losing ground" since The Situation began to be the focus of much media and discussions. Recall that at the last Easter Vigil, while the crisis was very "hot", around 188,000 adults joined the Catholic Church! Not the signs of a "collapsing" Church to me.

There are problems and there is need of repentance and justice and deeper holiness of heart and life. I see some signs of this happening, thanks be to God. I believe we are in a real springtide of renewal, despite some appearances and obstacles and our own resistance and compromises and sins. Yet the New Pentecost appears already.....

I wonder: are there others who feel pretty much the same way about the current situation of the Church, especially in one's own parish and diocese? I'd love to hear your own comments from your own neck of the woods regardless of whether you may agree with me or not....

Sunday, September 22, 2002
Haec Dies!

"Haec dies quam fecit Dominus; exultemus et laetemur in ea" - Ps 117: 24 - Vulg

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" - Ps 118: 24 - NAB

Sunday, the Lord's Day, is the First Day of the week. Not Monday. When this really sunk in it made a difference psychologically for me. How good to start the new week with the Eucharist of the Lord! How good to start the week with a day of (relative) relaxation and rest and enjoyment! This week, every week, off to a real good start.

Monday follows but it is not the first day of the week. Just the second.....today, Sunday, is the Day the Lord has made (but then every day shares in this too.....and every day can be a good day, even Mondays).

A blessed Lord's Day to all!

P.S. The above is one reason I do not speak of the "weekend" since Sunday is not an end but a beginning. I speak rather of the "weekbend" - "bend" for the curve into the new week and "b" for beginning as well. So I say to people "have a good weekbend"......

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