Sunday, September 18, 2011

Stop it.

So I'm doing my best to stay away from the Fr. Pavone controversy and discussing it in great detail simply because I don't believe in fueling disputes that are generated within the Catholic Church itself. However, this much I will say, whatever disgrace comes from this public contention, we have only Catholic sources to assign blame (in my opinion). But regardless of whether the Bishop is right or wrong, or Fr. Pavone has been unjustly removed, whatever happened to promptly addressing the issues and privately discussing them before going public with a war of words? And as a Bishop, certainly you must appropriately and respectfully eye those individuals who are under your jurisdiction, but can you apply your authority harshly and unfairly simply to preserve your "empire"? Yes. Absolutely. Anyhoo, I've said more than I wanted to say about this subject matter.

Quit Sending Me Emails
I get at least two emails a day from some source claiming to be associated with either Fr. Pavone or the Priests for Life caucus. I have unsubscribed myself from I don't know how many bulk email lists and STILL I get stuff in my in box from those sources. I'm not trying to be apathetic to the cause of the Priests for Life in any way, but since the subject matter of these emails is focused on the public dispute, I simply don't want to read them. Don't ask me how they got my email.

On a Lighter and Happier Note
This is Sebastien, my brother's new cat. He is still a baby (only four months old) and extremely playful. Rocco, who was also a youngster, passed away from a rare condition about two months ago.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's only in retrospect that we can better appreciate the difference. On September 11, 2001, the human race, not just America, lost more of the benevolence and innocence the Creator imbued humanity with. The world since then has never been the same, nor will it be the same again. We're more distrusting, more suspicious, more technological (with the intent at tracking people of interest), and more alienated. Especially alienated. There was a time in the history of this country when you could knock on the front door of the White House and the President of the United States would answer. Now just try it and see what happens. But it's not just in the access to overly guarded politicians that we see a change, which in the case of the President is understandable. But also in airports security checkpoints, malls, schools, DMV's, borders, sporting events, streets, etc. It's almost impossible to walk around these days and not be seen by camera or some other surveillance device.

The Loss of Human Life
There is so much suffering and loss from the the 9/11 attacks that I simply cannot wrap my head around it. From the "good byes" and the "I love you's" over the phone, and the heroic efforts of both rescue personnel and civilians, to the continued absence of those who perished, there is nothing I can write that can justly describe the intensity and profundity of these events. I'm sure other blogs are posting about the tenth anniversary of the attacks with more eloquent and impactful wording. Please visit those since speech--despite ten years since the attacks--still fails me.

His name was Kevin Cosgrove. He was inside one of the World Trade Center Towers speaking on the phone to a 911 operator as the building begins to collapse. This is the released audio of that chilling call. This audio was played in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui who is currently serving a life sentence in Florence, Colorado for his involvement in the September 11th attacks. Kevin Cosgrove left behind a wife and three children.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Vocations Revisited

It's no secret that Catholic vocations have taken a dramatic dip in the past five decades or so. Many diocese and religious orders have fervently taken up the task of encouraging potential candidates to seriously consider a life as a priest or a nun in a diocesan capacity or religious order. If it weren't for those efforts, I think an even greater number of parishes and monasteries might have closed or consolidated to compensate for the lack of clergy. This shortfall in Catholic vocations does, once again, invite a focused analysis of the overall components and pre-requisites of a life as a Catholic priest or Catholic nun.

Supposedly--and I don't always agree with this--the biggest precondition that keeps men from entering the priesthood is the celibacy demand. Many Catholics (and non-Catholics) that I've spoken to consider this pre-requisite to be anachronistic and well within the authority of the Magisterium to change or modify. I think this drive to eliminate priestly celibacy is also encouraged by the knowledge that married men are ordained in the Eastern Catholic Rites, and the exposure some parishes have had to the influx of Anglican priests entering the Catholic Church with wife and children. To this date, I haven't heard anything exceptionally derogatory about parishes managed by married Catholic clergy. But since I have a strong aversion to most things progressive, it's important not to dismiss the criticism that comes from the opponents of lifting the celibacy demand. Having said that, I personally don't think that a multitude of priests getting divorced or accused of infidelity would equal the scandalous and deleterious impact of one sexual abuse accusation. And if this was an issue of conservatives versus liberal Catholics, would the conservatives not be the ones who want to lift the celibatic condition to the priesthood, since, for the first eleven hundred years of the Catholic Church, married men were ordained to the priesthood?

When evaluating the relevance of the ecclesiastical law about sacerdotal celibacy--whether for it or against it--the first thing we have to do is detach ourselves from our egos and propensity to become hostile even at the mention of change. There's no doubt in my mind that some people on both sides of this issue at some point begin to argue for their personal win rather than for what is good and truthful for the Church.

Secularism/ Materialism

"Vocations begin at home."

Our culture measures success by income, status, and material holdings. This type of mentality seeps even into the most faithful of Catholic upbringings, often times promoting prestige and the ability to produce material goods as rewards for hard work and sacrifice (I would argue that mentality is more Protestant than Catholic but, nevertheless, enough Catholics think this way as well). Priestly life, while respected and appreciated (for the most part), is considered a corollary to mainstream professions that provide greater incomes and bigger opportunities to obtain material goods and higher status recognition. If a Catholic child is conditioned to believe those things, The Calling will undoubtedly fall on def ears. So when you think about it, those Catholics who on one hand join parish lay groups that encourage vocations and sponsor seminarians, but on the other hand perpetuate the Protestant Ethic, contribute in large amounts to the vocation deficiency they're trying to diminish.

The Catholic voice has to be louder than the secular clamor most people are accustomed to hearing. This secular cacophony is so ubiquitous and so unchallenged that most of our youth, and indeed their parents, march to the beat of it with an almost trance-like obedience. So when you consider the types of qualities that are valued in some everyday Catholic households, you realize that the lack of vocations isn't just a low number of candidates entering the seminaries, but also a misguided focus on behalf of the Catholic family on things that are ephemeral and materialistic.

Going off on a tangent
Some critics outside the Catholic Church, and even some Catholics, have judged the priesthood and religious life as a place where a gay man or woman could seek cover for the nature of their sexuality and keep suspicion at bay. A Catholic man that knew he would never marry because he was gay could easily account for the lack of a female partner if he was an ordained priest committed to living a chaste life, as I've heard some say. Now that there is a greater acceptance in our society for gay men and women, might that not alleviate the pressure felt by some Catholic members of this demographics to hide their sexuality by entering a religious life that they were never called for? I can hear the argument that a wrong in our society doesn't constitute a benefit for the Church.

Anyway, this is stuff that's been on my mind recently and I'm just throwing it out to you guys.

Photo Credit: Catholic Seminarians of Facebook

Friday, September 2, 2011

Elmo Has Issues

Be responsible this Labor Day weekend. Wild party boozing can only get you into trouble whether on foot or in car, human or not (see above pic). This brings me to my next somewhat related question: is enduring the crappy, godawful, pungent taste of hard liquor worth the buzz? People, you have got to be kidding me. I remember catching a brief scent of Stolichnaya Raspberry Vodka a few years ago and found the aroma quite agreeable. I purchased a bottle for a gathering at a friend's house and after I took the first sip, I nearly hurled! Oh there was plenty of vodka-taste in the sip alright, but NO traces a anything that could remotely be identified as raspberry. I was very disappointed. The raspberry existed mostly in the scent, not the taste.

I very, very seldom drink, but in the times that I do, it's typically wine or a wine-spritzer. And I usually start feeling the buzz--which I absolutely detest--long before I've reached the halfway mark of my drink. Not very manly, is it?