Sunday, March 31, 2013

Did Pope Francis Really Provide Justification For Progressive Catholics?

There seems to be a big concern of Pope Francis' seeming disregard of rubrics, or the bending of the rules at least, and that it will justify the thoughts or actions of those that never held laws or rubrics in high regard to begin with. The fear is that those with a liberal bent or who have a mentality of dissension against Church laws and rubrics will be disposed to say, "See? If the Pope can do it so can I." and feel that they too, can continue to disregard the guidelines and laws of the Church as they have done so in the past. The Pope being what he is, the leader of a billion or so Catholics, does have a great influence over the faithful and should serve as a model of Catholic fidelity and obedience to what has been set forth in the past by the Church, with this I will agree to a point.

Patrick Archbold of the Creative Minority Report posted his concerns of this problem here   and I want to say from the outset that his concern does not seem to be a knee-jerk reaction to this controversy regarding the Pope's washing of women's feet on Holy Thursday. Generally, I've always enjoyed reading his blog and this time, on this subject, it is no different though I do not entirely agree with his fears. His article also provides a link to Father Z and Dr. Edward Peters who discuss the questionable validity of what Pope Francis did. Archbold does not attempt to answer whether the Pope broke the law concerning his actions on Holy Thursday leaving it to the two aforementioned to explain all of that, but he does voice his concern for the example that the Pope may be setting for Catholics.

Archbold examines two camps of thought concerning Church law and rubric and how they are or may be perceived by what he calls the popular mindset. I can only take his definition of "popular mindset" as meaning liberals or progressives within the Church. If I am wrong correct me please. What follows is how he believes the Pope's actions are being framed by them:
If you think that law and rubrics are there for a reason, the reason being the order and good of the Church and the faithful, and you are troubled about the violations then you are part of the problem. You are one of the inwardly focused people that the Pope is trying wrest the Church back from. If you think that law, rubrics, and tradition matter, you are the other--you are the problem. You are not humble and simple like the Pope. You are the past.

This is a no-brainer. This is classic, progressive mind-vomit that we've heard for decades. In other words tradition is bad and those that hold to tradition are dinosaurs that need to succumb to extinction, allowing for a new species of ideas to evolve. The old suppresses the human spirit while new, progressive thought seeks to unshackle and free the oppressed spirit from the big, bad Church and her out of touch doctrines and laws. Archbold continues with his analysis:

If, on the other hand, law, rubrics, and majesty in the worship of God have never been your thing, then life is good. The Pope, by example if not by word, is validating your worldview. You have never really cared about such things and have often violated them. The Pope has just shown that, as you always suspected, these things don't really matter, that things like law, rubrics, and majesty hinder evangelization and are simply the products of an inwardly focused Church. You are part of future Church.
 
 The following line is the crux of it all and why I am not as fearful as some are concerning the Pope's actions.
 You have never really cared about such things and have often violated them.
Through out human history there have always been people predisposed to doing things that are contrary to acceptable behavior or indifferent as to laws guiding society. No matter what example a leader sets, in this case Pope Francis, people will do things their own way whether the example shown is right and just or wrong and evil. They have their own moral guidelines which they see as superseding all others and set their course in life accordingly without regard to whether their own guidelines are skewed by a selective thought process. The Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery is a perfect  example of what I mean. Everyone agrees that Jesus is merciful and that his mercy was shown to the woman who was presented to Him as an adulteress that according to the Law of Moses, should be stoned to death for her sin. The conclusion of this story was that the Pharisees could not condemn her without exposing their own sin and Jesus also did not condemn her but showed his mercy towards her, sending her off with the admonition of "go, and sin  no more." 

Those with a selective thought process only see our Lords mercy and dismiss his warning of "sin no more" because to them the sin doesn't matter even if she continues in this sin. The only thing that matters to them is their perception of mercy and the lack of being judged by Jesus. Continuing in sin does not matter to them and if one points it out they are being judgmental.  As a matter of fact they will ignore that last line of sin no more as if it isn't pertinent to the story. Using this process they are able to ignore rules or rubrics if you will and merrily continue down their own path fully justified in their minds.

We will never be entirely sure, unless he tells us his reasons, why the Pope thought it more important to place the washing of the women's feet over the rubrics, but I can guarantee you this. His reasons will not be the same as those people that Archbold think will feel justified by the Pope. Those that have always violated the rules  do not and will not need justification. How many popes before Francis washed a woman's feet? None that I know of, yet did their example of following the rubrics stop other priests and bishops from washing the feet of women? Nope. They did what THEY felt was right in their own minds and they will continue to do so no matter what example is set for them.

Patrick concludes with this: highlight is mine.

[Note. I love the Pope and want him to succeed. I think renewed focus on the poor is wonderful and I support it wholeheartedly. But I do not accept, as some would have you believe, that law, rubrics, and tradition must be thrown overboard to achieve this renewed focus on the poor. I don't think the Pope supports this either, but I fear some of his actions give encouragement to those who do]
I wouldn't  go as far as Archbold when he says  that law, rubrics, tradition are being thrown overboard. As I wrote earlier I believe the Pope had his own reasons for doing what he did,  and I also do not believe he would support a wholesale disregard of laws and rubrics, though in this case he did so for reasons known only to him. We live in troubled  times in our faith or lack thereof and the Pope is fully aware of this. He had a lesson to teach Catholics with the washing of the women's feet and we need to try to understand it. I believe he was fully aware of the controversy he would initiate by bending the rules as he did but he obviously thought the lesson was more important than the rule this time. Rule breaking will encourage others to break the rules? Nah, they are already breaking the rules when they want. They never needed encouragement from anyone except those of their ilk.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some Of Us Are On Thin Ice Regarding Pope Francis

Okay. This isn't going to be pretty. As a matter of fact I may have to schedule an appointment for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by the time I post this. Now, I've come to expect the MSM and secular society to try and decimate the Pope and the Catholic Church every chance they have. They will try to sow the seeds of controversy where there is none and where there is a legitimate beef such as the recent clerical sex scandals, they will continue resurrecting the same stories over and over again trying to convince their readership that nothing has changed with the Church. Fine. The destruction of the Catholic Church is their agenda. We know this, we see it, we've experienced it and we should expect it from them. We also know that dissidents within the Church also have their own agenda and that is to re-create the Catholic Church into their own image. It is not hidden or done in secret. It is blatant and there for all to see. Again, we should expect it from these people. They've never disappointed us on that score.

Since the elevation of Pope Francis we've seen praise and criticism from the above detractors. They are still not sure what to expect from this pope and many are treading lightly with the criticisms and praising him for his simplicity as they see it. Don't worry, the praise won't be there for long and their onslaught of hate filled criticism for the Pope and the Catholic Church will be coming. They will not disappoint for they are consistent in this manner if nothing else.

However, what has me peeved with a heavy dose of anger thrown in for good measure is the way Pope Francis has been attacked, criticized, though in veiled attempts at times, by those purporting to be faithful Catholics. I read all the time how Catholics should be faithful and loyal to the Pope and the Magisterium if they consider themselves true Catholics. So what happened fellow Catholics? Wasn't the Holy Spirit's influence in the last conclave good enough for you ?  Are you still ticked off that Benedict stepped down and that Pope Francis is now playing second fiddle as far as you're concerned? Is there ANYTHING Francis will do that will seem good and right to you?

News flash people: Benedict was not Francis and Francis is not Benedict. We have all been created as unique individuals with our own God given gifts, gifts to be shared amongst each other, and other gifts given that only God knows we possess. To expect each and everyone of us to be exactly the same is not only unfair but unjust. Pope Francis is not a clone of Benedict so get over it. I too love Benedict and was saddened to see him step down, but now another had to take his place and he has; Pope Francis. Are you now going to tell me that the Holy Spirit dropped the ball on this one? Really?? Are your criticisms however veiled, against Francis or against the Holy Spirit who chose or allowed this pope to be elected? Which is it? Did you ever think that possibly the Holy Spirit chose this pope for the good of the Church, or allowed his election, good or bad, because we deserve it and need to have our faith tested?

I've read the blogs and the comments that follow whenever the Pope seems to even THINK of doing something that some believe will set whatever reforms Benedict wanted to initiate back a million years. They are disgusting. They are vile. They are unworthy of any Catholic to utter and certainly not fair to this new Pope. This papacy is still in its embryonic stage and already we are trying to abort its mission? Come on!

Are we the  new Israelites that grumbled against Moses everytime something was not to their liking? Some of the blogs and comments have become a soapbox for a bunch of baby waaaa waaaas, whining and complaining about Pope Francis' every move. It seems that even if he hasn't done anything to stir controversy some are already warning him before hand: "Don't even think it!!" Do some of you think the conclave elected and resurrected a new Borgia??

Black shoes, red shoes, traditional vestments, plain white vestments, women's feet, men's feet, feet, feet feet!...and the list goes on, and concerning Holy Thursday and the washing of women's feet: what part of our Lords model of serving one another did the Pope destroy that day? I read a comment by someone complaining there were not enough Catholics having their feet washed by the Pope. Really?? Did they ever think that perhaps it was because he meant it as a lesson to CATHOLICS? A lesson in humility and how to treat others that are different than we are? Someone washed our Lords feet one time with tears and poured expensive perfume on him and was roundly criticized....by Judas. Careful people. Oh yes....he disregarded the rules when he washed the women's feet...as Jesus and his disciples did when they plucked grains of wheat to eat on the Sabbath? "But the Sabbath was made for man not the other way around!" Yes that's true...so I ask again, what part of our Lords model of serving one another did the Pope destroy on Holy Thursday?

Look at what our current Pope has to deal with today: Forty years of abuse of the true spirit of Vatican II by malcontents. JPII and Benedict XVI fought this abuse also in their own way. Now it's Pope Francis' turn and already we've given him an 'F' on a test that he hasn't even taken yet. Yes, we've had forty years of wandering in the desert, but make no mistake, many of us are also responsible for what we are reaping today. Sure, many clerics contributed to it, but how many of us screamed bloody murder to our bishops and priest forty, thirty even twenty years ago that this be stopped? How many of us prayed daily for our priests and bishops? How many us had Masses said for them in the last forty years? More importantly, how many of us just went along for the ride until recently?  So in the last ten years or so, we've finally seen the light and have said enough of this abuse. We washed our hands and cleaned our fingernails, scrubbed behind our ears and now we are pure and white as the wind driven snow. So pure and so righteous that we know better than the popes and we've earned our right to criticize them. Him. Francis. Seems to me that Peter had it easier when he was admonished by Paul, than Francis has today with bloggers and comments.

Agree or disagree with him, either way he is still our Pope. This time however, the shepherd's own loyal flock has turned against him. We've stepped out on thin ice this time people with our open criticisms of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. Our Church is ridiculed to no end by the world and we are going to provide more fodder for their ridicule by this bickering and back biting from supposedly faithful Catholics?

I have only one warning for us pewsitters. Be careful. Be very careful in our criticisms of the Pope and carefully examine our reasons for them for as Gamaliel said in Acts paraphrased; Take care you don't find yourselves fighting against the Holy Spirit as well as our Pope Francis.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Shroud of Turin: Yes or No?

One day during my high school years a friend and I went to the home of another of our classmates to listen to music and just hang out. It was there that for the first time I saw a poster of Christ's face hanging on his wall in the bedroom. It wasn't the ordinary, artist's rendering of Christ's image that caught my attention for I had seen many pictures of Christ before, but something totally different. It was black and white and very crude for the lack of a better word, but also it looked like a photograph. It was years later that I found out just what this image was, or where it came from. It was the image that was taken of the Shroud of Turin by a photographer, and as I researched more about this shroud I realized that many had come to believe it was the burial cloth of Christ. Just as an aside, my classmate did not have this poster hanging in his room because he was a believer. He, as well as many of us in those years, had picked up this poster only because it looked 'cool'. It hung on his wall among other posters of Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, The Doors and the like.

The more I read about the Shroud of Turin the more I began to wonder of its authenticity or lack thereof. Most of the theories about the image and its history started weighing heavily in favor that it was the real thing, at least for me and for many others as I found out in my research. Questions as to its origin, how the image got there, why it was actually a negative image instead of the positive that any artist would have rendered, how it could have been done without pigment, and the piece de resistance, how the image was actually rendered as a 3D image really got me thinking  about what it was I was actually looking at. I know it depicts a man who was flogged and crucified as Jesus was and its history seemed to indicate that it originated from the 1st century, but was I really looking at the face of the crucified Christ? Could it be possible?

Then in 1978 scientific tests were done by a team of international scientists to determine its age with carbon 14 dating. The results were in: the cloth was determined to be no more than about 800 years old. In other words, it could not have originated from 1st century Israel, and it began to be seen as more of a medieval hoax than anything else. Yet, despite these tests the big question was still unanswered. How did this image come to be? Photographic, negative images were not known 800 years ago, yet here it was, unknown of its negative qualities until the 'positive image' of a photograph had been taken. There was absolutely nothing to indicate how a man or woman could have created this image with the techniques known during medieval times or...in our time. Yes, there is speculation, but nothing concrete. Scientist just don't know how it happened.

Now it seems that a new discovery has been made. I've known of a study conducted a few years back that determined the pieces of cloth on which the carbon 14 dating had been done had actually been rewoven in order to repair damage to the shroud during the Middle Ages. Within the test pieces were cotton fibers from medieval times interwoven in the cloth that now has scientists wondering how skewed the carbon 14 tests in 1978 actually were.

Though I never really committed myself in fully believing or denying that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Christ, the results of the 1978 testing left me a bit disappointed but certainly not in despair. I have to be honest. I wanted the shroud  to be real. I wanted to believe that I actually looked into the face of Jesus when I saw the photograph on my classmates bedroom wall,  the image of this man who had been tortured to death on a cross. I know what the testing concluded, yet there was something within me that still believed that it was authentic despite what science said.

I am a faithful Catholic and contrary to popular beliefs about Catholics, I have no problems with science except its insistence by some scientists that God had nothing to do with the universe as we have come to understand it and the belief that science has license and the ability to change life down to its genetic level for reasons contrary to what God intended, I believe is a grave error.  Other than that I love what science teaches us about our world and all its different facets. With that being said I know that scientists can err. Scientific tests are conducted by humans and the results are interpreted by humans and humans make mistakes. Were the results of 1978 an error on the part of scientists? No, I don't believe so for they tested a piece of the shroud as they wanted and in a scientific manner with more than one scientist present, but if their carbon 14 tests were done on material that was not part of the original cloth, then as the new studies attempt to show, the cloth's origin is again up in the air.

Again, in being honest, I am more than elated with the prospect that the shroud could again be the cloth that was wrapped around Christ's body after the crucifixion in preparation for his burial. Though science may prove the cloth is indeed 2000 years old and from the area around Jerusalem what will it do for my faith? It still won't prove that the image is of Christ. It could be the image of someone else, but with everything taken into consideration as to how the image came to be, its provenance and if finally the cloth is proven to be from the time and place of Christ's crucifixion, to me at least, it would give me another physical connection to the object of my faith.

The Catholic Church holds many relics in its possession that helps us in our faith and it is possible that the Shroud of Turin is one of those true relics. At least Pope Benedict thought it was authentic. I have not dismissed its authenticity out of hand. In fact, I've come to believe more and more that the picture of the man I saw on my classmates bedroom wall is the actual face of Jesus.

What if it's all a wash? What if there is conclusive proof that it could not be nor could it ever have been the shroud to cover Jesus? What will it do to my faith? The answer to that is nothing. Nothing at all. The faith I hold in God will continue and hopefully continue to increase as it always has. The object of my faith does not lie in a shroud of death, but in the Author of Life.




Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Church in Decline

If one is to believe the MSM, the Catholic Church's heyday has come and has already gone. She is now in her death throes along with her ability to influence people with her moral stances that contradict those of the world. The Truths of the past that she continues to teach is so out of step with our changing times that it makes one wonder how she could have survived this long. According to the secular world, her inability or desire to change and accept that the world view on abortion, homosexual acts, euthanasia, contraceptives, women's ordination etc., have now become good and necessary things in the fight for human rights in the world, makes the Catholic Church's death or insignificance in the world only that much more painful for her.

It may come as a surprise to many practicing Catholics that we are now experiencing  her death spiral. Yes, many defy her teachings on abortion, contraceptives and gay unions erroneously called marriages, but history has taught us that the world's defiance of the Truth has been part and parcel of its war against the Church and against God in general. Why would it be any different in our age? Many think that because of the sexual abuse scandals, the Church has lost all authority and integrity as a moral agent in this world, hence, the world would be better off without the Catholic Church. If this is true, then we need to bring this thought to its logical conclusion, that is, since thousands of public school children have been sexually abused by teachers, principals, teachers aids, volunteers and coaches, then we should also eliminate the Dept. of Education and close our public schools. Makes sense doesn't it?

Attacks against the Catholic Church and its faithful are nothing new, yet if we are so backwards, so out of touch, homophobics, and  misogynists why bother with us? Why expend so much time and energy attacking us through legislation, persecution, ridicule and the like if the Church's moral influence is waning as we are told it is? This is the equivalence of kicking someone that is already down on the ground with no prospect of being able to get back up. So why bother?

Indeed why bother. First of all the Church may be experiencing worldwide persecution on an alarming level, but that doesn't mean her demise is imminent. What it does mean is that the Church's mission and message resonates with many and it scares the hell out of secularists. In some parts of the world, Catholics and Christians in general are being martyred for their faith, while in the more "civilized" industrialized west a subtle and not so subtle agenda is being promoted. Martyrdom is a messy business for many elites of the west, so other methods of attacking the Church are employed such as silencing her through legislative means, public repudiations and ridiculing her for her teachings on morality. But again. why bother shooting an already dead horse?

The dirty little secret is that the Church is far from being dead. Ill maybe, but not dead by any means nor is it ready to die. Despite the MSM's claims, the Catholic Church is very influential and the secularists know it. The Catholic Church IS the moral voice of the world, its conscience, and the only way to rid the world of this little "voice" is to eliminate the one with the voice: The Catholic Church. Yet, in their ignorance they unwittingly give voice to the Church, an institution that is presumably out of touch.

Look at the media coverage of the elevation of Pope Francis. The media was besides itself in covering every angle possible of this event. They dug deep into Vatican protocol, rooted out the most probable candidates for pope, declared almost assuredly who would be pope, and those that weren't as sure of the victor, tried to influence the outcome by telling us who they thought would be best to lead our Church in today's world. That would be like the fox telling the farmer which chicken should be guarding the coop. The media scraped every corner of the world in their search for a Catholic commentator so as to give them credence in their coverage of the papal election. Yet despite their best efforts to influence the conclave, the Holy Spirit again confounded the media in giving us Francis.

In their total ignorance of how the Catholic Church works and what role the Holy Spirit and the Pope plays in all of this, they sought to influence the public view by telling the unsuspecting what kind of man the Pope should be if the Church was to survive. Why should they be concerned with its survival at all? The Pope can only uphold and defend the Truths that the Church has taught for two thousand years. He has no power to change any of that, no matter who he is. That is the ignorance of the secular world.    And all the secular speculation of how Pope Francis will pan out as head of the Church is enough to make one vomit. That's a lot of news coverage of an event in the Catholic Church, a church they already view as a corpse isn't it?

Why is it so important to feminists and homosexual activists that the Church change her teachings? We are nothing in their eyes or is she more important than they care to admit?  The MSM, feminists, homosexuals and the heretics within the Church want, nay, need the Church to change her views to theirs in order to justify their lifestyles. They know that is the only way to validate their defiant voices.

As I said earlier, the Church is no stranger to outside persecution and she knows how to deal with it. Our two greatest enemies are the "dictatorship of moral relativism" and the heretics within our walls. No, neither one will be the end of the Catholic Church though she is greatly weakened by them. The Church is here to stay and stay she will, continuing with her mission of saving souls until the second coming of her founder: Jesus Christ, the son of the ever-living God.

Oh yes, the Catholic Church is a big deal to these people otherwise we would be left alone. We better be ready for the onslaught of persecution and prosecution that is coming. The line between the world and the Church has been clear for ages, but the lines between the defiant and the faithful in the Church, though murky at times are now absolutely clear for anyone with eyes to see. See you on the other side.