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Today Is The Day
Get ready for it.
Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...
Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"
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Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
I got some ideas...
New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous
Grasping at straws...
This Comes As No Surprise
Up with the ex-communicated!
Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
Watch your mouth!
Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
Catching up with Sr Pat.
Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
A public service announcement.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wringing Hands Over Washing Feet

As sure as there are holes in Swiss cheese, this "outrage" gets trotted out Holy Week every year.

From Bridget Mary's Blog (a womynpreest, btw):

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida Decrees: No Women May Have Their Feet Washed at Liturgy of Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday

According to a reliable source Bishop Frank Dewane sent letters to all of the pastors in the diocese,
saying that NO WOMEN may have their feet washed at the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday.
If so, this is an example of gender discrimination.
Women are created in God's image and are members of the Body of Christ.
Women of the Church in Florida, it is time to call for a boycott.
Stop giving money and talent to the Catholic Church in Florida, until the bishop acknowleges (sic) you as equal members, worthy to have your feet washed.
If Catholics stop giving, the bishop(s) will start listening!
Bridget Mary Meehan, RCWP

*sigh* It's not the Bishop's "decree" - he's only explaining Church teaching in regards to the custom. Not only that - she has a lot of chutzpah to tell the Church how to do things. If this womynpreest wants to wash women's feet at her ritual/liturgy/gathering, no one will stop her and tell her she's wrong. Just biblically incorrect, but then again, that's just par for the course.

I have to share with you one of the funniest things I've read today, in regards to this topic. What follows is a comment and its subsequent reply from two combox participants, responding to this particular post.

"For years I thought the last supper included thirteen people - Jesus and his twelve apostles. Finally, someone asked me: "Who cooked the meal? Who cleaned up afterwards?" Mind-opening questions for me. Obviously, the women did.

Then in a more perceptive reading of the gospel I finally noticed that the evangelists did not restrict the last supper to Jesus and the twelve. It was attended by the disciples among whom were many women."

"Thank you for the great insight, X! With that in mind, maybe Bridget Mary and other members of her woman-priest movement can start to cook instead of sacrilegiously simulating sacraments."

ROFL!! I'm going to have to remember that line!

Spy Wednesday

No, not that kind of spy!

The Wednesday of Holy Week is sometimes referred to as 'Spy Wednesday', indicating it as the day Judas made his arrangements in secret with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus.

I came across this snippet of 'traditional custom' at Wikipedia: Poland: children traditionally hurled an effigy of Judas from the church steeple. It was then dragged through the village, pounded with sticks and stones and what was left of it was drowned in a nearby pond or river.

Being Wikipedia, there's always that element of doubt regarding the veracity of any entry - i this case, the reference linked to this custom is broken. So there's no way of knowing how ancient or recent this practice is.

It's been rumored that certain "reputable business" organizations celebrate Spy Wednesday by whacking an effigy of Judas, followed by dumping the body in the footings at a construction site or highway overpass, as fresh cement is being poured. :-)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Prayer Request

I recently received word that one of my Brothers-in-Law has been diagnosed with cancer. Here's what my sister wrote on their CaringBridge site:

Ed's story began in February with a case of bronchitis. When the x-ray came back, though, the doc told us that small nodules were found throughout the lower third of both sides of his lungs.

After a cat scan, nodules were also found on his thyroid. He's had a needle biopsy of his thyroid (negative) and a needle biopsy of the lung (positive for cancer).

The strange thing is that the cancer cells in the lung have some characteristics of papillary thyroid cancer. So, they are not sure if it's thyroid cancer or non-smoker's lung cancer.

He has meetings scheduled with specialists this week, along with additional biopsies on order. He's in good spirits, which is attributable to his strong faith.

Your prayers for my sister and B-I-L would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Overlooked UnHoly Day

Shoot! I can't believe I forgot! Now I have to wait a whole other year. Darn it!

What? You mean you forgot too? You're telling me that you celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25th, instead of the 2010 World Day of Prayer? Shame on us all!!

Wait - you didn't know about the 2010 World Day of Prayer? Oh. Well, let me explain it to you. It's when pagan female priestesses and their apostatizing apoplectic biddies scuttle into their covens and offer worship to the She-Goddess of Self-Pity.

In other words: The CRONES* met to repeat their demand that they be allowed to serve as priests. Officially it's called the World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination, sponsored by the Women's Ordination Conference. This year, a whopping twenty protesters stood outside the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C., waving their signs and holding a pretty purple banner that meant absolutely nothing. (Story at the NCR)

They got all clever-ike too - tying this year's demonstration to "The Year For Priests". Except they kept calling it "The Year of the Priest", like it's a Chinese annual designation or something. I guess they get so much of church history and teaching wrong, it's no surprise they got that wrong too. Oh well. So, along with denigrating the great Feast of the Annunciation, they did their worst to drag the Holy Father's "Year For Priests" along with their misguided and misguiding opinions. Nothing is sacred to the CRONES except the profanation of one of the Church's sacraments.

Oh - and they developed an "Inclusive Liturgy" too! It's chock-full of emotion-affirming nonsense and gooey theological claptrap. For instance, here's their "Prayer of Confession (of Believing)". Swallow whatever food or beverage before proceeding. It's a doozy.

I believe in a God-beyond-imagining...

a God of mercy and justice-seeking, of compassion and challenge,

a God who lives at the depths of our being...

and beyond the farthest reaches of an unending universe.

I believe in a God who has cradled us in love from the very beginning,

gifting each with more-than-enough to respond to every divine nudge,

with a heart staunch enough to match every divine call.

I believe that God sees endless possibilities,

in us and through us.

I believe that God never gives up on us,

working in and through our "Yes's," to birth that future now!

I don't know about you, but every time I read that, I hear Enya-like music and can almost smell the faint allure of Sacrilege** in the air. And then I'm filled with the desire to be made a bishop so I can ex-communicate all these folks (I know, they're ex-communicated latae sententiae, but the mitre-mashing and crozier-crashing would be satisfying nonetheless!). But it's only a feeling, and I have to settle for ridicule instead.

So come on, folks, let's not overlook this next year. Circle March 25, 2011 on your calendar right now: World Day of Prayer for Women's Ordination Celebrate Latae Sententiae!

*Coalition of Resentful "Ordained" Non-Episcopal Sistahs
**For the origin of this, click here

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Latest NCR Rodney King Moment

One thing about fake Catholics that really irritates me is their incessant and adolescent appeal for false unity - the type of unity that says "You believe what you want to believe, we'll believe what we want to believe, and while you're not paying attention, we're going to attack, marginalize and ridicule all the stuff you believe in."

A description of the Church they use from time to time is "the big tent". It conjures up an image of a friendly environment where people of different opinions and viewpoints are welcome, as long as they stay on opposite ends of the tent. Some may be closer to the middle of the tent, and others will stick to the fringes - but as long as we're all under the same big tent, then we can all still call ourselves Catholic.

Well - - - when I hear "big tent", I think of a circus, and if the video in my previous post is any indication, these fake Catholics have got the high wire act rolling along with the mini-car crammed full of clowns sputtering right behind. And circus tents smell too.

The recent (and ongoing) arguments over Health Care Reform have created a further demarcation among the Catholic community. Over at the National Catholic Distorter, one of their "Young Voices" columnists had this to say:

The future of the Catholic church depends on the church being a big tent that is welcoming and inclusive of all people. I’ve spoken with many people who are drawn to Catholicism, but feel they could never join the church because they don’t agree with every church teaching. And, of course, there are many more leaving the church because they don’t feel like they can walk their individual path within the Catholic community.

My hope is that we learn to love our neighbors, embracing them in how they choose to live their Catholic faith as they embrace us in the same.

Let’s lose the club and bring back the big tent.

Gaaacckk! I just choked on a piece of pablum.

The writer needs to meditate on Luke 13:51-53: "Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

Don't get me wrong - we are to work for peace ("Blessed are the peacemakers..."), but for peace according to God's dictionary, not ours. God doesn't make peace with sin, or dissent, or with lies. He makes peace with sinners - when they repent. We are to love our enemies, and admonish the sinner, and instruct the ignorant. And yes - even shake the dust from our sandals when appropriate. But one thing we don't have the power or authority to do is redefine what the Catholic Church is - she is the bride of Christ (and what does it say about the "bride" when it's implied she ought to wear a "tent"? What, she's a fattie?).

Fortunately, through the promise of Jesus and the protection of the Holy Spirit, the Church will not be perverted into such a Frankensteinish crossbreed Episcopresbylutheran community (I nabbed that last term from Scott W at romish internet graffiti, who left in my combox some time ago). The Church will be purified and pruned - Christ said so - which in my mind means the Church wouldn't need a big tent anyway, when all is said and done.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Litorgy: A grotesque mockery of the liturgy.

This is what apostasy looks like: the closing pagan ritual at the Religious Education Congress held in Los Angeles earlier this month. It ain't pretty, folks!

s/s to Creative Minority Report

Out Of The Shadows...

Now that I've been blogging for a couple years - and commenting and lurking on other blogs for some time prior - I feel that it's time to come out of the shadows of quasi-anonymity and step into the half-light of semi-identification.

Yes, my name is Larry, and my last name does start with a 'D'. The last name will still be an initial for the time being - that's one of the rules of the Witness Protection Program, I guess.

Just kidding, just kidding! But as I'm not being paid to do this, and I'm not on the apologist circuit, or contributing to an on-line magazine or publication, there's no reason to divulge my last name right now. Trust me - I do have one! The thing is - if you knew me in real life, you'd call me 'LarryD' anyway.

However, there's no reason why my picture shouldn't be in my AoftheA profile. It's time to replace the "St Lawrence before Emperor Valerianus" avatar with a mug shot portrait.

Your job is to guess which of the following Larry's is me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

2 Years And Counting

Today marks the 2nd Blogaversary/birthday for Acts of the Apostasy. Too bad it's Lent - otherwise you coulda had a cupcake!! They're good!

In honor of this special day, I have a small request. A good number of visitors regularly swing by to see what's oozed out of my mind and spilled into the internet, and yet, are too shy to leave a comment. If it's not too much to ask, please leave a "hello" today before heading off to better blogs. You don't have to identify yourself if you don't want to - I understand. Plausible deniability and all that! :-)

This blog is a lot of fun to write - I hope you have as much fun reading it. Thanks for coming by and inflating my ego as AoftheA embarks upon the adventure of The Terrible Two's.

Oh - and Sister Patricia gives her best!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Pope Benedict Relaxes

Now, you might think it's inconceivable that the Holy Father would spend his free time surfing Catholic blogs, and even more unlikely that he would read mine, but when you look at this image taken from my blog's Sitemeter on Tuesday afternoon - - -

- - - well, I'm convinced!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Defining The Division

Make no mistake about it - President Obama wants nothing more than to propel division and strife within the Catholic Church in America. The deceit started during the campaign with fraudulent representation of Obama's positions by accommodating shills such as Douglas Kmiec. His graduation ceremony appearance at Notre Dame crystallized the division. Now, health care reform stands as the latest battleground over the idea of authentic Catholic identity.

This story from LifesiteNews was originally published on Thursday 3/18, but it's worth reading.

Architect of Betrayal?: WH Exposes Obama as Provocateur of Catholic Dissension

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed to reporters today that President Barack Obama actively promoted the Catholic Health Association's public break with the American Catholic bishops to support his health care legislation.

Gibbs also suggested that the CHA and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious' (LCWR) break with the U.S. Bishops has provided legitimate political cover for pro-life Democrats to switch their votes from "no" to "yes."

"I think over the past twenty four hours we have seen strong indications from those in the Catholic Church that support our belief that the legislation is about health care reform, and that it shouldn't and doesn't change the existing federal law [on abortion]. The Catholic Health Association and the order of nun's support is very important," Gibbs told reporters on the White House lawn for Thursday's press conference.

CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan and LCWR sparked an uproar this week after they came out definitively in favor of the Senate health care bill, which top pro-life organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in addition to countless others, have strongly condemned as unacceptable for its abortion funding provisions. Since then, in their quest to woo the final pro-life Democrat holdouts among House lawmakers, party leaders have attempted to paint CHA's support for the bill as a bona fide endorsement from the Catholic community.

If you have time, read the entire article. And rather than serve up a poor analysis of the article, I recommend you check out Fr Z's blog for a proper and precise fisking.

Erin at And Sometimes Tea provides great analysis as well.

Obama's actions help prove one thing - a much clearer picture has evolved as to what authentic Catholic identity looks like. As events have unfolded and continue to develop, bishops have been bolder in their pronouncements on Church teachings in matters of faith and morals. At the same time, groups and individuals opposed to Church teaching have ventured farther out of the shadows, believing that an administration favorable to their dissenting viewpoints provides safety and protection from the "big bad hierarchical Church". Heh

What they fail to realize - or ignore at their own peril - is that Obama doesn't really care what the Church position is on anything, whether it be abortion, conscience-protection clauses in health care or same-sex marriage. He's using the dissenters as a means to an end - which is to weaken the Church's credibility and dismantle any meaningful opposition. Should he accomplish that goal, then he would have no practical use for the dissenters, and would promptly crush them beneath the wheels of Hope and Change, should he find it expedient to do so.

In the meantime, it's becoming more and more obvious just who is Catholic and who is not. As last week's episode with the CHA and the LCWR has shown, just because a group has the word 'Catholic' in its name, it doesn't mean anything if the group fails to uphold, defend or believe in Church teaching. Nor does it give the group license to define for itself what it means to be Catholic, or even to declare that they're 'faithful Catholics'. None of us has the authority to determine what it means to be Catholic, any more than we have the authority to determine what it means to be human. Our actions and beliefs provide the basis by which we can judge whether we fall within the defined limits (and yes, there are limits!).

So - if you believe the Church's teaching on artificial contraception is wrong, and you actively seek to undermine it, or encourage other Catholics to ignore the Church - then you aren't Catholic.

If you believe the Church's teaching on an all-male priesthood is wrong, and that the Church ought to ordain women - then you aren't Catholic.

If you believe the Church's teaching on marriage being exclusively between one man and one woman is wrong, and that it's wrong to prohibit gays from marrying - then you aren't Catholic.

If you believe the Church's teaching on sex being reserved between a husband and wife within the bonds of sacred Marriage is wrong, and that homosexual activity is 'affirming and good', - then you aren't Catholic.

If you believe the Church's hierarchical structure is immoral and irrelevant, and that its governance ought to be more democratic in nature - then you aren't Catholic.

If you believe you can vote for pro-abortion candidates and actively campaign for the Culture of Death - then you aren't Catholic.

If you believe that alternative spirituality and practices, such as reiki and labyrinths, are compatible with the Catholic faith, then you aren't Catholic.

Being Catholic means something, not anything we want it to mean, to assuage our personal attitudes and fascinations. And the only authority competent enough to define that something is the Church. Today's current political climate is helping to clarify who stands on which side of the divide, a divide that is widening.

To which I say - good. It's taken a long time for the US bishops - at least some of them - to stand for Catholic identity and expose these posers. It is important for the bishops, and the Church, to set forth the definition and control the language, not the other way round. The purpose is not to condemn - but to illustrate the difference between authentic faithful Catholicism, and the thin, lifeless charlatans that claim the title 'Catholic', yet lack the honesty to assume the responsibilities that such a title confers. In fact, they have no intention whatsoever of being Catholic. They are usurpers. They are interlopers and infiltrators, fakes and frauds. They need to be confronted and defeated.

Know thine enemies.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Strain Forward To What Lies Ahead

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of this resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Paul's letter to the Philippians 3: 7-14

The second reading from the Fifth Sunday of Lent. It gave me great comfort hearing it at Mass, what with all the battle over the health care debate raging across our nation. "Straining forward to what lies ahead".

I'm not discounting the deleterious effect this legislation will have on our country, our lives and the lives of future generations. I'm not ignoring the fact that our nation hurtles towards a type of oppression and tyranny that few ever thought possible could ever happen in America. I'm not stating that the fight against evil is pointless, or even unnecessary. I'm not suggesting that the struggle to end abortion and to promote a culture of life is unimportant. Not in the least, and not on your life.

But the undeniable truth is this; this is the bigger picture: straining forward to what lies ahead - and that is our salvation.

It's easy to lose hope in the dream that is America. It's tempting to only fight for the values and ideals that make this country great. It's easy to rise up in anger over what's happening in our legislature right now -and it would not be wrong to do so.

But it'd be better to fall down to our knees in prayer. It'd be better to maintain and strengthen our hope in Christ Jesus. It'd be better to fight for Christian values and Catholic ideals - to win the hearts and minds of those who are hardened against true life, true liberty and authentic pursuit of happiness.

I love this country, and it sickens me to see the direction in which it's being dragged. I worry about future opportunities for my sons, and my nieces and nephews. Heck - I'm only 44, and I worry about opportunities for myself too! But at the same time, I need to encourage them (and myself!) to cling to solid things. A rock to hang onto. And that rock is the Church, and that solid sure thing is not a thing after all, but a person. That person is Christ Jesus.

On Saturday, I read at The Anchoress a passage that cut through the fog of political battle like a beam of light from the safe haven of a far off lighthouse. She was recounting something one of her friends had told her, and it brought the current blur of bureaucratic bluster into clear focus:

. . .when the Bush-Gore recount battle was going on, I asked my parish priest, a very wise man who loves Christ, how to discern God’s will. I wasn’t asking so much for his opinion on the politics of the day but when I am in one of these political battles and a religious person, can I discern God’s will in the course of trying to decide whether I should write letters, call my Congressperson, or whatever?

His simple answer was “God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved.”

So I try every day now to pray for the salvation of the president, all members of Congress, and the American people. I cast my cares upon the Lord.

We are in a deeper battle here, which you well know . . . I also think in the end this all has to do with the salvation of souls, including the souls of our president and these politicians who deign to rule over the rest of us. I think we who believe must hold fast to Christ, the True Center, and bring as many along with us as possible.

We are in a deeper battle, that is true. The quest for power over power within the halls of government represents a failure, in my opinion, of some of our elected class to Do What Jesus Did, when Lucifer tempted him with all the kingdoms of the world: "All these can be yours..." While I'm not implying that any of them have knelt before the Lord of Darkness, we have to remember that Satan is king of the world, at least for a little while. Whatever power he has, it's permitted by Almighty God. But we must never forget: the power He has given us far surpasses any power Satan believes he wields.

What has God given us? The power of faith. His promises that comprise our hope. The transforming strength of His love.

So while the current battle over health care rages around us, and while it's certain to rage on for months and years to come....and when other battles flare up which threaten our freedoms and our nation....and when new and sundry crises manifest themselves in ways unpredictable....

....strain forward to what lies ahead. Don't lose sight of the real finish line. Fight the good fight and run the race to the end. Whatever suffering that results does not have to be for naught. God did not make us for this world, and America is not His chosen people. Yes, our country has stood as a destination for freedom and liberty, and has long been perceived as 'a city on a hill'. But first and foremost: we are His sons and daughters, and we are trapped behind enemy lines, where the only escape might be at the cost of our own lives...and livelihoods. Saints are forged in the flames of affliction. Perhaps we are being tested, prepared for the opportunity to stand along side our persecuted Christian brethren from centuries past. To be in solidarity with fellow believers in oppressive foreign lands. I'm not a pessimist or defeatist here - but let's be honest. The history of the post-Pentecost world has not always been kind to the faithful Christian.

So what to do?

Pray. Pray for God's will to be done, which is always the salvation of the individual involved. Strain forward to what lies ahead. We may not experience the justice we deserve, we might not see the conversion our prayers seek, but we will have joy, peace and contentment that no amount of oppression and tyranny can ever legislate away.

Five verses later, in that same letter, Paul wrote this: "Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven..."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weekend Witfest

Given all that's going on right now, a little levity and humor is needed.

These were sent to me by a friend - vote for the funniest "Phail" photo in the combox.






Thursday, March 18, 2010

Good Nuns v. Bad Nuns

Yesterday, a coalition of nuns - represented by the LCWR - issued a letter in support of Obamacare, in complete opposition to the U.S. Bishops.

It just so happens that these nuns and religious communities are vehemently opposed to the Vatican's ongoing apostolic visitation, and have been obstinately obstructionist.

Now, just this afternoon, the CMSWR (the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious) issued a statement opposed to Obamacare, in support of the U.S. Bishops.

This group is supportive of the apostolic visitation, and is cooperating.

There's a connection, I think...

Here's the text of the CMSWR statement:

March 18, 2010 - In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United States Bishops in opposition to the Senate's version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection. Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Church's position on critical issues of health care reform.

The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the second conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious in the United States, believes the Bishops' position is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church.

Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation.

Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan, R.S.M.
On behalf of the Membership of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious

Another round to the CMSWR....

s/s Pewsitter for the text.

Dumb Question

I'm sure you've heard the following quotation, or something similar: "The only dumb question is the one that isn't asked."

Not so. There's proof over at US Catholic.

From their "Glad You Asked" department:
Gas-guzzlers aren't generally chic in Catholic circles. These days many of us are wondering whether we can drive one with a clear conscience. But is it a sin?
Here's their answer. I'm not going to publish the response, because it's even dumber than the question.

Well, OK, but just a snippet.

The official teachings of the church don't directly address SUVs. Pope Benedict, who has earned the reputation as the "green pope," called ecological devastation a "moral crisis" in his message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation." But he did not address the driving of gas-guzzlers directly. When the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an updated list of seven mortal sins in 2008, "polluting the environment" was included, but not a direct indictment of SUVs.

We have a language of sin that church leadership has not yet officially applied to the environment, let alone SUVs. But while we don't consider SUVs inherently sinful, the church also doesn't condone gas-guzzlers.

Driving an SUV isn't exactly a sin, but it is not a choice that is encouraged because the amount of fuel these vehicles use and the pollution they emit contributes to the exploitation of the global environment.

Driving an SUV can in fact impede our saying "yes" to God and to the gifts of creation because by doing so, when other options are available, we participate in harming of creation through the insatiable collection and burning of fossil fuels.

Frankly, I don't believe the Church cares one way or another what type of vehicle we drive, as long as a) it was acquired it legally; b) we don't use it to harm others, and c) we don't hang a pair of fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror. Beyond that, who cares?

Driving an SUV can impede our "yes" to God??? Due to the "insatiable collection" of fossil fuels? Didn't God put the fossil fuels there in the first place? Maybe leaving the fossil fuels in the ground does more harm than taking them out. There's no way to prove that, of course, but given that so much of the AGW data was faked and fudged, there's no real proof that SUV's are damaging the environment either. Perhaps the writer is unaware of the damage levied on the environment by the production of nickel batteries used in the electric and hybrid vehicles?

I have a suspicion about this answer, too. Given the liberal nature of the US Catholic magazine, I doubt this was the original answer. I bet the final published response was reworked several times. I bet the original went something like this:

"Not only is it a sin, but it's an unforgivable sin. If you own an SUV, get a gun and shoot it RIGHT NOW!!! So what if you have five kids, and it's the only style of vehicle that will allow you to transport all your family at one time? What were you thinking having so many kids in the first place? Just how selfish are you??

"Your only hope now is to become a vegan, get reusable grocery bags, buy CFL bulbs, completely alter your lifestyle into one of total discomfort and inconvenience, and replace your roof shingles with solar panels. That's what a good, conscientious, spiritual Catholic would do. You really will feel better as a result, and then, and only then, you might make God happy.

"Pope Benedict - some call him the "green pope" - said in his 2010 Day for World Peace address that if you love creation, you will stop buying gas. But more importantly, Al Gore said that we will destroy the planet if we keep driving gas-guzzlers. To me, that's an even more compelling statement. And Al has an Oscar AND a Nobel Peace Prize.

"So yes - driving an SUV is a sin. So is having a big family.

p.s. Using condoms is good for the environment too. Just sayin'"

A dumb question rarely deserves a dumb answer. But a dumb answer always deserves to be ridiculed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Unknown Figures Of Church History #2

***The St. Patrick's Day Edition***

What follows are the only known translated remnants from a heretofore unknown epistle of St Paul.

It's The Letter of Saint Paul to the Leprechauns...

"Paul, an apostle - not from men nor through men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead - and all the brethren who are with me, To the Church of the wee little folk in
Knocknasheega: Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

"I have not come for the golden riches you hoard, nor your magically delicious Lucky Charms. I already possess all the riches a man could desire, for in my poverty out of love for Christ, I have indeed become rich. I come to bear you up in the traditions I have taught you, short though you might be. I come to exhort you to stand tall in the faith, and rise up to the fullness of the truth that you have heard and thus believe....

"...Your fervor for charity must dwarf that of the druids and non-believers....

"...Be not afraid to profess the joy of the faith you have within you. My beloved wee brethren, be steadfast, immovable, the full measure of a true believer, always abounding in the work that Christ has set before you. We live upon this earth but a short time, so I implore you to make the most of what little time you have been allotted...

"...I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have come to the end of the rainbow. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness..."

Unfortunately, the church at Knocknasheega disappeared from was short on members.

And Happy Feast Day of St Patrick!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Six Word Memoirs

Nicked this from the Crescat....

Six Word Memoirs: the idea is to write your memoir in only six words. Kinda self-explanatory. Leave 'em in the combox.

Here's mine -"I need much more grace, Lord."


"I have more than enough humility." (hah!)


"Really really really slow blogging day."

(This is what I left at Kat's blog - "I am bad at Math.")

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Baby Raffle

Just when you think human behavior can't sink any lower in the swamp of depravity, a story comes along that reaches new depths...

From the Daily Mail Online: Human Egg to be Raffled in IVF Promotion by David Derbyshire

Fertility doctors offering a human egg as first prize in a raffle were last night accused of commercialising the miracle of life.

One woman will win the chance to select their ideal donor egg based on its mother's profession, ethnic background, hair colour, qualifications and upbringing.

As part of the free IVF cycle and egg prize - worth an estimated £13,000 - the winner of a raffle in London will also be able to view childhood pictures of potential donors before choosing one.

The treatment will take place in America to get around British fertility laws.

Critics have condemned the contest, intended to promote an international IVF scheme, as a 'deplorable' commercial venture.

After the lottery was revealed on Mothering Sunday, Josephine Quintavalle, of think tank Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: 'The capacity of the IVF industry to commodify human life reaches a new low with this latest deplorable initiative.

'Imagine a child one day finding out that he or she came into being thanks to such a blatantly commercial initiative.'

Organisers hope the event on Wednesday will promote a programme run by the Genetics & IVF Institute in Virginia and the London Bridge Centre over here.

Under a deal struck between the two clinics last year, infertile British women can be directed to the U.S. clinic where donated eggs are on offer from American university- educated women or students aged 19 to 32.

Unlike in Britain, where donors are paid no more than £250 in expenses, the American donors can get up to £6,600 a time.


Defending the raffle, he added: 'This is how Americans do it - in order to attract people to seminars they offer one free treatment for people to come.'

'I don't see why it should go down badly at all. People should welcome the idea of having access to a high quality service.'

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said the raffle, and the tie-up with the U.S. clinic, was 'perfectly legal'. A spokesman said: 'It is bypassing the rules because people can be paid for egg donation in America and eggs are often donated anonymously.'

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Is The Church A "Listening Church"?

I came across this statement at a progressive Catholic blog Sunday evening:

"Vatican II famously promised to be a listening church, and proclaimed the importance of paying heed to the voice of the faithful – the sensus fidelii- but failed to create any structures for that voice to be heard. Instead, that was a task left for the church to complete afterwards. Nothing has been done. What the Vatican bureaucracy has failed to do, we must find ways to do ourselves."

"Listening church" is new to me, but even though I'm unfamiliar with the description, there's something Inigo Montoya-ish about it - I do not think it means what they think it means. Especially when "church" is spelled with a "c", rather than a "C".

And the misdirection comes from an intentional misuse of sensus fidelium - the sense (or voice) of the faithful. If they're not faithful to Church teaching, then what we're dealing with is sensus haereticum - the sense of the heretics. The Catechism does talk of sensus fidei (sense of the faith) in paragraph 904 and following - in the context of participating in Christ's prophetic office. By virtue of baptism, the laity is called to preach and teach within the bounds of our vocations. We have an obligation to profess the truth at all times - even to our priests and bishops when necessary - but it does not mean, IMO, that we can ever deny objective truths, or demand that matters of faith and morals be changed to accommodate our personal tastes and failings.

I believe this gained momentum after the publication of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae. There was direct opposition to the encyclical, spearheaded by priests and bishops, who misled Catholics into believing they could, in "good" faith and with unsullied conscience, disobey the Church on the issue of artificial contraception. Whether this sprung from an incorrect idea of what the Second Vatican Council was all about, or an outgrowth of the spirit of the age in America, I can't really say. Regardless of the reason, a majority of Catholics have since ignored the encyclical, and it has been argued by numerous theologians and supported by countless priests that since the sensus fidelium is opposed to the teaching, then the teaching is flawed and obedience is not required.

Not so - and the evidence is all about us. The failure to follow the encyclical has resulted in a near collapse of Western civilization: the callous disregard for the respect for life, expressed in such diverse and diabolical ways like abortion, ESCR, in-vitro fertilization, and euthanasia; the weakening of families through the dissolution of marriage; the abuse of children; the destructive forces of feminism; the rabid push for so-called same sex marriage; the ill-begotten desire of some for women priests. The effects have contributed mightily to the division and strife in the Church and in the world, and have reached deep into the very life of the Church herself. If the sensus fidelium were true, then such terrible consequences would never have occurred.

Despite this headlong dash towards the cliffs of oblivion, the heretics and progressives have the temerity to accuse the Catholic Church of not being a "listening Church". Well, the Church does listen - She just doesn't pay the sensus haereticum any heed, once She has heard what they have to say, except rather to correct them and chastise them if necessary. No, the Church does indeed listen, and then judges on what She has heard. And at every turn, the progressives wail and moan that the Church doesn't listen - but what they're really saying is that the Church won't do what they want Her to do. All the while, the Church recognizes the damage and destruction such people are heading towards, and out of charity and correction, seeks to dissuade them from their tragic trajectories.

The Catholic Church is not a listening church, in the sense these people desire Her to be. The Church is primarily a teaching Church - even though there are many who reject the teachings. Christ commanded the apostles to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." (Mt 28:19-20). Christ was given the authority to do this by God, and he passed that authority on to the apostles - and after Pentecost, they embarked on fulfilling that command, when 3,000 Jews became Christians upon hearing Peter's message. To this day, She continues to teach, because Her other mission is to save souls.

The Church listens to the Holy Spirit, first and foremost. She listens to Jesus Christ, Her bridegroom. She is not required to listen to Her children, and yet She does and has done so - throughout history, men and women have contributed to the development of Church doctrine, and helped to usher in renewal and reform - but always guided by the Holy Spirit. And always within the confines of revealed Truth.

And thus the error of the progressives - they believe they have discovered a more enlightened truth, one that transcends "Middle-Age philosophies and moral standards". They proclaim that their goal is to bring the Church into the modern age, but in reality, they'd be hurling it back into the Dark Ages. Ordaining women priests does not encourage enlightenment - it would only bring about confusion. Permitting artificial contraception does not bring freedom and life - it would only ignore the slavery and death wrought upon our world. Redefining homosexuality and marriage would not bring equality - it would only bring about oppression.

To strip away the fortifications of truth would leave the soul undefended against the lies of the world. The Church has listened to the world, and has stood firm against its fictions. The Church is built upon solid ground, a refuge for those seeking permanence and protection. And those of us who, by God's grace, comprise the sensus fidelium, are assured this protection by the promises of Christ. The sensus haereticum are assured of it as well...if they would but listen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Strange Creatures Of Our World

Welcome to the newest feature at AoftheA, "Strange Creatures Of Our World". I've expanded the scope of AoftheA - I will now from time to time post on some of the wonders of creation. This is an important undertaking, because since anthropogenic global warming is so out of control, hundreds and hundreds of species are being destroyed each day. So, in my own small way, I'm preserving the memory of strange and wondrous beasts, before they disappear from the face of the Earth. Forever.

Today, we'll be looking at bats. DISCLAIMER: If you are squeamish and are afraid of bats, you may want to scroll quickly through this post. There are several photos of bats farther down.

Bats are among the most diverse mammal groups, with around 1000 species worldwide. Yet evolutionists don't have a clue how they could have evolved.

The earliest fossil bats, which evolutionists date at more than 50 million years, are clearly identifiable as bats, with no hint that they have evolved from anything that was not a bat.

Look at just a few of the wonderful features that make up a bat:

  • Most have an amazing echolation (sic) ability to find prey — making it difficult to find a non-bat ancestor that could have produced this ability along with other bat features.
  • They are the only mammals that truly fly — making it difficult to find a non-bat ancestor that could have passed on this ability.
  • They hang upside down — making it difficult to find a non-bat ancestor that did this, let alone produce all the other features that make up a bat.
  • Bats' wings are highly articulated, with more than two dozen independent joints and a thin flexible membrane covering them. The assumption that the bats' unique way of flying came from a gliding squirrel-like animal is now rightly questioned by evolutionists themselves.
(Info from Crystal Clear Creation.)

Here are some pictures of several species of bats:

Indian Fox Bat

Fruit Bat

Lesser Long-nosed Bat

Vampire Bat

Moon Bats

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Vatican II Did Not Create A New Church"

Saw this at Catholic Culture: "Vatican II Did Not Create A New Church, Pope Reminds Audience" (my comments in blue)

At his public audience on March 10, Pope Benedict XVI argued that the Church remains the same throughout history. While new movements and reforms frequently arise, he said, they are born out of the heart of the same Church. "The uniqueness of Christ is also a guarantee of novelty and renewal in the future," he said.

The Pope's address to the weekly audience continued the reflections on St. Bonaventure that he had begun the previous Wednesday. In this second talk, the Holy Father concentrated on St. Bonaventure's response to Joachim of Fiore and the "spiritual" Franciscans, who had taught that a new phase of history was beginning, in which the Church hierarchy would disappear and the enlightened faithful would be guided only by the Holy Spirit. (sound familiar?)

St. Bonaventure opposed that error, the Pope observed, and in rebutting it he upheld the true teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. The faithful should not follow radical new teachings, but should recognize that "there is no other Gospel, no other Church to be awaited." The Franciscans, St. Bonaventure insisted, should work within the structure of the hierarchical Church.

Genuine reform always follows the same pattern, working with the Church rather than seeking to replace it, the Pope said. But he pointed out that the temptation to conceive an entirely new institution endures today. Pope Benedict said:

Following Vatican Council II some people were convinced that all was new, that a new Church existed, that the pre-conciliar Church had come to an end and that there would be another, completely different Church, an anarchic utopia.
I love that - "anarchic utopia". What a great phrase!

So the Holy Father is reminding us that the moonbattery on display out and about in the present-day Church is nothing new - that there are no new heresies, just old ones with different names. The "spiritual" Franciscans of centuries past are today's proponents for the American Catholic Council.

I guess that means the folks in the photo below are members of a 'different' Church, and will never succeed in creating a 'new' Catholic Church. Thanks be to God!

This was taken after the fauxrdination of BishopHigh-Priestess Olivia Doko, which occurred last month in Sacramento. I found the story at the blog The Open Tabernacle, which is best described as a Moonbat Cave - a collaborative blog of numerous progressive 'Catholics'.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

AofhteA - The Spanish Edition

I thought this was cool - a Spanish Catholic blog linked to my "Progressive Bible Quotes #8" post and translated the "Eco-spiritual Beatitudes". I've had posts translated into British, Canadian, Australian before, and now Spanish!

Bienaventurados los “espirituales", porque de ellos es el Reino de Una-nueva-forma-de-ser-Iglesia.

Bienaventurados los políticamente correctos, porque les nombrarán para cargos públicos.

Bienaventurados los que reciclan, porque se sentirán satisfechos de sí mismos.

Bienaventurados los que tienen hambre y sed de productos alimentarios orgánicos, sin conservantes y vegetarianos, porque serán saciados, aunque sólo durante aproximadamente una hora.

Bienaventurados los sostenibles, porque les enseñarán centrales eólicas.

Bienaventurados los que no perjudican la capa de ozono, porque ellos verán a Gore.

Bienaventurados los que trabajan por Justicia y Paz, porque ellos recibirán un puesto en la Conferencia Episcopal.

Bienaventurados los que sufren persecución a manos de la jerarquía de la Iglesia institucional, porque de ellos es el Reino del Victimismo.

Bienaventurados seréis cuando os insulten, os persigan y digan toda clase de mal contra vosotros, falsamente, por mi causa. Alegraos y regocijaos, porque vuestra recompensa será grande en vuestro grupito disidente. Porque así persiguieron a los fieles disidentes anteriores a vosotros.

I copied and pasted some of the comments into a Spanish-to-English translator. Apparently they have their fair share of progressive trolls, too. Here are a couple comments from one of them.

"Ay de vosotros, que juzgáis y condenáis las transgresiones a una moral objetiva, a vosotros os corresponden los peores castigos"

(Translated via FreeTranslation) 'Oh of you, that you judge and condemn the infringements to an objective morale, to you the worst punishments correspond you' [the translator is quite the butcher]

"Ay de vosotros, misóginos fundamentalistas que no quieren reconocer a la mujer su rol decisivo y sacerdotal en la Iglesia, y encima pretenden declarar a María Corredentora del Género Humano"

'Oh of you, fundamentalist misogynists that do not want to recognize the woman their priestly and decisive role in the Church, and on top they intend to declare to María Corredentora (Co-redemptrix) of the Human Kind'

I think this commenter subscribes to Periodista Católico Nacional. He certainly has their talking points.

Mucho gracias to Bruno Moreno Ramos at Infocatolica.

Sweet, Sweet Irony

Last month, I posted about a bill in the Virginia legislature that would permit the sale of "Respect Women, Respect Choice" license plates, a move pushed by Planned Parenthood. A delegate proposed an amendment that would shift all proceeds from sales of the plates to a pregnant woman's support group, rather than back to PP. The amendment was approved, and the bill ended up getting passed by the House before moving onto the Senate.

Well, in a rather ironic twist, the Virginia Senate "accidentally killed the bill". So I guess the question is, did PP's "baby" get aborted? has the story: Virginia Senate Committee Accidentally Kills Planned Parenthood License Plate Bill

Richmond, VA ( -- In the world of state legislative politics, pro-life advocates know to expect the unexpected -- and they got just that in the Virginia legislature. A Senate committee wound up voting down a bill that would establish a license plate for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Last Thursday, members of the Democrat-controlled Senate Transportation Committee considered HB 1108 establishing the license plate with the Trust Women, Respect Choice" slogan.

In the House, lawmakers approved the bill but not before stripping funding from the plates and sending the sales proceeds to a state program providing pregnant women with legitimate help and support.

As Family Foundation president Victoria Cobb tells, the Senate finished its floor business Thursday earlier than the House and committee chair Yvonne Miller went ahead with the hearing on the bill even though its sponsor, Delegate Robert Brink, wasn't in attendance. Also, senators Edd Houck and Harry Blevins were absent.

"A motion was made to amend the bill to redirect sale proceeds back to Planned Parenthood. The vote was close, 7-6, in favor of the amendment," Cobb recalled.

Senator Phil Puckett, a pro-life Democrat, voted with all but one of the Republicans against the amendment. However, Senator John Watkins voted with the Democrats to send the plate money to Planned Parenthood.

"His vote apparently gave Senator Miller a false sense of security. Thinking she had the votes, she proceeded with a vote to pass the amended bill — but Senator Watkins then voted with Senator Puckett and the Republican senators against the bill and the bill failed, 7-6," Cobb said.

"We can imagine the 'Oops' Senator Miller had to say to Delegate Brink as well as the crying coming from Planned Parenthood! However, there's another Planned Parenthood plate bill alive, as part of an omnibus special license plate package in the Senate," Cobb said.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So after the bill is amended to allow proceeds to go back to PP, the bill gets shot down in committee!!

Granted, the battle over the PP license plate isn't over, but this victory makes you want to give a fist pump. Immature? Ahh, so what. Enjoy the sweet irony.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Haiku: The Racquetball

A most fitting end,
Oh, green spherical traitor.
You made me lose. Twice.

Progressive Bible Quotes #8

Matthew 5: 1-12 (2010 McBrien-Kmiec Edition)

1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him.

2And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying:

3Blessed are the 'spiritual': for theirs is the kin-dom of a new way of being Church.

4Blessed are the politically correct: for they shall possess elected office.

5Blessed are they that recycle: for they shall feel good about themselves.

6Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after organically grown non-processed vegan food products: for they shall have their fill, but for only an hour or so.

7Blessed are the sustainable: for they shall be shown wind farms.

8Blessed are the carbon-neutral: for they shall see Gore.

9Blessed are the justice-and-peacemakers: for they shall get jobs at the USCCB.

10Blessed are they that suffer persecution at the hands of the institutional church hierarchy: for theirs is the kin-dom of victimhood.

11Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake:

12Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in Call-to-Action. For so they persecuted the faithful dissenters that were before you.

It never fails to amaze and amuse me the measures people take to prove their spirituality while insisting they want nothing to do with 'organized' religion. I'm tempted to ask - "What? You'd rather have disorganized religion?" Instead, I hold my tongue and listen as they go on about how much closer they've come to God since leaving the Church. Well, the reason for that is because God is still calling them, and He will use any means possible to inspire them to return. The problem is, they want to deal with God on their own terms, rather than on His. So despite their feelings of closeness, they're really telling God "Whoa! Close enough, dude!" Kind of like a restraining order - they know He's there, but they want Him to stay 50 yards away at all times.

Or, perhaps what they mean is that they've come closer to being their own God since leaving the Church, because they've decided for themselves what's moral, virtuous, good and heavenly. And the sad thing is, the stuff they pick is such a pale and weightless alternative to the full and total package that God offers.

Either way, the "being spiritual without being religious" tag sounds nice and all, but at the end of the day, it doesn't mean a darn thing. It's Mad-Lib Theology - a fill in the blank, do-it-yourself, it-makes-me-feel-good-therefore-it-makes-me-good, liberal-theme-of-the-day belief system. And it shows itself in a myriad of ways.

For example, here's an op-ed at the NCR Today blog, titled Spiritual, But Not Religious

There are probably hundreds and hundreds of thousands around the country now who make some deliberate effort to live simply.

-- Myra and John live in the suburbs of Chicago and keep plastic bins in their garage for recyclables. They spend a few minutes each day sorting and separating, then an hour a month taking the bins to drop-off centers. Both also choose to ride public transportation to their jobs weekdays rather than driving. When they recently bought a new car, they opted for a hybrid. The whole family chooses to eat a bit lower on the food chain than is widely done, limiting their meat consumption. They also limit the amount of time they watch tv, choosing to read to and talk with their children most evenings.

-- In rural New Mexico, Cyril and Ed card the wool and spin yarn from a dozen sheep they raise in their four-acre back yard. They also keep goats for milk and make their own cheese when they have time. Both are self-employed computer programmers and work as consultants out of their home, a sprawling adobe structure they built themselves. When they must travel to faraway cities on business, they take the train.

The author provides several more examples of 'people' (who can tell if they're real or just fictional?) down-sizing their lives and changing their habits. The vignettes provide little indication of any deep level of spirituality going on. These are snapshots into people's lifestyle choices, yet they're presented as examples of diverse yet equal styles of spiritual living. These examples are rather tame. I know people who prattle on that God demands eco-justice, or gender neutrality, or any other form of heresy de jeur. And if the Church disagrees, then the Church is oppressive and no longer following the Gospel yada yada yada. Read any progressive Catholic blog or publication, and there is no compromising with them.

Don't get me wrong. It's certainly commendable to live within one's means, and to practice temperance in everyday living. The only problem I have is that none of the entries make explicit mention of Christ.

Which is not a big deal if a person is Buddhist or Hindu - but...this is an article written in a Catholic publication. Can a Catholic be spiritual without Christ? Would such a person rightly be called a Catholic?

If a Catholic's priority list does not have Christ at the top, then all the good they do is for naught. And if Christ is at the top of the list, then the Church has to be there as well. There is no separating the two. The charitable actions become empty and lifeless, because Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, isn't the focus. And without recourse to the Sacraments - the means of supernatural grace - then only natural means are being relied on, and that is unsustainable.

Instead, the focus primarily becomes themselves - 'doing such and such makes me happy' - then others - giving back to the community, helping others who are unable to help themselves, etc. The underlying basis is 'feeling good about myself'. Add to the mix this prevalent attitude of "saving the planet" - among a large number of Catholics even - well, that's just ridiculous. No merit there whatsoever, if the priorities are backwards. If Christ and his Church aren't at the top of the list.

Here's the article's conclusion:

Whatever the reasons for practicing simple living, the daily choices, prioritizing, and wider decisions that must be made – the conscious “life-style” involved – embody, I believe, a practical description of some spiritual condition. The consciously simple lifestyle is an outward reflection of some developed and developing inner reality.

Quite often, it’s what is meant by the clichéd declaration: “I’m spiritual but not religious.”

Christ was spiritual AND religious - he was about being and doing. Christ was an observant Jew, participating in the feasts and holy days. And he started a Church - which is a rather religious thing to do.

A person claiming to be spiritual but not religious is not following Christ. They've fallen for the allures of the world, the flesh and the devil. And Satan was the original "spiritual but not religious" guy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Subtle Slide Into Spiritual Pride

"Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor 10:12) RSVCE

St. Paul's admonition in Sunday's second reading packs a wallop. It's a reminder to me that any progress made in the spiritual life is a work of God, and to Him goes all the glory. The moment I take any credit - wham!! Return to "Go", do not collect $200. Actually, it'd be more like "Return to God", do penance.

Another form of spiritual pride is believing one is better than someone else - remember the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, where Jesus described the actions of the two men while praying in the temple? The temptation to elevate one's self is alluring, because it provides a sense of assurance that our path is the narrow one, all the while giving superficial credit to God. It is also very easy to fall into this trap, sometimes without even realizing it. The idiom "Pride goeth before fall" is so true, and the fall can be subtle. Landing face first in humiliation, however - that part isn't so subtle.

To me, the proper attitude ought to be giving thanks to God for the gift of faith, and a sincere admission of my shortcomings and daily failures to utilize all the grace God continually showers upon me. It's not so much a "there but for the grace of God go I" approach - although that comprises a portion of the mentality - but more "the good I do is of God and His grace, and all else is a reflection of my sinfulness". God is not concerned with how I compare myself to others - He cares with how I stack up against myself, from one moment to the next. God does not rank us like college basketball teams. Each one of us is #1 in His poll - the question is, is He #1 in ours? And if I'm swelled with spiritual pride, then it's not God who's in the top spot, but me.

St. Paul recognized the danger of spiritual pride - it is so so easy to stray from the narrow path. The example of the Hebrew nation wandering in the desert - he said they were a warning for his generation - and for ours as well. Fortunately for us, we also have the heroic examples of the saints - their humility, their demonstrations of charity, their lives of virtue, their obedience to the Church. They were humble because they recognized the truth - that without God, they were nothing. But with God, they could do everything. A metaphysical paradox - by emptying themselves of "themself", they created room for God. Spiritual pride crowds God out, and then we become nothing once more.

The name-calling in the Church reflects spiritual pride, to a degree. Progressive Catholics, Fundie Catholics, Rad Trads, and so on. I'm guilty of it from time to time - although in the case of many well-known progressive Catholics (like McBrien, Chittister, et al), I call them as such because that is how they identify themselves, and that is truly what they are - they wear the badge with a sense of ironic honor. Organizations like Call-to-Action, Catholics for Choice and the like describe themselves as progressive, so calling them as such is not an insult. But that term - and the others I've mentioned - are often hurled as pejoratives designed to stifle meaningful conversation between individuals, or when a person perceives their viewpoint or position as being threatened. You see this a lot in comments section of articles and blog posts. Yes, that's right! Spiritual pride can even rear its ugly head in a blog of all places! Whouda thunk it?!?

If an ordinary everyday Catholic individual is wrong about a position on Church teaching, then it's best to just call them out for being wrong (and to give the benefit of the doubt that perhaps their error lies in ignorance of Church teaching, until thoroughly demonstrated otherwise) rather than label them a progressive, or a Modernist, or what have you. The same goes in the other direction, too - calling Catholics zealots, righteous nuts, holier-than-the-pope types and so on. It's been known to happen - even to me!

It's not prideful to defend Church teaching - in fact that's a humble thing to do, because more often than not, the defender gets attacked. But said defense becomes a matter of spiritual pride when the teachings of the Church are used as a measuring stick, or as a phylactery enhancer.

I bring all this up, because it happened to me last week - in dishing it out and getting it back. A coworker (a Catholic, which is important to the story here) and I got into an argument over a customer-related issue. He forwarded an email to me that he had sent to the owner of a packaging distribution company we both represent - we're employed by the same company, but our employer has allowed the sales staff to also represent a packaging distribution company that does non-competitive business. Anyway...

Here's my coworker's email, forwarded to me without any explanation:

X (pkg distribution company owner),

Something was just brought to my attention. A pallet of stretch wrap was delivered by [X's company} to a company, the name of which, I will keep silent on. [...] I remember a while back that we had a similar problem with [another customer] relative to the same situation.

X, I hope that this was a mistake. Further, I hope that it is not still happening with [another customer]. If it is, please take me off this account. I am very honest and ethical and this type of stuff bothers me greatly.

Here was my response:

Why are you telling me this? This is none of my business.

To which he responded:

You never cease to amaze me. What do you mean it's none of your business. You're a sales rep. for this guy and you are suppose to be Christian! Obviously, this guy is cheating his customers. In other words, he is stealing. If you are one of his sales reps. you should know this so that you are on guard for your customers. Do you sell any stretch wrap by the pallet from him? If you do, you have a moral obligation to verify that he is not cheating your customers. If you look the other way or remain silent and he is cheating your customers, you are equally guilty. Don't put your pocket book in front of morality.

This may sound uncharitable, but knowing you these past years and your lukewarmness or neutral stance to many things - I kind of expected that you would respond this way.

My initial reaction was one of shock - so I responded back:

You're asking me to pass judgment on X on the sole basis of your email, which you sent to me without any forward or intro, like "FYI Larry - I'm having some trouble at an account regarding stretchwrap and you may want to check out any customers that are buying it." That would have been better than just forwarding me the email you sent to X (which I doubt he's aware could be argued you are close to crossing the line of detraction CCC 2477). Instead, you expect me to jump on the bandwagon and accuse X of willfully cheating and stealing...without hearing his defense or side of the story. It is not obvious that X is cheating your customer. That's a form of rash judgment, and I'm not going to go there. I'm more inclined to believe the manufacturer is the guilty party here, and I'm even willing to give the benefit of the doubt (which is the Christian attitude, by the way CCC2478) that this is an honest mistake. The best thing for you to do is to get all the facts and work it out with X, and get it resolved with your customer. Which is why it's none of my business.

I've been selling for X for 6-7 years, and I've never had an issue with material with any of my customers. I used to sell pallet loads of machine stretchwrap to [my customer] for years, and there was never an issue. I see no conflict in selling for X and still being Christian. Now, if he's involved in illegal and unethical practices, then I'd be forced to stop selling for him. But there's no evidence of that.

I know my moral obligations, thank you very much. You're not in a position to lecture me.

This may sound uncharitable, but knowing you these past years and your lukewarmness or neutral stance to many things - I kind of expected that you would respond this way.

That sounds uncharitable because it is. You seem upset that I'm not automatically taking your side. Because you are upset, you attack my character, and to me, that's uncharitable. My response in this instance is neutral because I don't have all the facts in order to make a qualified informed decision. You interpret my stances "to many other things" as lukewarm or neutral because I prefer to keep them private, which has nothing to do with this circumstance anyway. Unless you are an interpreter of souls, I don't believe you are qualified to remove any specks from my eye.

In reading my response, I noticed a couple places where I displayed spiritual pride in varying degrees - citing the Catechism, telling him he's not in a position to lecture (when I did that very thing to him), and the last sentence was unnecessary. I can see how those parts of my email appear that I'm getting defensive. Which I wasn't, but I recognize how that interpretation could be made. At the time, I looked at this response as merely an attempt to look at the situation logically and rationally. I didn't see the basis of my coworker's assertion that X was "obviously cheating", because I didn't have all the facts.

If I had this to do all over again, I would've written a much shorter email and ignored my co-worker's personal comments.

My coworker did respond to me, and I didn't save the email. But there were two parts that I recall. Below is how he started his email:

HEAR NO EVIL! SEE NO EVIL! SPEAK NO EVIL! That's you, Larry. And since you quoted the "new" catechism, let me quote the Bible. "Let your 'yes' mean 'yes' and your 'no' mean 'no', and all else is from the devil."

Then, later in the email, he wrote:

I'm not upset because you don't agree with me. There are a lot of things you don't agree with me on. For instance, you are a liberal Modernist (a sin) Catholic, while I am a traditional faithful Catholic. Does that make me mad? No, not really.

At that point in the email, I realized we were no longer discussing the issue of the packaging distribution company's owner and his alleged 'cheating', but rather the level of my Catholicity. The 'measuring stick' approach I mentioned earlier. Although I did laugh at his declaration that I am a liberal Catholic. I've been called many things, but never that!

And I haven't regaled you all with this story to cast a poor light on my co-worker. After all, everyone is on a spiritual journey, and not everyone is in the same place on the path. I've used this story as a means for reflection on my own actions, a lesson from which I hope to learn how to act with true charity.

He concluded by saying he wasn't going to discuss this any further, and that he will pray for me. I responded back thanking him for his prayers, and that I'll pray for him too - I mean that sincerely. And I know he's praying for me too. Which I appreciate - I need all the help I can get!

I've learned one thing (at least!) from this tete-a-tete: I need to examine my faith life much more closely, and pray on certain aspects of it. Such as, what are the blind spots in my faith life? Where am I exhibiting spiritual pride? Am I taking any credit for progress made in my spiritual journey, credit that is rightfully due to God?

In any circumstance, it's possible to recognize where and how God is calling us to a deeper love for Him and a greater reliance on His grace. For me, it was being called something I'm not - a liberal Modernist Catholic. Something in my words or actions have led him to believe I match that description. Perhaps it was a reminder that, as St Paul says, I ought to take heed lest I fall. Not a bad thing to reflect on during Lent.