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Today Is The Day
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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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

America: Church Needs Laity Near The Top

Those poor editors at America Magazine. They haven't recovered from Reese's resignation back in 2005.

Laity Near The Top? [my comments]
While the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI has certainly enjoyed major successes, like the pope’s visit last fall to England to beatify Cardinal Newman, the crises that have led to empty pews in the Catholic parishes of England, Europe and the United States persist. [they obviously don't consider the motu proprio, Summorrum Pontificum or the Anglican Ordinariate as successes. Many in the laity would disagree.]

The fundamental criticism of the institutional church is that its clerical, all-male establishment has not made room for other voices. [What they mean is, they haven't made room for their voices. Big difference.] There is no need to list the number of recent policy decisions, from Rome to home, which would have been more prudent if only a variety of laypersons had been consulted. [A list would be handy - the absence of one is conspicuous. And I think they presume too much - just because they or their heroes weren't consulted, doesn't mean some laity were not. That's just a hunch, but America's opinion is just a hunch as well.]

Jesus told his disciples that they were servants, that they were to feed the hungry and share their wealth with the poor and that they should demonstrate their love for one another by offering their lives in service. [That goes for the laity as well, y'know.] Some in church leadership have done the opposite, creating a culture of clericalism that too often values loyalty over accountability. [That happens in liberal Catholic publications, too] In these circumstances, a project of reform is essential to rejuvenate church leadership and give greater voice to the whole church. As Pope John Paul II wrote in “Novo Millennio Ineunte,” quoting St. Paulinus of Nola: “Let us listen to what all the faithful say, because in every one of them the Spirit of God breathes” (No. 45).

How to begin? No one should anticipate changes in the existing discipline on celibacy or in the teaching on women’s ordination [remember this for later], but there are other ways to reform church structures to allow women and married men to participate in church governance. [The early Church established the hierarchy of Bishop, Priest and Deacon. We aren't all meant to be leaders.] One proposal is simply to change canon law to admit laypeople to the College of Cardinals. The church could thereby continue its all-male priesthood, yet transform the “men’s club” into a church with a face that more resembles the people of God described in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. [Ah, the requisite appeal to the Second Vatican Council documents without citations. I'm surprised they waited until the fourth paragraph to mention it.]

A more realistic proposal, however, would entail two steps: First, reorganize diocesan offices so that laypeople constitute at least half of the bishop’s principal advisers. (Increasing numbers of laity have already been hired as staff in many U.S. dioceses.) Second, create a new body, an international council of laypersons to share functions with the College of Cardinals. [And who picks the council members? Editors of Catholic publications? Universities? Dioceses? Draw names from a really big hat? I suspect America's editors has a list in a desk drawer somewhere, and it doesn't include the likes of Karl Keating, Edward Peters (who does consult the Vatican, btw), myself, or any regular person in the pew.] After attrition among the cardinals, each of the two bodies eventually could have 100 members. The lay members would be Catholics who love the church and are recognized for sound Christian judgment. ["Sound Christian judgment" is a fungible phrase. Note they did not say "faithful to Church teaching". That's because, for example, they recognize the 90-95% of adult US Catholics who use artificial contraception as having "sound Christian judgment".] They would come from a variety of occupations—education, health, religious life, law, the arts, business, science, government and labor. [Don't priests and bishops come from a variety of backgrounds as well? Certainly not as extensive, but they certainly don't exist in a vacuum. And they all came from families, didn't they?] Church leadership would not be limited to elderly men but would be expanded to include men and women, married and unmarried, of different ages. Wisdom, after all, can be found from a multitude of sources, something that St. Benedict acknowledged when he urged an abbot at a monastery to solicit the opinion of even the youngest member of the community: “By the Lord’s inspiration, it is often a younger person who knows what is best.” [Yes, wisdom can be found from a multitude of sources... except from the hierarchy. That's what they're implying here - the Holy Spirit isn't as prevalent in Rome because the hierarchy isn't expanded. Right.]

Some members of the council would direct Vatican offices [are they serious??]; others would come to Rome for regular consultation. Membership could be proportionate to the Catholic populations throughout the world, chosen for a specified term on the recommendation of grass-roots representative caucuses of clergy and laity. The combined college and council would share three functions: administer the Vatican offices, advise the pope and select his successor. [or they can all meet in Detroit this June, call it the American Catholic Council and dream a new Church into being. Oh wait - they're already planning that.]

These laypeople would offer much-needed perspective on the impact of the teachings and practices of the church, including such divisive subjects [only to those who don't like them] as contraception [settled teaching], the role of women in the church [three paragraphs earlier, they said no one should anticipate changes to this; 'role of women' = women's ordination], the treatment of homosexuals [they're called to live lives of holiness just as heterosexuals are...unless they're talking about same-sex 'marriage'] and the failure of authorities to respond quickly and forcefully to the scandal of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. They would understand other pastoral failings, like the denial of the Eucharist to public persons because of their political positions [I agree - the failing is that it's not applied consistently enough, to the confusion of many], a too modest peace and justice agenda, lackluster liturgies [they want more puppets and more dancing?] with unprepared sermons and insensitive celebrants [in other words, there are priests preaching Catholic truths, and that's unacceptable. Forget the fact that the liturgy exists to bring Christ to us in the Eucharist - entertaining the people is most important!].

One may object that this initiative is a “pie in the sky” idea that the clerical establishment would never accept. [I object to it, not because it's 'pie in the sky' - I object because it's stupid.] Perhaps. Yet the implementation of specific alternatives like a lay council need not threaten the current leadership. [Reminds me of President Reagan's quip, paraphrased slightly. "I'm from the laity, and I'm here to help."] For the authority of the church “is exercised in the service of truth and charity” (“Ut Unum Sint,” No. 3). Nor would a council undermine the pope’s authority. As Pope John Paul II wrote of the papacy: “The authority proper to this ministry is completely at the service of God’s merciful plan and it must always be seen in this perspective” (No. 92). Discerning that plan is a task that Catholics should take on together.

Following Pope John Paul’s example, we encourage our readers, clergy and lay, to evaluate this proposal and suggest other reforms that would achieve the same goals. The church has survived these 2,000 years because at key moments it chose the path of renewal. It may be that another such moment has arrived.
OK - I've evaluated the proposal, and here are my thoughts: this is ridiculous and shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone who loves the Church. This proposal has only one goal in mind: infiltrate the decision-making process in the Church with heterodox Catholycs admired by the folks who write at America, and affect the sorts of changes they've been hankering for. They see the writing on the wall - their crowd is dying off, whatever influence they had in the Vatican is slowly waning, and the opportunities to foist more of their cr*p on the entire Church are quickly dwindling. They don't care about pastoral issues - they care about power and the perception of being important.

I have a proposal of my own - let Pope Benedict, who was chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead our Church, finish repairing all the screw-ups made by the "Spirit of Vatican II" crowd - along with our conscious support and encouragement. By the time that's completed, we may find that the renewal will have taken place without any of this extra-canonical silliness.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Response To The RCWP's Renunciation Response

An alert AoftheA reader directed me to the RCWP's response to Norma Jean Coon's "Renunciation of Ordination to Diaconate" (reported here). The response is posted at Bishopette Bridget Mary's blog:

"Obeying God Trumps Obeying Pope": Response of Association of Roman Catholic Women Wanna-be Priests to Norma Jean Coon's "Repudiation"
We understand the decision made in conscience by Norma Jean Coon, now a former RCWP deacon (California Catholic Daily, February 24, 2011). She has every right to change her mind and has an obligation to follow her conscience. We remain ordained Roman Catholic Women Priests who continue to follow our informed consciences and, simply put, obeying God trumps obeying the Pope.

It is the firm conviction of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests that women who are ordained into a renewed priestly ministry are following primacy of conscience. According to official church teaching, "the final authority in any moral decision-making must always be one's conscience, even if said decision is contrary to church teaching. As the church teaches, "the gospel has a sacred reverence for the dignity of conscience and its freedom of choice" (GS, 41) and "in all activity [one] is bound to follow [one's] conscience faithfully." (See: Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes (GS) 16, 41.

Roman Catholic Women Priests follow Jesus who treated women and men as equals and partners in contradiction to the religious establishment of his times. Scholars have found evidence of women deacons and priests in the early centuries of the church’s history. (See Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination) We stand in the prophetic tradition of holy obedience to the Spirit’s call to a renewed priestly ministry in a community of equals. We are challenging an unjust law that discriminates against women. Roman Catholic Women Priests are leading the church into a new era of justice and equality for women.
Those have to be the three most profound paragraphs of humble pride and unpretentious conceit ever written. I am so out of my league here. I'm incapable of arguing from both sides of the same coin as adroitly as Bishopette Bridget Mary.

I'm not even going to attempt it. This requires the assistance of someone with similar levels of intelligence, wisdom and sound thinking.

Therefore, AoftheA has invited Colonel Moammar Gadhafi to help put the RCWP's response in perspective. Colonel?
I understand the decision made in conscience by Hosni Mubarak, now a former Middle East nation dictator. He has every right to change his mind and has an obligation to follow his conscience. I, who remain in complete control of Libya, continue to follow my informed conscience and, simply put, obeying Allah trumps obeying the U.N.

It is my firm conviction that leaders who fire on their own citizens are following primacy of conscience. According to official church teaching (which I normally do not follow, but I will co-opt it nonetheless), "the final authority in any moral decision-making must always be one's conscience, even if said decision is contrary to church teaching. As the church teaches, "the gospel has a sacred reverence for the dignity of conscience and its freedom of choice" (GS, 41) and "in all activity [one] is bound to follow [one's] conscience faithfully." (See: Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes (GS) 16, 41.

I follow Mohammed, who taught that one's enemies must be defeated. Scholars have found evidence of oppressive subjugation of peoples in the early centuries of Islam's history. I stand in the prophetic tradition of holy obedience to Islam's call to a renewed deathgrip on people's freedoms. I am challenging an unjust law that claims all are equal and deserve freedom. I am leading Libya into a new era of justice and equality for myself.
Thanks, Colonel. Now it makes sense.

Various And Sundry Sunday

Perhaps you heard or read that General Motors turned a $4.7Bn profit in 2010. That's good news. Maybe you didn't hear or read that the union employees are being rewarded with profit-sharing checks in the neighborhood of $4,300. Ooops - did I say 'profit-sharing checks'? I meant to say 'US tax-payer money'. Anyone else see this as unethical and wrong? Shouldn't the folks who bailed out the company - you, me and every other tax-paying American - get compensated first?

Continue praying for the Holy Father. Italian police arrested 6 suspected Moroccan militants this past Friday - with one report out there claiming they allegedly wanted to "punish" Pope Benedict XVI because he baptized a former Muslim into the Church back in 2008. "Religion of peace"? I don't think so.

Well, well, well. Another right wing conservative climate disruption denier group has refuted Al Gore's claim that this year's high volume of powerful winter storms are the result of AGW. Wait a sec - turns out that 'denier group' is none other than the NOAA. Heh.

In the UK, they forked over nearly 25,000 pounds to build an "eco-classroom"...that is unusable because the solar panels don't generate enough heat to provide necessary warmth. Did no one stop to think that there isn't a heck of a lot of sunshine in London? These are the smart people making such decisions?

Kids who are spoiled rotten sometimes grow up to be just plain ol' rotten. I think this girl is gonna be trouble.

Bugs are cool. Women are cool, too. But women eating bugs...on purpose? Ehhhh - not so cool.

Yesterday was World Sword Swallower's Day, in case you were wondering. Mark your calendar for next year.

The perfect food for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Laser cat bowling? I hope this guy realizes that the cat is plotting his demise.

This is pretty neat - a program that allows you to create a font using your own handwriting. I might try it.

And finally - an online Geography game. I made it through Level 5 - and it gets tougher the farther you go.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Have Seen The Future, And It Looks Just Like The Past

*Welcome to all the RealCatholic.TV Facebook friends!*

I'm not a prognosticator. I don't read tea leaves - heck, I don't even drink the stuff! - or horoscopes. So when I say I have seen the future...well, it's a bit more than mere metaphor, but a heck of a lot less than having strapped myself into a souped-up DeLorean and accelerated to 88 mph.

In short, what I mean is this - the times we are living in, and hurtling towards, represent nothing new. Shifts in demographics; advances in technology; discoveries and revelations; new alliances and renewed antagonisms; politics and rhetoric; decline in morals and practices - these things serve to characterize the specific era in which they occur. They contribute to the identification of a small slice of history. The Space Age. The British Invasion. The Cold War. The Great Depression. The Little Ice Age. And on and on.

And while it seems in our current day, the World's Wild Web Age, which has compressed history to the point where yesterday's Tweet is 'the distant past'; and last week's post is a remnant of a foregone Blogozoic Era; and last month's events are bygone relics of some ancient civilization reminisced about in the pages of a Creative Memories photo album - one thing remains constant.

Nothing has changed. Not since a couple thousand years ago, when that thing the Catholic Church likes to call the Incarnation occurred in the womb of a young Jewish peasant girl in the backwater town of Nazareth.

Name one event before or since that has left as momentous an impact upon the world such as that singular moment, when God, in His infinite mercy and boundless love for us ungrateful creatures, humbled Himself to become one of us. Let me tell you - you can't. That's the Event Of All Events. It's the nexus of existence, the crux of creation, when past, present and future received their meaning, and when humanity received its purpose, to be redeemed upon a craggy hill outside the walls of Jerusalem some thirty-three years later.

And yet - Christ's entry into our midst didn't so much change the world as much as it changed people - first Mary, then the apostles, and through them, countless individuals around the globe throughout every age, down to you and me. It was the original and authentic Hope And Change movement. And through those people, whose very lives were changed, the Way Things Used To Be changed as well. And through you and me, the Way Things Are must be changed, too. The mission hasn't been modified just because the calendar and the customs have been.

It's easy to look about and fret and worry about the state of things in the world. We live under that ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." More importantly, though, we live under that wondrous Christian promise: "He who believes in me shall never die." We are leaven and salt and light. We've been given a spirit of power, not one of fear. And as long as we keep the perspective that Christ was sent into the world to redeem it and not condemn it, to show us the way to our true home...

Listen - no matter where you live right now as you read this - either in America's assailed limited representative republic, or in an emerging democracy in Africa, or under a repressive regime, or in an EU nation suffering from having abandoned its Christian heritage - the perspective is the same. We're trapped behind enemy lines, and our mission is not to find our way to our own front, unscathed and intact. Our mission is to convince others to defect to our side. We go into battle on a solo mission, and we're to come out of it amongst a ragtag Band of Brethren, supporting one another, our eyes fixed on the goal. Christ sends us out as sheep among wolves - not to avoid them, but to tame them.

These are heady times for us because, well, these are the times in which we live. We're living the history of our great-grandchildren, and the sense that it's crumbling beneath our feet is very real. I don't need to give a litany of the myriad of problems and challenges before us - as individuals, as communities, as a nation, as a world. It seems that the entire Earth is on fire, and the hydrants are gushing gasoline. Our job, though, as followers of Christ is not so much to put out the flames, as it is to rescue the trapped and console the victims.

The onslaught of information and deluge of data never relents - a constant Urgency Of Now. Events seem to be occurring faster than the speed of cr*p in a fertilizer factory during a Cat 5 Tornado, and yet headlines speak more of Charlie Sheen's bizarre temper tantrum, or who's on the invite list for Harry and Kate's wedding. "The truth is out there" was the tagline for the show The X-Files - and yeah, it is out there. As Catholics, we know exactly where it is - and it's not located in the New Media, where at times it seems that revealing "the truth" comes at the expense of "The Truth".

It's easy to despair and feel that all is lost. If I had a dime for every time I've read the comment "We're going to hell in a hand basket"...folks, in some respects, this IS hell. Satan is the original Community Agitator. The last thing he wants is for anyone to have peace - especially the peace that only Christ can offer. When Satan tempted our Lord, showing Him all the kingdoms of the world, saying "Worship me, and these can be yours", Jesus didn't argue with him. He didn't say "Don't get ahead of yourself, ol' Scratch." Satan has kingdoms, then and now. Christ had His plan, and in the fullness of time, He executed that plan and in the midst of it all, He established His kingdom.

The Church.

Yeah, the Church has Her struggles because of that nagging technicality that Her living members are all sinners. Kinda goes with the territory of being human and still breathing. But despite that, She remains the Bride of Christ, and She holds forth the hope and promise that, regardless of what happens in our own day and age, we have a refuge and safe harbor. It's been that way for two millenia, and we have Christ's guarantee that it will stay that way until His return. The past reminds us that He's held His promise thus far. He never guaranteed that we wouldn't have strife or struggle - He just exhorts us to "not let our hearts be troubled."

Wherever cultures and societies have collapsed, it has been the Church that has been Last Man Standing, preserving that which is true, beautiful and good for those left in the wake of mankind's inhumanity against mankind. She will continue to do so. To the detriment of many, and to the ultimate misfortune of all, Western civilization has rejected Christ and His Church. The impending result of that is frightening - no doubt about it. We already see evidence of it. The future seems hopeless - and it would be entirely hopeless had a poor virgin in Nazareth, two thousand years ago, withheld her fiat.

Regardless of what happens here in America or elsewhere in the world - and I'm not advocating sticking our heads in the sand or waving the white flag of surrender. We are workers in the vineyard, and like it or not, we don't get to choose the vineyard. Perhaps I'm saying this more for myself than for anybody else, I don't know. If I permit myself, I can easily get equally angry, upset, scared and downright panicky over what's going on. But by His grace - and only by His grace...It's easy, isn't it, to have our faith shaken and our hope squashed? No one wants to suffer; none of us seek persecution. But if it means salvation - for ourselves and for others...

I still have hope. I have not lost faith. I have seen the future, and it looks exactly like the past. Christ the same: yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I've Always Suspected...

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

...fortunately, I live with three other people, so there's a 75% chance I won't be the first to go. Throw in there that I'm not the one who dresses her in Halloween costumes, and my odds improve significantly. I can live with that.

It's Oscars Weekend?


I scrolled through the full list of nominees, and know what? I haven't seen any of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture. Although I'll probably end up Netflix-ing Inception, True Grit and Toy Story 3 - those are the only ones that interest me. The others? Meh - no thanks.

In fact, going through the entire list, I've only seen one nominated film in any of the categories: Iron Man 2, for Best Visual Effects.

I'm bummed Megamind didn't get nominated for Best Animated Film - I thought it was quite good, even if it did feature the voices of Brad Pitt and Sarah Palin...I mean, Tina Fey. And Despicable Me was frozen out as well - I just loved those Minion guys! In a way, they sorta reminded me of the Catholic blogosphere...

I guess you can see what movies I gravitate towards, huh? Well, at least I know I won't be offended by vulgar language, gratuitous sex and blatant sensuality...

But anyway...rather than vent and rant about the vanity and hubris and political correctness of Hollywood, I thought that with this being a National Holiday Weekend and all, we could chat about films for awhile.

I have a question for you readers.

What movie/s impacted you in an unexpected way? Either it revealed something about yourself, or about the world, or challenged you. Maybe it's become a movie that you recommend to others, or one that you will watch or have watched multiple times.

Now, I'm attaching a BIG condition here. You can't say Lord of the Rings, Passion of the Christ or Saving Private Ryan or any other hugely popular film that everybody has seen. Those are way too obvious and popular. Don't get me wrong - I love those films too, and a host of others. But what I'm looking for are the undiscovered gems - the relatively unknown, obscure films that didn't get much circulation or publicity, but ones you thoroughly enjoyed and like to recommend to others. Tell me how or why the movie impressed you and affected you.

Here are three of mine: The Lives Of Others (2006) Yes, it did win an Oscar for Best Foreign Film, but I don't think it showed widely here in the States. Here's the synopsis from
In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.
But the movie is much more than that - it reveals that even in the driest of soils, the seed of freedom can still find purchase and flourish; that in the heart of every man, regardless of their role or responsibility, there is a desire to be free. (NB - sensuality and nudity, but not gratuitous. It is, after all, rated R.)

The second is Babette's Feast (1987). Again, the synopsis from
In 19th century Denmark, two adult sisters live in an isolated village with their father, who is the honored pastor of a small Protestant church that is almost a sect unto itself. Although they each are presented with a real opportunity to leave the village, the sisters choose to stay with their father, to serve to him and their church. After some years, a French woman refugee, Babette, arrives at their door, begs them to take her in, and commits herself to work for them as maid/housekeeper/cook. Sometime after their father dies, the sisters decide to hold a dinner to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth. Babette experiences unexpected good fortune and implores the sisters to allow her to take charge of the preparation of the meal. Although they are secretly concerned about what Babette, a Catholic and a foreigner, might do, the sisters allow her to go ahead. Babette then prepares the feast of a lifetime for the members of the tiny church and an important gentleman related to one of them.
I haven't seen this in quite some time, so I'm going to Netflix it again. It doesn't sound like much, but it's an endearing film that explores several Catholic themes - one of which is that it's Good to take joy in the simple things of life, such as excellent food - without being preachy or overt. It's a delightful film - choreography and scenery are top-notch - with great characters. Bottom line for me - God's provided a smorgasbord for us, and yet so many stick to the hors d'oeuvres table, thinking that that's all there is.

The last is Se7en (1995), with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Yeah, I know it was rather popular, grossing over $100 Million, and disturbing, and yes, it starred Brad Pitt. So I might have broken my own rule here - but I can do that 'cos it's my blog. I only mention it because this has been the only film where I sat in my seat as the final credits scrolled by, totally bummed that the...well, if you've seen the film, I think you know what I'm going to say next. But if you haven't seen it and you're considering it - then I'll just stop there. I'm not giving the film 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' per se - I'm just saying the movie (especially the conclusion) really left an impression on me. (nb: lots of disturbing images, vulgar language, blood...and lots of disturbing images - did I already mention that? Well, it's worth repeating. So not for kids.)

So now for yours. I've got popcorn - give me movie! I'm always up for watching something new and different. And please - no spoilers if you can avoid it.

And speaking of awards....the Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards over at the Crescat... starts soon! You know what that means, don't you? All pretense of humility and Catholic fraternal love goes out the window! Fun times for everybody!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Deo Gratias! Womynpreest Renounces Her Fauxrdination!

Here's something you won't ever read about at America, Commonweal or the NCDistorter. But it's big news and commands attention.

All the angels and saints in heaven rejoice at the repentance of a single sinner - and I rejoice with them.

Document of Renunciation of Ordination to Diaconate by Norma Jean Coon
On July 22, 2007, I was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Patricia Fresen, of Germany and South Africa who was ordained by three male bishops in Germany for the group called Roman Catholic Women Priests. The ordination took place at the Santa Barbara Immaculate Heart Spiritual Center. Because neither Patricia Fresen nor myself were given permission for the ordination by Pope Benedict XVI, the ordinations were illegitimate and not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Thus an excommunication process called Latae Sententiae occurred, excommunicating oneself by failure to observe the Canon Laws of the Church.

I wish to renounce the alleged ordination and publicly state that I did not act as a deacon as a part of this group except on two occasions, when I read the gospel once at mass and distributed communion once at this same mass. I withdrew from the program within two weeks of the ceremony because I realized that I had made a mistake in studying for the priesthood. I confess to the truth of Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis . I confess the authority of the Holy Father on these issues of ordination and recognize that Christ founded the ordination only for men.

Formally, I relinquish all connection to the program of Roman Catholic Women Priests and I disclaim the alleged ordination publicly with apologies to those whose lives I have offended or scandalized by my actions. I ask God's blessings upon each of these folks and their families.

Norma Jean Coon, RN, MFCC, PhD
San Diego, California
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Holy God, I ask your blessings on my Bishop and my pastor and priests in Rome who have assisted me in the process of being re-instated into the Roman Catholic Church and I forsake all connection with the Roman Catholic Women Priests program via Internet or otherwise.

I thank you for the efforts of my family in my behalf and ask for Jesus' Light and Love to pour over my husband of 47 years and my five children.

Forgive me my Beloved Jesus and Mother Mary for pursuing my own will in this matter of ordination and as I consecrate myself to your Divine Will through the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I ask you to pour out Light and Love upon any who have placed themselves outside of your Love and Light Bless us, O Lord, for these thy gifts and place us in the Heart of the Father, as we pray for more priests to serve in our church and for vocations to enrich our Church in the United States.

Forgive us for failing in obedience and enrich us in your Holy Love, I pray through Jesus and Mary. Fiat+

Have you ever read anything so beautiful or heartfelt? Deo gratias!

Norma Jean, for what it's worth from this unimportant blogger, your renunciation and public apology is the most edifying thing I have read in awhile. Thank you for responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and for taking the humble step in returning to the fullness of the Church, and for doing your part to heal the division the woman's ordination movement has caused. May God use you as a witness to all the other women and their supporters who continue to persist in their error.

Many thanks to a loyal reader for bringing this to my attention - I spend a lot of time poking the CRONES and RCWP movement. But of everything I've ever reported on or written about, this post undoubtedly has given me the greatest amount of joy and hope. It is proof positive that prayer is effective, that God desires the loss of not one single soul.

s/s Rorate Caeli

What Faithfulness To God Does Not Look Like

Now that we have that out of the way...

From the NCDistorter: Women Priests Demonstrate Profound Faithfulness to God by Jamie Manson [my comments]
Late last week, a new iPhone app designed to help Catholics prepare for the confessional made its debut. The app tailors its questions to a person’s gender and vocation. So if you punch in both “female” and “priest,” you immediately receive the message “sex and vocation are incompatible.”

The women and men featured in the new documentary Pink Smoke would beg to differ. [Let 'em beg - their entitled to their opinion.]

This weekend Pink Smoke had its debut as part of the Athena film festival hosted by Barnard College in New York. The film had been screened previously at the national Call to Action conference last November. The documentary chronicles the fight against the injustice of the ban on women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church. [I haven't seen the film, but without needing to see it, I know it doesn't chronicle any injustice - it chronicles the sad and pitiable attempt of some in the Church who are upset they aren't getting their way.]

The film’s title refers to the action taken by the Women’s Ordination Conference in the days leading to the elevation of Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. Imitating the Vatican’s symbol of white smoke sent into the air after the election of a pope, the activists burned Pink Smoke to raise awareness of the critical lack of women in the papal election process. ["critical lack of women"? Jamie, dear, there's a "critical lack" of married men from the Midwest included in the papal process, too - but you don't see us burning barbecue smoke. This isn't about justice - it's just.plain.selfish.]

Attendees at the Barnard screening were treated not only to the film, but also to a panel discussion featuring filmmaker Jules Hart, Good Catholic Girls author Angela Bonovoglia, Roman Catholic Womenpriest (RCWP) Jean Marchant, and Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who received a letter from the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008 warning him of excommunication for refusing to recant support for women’s ordination. [which to them, it's a badge of honor.]

These latter three panelists are also featured in Hart’s film, along with a variety of players in the women’s ordination movement. Interestingly, Hart herself is not a Catholic. [heh - neither are the "catholycs"...]

For those who have invested time and energy into supporting the movement, the film serves as a helpful review of the highlights in the struggle for women’s ordination. Those who are less knowledgeable about its history will benefit greatly from this hour-long introduction into the key historical moments and theological convictions behind the effort to achieve the full inclusion of women in the Roman Catholic priesthood. [In other words - if only more poorly catechized Catholics would see this film, they would rise up and support this movement. As if that would change anything. Having more supporters of a wrong idea doesn't make the idea right - it just means more people are wrong.]

The film touches on the verse from Romans 16:7 where Paul refers to a woman named Junia as an apostle. Archeologist (sic) Dorothy Irvin’s explorations into the evidence of women “presbytera” in the early church, found in frescos in catacombs, is also highlighted briefly. [This is what their movement is hinged on? A verse where Paul refers to a woman as an apostle? Bwahahahaha!!! Well, I reject their interpretation, just as Catholycs reject the interpretation that Paul really meant homosexuals in 1 Tim 1:10 and 1 Cor 6:9. And those frescoes? So what? Someday, 1700 years from now, someone will see photos of these women playing at priest, and some will come to the incorrect conclusion that the Church ordained women.]

Irvin’s research indicates that images of women in ministerial positions were eradicated after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in 313 CE. [Red flag: CE instead of AD. These folks really are anti-Catholic at heart.]

A segment is also dedicated to Ludmila Javorová, who was secretly ordained in 1970 by Bishop Felix Maria Davidék so that she could serve the underground Roman Catholic Church during Czechoslovakia’s communist rule.

Javorova remained silent about her ordination until 1995 -- six years after the fall of communism -- when she told her story to Miriam Therese Winters who published the interview in the book Out of the Depths.

But the heart of the film really belongs to the Roman Catholic Womenpriests. Their movement is traced back to the 2002 ordination of seven women on a boat that sailed the Danube River, avoiding the jurisdictions of German and Austrian bishops. [Okay, so here's the thing. If they were avoiding those jurisdictions, that means they didn't want to be part of their dioceses. So why are they so intent on getting the Church hierarchy to recognize them as valid priests, if they don't like the hierarchy in the first place? If they were to be recognized and accepted as priests by the Catholic Church, then they would have to be - gasp! - obedient to a bishop! Oh noes! Not that! Not obedience to!!! That won't work, not for these liberated gals. Which sort of proves the whole charade.]

One year later, an unidentified male bishop in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church [unsuccessfully] ordained two of the original seven women as bishops. The RCWP believe that their ordinations are valid because of their unbroken line of apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church. [Except women can't be ordained, just like you can't build a rocket ship out of dust bunnies and expect it to reach the moon. So it doesn't matter what they believe - the objective fact is, nothing happened to those women. They may love Jesus, they may be nice people, but they ain't part of any unbroken apostolic line. Apoplectic line, maybe - but not Apostolic.]

The RCWP believe that, because their [fake] ordinations were performed by bishops, they were [not] ordained in a line of unbroken apostolic succession. The [fake] ordinations continued -- in 2005 on the St. Lawrence Seaway, which borders the U.S. and Canada, and then on the three rivers in Pittsburgh in 2006.

Several of the women who were [not] ordained in these ceremonies, including Victoria Rue and Juanita Cordero, are interviewed in the film. Cordero’s late husband, former Jesuit Don Cordero, also lends humor and wisdom throughout the film.

Interestingly, the voice that is probably heard most throughout the documentary belongs to a male [ex-communicated] Catholic priest.

Bourgeois speaks movingly about his calling to follow his conscience when a long time friend and fellow activist, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, decided to pursue her life-long call to ordination through the RCWP. Bourgeois concedes that many priests fear losing their jobs, pensions and sacramental power if they speak out about the ordination of women. [Not to mention their souls, but hey - pensions? Come on now, we're talking pensions here. Hmmm - didn't that Jesus guy say something about God and mammon?]

But says Bourgeois: “I’d rather eat at a soup kitchen and be free rather than not do something that I’m called to do.” [It doesn't take denying Church teaching to eat at a soup kitchen and be free (free to do what - promote license and fraud?) - but it certainly helps sell how eeeeeevilllll the hierarchy is for only doing its job.]

During the panel discussion after the screening, Bourgeois admitted that he is embarrassed that it took him so long to speak out against this injustice. He says that he longs to speak about it to his priest friends and to bishops. But when he raises the issue, they immediately shut him down and refuse to talk about it.

“It is a power issue for them…there is a fear of losing privilege,” says Bourgeois. [Maybe for some of them - we don't know for sure. But I would like to think that most priests and bishops remain faithful to Church teaching because it's true, not because they fear losing privilege. A reminder to always pray for our priests and bishops - especially the ex-communicated ones.]

One of the film’s finest contributions is the way it evokes the sorrow of women who have been denied the ability to fully serve the church that they call home. Without a hint of anger, it depicts the longings of these women -- longings that can only come out of a deep commitment and even deeper love for the church. [Thus, it's about feelings. I think everyone has had disappointments in life to one degree or another - it's a common experience. This, though, is mere exploitation. The women aren't being denied anything that is rightfully theirs. They're refusing to accept truth - and have resigned to live in the fantasy world of "only if" and "the day will come". How tragic.]


The one weakness of the film is its lack of younger voices. With the exception of a few scenes of an interview with NCR columnist Nicole Sotelo, who speaks powerfully about the importance of struggling for justice in the Catholic Church, all other interviewees appear to be baby boomers or older. [Gee, I wonder why. I mean, who wouldn't jump at the chance to live with deep sorrow about being denied their dream? That's essentially their marketing slogan: "Join our movement - go nowhere and be sad on the way!" Doesn't sound too compelling.]

When I asked Marchant about the interest in the RCWP among young Catholic women, she said that she get many inquiries from newer generations. [Yeah, sure. Prove it.]

“One of the dilemmas they face is that they are either working in the church and cannot afford to lose their jobs, or they are over-committed by their careers and raising families.” [Maybe their jobs pay better than being a womynpreest, too.]


Most womenpriests identify themselves as “worker priests.” Though they carry on their professions in fields as various as teachers, non-profit workers, artists and architects, on weekends they celebrate liturgies in homes, non-Catholic university chapels, and Protestant churches. [but...but we were told younger women aren't joining because they don't want to lose their jobs. So how is it the womynpreests have paying jobs and they play priest on the weekends? Where the heck is the 'sacrifice'?]

These womenpriests dwell in the liminal space between the established, clerical world of the church and the revolutionary, risky world of the prophet. And, like many prophets before them, they find themselves in exile from the religious structure that they call home. ["Risky world of the prophet" - that's right. Any minute now, hordes of Catholics are planning on stoning these women as soon as we find out where they live. There's nothing risky about what they're doing - save their salvation, of course. Seems to me, most have jobs. So where's the risk? Sounds sorta delusional.]

The womenpriests are manna for many Catholics who, too, are in exile; these communities of Catholics are clearly manna for the womenpriests as well. [Their exile is self-imposed. They made their choice, and they're creating an impression that they were kicked out. They knew what they were doing when they made the decision to play at priest.]

Though it does not ask the question, Pink Smoke left me wondering to what extent this liminality actually gives birth to and maintains the integrity and faithfulness of the RCWP.

In many ways, their movement reflects the early Christian Church before it was accepted by the Empire. The risks that many womenpriests take infuse their ministries with a deep sense of commitment. [because at any minute, Swiss Guards will capture them, torture them and feed them to savage beasts as Cardinals cheer on. They don't worship in secret, they don't hide in catacombs, they don't fear for their lives, they aren't declared persona non grata by the authorities, they aren't criminals. They flagrantly promote their cause in public. But besides that, they're just like the early Christians....I think they owe the martyrs an apology, don't you?]

Their willingness to sacrifice the privileges and securities of paid ministry demonstrates a profound faithfulness to the God who has called them. [Remember - many of them still have jobs.]

If womenpriests are one day permitted to reenter the established church, how much of their holy creativity and prophetic edge would be lost in the transition back into the institution? [They're not being kept out of the Church. The Church is not an institution that makes membership an impassable obstacle course. The Church does not set impossible standards for those interested in becoming Catholic. The Church does not set quotas like immigration. Her mission is to save souls - and membership is completely voluntary. The entry and exit doors are not locked to keep outsiders out and members in. Are there conditions and expectations upon coming into the Church? Yes - just like any other institution. Heaven's the same way.]

Pink Smoke leaves you hoping that all of the grace received through their living as marginal church communities will be remembered and sustained when women are welcomed finally into the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. [Women already share in the priesthood of Christ, by virtue of their baptism. Just like I do, as a married man. Just like my teenage sons and teenage nieces and older sisters and aged parents. But only some are called to share in His ministerial priesthood - and those some are male. Jesus' Church, Jesus' rules.]

Using pink smoke and mirrors to distort the Church's teaching on ordaining women doesn't demonstrate faithfulness. Faithfulness to God is not demonstrated by disobedience - we have Adam and Eve's example as proof of that. Faithfulness to God is not demonstrated by pride - we have Satan's example as proof of that. Faithfulness to God is demonstrated by Christ's perfect words and actions: obedience and humility. It's that simple. And that difficult.

We aren't saved by having our desires fulfilled, because our desires can deceive us, and lead us into error. We are saved by fulfilling God's desires, which are all-good and all-perfect, which lead us into Truth. And if God had desired women to be priests, He would have been pretty clear on that point, back in the beginning.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TIME: Men Are Bad For The Planet

This article comes under TIME's "Science" heading - hah!

Why Men Are Worse For The Planet
There's a long history of research that reveals women are the greener gender-at least when it comes to their attitudes and preferences. But now a study published by France's National Institute of Statistics and Economics shows that the fairer sex's environmental conscience may actually translate into action too. Put simply, men are worse for the planet than women. While the study found French women emit 32.3 kgs of carbon per day, men compare at a whopping 39.3kg-mainly thanks to a carbon intensive diet and their inefficient use of transport.

But this isn't the first time researchers have found men behaving badly towards the planet. Back in August 2009, Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, of Sweden, and Riita Räty, of Finland, found similar conclusions. By examining 10 daily activities of both sexes across Germany, Greece, Norway and Sweden, their findings revealed men consumed more meat and processed beverages than women did, used cars more frequently and drove longer distances, resulting in greater carbon emissions. The differences range from six percent in Norway and eight percent in Germany to 22 percent in Sweden and as massive as 39 percent in Greece.

So what explains the difference in behavior between the two sexes? In an interview with Tierramérica, Corinna Altenburg and Fritz Reusswig, of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research offer their take:

In transportation, for example, men make more trips in airplane and automobile, raising considerably their ecological footprint, according to the two experts. That difference could be balanced out in the future to the extent that equal opportunity allows women to climb the labor ladder, while men take on more household duties.

Yet women also tend to be opt for more vegetarian diets, yielding less carbon: "Meanwhile, eating habits follow the gender line: men tend to eat more meat, and women eat more fruits and vegetables—habits that are difficult to change, according to Altenburg and Reusswig."

Sigh. Just another weenie-greenie article. And here I thought they were going to lambaste us guys for starting wars, oppressing the fairer sex, promoting NASCAR and the usual sexist tripe. Nope - only more hoo-hah on the myth of AGW.

But the article got me thinking - are men truly worse for the planet, merely based on their carbon-intensive diet (debatable) and inefficient use of transportation? Couldn't the case be made that - gasp! - women do greater harm to the planet? The AoftheA Fabricated Science Department did the research, and came up with 7 factors to support the case. Let's take a look:

1) Beauty products. Try and tell me that the tons and tons of rouge, eyeliner, hair spray, hair coloring and nail polish aren't harmful to the environment. Not possible. Compared to the average guy who maybe slaps on some pit juice in the morning and maybe a splash of after-shave, the average woman contributes about 10 times more damage to our beleaguered fragile eco-system. Why? Well, is it really necessary to have 42 different shades of red nail polish, or 15 different hues of hair color? Think of the carbon emissions resulting from making, packaging, shipping, marketing and selling all that. Big time footprint.

2) Personal hygiene. Studies show that, on average, women take 1.214 showers per day, while men average 0.785 showers per day (just trust me on those studies, ok?), and that women take longer showers, too. I'm surprised the guy's number isn't lower, since most guys are perfectly content to just slap on some pit juice or splash on some after-shave. Thus, women are using more water, more soap and more towels (federal regulations require that they use two per shower). Women go through gobs of hand lotion, too - that stuff just kills the environment. There's a cost to being clean, and it's the Earth who's paying.

3) Paper products. Anecdotal evidence proves this. I have been pulling from the same box of Kleenex I keep in my van since like last summer. Mrs LarryD replaces hers weekly. When she went on an extended business trip last month, the bathroom garbage basket remained practically empty. One day after her return - and bam! Instant Puffalanche. So there's this disproportionate level of contribution to the waste stream. I won't mention T.P. (well, except I just did) and feminine products. That's all I'm gonna say.

4) Oprah. I don't watch the show, but I'm gonna say that at least 90% of her in-studio audience are women. Easily - maybe higher. How do they get to the studio? Cars, planes, trains - all carbon spewers. And when you factor in the at-home know, those TV's suck up a heck of a lot of electricity. So when you combine those numbers, you have like 3 billion women worldwide a day watching Oprah. Not even Bill O'Reilly gets numbers like that. You can just feel the Arctic melting during that one afternoon hour. The footprint expands like Violet Beauregarde when Oprah magazine subscriptions are included - all that "Feel good about yourself" baloney isn't making the Earth feel good one bit. Not.At.All.

5) Justin Bieber. Teen pop star + swooning girls + swooning cougar moms = mega-high carbon footprint. Swooning girls increase carbon output exponentially, because girls try to out-swoon each other. And when you add swooning cougar moms to the mix...well, the ick factor alone kicks that output to near stratospheric levels. Now, some might claim that since Justin Bieber is male, he's ultimately responsible for the increased carbon footprint. Not so. Until it's proven he is indeed a guy, he belongs on the list.

6) Womynpreests. They just are.

7) At-home parties. This goes way beyond Tupperware and Pampered Chef - I'm talking jewelry, purses, Stamp-up, Creative Memories, candles, Avon (more beauty products!!) - these events significantly increase carbon footprints. Sure, you might not think so at first, because women aren't driving to the mall or the neighborhood drugstore to get these products. But here's what happens at those things - they start talking about Oprah and they start swooning over Justin Bieber and the mascara starts running and then boxes of Kleenex get used up like nobody's business. And when they get home, you got the cold showers (remember the two towel minimum), and lo and behold! It's a carbon footprint-pa-looza!!

This is science, folks. It's settled.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Various And Sundry Sunday

When the Tea Party movement began, the media has worked overtime and then some to try and portray all Tea Partiers as bigots and racists, and engaging in angry rhetoric and vitriolic hyperbole. And weren't able to produce any credible examples. Now, with all the goings-on in Madison,Wisconsin over Governor Walker's proposed budget, thousands of angry union members carry signs and chant slogans of...angry rhetoric and vitriolic hyperbole. Except this time the media doesn't care - and they don't want America to know. Fortunately, the Internet reveals the truth.

Is it any surprise that the National Catholic Distorter would commemorate the death of Martin Luther? Didn't think so...

The cries for freedom and public protests in the Middle East - now spread to Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere - are definitely full of excitement and promise. But I don't know - I have a nagging suspicion about it all. Sort of along the lines of "the devil you know may be better than the devil you don't". Especially since the new Egyptian constitutional panel excludes women and Copts. Which means this isn't about freedom at all - it's just about power.

I hope to God that this priest's bishop takes him to the woodshed - supporting gay marriage in Maryland, and abusing Catholic Social Teaching in the process. Shameless. Evil, even.

Got migraines? Maybe you have a knife stuck in your head.

You, too, can learn Chinese in 5 minutes or less.

Dallas got a new museum last's all 8-tracks. Groovy!

Nanny-statism claims that it can raise your child better than you can, and it demands that its right to raise your child supersedes your own. As this mother of a 6-year old in Los Angeles found out, when her son drew a picture of a zombie in class, and sent him to a psychiatric ward in an ambulance. So who's gonna send all the zombie-game developers to the psych wards?

And speaking of nanny-statism...a battle occurred in the Illinois State Senate recently. A Democrat senator presented a bill that would require all homeschoolers to register their children with the state. The bill has been tabled - but as with All Things Liberal, that doesn't mean it's completely dead; it's just dead for the time being. Paul, who blogs at Thoughts Of A Regular Guy, documents the entire saga from Day One. It's compelling stuff - check it out. It starts with this post.

A real-live, functioning Death Ray...wicked stuff.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Choice Is...Ramen Noodles Or Abortion???

The House of Representatives is currently debating the GOP proposal to de-fund Planned Parenthood. This is a good thing. A great thing.

Not only is this a clearly defined stance in defense of the unborn and of exploited women and young girls, it shows with undeniable clarity how seriously unhinged the radical pro-abort crowd is.

Michelle Malkin writes about the proceedings, and includes a seriously deranged statement made by a liberal elected representative, in support of abortion. Ready for this? (bold mine)
Most macabre abortion defense of the night so far: Just a little while ago on the floor (at approx. 9:05pm Eastern), Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Gwen Moore argued that abortion was better for unplanned babies than a life “eating Ramen noodles” or “mayonnaise sandwiches.”

Or, as Lori Ziganto summed it up: “So according to DemRep Moore, there is NO right to life. But there is a right to NO Ramen.”

Nice, huh?

Gwen Moore attended Marquette University, but is not Catholic. Which doesn't matter, really, because I don't think most (amended - ed.) think a fair number of Catholics who teach there aren't all that catholic anyway (for instance, Rev. Bryan Massingale, who I wrote about here, teaches there). Moore got pregnant while as a college student, and kept the baby, raising her while working through school - which is commendable. She did the right thing. Which makes her remark on the floor of the House even more shocking - she's basically saying she made the wrong choice.

Michelle also relays a Jill Stanek remark:
Jill Stanek notes another jaw-dropper from Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: “This is not about abortion, this is about saving lives.”
It is impossible to parody these radical pro-aborts.

When it comes to abortion, the supreme sacrament of the Left, its supporters will say just about anything to prevent the slightest restriction or regulation.

Tough. Too bad. When it comes to Planned Parenthood: Defund, not defend.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Big Changes At the National Catholic Reporter

(AoftheAP)In January 2011, the National Catholic Register was acquired by EWTN. It appears that it won't be the only Catholic publication to experience a change at the top. A report out of Kansas City states that a private consortium of individuals has purchased the National Catholic Reporter, a rival publication to the Register.

Details of the purchase are just being learned. A spokesman for the diocese of Kansas City, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told AoftheA that Bishop Finn had been clandestinely working behind the scenes to secure a buyer for the left-leaning publication, in an effort to reform it.

"Bishop Finn's goal was to push the paper over the top, not off the edge," the source said. "He was able to discreetly assemble a consortium that, frankly, made the current owners an offer they could not refuse."

The change at the top will lead to significant changes up and down the organization. The name will be changed to "National Catholic Reports". The entire staff has been let go, with the exception of John Allen, the nearly ubiquitous, fair-minded journalist who reports on Rome and the Vatican. The new owners will write all the articles, editorials and interviews.

"The new owners were smart to keep John," the source said, "because he has the contacts in Rome, and now he's the only person who has a passport. There was some difficulty in prying McBrien out of his chair, so we were consigned to wheel him out of the building while still sitting in it."

Allen declined to be interviewed, but he stated that he had met the new owners, and was excited about their goal to raise the paper's level of journalistic quality. He was convinced this change would pay back immediate dividends, putting an end to all that "embarrassingly good fisking that goes on out there of some of my former co-workers articles".

National Catholic Reports will continue to focus on issues facing the Church, but without the heterodoxy. Undoubtedly the change will cause most subscribers to cancel, and flock to safer waters at USCatholic and America. But the hope is that faithful Catholics hungry for more traditional reporting and opinion will more than make up for the losses. Early indications are that new subscriptions are shooting through the roof.

And who are the new owners? Not much is known about them, but according to the anonymous source, Bishop Finn is extremely pleased with their intelligence and orthodoxy.

"They're solid," the source said. "I firmly believe that readers will be impressed with their fidelity, professionalism and love for the Church. They are undoubtedly several steps above their predecessors."

The owners were not available for interview, but AoftheA learned that the consortium includes, but is not limited to, a box of rocks, a bag of hammers, a 1971 rusted-out Pinto, a telephone pole, a busted tennis racket and a half-eaten sandwich.

One of new owners of National Catholic Reports

AoftheA also received a portion of a proof from the inaugural issue of National Catholic Reports, set to be published next week:

(Click to enlarge)

Church Teaching On Sex Proven That It's Right...Again

Here's a study that won't see the light of day in US news because it falls outside the paradigm -

Abstinence Fuels Huge HIV Drop, Study Shows

A new Harvard study from Zimbabwe has shown that a 50% drop in HIV prevalence was driven primarily by changes in sexual behavior, particularly a drop in casual, commercial, and extramarital sex.

“In Zimbabwe, as elsewhere, partner reduction appears to have played a crucial role in reversing the HIV epidemic,” wrote Daniel Halperin, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues, Lifesite News reports.

The study, published this month at, was commissioned by the UNFPA and UNAIDS.

The researchers found that the change in behaviour was motivated by fear of the infection, stemming from the country’s high rate of AIDS mortality. They say it was amplified by economic decline because men had less money to pay for sex or to maintain multiple sexual relationships.

The researchers suggest that Zimbabwe has been more successful than other African countries in fighting AIDS because it has high levels of marriage and secondary education.

Well whaddya know? Reduce the number of sexual partners, and you reduce the prevalence of HIV. And wonder of wonders - no mention of condoms as having had any impact whatsoever! Me thinks the heterophobes will condemn this study as being anti-gay.

"High levels of marriage", eh? Fidelity really does work! Who knew?

And "high levels of secondary education"? Apparently students are not being taught how to slip a condom onto a banana in Zimbabwe secondary schools, because that happens here in the states, and 'comprehensive sex education' like that has actually led to an increase in sexual activity. I mean come on - a banana? Kids want to put their knowledge to the test in the field. The news report doesn't go into any detail as to how higher education rates played a role in reducing the prevalence of HIV, so it's unclear as to the extent of its impact - but if it's a factor, then common sense tells me the education system in Zimbabwe does things better than the US public schools. Which isn't saying much, when you come right down to it.

Bottom line - Church teaching on sex, meant to be exclusively between a husband and wife, works. It's been God's plan since the beginning, and when executed properly, good things happen - like stable marriages, children and reduced rates of HIV. Granted, the people in Zimbabwe aren't explicitly following the teachings of the Church - the nation is roughly 7% Catholic - and their motivations are imperfect. Fear works, but it's neither permanent nor positive - and poverty is a cruel master. If and when the economy improves, men who are predisposed to frequent prostitutes or juggle women may fall back to familiar behaviors when they find themselves with more cash. Old habits die hard, and old bad habits rarely do.

Thus, another teachable moment has arrived for the Church in Zimbabwe. I hope the Church stands in the gap here, focusing on the spiritual component of this situation, so that hearts may be changed by the saving power of the Holy Spirit. The bishops and priests have a great opportunity to highlight the positive, life-affirming aspects of Church teaching, using this study as solid evidence to support why sexual purity is a good and wondrous thing.

So what if it took Captain Obvious and his bevvy of brainiacs at Harvard to point this stuff out? Just goes to show that the Church was right all along....again.

Update - this post was mentioned on Gloria.TV. Thanks guys!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sister Patricia On: Roleplaying Games

(Sister Patricia Owens O'Flannery, OP, a post-modern pre-traditional omni-spiritual Dominican sister, periodically contributes to AoftheA. Today she answers a reader's question on the morality of partaking in role-playing games.)

Hello gentle readers! I hadn't planned on posting today, because on the third Wednesday of each month, I lead the Motherhouse in a centering prayer session based on reflections taken from Lady Chatterly's Lover. Normally it's an all day affair, but when one of the sisters suffered palpitations, we had to end the session prematurely - you'd be amazed at how often that happens!

So I have time to post today - you are so doubly blessed! Praise be Sophia!

And I have to clean up a bit of a mess here, which is the reason for my post. LarryD had received an email from a young reader named David asking about the appropriateness of playing on-line games such as World Of Warcraft, and he rather botched the answer. In fact, he didn't answer the question at all! I know! I think what happened was he grew excited when he read "My mother and I read your blog regularly..." and didn't bother with the rest of the email. So don't be too hard on LarryD - I'll have a polite chat with him later.

In the meantime, I'll answer David's question: "Is there anything morally wrong or treacherous about playing world of Warcraft?"

David, how ironic you've asked! I just love role-playing games, and while I've never played WoW, I have played Dungeons and Dragons Online, and am currently playing Lord Of The Rings Online. What fun! I also participate in Renaissance festivals, too - I created a Medieval "Pope Joan" outfit that I wear every year to the Renaissance Faire located here in Michigan - it's the hit of the event! While walking around the grounds, I'll every so often collapse and start moaning as if I'm giving birth. Then I produce an infant doll from beneath my vestments! Just like the legend!

But this isn't about me - it's about you and your question (pay attention here, LarryD).

I could just say "let your conscience be your guide", but I think you want more of a complete answer. So here goes.

By "morally wrong", I presume you mean what's commonly referred to as "sinful". Well, I don't know about "sinful", because I don't subscribe to such archaic, hierarchical terminology and theology. I have found that the more enlightened one becomes, the less one needs to rely on such concepts as "sinful" and "morally wrong" - but I want to help you. So I will do my best.

It's my personal opinion that playing such games is not "sinful" - especially if one remembers that it is just that: a game. The game itself is neutral - it is neither intrinsically good or evil. How one uses it, or approaches it - that's the key. All non-evil things in moderation is a good rule to adhere to (that's why at the Motherhouse we hold centering prayer on Lady Chatterly's Lover only once per month - moderation!) - so as long as you aren't neglecting your primary duties, then it's perfectly fine. On-line role-playing games are another form of leisure or recreation - it's not for everyone, but there is nothing "treacherous" or "morally wrong" about them. It's easy to become addicted to anything - good, bad or neutral. If you were to play such games, and you end up placing them above God and neighbor - by turning them into an idol - them they've become an occasion of sin for you (I almost never say "occasion of sin", but I want to help you), and you have to stop playing.

Now some might argue that playing games of fantasy and such will lead people to dabbling in magic and the occult. That may be true for a small few - it isn't for me - but again, it comes back to the game itself. It's neutral. It is not remotely like a Oujia Board (even I won't use one of those!) - not in the slightest! Playing these games on-line does not involve any supernatural powers. A person so disposed to magic and occult will inevitably become immersed in such activity regardless if they engage in on-line role-playing games.

Others object to the violence inherent in role-playing games. True - there is a fair amount of killing and violence going on. To me, though, there is one major difference: there are no such things as orcs, dragons, trolls, elves, wights, zombies, giant spiders, etc in the real world. In fact, if you wish to apply an analogy here, you could say that such creatures embody evil, and you are taking part in ridding a fictional world of evil. These games are pure fantasy, while others - like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty - involve realistic locations or historic events, and very lifelike-looking people get killed, gunned down, blown up or run over - by the player! To me, such violent games contribute more to the desensitization to the violence we witness all around us than do WoW or LOTRO. When I assume the role of my level 30 Elf Hunter and fling arrows at giant slugs and the walking undead, there's no connection to the world we live in. Because there are no giant slugs or walking undead.

Not everyone will agree with my answer, but I hope it provides you with some information to consider as you make your decision. Now, if your mother has told you "no"...

However (there's always a 'however', isn't there), I must counsel you on one very important fact. What is "sinful" is paying money for a game like WoW, when LOTRO can be played completely free of charge! Save your money!

A Reader Asks...


My name is David Nd (sic) I'm 17 years old. My mother and I read your blog regularly and I have a question for you. I like to play video games and was hoping to get you thoughts on: is there anything morally wrong or treacherous about playing world of Warcraft? Thanks you for your thoughts and your time!
David, I'm glad you emailed me. I'm impressed, that as a mere youth of only 17, you are exhibiting wisdom well beyond your years, having made the commitment to read AoftheA on a regular basis. Your faithfulness is to be commended. You have no idea how comforting it is to me, and to most of my readers, that the younger generation can indeed recognize excellence when it sees it; that you're able to navigate your way successfully through the morass and mediocrity that dominates the Internet, finding safe haven in this very modest, extremely humble blog.

It is for people such as yourself that this blog exists; it is for young Catholics like you, eager to stay true to the faith that they have been raised in, willing to sacrifice and struggle against the powers, principalities and lesser quality blogs in order to stay on the narrow path - yes, your email proves that my blog does indeed make a difference in the lives of ordinary people. I always knew that, but it's nice to have it confirmed.

Oh, I do not seek accolades. Nor do I desire recognition, save for the occasional e-mail such as yours, the kind that lets me know that this most humblest of blogs has That's all the compensation this meek and unassuming blogger could ask for.

You're a smart lad, David. Again, thanks for the email - you went out of your way to tell me how much you appreciate my blog, and that means the world to me. If there was any advice that I could impart, any nugget of wisdom that might make the slightest bit of difference, it would be this: keep reading AoftheA.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A German Deacon Speaks

The story about the 143 German theologians' letter to their bishops asking for dialogue and consideration on non-negotiable issues such as women priests and homosexual marriage, as well as non-dogmatic ones like priestly celibacy, continues to roll along the Innerwebs.

Articles at Commonweal and National Catholic Distorter highlight that the number of theologians signing onto the original letter has increased to over 220. Which, of course, makes them giddy and gleeful. And some of the commenters at the Distorter site are looking to the recent Egyptian protests as inspiration on how to get things to change in Rome - so it seems that my parody piece from several days ago was nearly spot on. For instance, one person wrote:
What we really need is a complete overthrow! If Egypt can do it why not Catholics? The Callous of heart have ruled too long. The greedy have made us poor. The power hungry have shamed us. The repressed perversions have made us evil. The autocrats throw us out for serving the needy and marginalized!
Here's another:
From the example we have just seen acted out in Egypt with the dictatorial figure of Mubarek being overthrown, Ratzinger the Despot had best take notice.
These people are delusional.

And I say, big whoop. There is no groundswell of support for such change. It exists in the minds of folks who reject the authority of the Church and its divine charter, and persists in the echo chambers of their dissenting publications. These few whiners and complainers fail to take into account the faithful in Germany and Europe - along with everyone else around the world like them - who passionately support Church teaching and have the bishops' backs.

A German deacon named Alipius, who blogs at Klosterneuburger Marginalien and is a regular reader of AoftheA, has asked me to point out that a counter-petition is circulating in the German Catholic blogosphere:
"...As a counter-measure to their "Memorandum" the German Catholic Blogosphere (which is largely in support of the Church and the Pope) started an online-petition to call for proper Catholic teaching and practice. We want to make this widely known and I simply want to ask you if you'd be willing to write a few lines about this and link to the page. The page is here: Petition Pro Ecclesia
Naturally, the petition is in German, and Alipius was kind enough to translate the petition for me and all you readers -
1.) Please meet the demands of the politicians, theologians, members of the press and others head on. Catholics who constantly have to face emissions like these in their everyday life need the visible and audible support of their shepherds.

2.) Please give a clear signal of support to the priests and those preparing for priesthood that the celibacy, the form of life they are preparing for, is not some old-fashioned phase-out model but the form of life proper to the priest. Especially now, in these hard times, priests need the support of their bishops.

3.) In your role as shepherd, please ensure that - with all due respect for the necessary liberty of science - research and teaching of the theological faculties and institutes happens in accordance with the teaching of the church. We need lecturers and professors that substantiate the faith in an intellectually honest way and have something to say to our secularized society within the scientific discourse at the universities.

4.) Please show responsibility also for the students in all areas of theology (candidates for the priesthood, prospective teachers, pastoral and community assistants). By appointing for them appropriate pastors please give them a clear signal that studying theology only makes sense with the church but never against the church.

5.) Please keep an eye on the liturgy in your dioceses. See to it that liturgical experiments come to an end. We, the faithful, have a right to a liturgy as it is determined within the rites of the church. The priest is not lord over the liturgy but its servant. Liturgy is an expression of the unity of the church. Whoever denounces the unity of prayer in the church, endangers the unity of the church herself.

6.) Please clearly acknowledge marriage and family in the spirit of the church. With all due respect to the decision of the individual to chose another form of life, it has to be made clear in society that the Christian marriage is a sacrament. Same-sex and non-marital relationships can never be put on an equal footing with marriage.

7.) The advertised dialogue [note: between the bishops and the theologians] must not be between the upper levels of two ivory towers. It is a good thing, to speak to each other. But the foundations of the church must not be subject to negotiation.

Some of the phrasing and idioms gets jumbled in the translation, but the general gist is there: they want the bishops to hold fast to Church teaching and be bold about it. Hopefully their petition, which they intend to present to the bishops prior to their March conference, will overwhelm the numbers of the neo-Protestant Catholyc theologians and their supporters. And it seems they're well on their way, because as of Tuesday afternoon, over 3,500 people have signed the petition.

The bishops' conference is not the end game for these theologians and their supporters - they're aiming for the Holy Father's visit in September 2011, perhaps in order to embarrass him or try to force a showdown of some kind. Not that I'm worried about that - the Holy Father knows where he stands, and I'm sure he knows where these theologians stand as well. It won't be a showdown as much as it will be a smackdown.

Authentic, substantial renewal and growth in the Church occurs when there is fidelity and adherence to the Gospel, tradition and doctrine. Pray that the German bishops, as well as the Church in Europe, realizes that and stands firm. And if you feel so inclined, sign the petition too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kitchen Floor Catechism

One thing I love about being Catholic, is that normal everyday stuff - say, for instance, menial household tasks and chores - can be contemplated as allegories for the spiritual life.

Take washing the kitchen floor, which is one of the chores I tackled this past Saturday. It was long overdue.

Regular sweeping and wiping up the occasional spill suffices for a time - but sooner or later, the unavoidable realization sets in, and Deep Cleaning is what's called for. Way beyond the plain ol' mop and pail. This was buckets of hot water + cleaner, elbow grease, hands and knees time.

Being Catholic - to really get everything out of our faith as God intends for us -requires work and effort. We're called to be holy, and that call counters the desires of our fallen nature. It's foolish to think holiness comes easily or naturally. I recall Fr. Corapi saying on numerous occasions: We can't expect a supernatural end by simply using natural means. It just ain't possible.

Which is why Christ gave us the sacraments - to give us the graces we need to become holy. But applying that grace to our lives - that's up to us. Jesus doesn't force His grace on us - we have to accept it. And once we accept it, we have to apply it. We work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and that includes hard work and perseverance.

Which comes up in the realms of sin and examining our consciences. Which is what I thought of while scrubbing away some of those little particles of food that somehow don't get swept up because they were behind a table leg or under the dishwasher door and became organically fused to the tiles, nearly requiring a chisel to remove....don't tell me you've never had to deal with something like that!


We can't just glide over stuff, like a happy smiling woman pushing a Swiffer WetJet across a linoleum floor, and expect miraculous results. Things may look clean and pretty, but upon closer inspection, we might find that the same ol' gunk is still there, tarnishing an otherwise clean surface.

I can sweep up the noticeable dirt and wipe away the obvious stains, and for a time - sometimes a very short time - things look okay. But unless I really work at the stubborn spots of grime; unless I get into the corners and work away at the build-up that's accumulated there - then I won't ever really make any progress. It takes perseverance to overcome bad habits, and brutal self-honesty to tackle the problems that perhaps no one else notices because we've done a good job of concealing them, or we developed blind spots to those things that keep us from realizing our full potential as holy people.

Think of it this way - I can clean the obvious dirty spots, and a guest might say "Your floor looks nice", because they aren't getting down on all fours to look in the corners, or inspect under the buffet, or slide the rug over to see if the floor's clean there too. In other words, we can fool others into thinking we're righteous because of what we allow them to see. But God knows - He knows if I didn't get under the buffet or move the rug - we can't hide stuff from Him. And He doesn't want us to hide stuff from ourselves either - He doesn't want us to be in denial, because that keeps us from being holy and free.

Being Catholic means getting down on our hands and knees - being humble - and working hard, really hard, on removing those things that stand as stumbling blocks and obstacles between us and holiness. The sacraments - notably Holy Eucharist and Penance -removes the sin, but we have to cooperate with the graces we receive. We still have to work and fight - against temptation, bad habits, sinful behaviors - because we still live in a fallen world. God removes the sin, but the effects of sin constantly assail us.

Many Christians I know - including Catholics - have the misguided notion that belief in Christ is all that's needed to be a good Christian. Christ did the work for us by dying on the cross, they say. And that's true...but it's not the whole truth. Christ's dying on the cross is also an example for us - that we have to die to ourselves, every day. Dying to ourselves includes struggling against temptations - and not just overtly sinful ones, either, but the mildly selfish ones too - and eliminating those habits that impede our love for God and neighbor.

It's hard and dirty work, because love is a hard and dirty business. Christ's crucifixion, the ultimate expression of love, was not butterflies and cotton candy. It was messy, violent, strenuous and bloody. Does it make sense, then, that our love for Christ should be neat, passive, tidy and safe? I don't think so. Should our love for neighbor be easy and effortless? It's not for me in my life, sad to say. Conversion is a daily process where we allow our souls to be scrubbed clean of all that's impure - which can be mighty painful indeed. The more we resist, or the longer we wait to change our habits and sinful ways, the more painful it becomes. Which is why frequent confession is a necessity - not only do we get graces to resist sin and temptation, we also receive enlightenment into other areas of our lives that serve as impediments to holiness.

At the same time, we become filled with a sense of peace, that transcends all else. When we're on the narrow path, working hard and doing our best, God extends His hand with the consolation of grace - that even though our lives are filled with varying degrees of pain and suffering, we are headed towards eternal life with Him, where we will be free of such things.

I don't know if any of this makes sense, but these were the things I thought about Saturday while washing the floor. All I know is, if washing the kitchen floor was an opportunity to reflect on how I need to constantly give my life to God, just imagine what cleaning the bathroom could do for my spiritual growth!