Sunday, April 22, 2018

A response to Rod Dreher on events at DePauw

I am certainly a big fan of Rod Dreher, author of “The Benedict Option” among so many other things, and so when I saw that he had written a piece on DePauw University and the racial issues that have popped up there, I looked forward to reading his take.

After reading his post, I would say, though, that some of it misses the mark.

Some of Dreher’s thoughts are certainly on target

1) The University is, in a sense, destroying itself. As with the entire secularist agenda, it is REALLY easy to tear something down, but what is to be built in its place? A situation where chaos is acceptable every time there is a grievance leads to chaos on a massive scale. But “Chaos University” or (to take it to the governmental national level) “The United States of Chaos”, is not a place where people CAN live, and certainly not a place where people WANT to live. Institutions (universities, states, companies, nations, etc.) have to both allow for protest, but also draw lines and say “there are also laws and due process”. The French Revolution showed us what happens when things are ruled via a mob mentality – 10,000 a day killed by the guillotine. Western liberalism rightly steered away from that approach.

2) The sad thing is that SOME (if not most or even all) of these ideas are being taught to students from WITHIN the University. So the university is teaching its students the ideas that are destroying the university

3) Dreher also rightly points out that the University telling white people what they shouldn’t do (under the label “white fragility”). Here’s the excerpt from a DePauw email: “WHITE FRAGILITY TAKES THE FORM OF RAGE, ANXIETY, GUILT, FEAR, TEARS, REFUSALS TO ENGAGE, WILLFUL IGNORANCE, SILENCE, INTELLECTUALIZING, SEEKING COMFORT, ARGUMENTATION, AND LEAVING/OPTING OUT OF DIFFICULT DIALOGUES AND SITUATIONS.”

The problem with this is, of course, that that is EVERY possible response. So, according to this email, no matter what a white student does, it is wrong. This email from the DePauw administration is literally setting up every white person for failure. This is, as Dreher points out, sheer lunacy, and, far from helping, this email literally makes the problem worse because a person who is upset can point to every white student on campus, and, under the rubric of this email, claim “That person is GUILTY!”

But here is where I diverge from Dreher. First of all, as a factual correction, all of the incidents DID occur on campus. The nature park, the “Inn at DePauw” and the “Fluttering Duck” are all elements that are a part of the campus. None of the incidents were “off campus”.

More importantly as a rebuttal, though, is that racism is a serious problem in the communities I serve (two neighboring parishes in addition to DePauw). As I share in my homily this week, I am the Catholic chaplain at the local state prison, and in my annual training update there a few months ago, we went through all the gangs that are currently operating in the prison. They showed us tattoos and behaviors unique to each gang. They went through the Hispanic gangs, then the African American gangs, etc. The thing that I found to be really surprising: there are twice as many white supremacist gangs as there are any other type of gang.

The Archbishop of Indianapolis recently wrote a letter talking about the issues he sees in our communities (drug use, abortion, euthanasia, gun violence, how immigrants and refugees are viewed and treated) and he identified racism as one of those issues that we still battle in our Archdiocese.

So my main concern is that all the instances of racism seemed to be either minimized by Dreher or even possibly explained away completely. I don’t have nearly as hopeful a belief about these incidents. When students say that there have been white people in pick up trucks yelling things at students of color, the proper response isn’t to minimize that at all, but to instead stand in solidarity with those students and to ask them how we can help.

A final conclusion, if I may. While standing in solidarity with those who are affected, we can and should propose again the Christian message by asking the question “what is a path forward?” “Where can we get the language that will show us a way forward?” “On what can we build again a culture of unity?” And the answer to that seems to me to be exactly the revolutionary proposal of Christ in the Gospels, echoed throughout the New Testament letters, the early Church, the saints, the Catechism, the social doctrine of the Church, and Archbishop Thompson: the COMPLETELTY RADICAL and, until the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth, completely unheard of notion that EVERY human person has dignity (and equal dignity at that) and that presence of dignity in every person completely changes EVERYTHING!

We recognize that truths are found in other faith traditions, but in this area in particular, the Christian proposal to the world stands out and needs repeated: there is no other credible way to build a system around the dignity of the human person without the foundational notion that the dignity of every person comes from the fact that they are created in the image and likeness of God.

Some will say, “Slow down there, Catholics, you all have failed in this realm of racism too!” To that we say, “We know, and we’re deeply saddened by the failures of the past and present, but we have these teachings not about things we’ve perfected but about things we still fail at. If they were things that we all could do automatically without teaching and guidance, we wouldn’t need the teaching. But we can also note that the criticism of the behavior of those who’ve failed in the past comes FROM the Christian notions of right and wrong. Put another way, the very notion of racism would not have even have been developed if not for the completely radical teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church on the dignity of the human person.

This seems like the discussion to be having with the form of liberalism that has stripped itself of its Christian roots. It seems like the best way to have that discussion is to start by standing alongside them in the grievances and sufferings that they have truly experienced!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My Position on Amoris Laetitia Footnote 351

“You are well aware that often the fidelity of priests — indeed, let us say, of the Church — to this truth and to the consequent moral norms taught by Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio often must be paid for at a high price. One is often mocked, accused of misunderstanding and harshness, and more...This is the fate of every witness to the truth, as we know."
- St. John Paul II -

I post this for two reasons:

1) My conscience requires it of me.

2) As a mathematics major in college, I am a subscriber to "Chaos Theory", the mathematical theory that "if a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon, it eventually has an effect on the weather in Tokyo".  I am a priest in rural Indiana, I am thus, hopefully like Therese, "small".  In posting this my hope is that this post, particularly as it is joined to other priests and bishops who have already or who will in the future make similar statements, might have an affect on the "weather" in Rome, if that be the Will of God.

The point of my post is this:

In case it matters to anyone, if it is ever said that the Church now teaches that it is at times permissible for individuals to potentially receive Holy Communion who
1) have divorced
2) that marriage, despite the divorce, has not been declared null by the Church (no annulment) and the original spouse is still living
3) are civilly remarried/cohabitating/etc.
4) are not willing to try to live as brother and sister (abstain from sexual intercourse)
Then I will not only not teach that, I will teach that this is, in fact, wrong

There is an orthodox reading of footnote 351 in Amoris Laetitia (that couples who are described by numbers 1-3 above can attempt to live as brother and sister and have recourse to the Eucharist and Confession because they are not engaging in adultery)
There is also a heterodox reading of footnote 351 in Amoris Laetitia (that couples described by numbers 1-3 above, without striving to live as brother and sister (abstain from sexual intercourse), can receive the Sacraments)

If the heterodox reading of footnote 351 is proposed as Church teaching, I will not teach it, but will teach and preach against that interpretation of Amoris Laetitia footnote 351 as often and as frequently as my conscience obliges me to.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Porn Addiction Ritual for Catholics

The priests of the Archdiocese were blessed in Lent to have a day of reflection with Fr. Sean Kilcawley on addictions, pornography, authentic love, etc.

Fr. Kilcawley's AWESOME work can be viewed by clicking HERE

I found this part of his presentation both informative and also easily shareable

The Typical Pornography Addiction Ritual for Catholics

1. Feeling vulnerable
2. Have time alone
3. Check Facebook, social media, email
4. Feel alone
5. Recheck social media
6. Trigger
7. Youtube soft core stuff
8. Tell yourself: "I'm not looking at porn"
9. Tell yourself: "I might as well be looking at porn"
10. Ask yourself: "Can I get to confession?"
11. Act out
12. Feel worthless
13. More behavior
14. Lots of shameful/negative self talk
15. Sacramental confession
16. Resolve to never act out again
17. Feeling vulnerable (back to number 1 above)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Why I Have a Punctilious Concern for the Church's Liturgy

There are two reasons that I would describe myself as having a punctilious concern for the Church's Liturgy

1) Humility

Having been formed in my celebration of the Mass largely through the writings of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict, I agree wholeheartedly with Pope Benedict's constant reminder that it is prideful to make the Mass about ourselves as the presider, even when some in attendance would prefer that we DID make the Mass about ourselves as the presider.

So there really seem two options for presiders - bend and change the rules of the Mass to what you think they should be or celebrate the Mass as it is given, getting out of the way and letting the Mass stand on its own.  This, to me, is a priest celebrating the Mass as an Icon of Christ - an icon is that which points to a reality beyond itself, unlike the art we find elsewhere, which has as its purpose to get people to focus on the image itself.

The particular challenge of celebrating Mass in this way is PRECISELY the characterization by some in the Church that in doing so the presider is aloof and distant and cold.

Do some priests who are punctilious about their celebration of the liturgy also actually distant and pastorally cold outside the Mass?  Yes.  Does that mean it is right to say that priests who celebrate the Mass with a concern to follow the rubrics of the Mass and, out of humility, let Christ be the principal agent of the liturgy are ALL aloof - no.  And I would also say it is INTENSELY problematic to make that accusation.

2) Vatican 2 

The Second Vatican Council said that to change anything about the Liturgy on our own authority is wrong

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Hell is REAL. And so is Divine Mercy!

No matter where you get your news from, you likely saw this week that Pope Francis apparently “did away with Hell”!

Now, of course, you can look it up yourself, but the Pope has preached TONS of times about the reality of Hell.  So the Vatican issued a clarification that what the Pope said was falsely reported.  The person doing the interview is a 93 year old reporter who doesn’t write anything down nor record his interviews, so we ought not be surprised.  The reporter accomplished his likely goal of selling newspapers because we saw how far the report spread.

As we think about this Divine Mercy Feast Day that we celebrate today, Hell is an important aspect of Divine Mercy.

The devotion of Divine Mercy has sprung out of the life of St. Faustina, who was visited numerous times by our Lord.  One of the times our Lord came to St. Faustina, she records the following:

"I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.

Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them.” (Diary 741)

Now those who think Hell is made up, whether it was made up by someone from the middle ages thinking of some way to keep people in line and paying their tithes, or whether it was invented by nuns to keep second graders in line…anyone who says Hell is made up is really saying that from a place of great “privilege”

This week I came across a poem by the English Catholic poet Francis Thompson, who authored the famous poem “The Hound of Heaven”.  I found a much shorter (6 line) poem by Thompson that I think is extremely relevant titled Heaven and Hell
The gist of what Thompson says is this:
“It is said that no one would have thought up hell, except that hell has been taught
And they say that it is obvious and self evident that there is a Heaven
But it is not so, it seems to me.
It seems that Heaven lies beyond our sights and rather it is Hell that is quite evident
For all can feel the God that smites, but ah, how few the God that loves.”

The only people who ever come up with the idea that there might not be a Hell are people from materially blessed, prosperous places, people who have had the “privilege” of living in a culture that has been GOSPELIZED already…that have heard about the joy and peace of Heaven…those are the only people who ever think that maybe there is not a Hell.

What Thompson is saying is that for the vast majority of Humanity, it is self-evident that there is a HELL.  Just looking inside myself for a moment, I recognize the destructive power of sin tearing me down and killing me in my own life.  And certainly looking beyond ourselves, for people who are parents or siblings of one of the 25,000 children who die every day from starvation, the people who lived through the Holocaust, the people who see their kids get burned alive by Syrian chemical weapons, the early Church who lived through the slaughters and tortures and the Church around the world that continues to be persecuted, for the people who lived amidst the cultures that had yet to be Christianized…for all such people, I think, Francis Thompson is rightly saying It is HELL that is almost self-evident.

If I don’t think Hell is real, one problem with that: I don’t really appreciate Divince Mercy, and in fact, Divine Mercy isn’t really that awesome.  To deny Hell, to say that there isn’t a place where evil can run and hide from God, then God’s gift of His own Son isn’t REALLY that spectacular nor is it that inspiring.

It is precisely because evil is real, in our hearts, in the world, and in eternal life if we so choose…precisely BECAUSE Hell is real that Divince Mercy is CELEBRATED!

There is a path OUT of and away from Hell, a ladder that Christ extends to us into the pit, His Divine Mercy that comes through the Church and Her Sacraments is given to us to bring us into the eternal joy of Heaven and the Peace that comes on Earth that comes from following Christ.

Finally then, an important implication of all this is that if I don’t think there’s a Hell, then I’m really not going to be that worried about myself NOR will I be worried about anyone else.  Everything is sort of “blah” and it is all the same.  If there’s no Hell, and there’s no Heaven, but especially if there’s no Hell, then I’m not really going to care what my neighbor Dave (or any other neighbor or any other person) I’m not really going to care WHAT they do.

But inherent in the Divine Mercy devotion is not just a desire for us to experience it, but a desire to help OTHER PEOPLE experience in their lives Divine Mercy too.

Do you really believe any of your neighbors might be living at risk of Hell?  Do you really believe that any of your classmates are at risk of Hell?  If you answer “no” to that, then you aren’t going to be a vessel of Divine Mercy to anyone.
In the Gospel today, Jesus tells the doubting Thomas: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe!”

About Hell and about its antidote of Divine Mercy, Jesus says the same thing to us: “Do not be unbelieving but believe!”

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations: 11-14


The 11th Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Jesus is nailed to the Cross. The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure. Jesus does not drink the numbing gall offered to him: he deliberately takes upon himself all the pain of the Crucifixion. His whole body is racked; the words of the Psalm have come to pass: “But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, rejected by the people” (Psalm 22:7). “As one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised … surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3f.). Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us try to see his face in the people we might look down upon. As we stand before the condemned Lord, who did not use his power to come down from the Cross, but endured its suffering to the end, another thought comes to mind. Ignatius of Antioch, a prisoner in chains for his faith in the Lord, praised the Christians of Smyrna for their invincible faith: he says that they were, so to speak, nailed with flesh and blood to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart, or to join others in mocking him.”


The 12th Station: Jesus dies on the Cross
Meditation by Pope Benedict: “In Greek and Latin, the two international languages of the time, and in Hebrew, the language of the Chosen People, a sign stood above the Cross of Jesus, indicating who he was: the King of the Jews, the promised Son of David. Pilate, the unjust judge, became a prophet despite himself. The kingship of Jesus was proclaimed before the entire world. Jesus himself had not accepted the title “Messiah,” because it would have suggested a mistaken, human idea of power and deliverance. Yet now the title can remain publicly displayed above the Crucified Christ. He is indeed the king of the world. Now he is truly “lifted up.” In sinking to the depths he rose to the heights. Now he has radically fulfilled the commandment of love, he has completed the offering of himself, and in this way he is now the revelation of the true God, the God who is love. Now we know who God is. Now we know what true kingship is. Jesus prays Psalm 22, which begins with the words: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:2). He takes to himself the whole suffering people of Israel, all of suffering humanity, the drama of God’s darkness, and he makes God present in the very place where he seems definitively vanquished and absent. The Cross of Jesus is a cosmic event. The world is darkened, when the Son of God is given up to death. The earth trembles. And on the Cross, the Church of the Gentiles is born. The Roman centurion understands this, and acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God. From the Cross he triumphs — ever anew.”


The 13th Station: Jesus is taken down from the Cross and given to his mother

Meditation by Pope Benedict: “Jesus is dead. From his heart, pierced by the lance of the Roman soldier, flow blood and water: a mysterious image of the stream of the sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, by which the Church is constantly reborn from the opened heart of the Lord. Jesus’ legs are not broken, like those of the two men crucified with him. He is thus revealed as the true Paschal lamb, not one of whose bones must be broken (…). And now, at the end of his sufferings, it is clear that, for all the dismay which filled men’s hearts, for all the power of hatred and cowardice, he was never alone. There are faithful ones who remain with him. Under the Cross stands Mary, his Mother, the sister of his Mother, Mary, Mary Magdalen and the disciple whom he loved. A wealthy man, Joseph of Arimathea, appears on the scene: a rich man is able to pass through the eye of a needle, for God has given him the grace. He buries Jesus in his own empty tomb, in a garden. At Jesus’ burial, the cemetery becomes a garden, the garden from which Adam was cast out when he abandoned the fullness of life, his Creator. The garden tomb symbolizes that the dominion of death is about to end. A member of the Sanhedrin also comes along, Nicodemus, to whom Jesus had proclaimed the mystery of rebirth by water and the Spirit. Even in the Sanhedrin, which decreed his death, there is a believer, someone who knows and recognizes Jesus after his death. In this hour of immense grief, of darkness and despair, the light of hope is mysteriously present. The hidden God continues to be the God of life, ever near. Even in the night of death, the Lord continues to be our Lord and Savior. The Church of Jesus Christ, his new family, begins to take shape.”


The 14th Station: Jesus is laid in the tomb
Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Jesus, disgraced and mistreated, is honorably buried in a new tomb. Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight, which gives off a precious scent. In the Son’s self-offering, as at his anointing in Bethany, we see an “excess” which evokes God’s generous and superabundant love. God offers himself unstintingly. If God’s measure is superabundance, then we for our part should consider nothing too much for God. This is the teaching of Jesus himself, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:20). But we should also remember the words of Saint Paul, who says that God “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. We are the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14ff.). Amid the decay of ideologies, our faith needs once more to be the fragrance which returns us to the path of life. At the very moment of his burial, Jesus’ words are fulfilled: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world. Jesus is the bread of life which can satisfy superabundantly the hunger of all humanity and provide its deepest nourishment. Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of God became flesh and bread for us. The mystery of the Eucharist already shines forth in the burial of Jesus.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Here's a shocker: our parish gets in fights all the time

Homily for Holy Thursday

We have something going on at this parish that has been going on since I arrived, and it has been going on for I’m sure the 152 years of this parish, and it has been going on in every parish and every family for the last 2,000 years, and it was going on all the time with the Apostles

There are fights and disagreements and frustrations among us

I’m not chastising our parish for it – I’m sure I’m the cause of some of it, I’m sure I make some of it worse or exacerbate some of it…I’m not alarmed by the bickering and disagreements

I’m from a family of 11 kids – I know what is possible despite the bickering, fighting, skirmishes, alliances, etc.

In fact, far from saying that it is some huge problem, I’d say almost the opposite – I’d suggest that if it is a scandal for you when people argue and disagree and have alliances and bicker then you need to get out more

The Apostles were fighting and arguing all the time.  “Lord, whose the best?” “Lord, can I sit at your right and my brother at your left?” “Hey Thomas, we saw the risen Christ – and  Thomas responds: Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it” Luke tells us: “They were arguing among themselves about who was the greatest”  They all fled him on his arrest.  They denied him.  They didn’t trust the women who would see the empty tomb..St. Paul rebuked St. Peter in front of the early Church...and on and on

Jesus shows them how to navigate this as a Community: SERVE EACH OTHER


The Eucharist and the Priesthood form the apparatus of the Church in the world, but he is saying SERVE EACH OTHER AMIDST THE BICKERING and DISAGREEMENTS


Pope Benedict Stations - The Tenth Station

The Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Meditation by Pope Benedict: “Jesus is stripped of his garments. Clothing gives a man his social position; it gives him his place in society, it makes him someone. His public stripping means that Jesus is no longer anything at all, he is simply an outcast, despised by all alike. The moment of the stripping reminds us of the expulsion from Paradise: God’s splendor has fallen away from man, who now stands naked and exposed, unclad and ashamed. And so Jesus once more takes on the condition of fallen man. Stripped of his garments, he reminds us that we have all lost the “first garment” that is God’s splendor. At the foot of the Cross, the soldiers draw lots to divide his paltry possessions, his clothes. The Evangelists describe the scene with words drawn from Psalm 22:19; by doing so they tell us the same thing that Jesus would tell his disciples on the road to Emmaus: that everything takes place “according to the Scriptures.” Nothing is mere coincidence; everything that happens is contained in the Word of God and sustained by his divine plan. The Lord passes through all the stages and steps of man’s fall from grace, yet each of these steps, for all its bitterness, becomes a step toward our redemption: this is how he carries home the lost sheep. Let us not forget that John says that lots were drawn for Jesus’ tunic, “woven without seam from top to bottom” (John 19:23). We may consider this as a reference to the High Priest’s robe, which was “woven from a single thread,” without stitching (Fl. Josephus, a III, 161). For he, the Crucified One, is the true High Priest.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Ninth Station

The 9th Station: Jesus Falls The Third Time

Meditation: “What can the third fall of Jesus under the Cross say to us? We have considered the fall of man in general, and the falling of many Christians away from Christ and into a godless secularism. Should we not also think of how much Christ suffers in his own Church? How often is the holy sacrament of his Presence abused, how often must he enter empty and evil hearts! How often do we celebrate only ourselves, without even realizing that he is there! How often is his Word twisted and misused! What little faith is present behind so many theories, so many empty words! How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to him! How much pride, how much self-complacency! What little respect we pay to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where he waits for us, ready to raise us up whenever we fall! All this is present in his Passion. His betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his Body and Blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison — Lord, save us (cf. Matthew 8: 25).” - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict Stations - The Eighth Station

The 8th Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem who pray for Him

Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Hearing Jesus reproach the women of Jerusalem who follow him and weep for him ought to make us reflect. How should we understand his words? Are they not directed at a piety which is purely sentimental, one which fails to lead to conversion and living faith? It is no use to lament the sufferings of this world if our life goes on as usual. And so the Lord warns us of the danger in which we find ourselves. He shows us both the seriousness of sin and the seriousness of judgment. Can it be that, despite all our expressions of consternation in the face of evil and innocent suffering, we are all too prepared to trivialize the mystery of evil? Have we accepted only the gentleness and love of God and Jesus, and quietly set aside the word of judgment? “How can God be so concerned with our weaknesses?” we say. “We are only human!” Yet as we contemplate the sufferings of the Son, we see more clearly the seriousness of sin, and how it needs to be fully atoned if it is to be overcome. Before the image of the suffering Lord, evil can no longer be trivialized. To us too, he says: “Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves … if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

All Hell breaks loose if God made Judas betray Jesus

This is one of those homilies that you wish everyone could hear, not because I think I’m awesome but because it cuts to some really important issues
I first remember hearing it in religion class in grade school, not from my teachers but from my classmates, and then have heard it a lot since from lots of different people – “Didn’t Judas HAVE to hand Jesus over?”  or “God made Judas do it”
-         i.e. “Judas might be okay?”
-         i.e. “Judas was a robot…an actor reciting lines given to him by God…”
But the Gospels of course discredit all this as hogwash
Jesus: “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”

Now, the reason I wish everyone could hear this homily is that there are TWO huge implications of this

1.       God never has someone do evil

Here’s the problem with thinking God DOES have someone do evil – if God can have people do evil for good outcomes (i.e. betray Jesus Christ so that the world will be saved) then we can start doing evil things because of the good outcomes that we think will happen

It becomes okay to destroy embryos for the good perceived outcome of curing diabetes

It becomes okay to use contraception in my marriage for the good perceived outcome of making my marriage happier

It becomes okay to experiment on human beings for the perceived good outcome of medical science

It becomes okay to torture people for the perceived good outcome of saving soldiers lives

It becomes okay to make money illegally for the perceived good outcome of feeding my family


Even worse…it starts to be the case that if God wills evil or causes evil, then I can too…and it even begins to be the case that, as we go down this road, that God can’t do evil…so Him having Judas do this evil isn’t actually evil…so not only do the ends justify the means, the end result according to this line of thinking MAKES THE EVIL ACT GOOD.
And so it has become fashionable to say such things today, even in the Church – the apparently evil acts might not actually BE evil, as the circumstances or intentions of an act might make an evil act actually good.
Because look – God did something that looked evil but wasn’t

3 things to each act –
1)      Act itself
2)     Circumstances
3)     Intentions of the person

And numbers 2 and 3 NEVER change NUMBER 1

2.      God never makes any robots – good or evil.  God doesn’t use people.  He doesn’t give people lines to recite – GOD GIVES US FREE WILL!!!

It is a highly damaging and false way to view God if we think of him as EVER using people for something.  If God uses people, then we start to think we can to. 

Jesus’ words about Judas need to be with us always – Woe to that man by whom the son of man is betrayed.  It would be better for that man if he had never been born

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pope Benedict Stations - The Seventh Station

The Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time

Meditation from Pope Benedict: "The tradition that Jesus fell three times beneath the weight of the Cross evokes the fall of Adam — the state of fallen humanity — and the mystery of Jesus’ own sharing in our fall. Throughout history the fall of man constantly takes on new forms. In his First Letter, Saint John speaks of a threefold fall: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He thus interprets the fall of man and humanity against the backdrop of the vices of his own time, with all its excesses and perversions. But we can also think, in more recent times, of how a Christianity which has grown weary of faith has abandoned the Lord: the great ideologies, and the banal existence of those who no longer believing in anything, who simply drift through life, have built a new and worse paganism, which in its attempt to do away with God once and for all, have ended up doing away with man. And so man lies fallen in the dust. The Lord bears this burden and falls, over and over again, in order to meet us. He gazes on us, he touches our hearts; he falls in order to raise us up."

Pope Benedict Stations - The Sixth Station

The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Pope Benedict Meditation: “Your face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Psalm 27:8-9). Veronica — Bernice, in the Greek tradition — embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the face of God. On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She did not let herself be deterred by the brutality of the soldiers or the fear which gripped the disciples. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself.”

Pope Benedict Stations - The Fifth Station

The Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross. 

Meditation from Pope Benedict: “Simon of Cyrene is on his way home, returning from work, when he comes upon the sad procession of those condemned — for him, perhaps, it was a common sight. The soldiers force this rugged man from the country to carry the Cross on his own shoulders. How annoying he must have thought it to be suddenly caught up in the fate of those condemned men! He does what he must do, but reluctantly. Significantly, the Evangelist Mark does not only name him, but also his children, who were evidently known as Christians and as members of that community (cf. Mark 15:21). From this chance encounter, faith was born. The Cyrenian, walking beside Jesus and sharing the burden of the Cross, came to see that it was a grace to be able to accompany him to his crucifixion and to help him. The mystery of Jesus, silent and suffering, touched his heart. Jesus, whose divine love alone can redeem all humanity, wants us to share his Cross so that we can complete what is still lacking in his suffering (cf. Colossian 1:24). Whenever we show kindness to the suffering, the persecuted and defenseless, and share in their sufferings, we help to carry that same Cross of Jesus. In this way we obtain salvation, and help contribute to the salvation of the world.”

God CAN'T come to us on OUR terms

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Friday, March 23, 2018

2 Takeaways from the Movie "Paul the Apostle"

I found this to be a FANTASTIC movie, and it portrays something that I think is HUGELY important for people to remember.

On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul last year, I was struck by and preached on the fact that many people look at Paul's conversion and say "I wish God would hit me with lightning...then I'd be like Paul and become a saint too."

But we KNOW that throughout the rest of his life, he struggled.  Unfortunately, sometimes we think of Paul like we think of Mary...automatons who had some religious experience, and so had no doubts and no real pains moving forward, like they just floated on air from that religious experience that they had.

"Paul the Apostle", though, shows the reality of being a disciple - struggle, suffering, doubts, tormented at times by thoughts of things done wrong in the past...and yet, despite this, Paul perseveres.  THAT is holiness.  And THAT is achievable for you and I as well.  

Satan gets so many people to give up by thinking that having doubts and fears means you are not a saint.  This film is in accordance with the testimony of the Saints and the Church, and thus gives people HOPE.

Anyone who has ever had any kind of religious conversion experience like St. Paul's getting hit by lightning KNOWS that the "religious high" never lasts - but for some reason we think it DID for Paul?  The guy was shipwrecked, beaten, scourged, stoned almost to death, harassed - if we think that he experienced that without difficulty, we deceive ourselves.

Therefore, I find James Faulkner's portrayal of Paul to be COMPLETELY in alignment with what the Church and her saints ACTUALLY teach about the reality of Christian living.  I thus find Faulkner's Paul to be a perfect antidote to the sugary preaching that seems to dominate our airwaves.  If the "Prosperity Gosepl" is a real thing, Paul definitely missed out on it!

2) The second take away that I have is simply this: every day priests and religious are given a reading by the Church.  Usually it is a homily or a teaching from a saint.  One of my top five readings of the entire year is from a homily by St. Fulgentius given to us for the Feast of St. Stephen

I share an excerpt here: 

"love led Stephen to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment. Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven. In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition. 

Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns. Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen. This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy."