A little sad, but still thankful

First, I want to thank God for all my blessings, and for all my challenges.  I’m thankful for my job, my family, my Church, and my faith.

I found out yesterday that I am no longer eligible to discern for the diaconate, due to age.  It makes me sad, because ever since I became Catholic, about 10 years ago, I’ve felt called to ordination.  I was Catholic 7 years ago when they announced a deacon formation program, and asked, and was told I would have to wait for the next class.  Fine and well, they offered a program, essentially for pre-deacon formation, which I spent lots of time and effort on to be ready.  Usually, when one class ends, another begins, and that was not the case, this time.  They waited two years, and it aged me out.

Now, I will need to find another way to serve.  Oh, I will.  Rest assured.  God wants this from me, he’s just not making it easy. I never suspected that he would.

6 Amazing Catholic Thanksgiving Facts


When you’re sitting down for that wonderful feast on Thursday, here are 6 interesting Catholic Thanksgiving Facts you can share with your family. Print them out and read them aloud over some pumpkin (or pecan) pie!

Your history teacher probably forgot to teach you that Squanto, the native American hero of the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving was Catholic. And your history textbooks probably wrongly told you that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Protestant pilgrims of Massachusetts in 1621. Not so. There was the Catholic Thanksgiving of 1565 in Florida and another Catholic Thanksgiving of 1589 in Texas. Read on for 6 Amazing Catholic Thanksgiving Facts

First Catholic Thanksgiving

1. Squanto, the beloved hero of Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock, was Catholic! (Here’s my short video on how Catholic Squanto saved Thanksgiving.) Squanto had been enslaved by the English but he was freed by Spanish Franciscans. Squanto thus received baptism and became a Catholic. So it was a baptized Catholic Native American who orchestrated what became known as Thanksgiving. Please take a moment to watch the video below as I explain the story behind the first Thanksgiving and what a group of Franciscan friars did to make it happen. You can retell this story at this year’s Thanksgiving and impress everyone as they eat your delicious pies:

Are you having trouble seeing the “Catholic Squanto” video in your browser or email? Please click here to watch it.

Catholic Thanksgiving Fact 2:

The first American Thanksgiving was actually celebrated on September 8 (feast of the birth of the Blessed Virgin) in 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida. The Native Americans and Spanish settlers held a feast and the Holy Mass was offered. This was 56 years before the Puritan pilgrims of Massachusetts. Don Pedro Menendez came ashore amid the sounding of trumpets, artillery salutes and the firing of cannons to claim the land for King Philip II and Spain. The ship chaplain Fr. Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales chanted the Te Deum and presented a crucifix that Menendez ceremoniously kissed. Then the 500 soldiers, 200 sailors and 100 families and artisans, along with the Timucuan Indians celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in gratitude to God.

Catholic Thanksgiving Fact 3: The second American Thanksgiving happened on April 30, 1598, when Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate requested the friars to say a Mass of Thanksgiving, after which he formally proclaimed “La Toma”, claiming the land north of the Rio Grande for the King of Spain. The men feasted on duck, goose, and fish from the river. The actors among them dressed and presented a play. All this took place twenty-three years before the Pilgrims set sail from England on the Mayflower.

Catholic Thanksgiving Fact 4: The Puritan pilgrims were violently anti-Catholic. They left England because they thought that the Church of England was too Catholic. These Puritans were strict Calvinists. The pilgrims also opposed celebrating Christmas, dancing, musical instruments in church, and even hymns as papistical.


Catholic Thanksgiving Fact 5: So while Thanksgiving may celebrate the Calvinist Separatists who fled England, Catholics might remember the same unjust laws that granted the crown of martyrdom to Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmund Campion, et al. are the same injustices that led the Pilgrims to Plymouth.

Catholic Thanksgiving Fact 6: And let everyone remember that “Thanksgiving” in Greek is Eucharistia. Thus, the Body and Blood of Christ is the true “Thanksgiving Meal”.

And don’t forget to raise your wine glass and recite the wonderful limerick of Hilaire Belloc:

“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!”

― Hilaire Belloc

As Hispanics Depart: Does Catholicism Ask Too Little of Us?

As Hispanics Depart: Does Catholicism Ask Too Little of Us?.

As Hispanics Depart: Does Catholicism Ask Too Little of Us?

muslimstudentprayingatCUA Is the big failing that the Church doesn’t really “require” prayer of anyone, as long as they’re attending Sunday Mass, and that its fasting is not challenging enough to seem meaningful because it misses a real element of sacrifice borne out of love? How much of this plays into the fact that Mormons are incredibly social among themselves and family-oriented, while Catholicism is still not great at noticing, or welcoming, or accommodating the person in the next pew? Aside from a small leadership bureaucracy and appointed bishops more akin to how we think of a priest or rabbi, Mormonism’s authority structure is home-based; Islam does not require Sunday obligations, priests, confession — how much of this plays into people not wanting to have to deal with human authority that often seems out of touch and arbitrary? Both conversion trends start with well-educated women, who claim that the required modesty in dress helps them to be respected for their intelligence, rather than their appearance, particularly in Islam. Here, we have to ask, has Catholicism become too at-ease with Western standards of dress? In some Catholic cultures modesty gets a degree of lip-service, but skin and “sexiness” are prized.

“As a Latina, you are raised, if you got it, to show it, to flaunt it as much as possible,” says Ismail, 44, raised in a Puerto Rican Catholic family. Now she shows very little of her skin. Instead she wears the hijab, the Islamic veil or headscarf.

This is not true only of the Latino culture. One need only go to Mass in the summer, or to a Catholic wedding, to get an eyeful of how conformed Catholics have become to the culture of the curve. Both Islam and Mormonism are “patriarchal” and yet both make specific direction to rights and respect for women. In these articles, many women speak of feeling respected and also “safe” because the men have their roles; the women have theirs and they tend to see complementarity within them and accept it, in ways that Catholic women of the West can not or will not.

“There are a lot of injustices, and when I started learning about Islam and the rights of women it definitely helped me liberate and, of course, caused chaos in my house,” she said in an interview at the Islamic Center of N.Y.U. in Manhattan. She was dressed in a long royal blue skirt and a black blouse, her face and neck veiled by a niqab, which covers everything but her eyes. Her family in Chicago doesn’t know yet she covers her face.[…] Eventually, she decided to look closer, even though she wasn’t thinking about leaving her Catholic faith…In particular, the rights of women in Islam caught her attention. S.A. says she was surprised to find out that men are asked to help women in the daily household chores. She was also pleased to learn that she had no obligation to share her salary with her father or any other male relative as mentioned in Islam.

This speaks directly to a cultural understanding within some Hispanic communities, but how sad is it that Catholicism has apparently not made it sufficiently clear to woman that they are free-in-Christ and not slaves to men? Why does the church do such a poor job of mentioning how consistently the Church has given women their own heads and encouraged their ‘self-actualization in Christ’, right from its beginnings? Beyond all of this, there is the strange reality that neither Mormons or Muslims in the West have to take guff from their own co-religionists. The ideological in-fighting so rampant among Western Catholics as to almost overshadow its teachings is not a featured component of Mormonism or Islam, and some may find that attractive, particularly those who are sick of ducking the sniping when all they want is to worship God without having to endure sneers for wearing pants or, conversely, for wearing a chapel veil. While we are going full culture-warrior on each other, these religions are quietly attracting our members. There is much to ponder in all of this. Does Catholicism ask too little of its people, or does it simply do a very poor job of teaching all the ways in which deeper participation in prayer, fasting, devotions, parish life — undertaken not as obligation but as free gift — enrich us, and are made more valuable precisely because they are freely-made offerings to God? We need to do a much better job of teaching the faith at every level, and of offering continuing instruction after Confirmation, when faith formation, such as it is, simply ends. Catholicism has always been — rather like the USCCB website — a sort of “well, you’re here; feel free to find your own way amid these strictures, hagiographies and devotions” sort of church, and some people (myself included) rather enjoy that. But these people are saying that they specifically want to be told when and how to pray, what to eat, how to dress, when and how to fast, and they are not afraid to be challenged. The Second Vatican Council had an idea that Catholics needed and wanted to be treated as adults, able to make their own way, decide on their own “more meaningful” sacrifices than those proscribed by the church. That was part of the thinking behind the end of “meatless Fridays.” But those Fridays already were meaningful; the fast was an offering and connection to the Crucifixion. It was also a cultural and community marker; a sign of unity.

. . .on Fridays we were all taking cozily meatless meals. If my mother was heating up cans of tuna and cream of mushroom soup, my neighbors were having home-made pizza or scrambled eggs. There was something comforting about these less-than-formal suppers where the modesty of the meal meant that food became incidental to the companionship and conversation which was brought to the fore. If company was coming, all the better — the sense of unity was broadened as our guest dug into the same simple fare as the rest of us.

Theologically, the meatless Fridays were like the beginning of a weekly, somewhat truncated Triduum: the fasts of Friday, the desert of repentance and confession on Saturday, all leading to the Resurrection of Sunday. do your own thingThe “relaxations” of the counsel, poorly implemented and largely untaught, replaced all of that with a nebulous sort of “do your own thing, make it meaningful for you, and we’ll see you on Sunday, then,” and that came up empty. Rather than making things “personally meaningful” for people, the church strangely gutted itself. Having lost a very stable structure, people were left feeling unsure of boundaries, bereft of their place. Untethered in the large universe of infinite spiritual sensibilities and choices, they either either chose poorly or passed out. Parents know that children need and want boundaries; they need and want disciplines that make life sensible and orderly and safe. More and more I’m convinced that ending meatless Fridays took away something sensible and orderly — and culturally and communally unifying, which brings its own safety — and replaced it, essentially, with nothing, because when you leave people to find something “personally meaningful” to do, they often settle for what is new or capricious or vapid, or all three. Or they do the easiest thing of all, which is nothing. Perhaps that has a great deal to do with why the strictures and obligations of Islam are Mormonism are now attractive to some who have been raised Catholic, but catechized poorly and left unsure as to what any of it means, from the kneeling, to the Crucifix, to the Trinity, and the Communion of Saints. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the worry was that Catholics were rote-bound, existing within the church but only shallowly nourished within the inauthentic constraints of duty and obligation. In light of these conversions, perhaps those lines were absolutely necessary, in order to help focus us and free us. We are more inclined to cast ourselves out into the deep, after all, when we know our we are well-tethered to the barque.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2014/10/28/as-hispanics-depart-does-catholicism-ask-too-little-of-us/#ixzz3HZSp9S00

Separating the faith from the politics

I was reading an article in the National Catholic Register about the political side of the recently closed Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Kasper, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, and Cardinal Ouillet. Read here.  I’m not copying the text because that’s not the point of this post.  The point is to never forget that Jesus is the heart of the Church, that the faith proceeds from Him, and that the rest is ‘human stuff’.

Politics invades from every side, if you’re not careful.  At the parish level, some group likes a tree on the grounds of the parish, and someone else decides it’s overgrown and needs to be chopped down.  There’s the two sides, and there’s the pastor, trying to keep peace.  Both sides can’t win, and the pastor is going to lose someone (as has recently happened to me).  Egos get into it.  And then, whatever happens, if both sides remain members of the parish, there is a wedge between.

I’ve seen on EWTN and the daily Mass, there’s a couple of black women who’s son/nephew was a postulant.  They used to all sit together, but now they sit apart…why? Who knows, but God.  At the diocese level, some priests want to get into prime posts, some deacons want to work at this parish, but not that one.  Parents get mad when they think their kids aren’t treated right during the Catholic School day.

I think there’s a simple solution.  When you’re practicing your faith, check your ego, and earthly passions, at the door.  If you want to serve the Church, serve the Church unconditionally.  Let the politics be the politics.  Don’t get involved in who’s sucking up to Fr. Fred.  Don’t worry what Brother Martin is doing, unless it directly involves you.  Always remember the Real Presence of Jesus watching over and guiding His Church, and know that, regardless of what we think is good, Jesus might have other ideas.

Ariana Grande leaves Catholicism

And all I can think is “so what?”  Then again, I still must pray for her, because she is very…misguided.

Pretty girl who entertains by doing very suggestive videos.  She wasn’t exactly living a Catholic public life, who knows about her private life?

The story is out that she left Catholicism for Kabballah (sic) because the Catholic Church wouldn’t approve of her brother’s homosexuality.  OOOOOOKKKKKKKKK!  I wonder if she believes the Church should change because of her brother, or whether the Church has a point?

What is “the Church” to do??? Should we allow everyone to just party hard and do whatever we want to? Because God understands???  The truth is that we’re supposed to control our urges.  Even the good ones.  Drinking water is a good thing, but you can also kill yourself drinking too much water.  Same is true with milk or alcohol.  So we must use everything the way it was intended for use.  When we misuse things, they become corrupted. Ever used a knife for a screwdriver? You’ll dull it pretty quick and it will eventually stop cutting well, or you’ll break the tip.  The same thing is true with our vices.  Too much sex or improper sex is wrong.  If you let sex control your life, it’s wrong.  But sexuality is a good, beautiful thing.  Food is a good thing, too, but gluttony is bad.  Unfettered spending (above your means) is a bad thing.  We have to control our urges.

This week, in the spirit of the World Series, I was looking on line to support the team I’m rooting for.  I went to the online store and found shirts for $20, 50, 100, 250, and one autographed game jersey for $1200.  Who wouldn’t love to have that jersey? But I will control myself and look more closely at the T-shirts and the like.  Being in control, with God as my pilot.

Ariana seems to want to have a hip-hop lifestyle, and that means all the goodies-twerking, hedonistic sex, drugs, and dance.  I don’t know enough about her to know which of them she’s into, but I’ve seen the way she dresses, and can guess.  On top of that, having a homosexual brother is not, as I’ve stated in the past, the issue.  What he does with other men in the sexuality department is.  And if young Ariana knew anything about her faith, she’d know that.  If one priest told her that the Church didn’t love him, all she had to do was find a different priest.  It’s not that difficult.

Did the Papacy exist when St. John was alive?

Did the Papacy Exist While John Was Alive?

For my money, one of the strongest arguments against the papacy (or at least one of the most interesting) is that the Catholic view requires us to hold that the first few popes after Peter had authority over St. John the Evangelist, even though these popes weren’t Apostles, and John was.

So how do we answer that? I think that the easiest way is to look to history. In particular, what did the Church look like while Clement was in charge of the Apostle John was still living? We can actually answer this question to a certain extent, because we have the writings of both Clement and John. The answer may surprise you. To explore this, I propose asking three questions: (I) when did St. Clement write to the Corinthians?; (II) when did the Apostle John die?; and (III) why does this matter?
I. When Did St. Clement Write to the Corinthians?

Pope St. Clement (Clement of Rome), Author of 1 Clement

Answer: c. 95-96 A.D.

As the University of Exeter’s David G. Horrell explains, “Although a precise and irrefutable dating of 1 Clement is impossible, there is widespread agreement that it was written in the last decade of the first century, perhaps around 95-96 CE.”

On this issue, the modern scholarly consensus is in agreement with the testimony of the earliest Christians, who say that Clement was the third Bishop of Rome (or fourth, if you count St. Peter, who was both Apostle and bishop). Tertullian, writing around 200 A.D., describes how, unlike heretical sects, the Catholic Church has Apostolic Succession. In describing this succession, Tertullian notes that St. Clement was ordained by St. Peter, and was Bishop of Rome:

Let them exhibit the origins of their churches, let them unroll the list of their bishops, coming down from the beginning by succession in such a way that their first bishop had for his originator and predecessor one of the apostles or apostolic men; one, I mean, who continued with the apostles. For this is how the apostolic churches record their origins. The church of Smyrna, for example, reports that Polycarp was placed there by John, the church of Rome that Clement was ordained by Peter. In just the same way the other churches produced men who were appointed to the office of bishop by the apostles and so transmitted the apostolic seed to them.
Eusebius, the first Church historian, writes that “Clement also, who was appointed third bishop of the church at Rome, was, as Paul testifies [in Philippians 4:3], his co-laborer and fellow-soldier.”
This also agrees with the text itself. Pope Clement refers to the martyrdom of Peter and Paul as examples of spiritual heroes from “our own generation”:
But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours, and when he had finally suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.
Clement also begins the letter by explaining that its tardiness was due “to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves,” an apparent reference to the persecutions of the Emperor Domitian. Finally, he calls upon his readers to “remember” the sayings of Jesus, rather than quoting one of the Gospels, all of which supports a dating of c. 95-96.
II. When Did the Apostle John Die?
1Pontormo, St. John the Evangelist (1525)

Answer: Sometime after c. 96 A.D.

Christian Courier has a very good summary of why the Book of Revelation likely dates to c. 96 A.D., rather than 68-69 (the Preterist view). Meanwhile, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible explains that the Gospel of John isn’t a second-century document, as was once claimed by the opponents of orthodox Christianity:

During the nineteenth century, scholars dated the Gospel [of John] to the last half of the second century because of its perceived Hellenistic influence. In the twentieth century, however, two factors combined to push the likely date of composition somewhat earlier. First, the John Rylands Library Papyrus (P52), a small fragment of a papyrus codex with a few verses from John 18, was discovered in 1935 and dated variously from 117-150 C.E., indicating a date of composition no later than the end of the first century, given the time needed for the text to spread to Egypt. Second, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in 1948 and their subsequent analysis provided additional evidence both for the complex diversity and thorough Hellenization of first-century Judaism and also for the Jewish background of Johannine motifs previously thought drawn from the gentile world, such as the light/dark duality so prominent in the prologue (1:4-5). A latest reasonable date for the Gospel’s composition, then, is before 100 C.E.

The encyclopedia goes on to argue that while establishing an earliest possible date is more difficult, the general consensus is that John’s Gospel dates to the 90s.

Once again, we find an emerging scholarly consensus on the dating of John’s Gospel and Revelation that correspond with what we find testified to by the Church Fathers, who are clear that John wrote Revelation shortly after the Emperor Domitian’s death, while John was in exile. St. Irenaeus of Lyons writes in Against Heresies (c. 180 A.D.) that Revelation was written not long ago, “almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”
St. Clement of Alexandria (155-215) [this isn’t Pope Clement, by the way, but the second-century Bishop of Alexandria] agrees on the date, and notes that the Apostle John was still active as an Apostle during this time period:

For when, on the tyrant’s [Domitian’s] death, he [the Apostle John] returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit.

So Pope Clement and the Apostle John are both writing in the immediate aftermath of the Domitian persecution. This gives us a very precise date to work with: September 18, 96, the date of the Emperor Domitian’s assassination. As for the death of St. John, it obviously occurred later. The date 100 A.D. is the consensus (accepted even by those who don’t accept the 96 A.D. dating for Revelation), which is in accord with the Patristic testimony that John wrote Revelation while he was an “old man.”
III. Why Does This Matter?
Map depicting St. Paul’s third missionary journey, including to Corinto (Corinth)

The last two points are relatively non-controversial: it’s generally accepted that 1 Clement was written about 96, and that the Apostle John died about 100. So what? Well, consider how 1 Clement begins. Pope Clement, speaking on behalf of the entire Roman Church, says:

The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to those who are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Owing, dear brethren, to the sudden and successive calamitous events which have happened to ourselves, we feel that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the points respecting which you consulted us; and especially to that shameful and detestable sedition, utterly abhorrent to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-confident persons have kindled to such a pitch of frenzy, that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be universally loved, has suffered grievous injury.

What does this mean?

It means that when there was schism within the Corinthian church, they appealed all the way to Rome for assistance and consultation, even though the Apostle John was alive at the time. We don’t know exactly when the Corinthians wrote, but it was early enough that Clement is apologetic for his delayed response in 96 A.D.

Apart from the pope and the Apostles, no one is afforded this kind of respect and deference in the Apostolic age. And when Clement responds, he’s not afraid to order the schismatics to return to the true Church:

Ye therefore, who laid the foundation of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts. Learn to be subject, laying aside the proud and arrogant self-confidence of your tongue. For it is better for you that you should occupy a humble but honourable place in the flock of Christ, than that, being highly exalted, you should be cast out from the hope of His people.

So you have the Roman church intervening in a local church dispute, and issuing orders. You’ve got the Bishop of Rome speaking on behalf of the whole church of Rome. And you’ve got all this going on while the Apostle John is still alive. A standard Protestant ecclesiology would suggest that this matter would have been handled entirely at the congregational level, or barring that, by appealing to the still-living Apostle.

IV. What was the Church’s Reaction to 1 Clement?
The other Clement: St. Clement of Alexandria

How do the early Christians respond to this Roman intervention into the affairs of Corinth? Do they view this as a papist usurpation of John’s Apostolic authority, or as a violation of the autonomy of the local church? Nope. On the contrary, the major dispute following Clement’s letter is whether or not it should be considered Scripture.

St. Clement of Alexandria (the other Clement, mentioned earlier), after citing Scriptural passages on martyrdom, continues:

Moreover, in the Epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Clement also, drawing a picture of the Gnostic, says: […]

Even as late as St. Jerome’s book De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), from the late fourth century, we hear that Clement’s letter is still being read liturgically, as if it were Scripture:

He [Clement] wrote, on the part of the church of Rome, an especially valuable Letter to the church of the Corinthians, which in some places is publicly read, and which seems to me to agree in style with the epistle to the Hebrews which passes under the name of Paul but it differs from this same epistle, not only in many of its ideas, but also in respect of the order of words, and its likeness in either respect is not very great.
Of course, this is not to suggest that 1 Clement (or any other papal encyclical, after 2 Peter) is Scripture. Rather, it’s to show that the early Church looks a whole lot more papal than you might expect.
This also puts John’s own Gospel in a whole new light. John makes repeated reference to Petrine authority; for example, in the midst of his Resurrection account, John points out that he waited for Peter before entering the Tomb (John 20:4-5). In the next chapter, he talks about how, at Christ’s command, Peter was able to singlehandedly haul in the net of fish (Jn. 21:11) that the other Apostles were incapable of hauling in (Jn. 21:6). Then he recounts Christ’s commissioning of Peter as Shepherd  (Jn. 21:15-17). In each case, these are details that only John reports, and (assuming that the general consensus on the dating of his Gospel is correct) he is doing so decades after Peter’s death. So why emphasize Petrine authority? Because John wasn’t a rival to Clement or any of Peter’s successors. Both men had roles to play in the Body of Christ, and John built up that Body, from the papacy on down.