Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unworthy Amazon Reviewers

I saw an advertisement in my blog for a new book from Pope Francis, "The Church of Mercy". It was published in April of this year. I clicked on the advertisement out of interest to see how it was rated, the reviews, etc. 

Here is the link:

The very first words in the description come from a review by Fr. Richard Rohr who praises the book. Immediately alarm bells went off in my head. Here is Fr. Rohr's Wiki page:

Fr. Rohr is basically a New Age hippie with all sorts of bizarre teachings. His Wiki page states the following: "Scripture as liberation, the integration of action and contemplation, incarnational mysticism, community building, peace and social justice issues, male spirituality, the Enneagram of Personality, and eco-spirituality are among the many subjects addressed in Rohr's writings and teaching."

It also states that he has been a guest on the Oprah and Friends radio show if that tells you anything. He also presided over a lesbian "wedding" and spoke at a symposium of New Ways Ministry, a ministry to homosexual people which was condemned by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for not teaching in accord with the Catholic Church's moral teachings regarding homosexuality.

Leave it up to Loyola Press (a Jesuit publisher) and Amazon to allow this man to be included in the description reviewing the book. This gives the impression that he is in good standing with the church. Well guess what....he IS in "good standing" with the church. His Wiki page states:
"Rohr is a priest in good standing with his Franciscan province, the New Mexico Province of Our Lady Guadalupe, and also with Rome.  He often refers to his position as being on the "edge of the inside", as a prophetic place from which to challenge and encourage the Church."


Bishop Cupich and the Pro-Life Movement

Here is my one and only post on the new Chicago archbishop. I try to avoid posting about news concerning the activities of the church hierarchy (and I explain why below). So I promise this will be my only one (at least until there is something extremely newsworthy that is worth discussing). 

Bishop Blaise Cupich from Spokane was announced as the new bishop to succeed Cardinal George in Chicago. Unfortunately, Bishop Cupich is on record telling priests and seminarians from his former diocese to desist from praying outside Planned Parenthoods and participating in 40 Days For Life because he did not want his priests to be seen as "extremists" on the pro-life issue. 

Catholic blogger Mark Shea had this post concerning Bishop Cupich back in April of this year:

It should be noted that Mark Shea is a big defender of Pope Francis, but it should be noted that he hasn't had much to say about this recent appointment. I say organizations like 40 Days For Life and Students For Life of Illinois should turn up the heat in Chicago and make their presence known. 

Archbishops of Chicago have made huge impacts on the US church. Cardinal George was hailed as one of the great intellectual churchmen of our time. I will never fully appreciate the travesty that was Cardinal Bernadin as I did not live in Chicago during his reign as archbishop of Chicago (and I did not follow church politics back in grade school). There were many internal struggles in the church that were going on during the reign of Bernadin, but the two biggest outcomes (in my opinion) was the introduction of communion in the hand (which Bernadin rammed through as President of the USCCB despite it being contrary to the current norm which stated that communion in the hand could only be introduced in countries that had already established it as a custom, and the US was not one of them), and his "seamless garment"approach to ethical considerations on life issues. 

The communion in the hand issue is best left alone for another post. I think the "seamless garment" approach that Cardinal Bernadin intended was often misrepresented and misunderstood. If you ever wondered how Catholics leaving mass could have an Obama bumper sticker, or why Catholic politicians are oftentimes pro-choice, or why Catholics vote pro-choice in the name of "social justice" as they argue that the other positions of the politician outweigh their pro-abortion stance, or why Cardinal Burke is one of the only ones at the USCCB with the gumption to say that pro-abortion politicians should be barred from holy communion, you can pretty much chalk these outcomes up to the "seamless garment" approach of Bernadin. I would give the benefit of the doubt to Cardinal Bernadin that this was not his intended outcome since I never heard the man speak and I'm only reading second hand accounts, but it was the outcome nonetheless. Leave it up to cafeteria Catholics to twist church teaching to their own liking. 

It was no surprise to me that Pope Francis chose someone completely off the radar. Professional in-the-know bloggers kept giving their top list of potential candidates. My first thought when reading those was that they might as well throw those lists in the trash. We might as well get used to the shock value of major church decisions as that seems to be the norm. 

As for Bishop Cupich, only time will tell what legacy he leaves behind and I don't think it is wise to pass judgments this early. I can honestly say that at the end of the day, it probably won't effect me or my spiritual life one way or the other. I will continue to enjoy the majesty of solemn high masses at St. John Cantius, read my bible, make my monthly donations to the Institute of Christ the King, the Dominican Rosary Center, and Students for Life, drink my Mystic Monk Coffee, and read my catholic magazines. 

I mentioned at the top of this post that this is my one and only post about the appointment of Bishop Cupich, as I don't want to fall prey to the tendency of many catholic bloggers. As I read the catholic blogosphere, I feel like 90% of the posts are on the daily activities of Pope Francis or what other bishops are doing. I am constantly bombarded with blog headlines from Captain Obvious bloggers that apparently have nothing else to write about such as "Pope Francis says that Jesus saves us in his Wednesday general audience". Thanks for that blog post as I never would have known! 

In earlier days when parish life was strong and people actually learned catechetics from their parish priest, people were not all that concerned with the daily musings of the Pope. If he wasn't defining dogmas like the Immaculate Conception, nobody really worried about what the pope was doing. Now with the new media sources, people have this urge to hang on to every off-the-cuff interview the pope gives as if it ultimately matters. I guess when people are not being challenged in their faith at the local parish level and have to listen to banal or ridiculous homilies (such as the infamous "miracle of sharing" homily on the multiplication of the loaves which I have had to endure a few times now), people start looking for catechesis elsewhere. Checking blogs for what the pope said at breakfast this morning seems to be their next best bet. 

I have come accustomed to tuning out these blog posts and I would probably do myself a big favor by turning off my Feedly news reader and spend more time in prayer and taking care of my own spiritual journey. I know that Bishop Cupich will get an onslaught of attention from the liberal press:  "will he be liberal, will he be moderate, etc.". At the end of the day, we will see what happens and it shouldn't change us one way or the other. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

St. Januarius

Hello cyberspace.  Long time no see.  I don't know what compelled me to look at my blog today, but I was browsing through some of my old posts.  I had contemplated deleting this blog entirely since I obviously have not been writing, but against my better judgment I am keeping it open for the time being.  For the first few months after Nathan was born, I was absorbed with him and didn't really feel like blogging.  Now that we are in a routine and I have been back to work, I have time to blog, but just fell out of the habit.  At this point, I am just writing for my own personal edification regardless if anyone reads it or not.  Without further ado.......let's awkwardly jump right in as if my last post was not nine months ago.......

Today is the feast of St. Januarius (3rd class in the Extraordinary Form and optional memorial in the Ordinary Form).  Here is a portion of the entry from Pictorial Lives of the Saints:  
"Many centuries ago, St. Januarius died for the faith in the persecution of Diocletian, and to this day God confirms the faith of His Church, and works a continual miracle, through the blood which Januarius shed for Him. The Saint was Bishop of Beneventum (town in southern Italy now called “Benevento”), and on one occasion he travelled to Misenum (ancient port & naval station in southern Italy at the northwest corner of Bay of Naples) in order to visit a deacon named Sosius.......Shortly after Sosius was arrested, and thrown into prison. There St. Januarius visited and encouraged him, till the bishop also was arrested in turn. Soon the number of the confessors was swollen by some of the neighboring clergy. They were exposed to the wild beasts in the amphitheatre. The beasts, however, did them no harm; and at last the Governor of Campania ordered the Saints to be beheaded (in 305 A.D.). Little did the heathen governor think that he was the instrument in God’s hand of ushering in the long succession of miracles which attest the faith of Januarius. The relics of St. Januarius rest in the cathedral of Naples, and it is there that the liquefaction of his blood occurs. The blood is congealed in two glass vials, but when it is brought near the martyr’s head it melts and flows like the blood of a living man." 
Shea, J. G. (1887). Pictorial Lives of the Saints (pp. 402–403). New York; Cincinnati; Chicago: Benziger Brothers.

The Lions lie down at the feet of St. Januarius
Believe it or not, the blood of St. Januarius which is contained in a glass casing still to this day in Naples is pulled out each year by the Cardinal Archbishop on the feast of St. Januarius to see if it will once again liquefy all these centuries later.  Today, it happened again (as it did last year as well).  Here is the video:

This is not just a sleight of hand magic trick to impress people.  My understanding is that the Church has not definitively stated that this a miracle, but refers to it as an unexplained phenomenon.  Call it what you want, but it is pretty cool nonetheless.