Monthly Archives: January 2012

I wish everyone would come to Jesus’ Heart

There are so many people in pain and sorrow; so many struggling with worry.  There are so many lost, so many seeking, so many following false hopes and false gods.  How do I make them see? How do I bring them all to Jesus’ Heart?
Heaven is so beautiful.  If they only knew the happiness–it’s a prize worth anything.  It’s not something to be taken for granted.
Hell is so horrible.  The torment, the pain.  Even Purgatory, which we tend to dismiss or joke about, is a nightmare too dire to imagine.

Why do people gamble with their souls?
Why do people take their salvation for granted?
This day, your life will be demanded of you. Wake up!  Get your lamps ready!  Purge yourselves of evil.  Cut off that which leads you to sin.  Preen the bad limbs from your soul so you will only produce good fruit.  Sell all you have and give to the poor.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love your neighbor as Jesus loves you–by giving yourself completely.  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Live the beautitudes.  This is the Gospel.  It is so simple, yet so difficult.  Why do people hear Jesus’ words and ignore them?  Say, “This doesn’t apply to me”?  Let the dead bury their dead.  Come, take up your cross and follow Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light, even if it may not look at it.  It is time for you to rise from sleep!  Pray, fast and do acts of love.  Do small things with great love and offer up the small things that bother you as great sacrifices  This is the message of Fatima, the message of Therese, the Little Way.

John Paul II said the Little Way is perhaps the greatest new doctrine ever given to the Church, for it sums up the Gospel so perfectly.  Live it.

Advertisements

A Lesson to Parents from St. Pio of Pietrelcina

I’ve always argued that one of the reasons for homeschooling is that, no matter how good a school is, school’s can’t control what the kids say to each other, so when it comes to issues like bullying and bad influences, a school impedes parents’ ability to protect their children from unnecessary persecution and/or bad examples. Similarly, going by the MPAA’s meaningless “ratings” system as a standard, schools will show programs and movies that may not meet the standards of some parents. By the way, if you reading this are a parent, teacher or administrator, advise your school that copyrighted material can *only* be shown if it’s in an academic context. Schools can’t just show movies for “fun”; they have to at least have discussions of the film or assign a paper or something.

Having our kids in brick & mortar school for the first time, we’ve come to see the reality of these issues. Thankfully, Gianna for one is holding fast in the tide of evil and secularism she’s facing at school, but how can a 7 year old be expected to really stand up against such filth?

When we were homeschooling, our kids only associated with children whom we also knew–I take that back, they were in virtual charter schools, and Allie was picking some stuff up in discussions with her online classmates that was less than wholesome. If there was a bullying issue or fight, parent could talk to parent and get it resolved. Even in activities, we still generally chose Catholic activities, and the kids at those events were kids of parents who are also committed Catholics.

Anyway, all of this has me thinking of the famous statement by Padre Pio that is often misquoted, regarding permissive parents. I looked it up, and here are two statements he had towards permissive parents, with another one to a husband who was being overly permissive with himself, from http://www.christianfamilyoutreach.com/pamphlets/saint_padre_pio.pdf:

One day a priest brought a husband and wife to Padre Pio so that he could bless them. Three of their sons were in prison for burglary. Padre Pio said to them, “I absolutely refuse to bless you! You didn’t pull in the reins when your children were growing up, so don’t come along now when they are in jail and ask for my blessing.”
A woman came to Padre Pio whose daughter had just died in the process of giving birth. The woman couldn’t think of anything else but the loss of her daughter. Padre Pio said to her, “And why are you weeping so much for her when she is already in Paradise? You would do much better to devote more attention to the activities of your seventeen-year-old daughter who comes home late at night from dances and entertainments.”  . . .

A man who was being unfaithful to his wife confessed that he was having “a spiritual crisis.” Padre Pio stood up and yelled, “What spiritual crisis? You’re a vile pig and God is angry with you. Go away!”

In the family of Bl. Louis and Zelie Martin, SFO (interestingly, while the Martins are honored by Carmelites b/c of their Carmelite daughters, they themselves were Third Order Franciscans, and their daughter Leonie became a Franciscan). Since “little flower” Therese, the youngest, was already in the convent, Celine stayed at home to care for their father. Celine had at one point made a private vow of perpetual virginity, and Therese was very concerned that she might change her mind if she stayed out of the convent too long. Other family members hoped that Celine would choose to marry, and encouraged her to socialize. She attended several dances and turned down several marriage proposals. During that time, Therese repeatedly begged her not to endanger her soul by going to dances. Of course, Celine ultimately did join her sisters at the convent of Lisieux, outliving them helping to not only contribute to her sister’s hagiography and legacy, but also to promote devotion to the Shroud of Turin.

Then there’s what Our Lord Himself said to St. Faustina about attending a dance–and I’m sure dances in early 20th Century Poland were nothing near so spiritually filthy as the “dances” today:

Once I was at a dance with one of my sisters and while everybody was having a good time, my soul was experiencing deep torments. As I began to dance, I suddenly saw Jesus at my side, Jesus racked with pain, stripped of his clothing, all covered with wounds, who spoke these words to me, “How long shall I put up with you and how long will you keep putting Me off?” At that moment the charming music stopped, and the company I was with vanished from my sight; there remained Jesus and I. I took a seat by my dear sister, pretending to have a headache in order to cover up what took place in my soul. After a while I slipped out unnoticed, leaving my sister and all my companions behind and made my way to the Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus Kostka (Lodz). It was almost twilight; there were only a few people in the cathedral. Paying no attention to what was happening around me, I fell prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and begged the Lord to be good enough to give me to understand what I should do next.

(Diary 9-10, qtd. in http://www.faustina-message.com/saint-faustina-biography.htm).

Apparently, WordPress no longer permits video embedding, but here’s a link to a Protestant song on the same topic, Casting Crowns’ “Slow Fade”

It’s Official: Catholics Cannot Support Obama because Cardinal Mahony says so!

If you missed it, the Obama Administration has officially ordered the Catholic Church, as part of its “Health Care Reform” that so many “Catholics” supported, that Catholic organizations *MUST* pay for abortions and contraceptives as part of its insurance packages, that there will no longer be any “conscience exemptions,” and the same applies for doctors and hospitals providing these “services.”

The supposedly “Catholic” director of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, made the announcement publicly last week that this decision was final, and there is no exception. Ironically, her announcement comes a week after the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama EEOC in a religious freedom case, with even Obama’s appointed justices ruling against the Reich, and hopefully, this precedent will help when this goes to court.

In the meantime, the US Bishops are making their ad limina visit to Rome, and the Holy Father on Thursday made an address talking about how America’s tradition of religious liberty under “Nature’s God” is facing grave threats from the forces of secularism, and while he doesn’t refer to Obama by name, he refers to Obama Administration policies:

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

He refers to the Church’s authority to speak in the public square and advise governments on matters of morality. He also speaks of the need for an informed “an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society.” That’s a far cry from some people who say laity can think whatever they want, that laity can choose to believe contrary to what the Church teaches. It’s a far cry from people who say that we should embrace the culture uncritically.

If you’re not of the mindset to listen to B16, maybe two of the most liberal bishops in the country can sway you.

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg–the guy who banned EWTN, said Terri Schiavo’s murder was just a family issue and no one else’s business, and said he was more alarmed by the “venomous” pro-life rhetoric than Obama speaking at Notre Dame–a guy who generally sided with Mahony, Weakland & co. on every issue–issued a statement in late November condemning the measure:

In my homily I chose to bring up a possibility arising from Health and Human Services regulations which bother me deeply precisely because I and many others find them violative of the religious liberty assured us by the first amendment to our Constitution and also of our personal moral consciences. These regulations will apply to the implementation of the soon to be fully implemented federal health care law.

The Diocese of Saint Petersburg has approximately 2300 employees who participate in a generous health care plan as part of their employment. While it covers almost everything, it excludes contraceptives, abortifacients, sexual enhancements like “Viagra”, etc. The first draft of the regulations for implementation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services mandated these and more services which I and others think violate the freedom of religion of our Church as regards procedures which we believe to be not in keeping with God’s law. Further, if a person is required by law to provide, perhaps in a hospital emergency room situation procedures violative of their individual conscience( in the past they have been exempt because of conscience concerns), they would be forced by this law to do so. Reacting to the first wave of complaints from the Catholic Church the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services modified the regulations slightly to exempt only Catholics working for a Catholic employer (other religions with serious moral concerns would also be included). Alas, I would still be required by law to provide the services to non-Catholic employees. What kind of sense does that make?

But there is an even larger problem for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. It is self-insured and our plan is only administered by a health care agency. Therefore the diocese by this law is an insurance company and all insurance companies must provide these services with currently no exemptions allowed. There are no exemptions to even include the situation outlined above. If the argument focused on abortion, a matter of public morality since the life of another person is involved, I suspect many more people would carry the fear which I have about this exercise of regulatory authority but because it seems to focus on contraception, a matter of private morality, lots of people do not understand what is at stake here. My genuine concern is that it is simply the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. In my homily I outlined perhaps the only option left for the diocese as an employer if these regulations stand and believe me, colleagues in ministry and service and I will experience a marked loss of health care insurance coverage. A Church cannot be forced to violate its teaching, do something which is possibly immoral, and stand idly by and watch our Catholic doctors, nurses and aids forced to perform procedures which are both against their conscience and previously protected. That’s what involved in this and there is considerable opposition to the position of the Church coming from Planned Parenthood and other organizations which see this moment as an opportunity to close the conscience clause exemption which they have long despised. If you don’t believe me, read the blogs of those other groups. No one in yesterday’s congregation has the power to fix whats wrong with the Affordable Health Care and Patient Protection Act of 2010. Only the President of the United States and his Secretary for Health and Human Services can do that but a gathering for Mass such as yesterday’s does provide me a forum for vetting a serious question of the intersection of law and morality and learning from those far more skilled at interpreting and applying the law than myself. From the reactions which I immediately received and throughout the day yesterday by e-mail and personal contacts, posing the matter of religious freedom was appreciated and as you can see below, I asked nothing of those present but to listen, reflect and pray.

And if *he’s* not good enough, none other than Roger “I’m as infallible as the Pope” Mahony himself, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, the guy who nearly went to jail for his aiding and abetting of homosexual priests, the guy who was publicly criticized for a pro-life activist at a pro-life dinner for supporting nothing but pro-choice politicians, the guy who’s been photographed with numerous notorious Demonocrats, has also condemned Obama and says that while he “can’t” endorse a candidate (never stopped him endorsing Democrats), he will vote for the candidate who supports freedom of conscience:

For me there is no other fundamental issue as important as this one as we enter into the Presidential and Congressional campaigns. Every candidate must be pressed to declare his/her position on all of the fundamental life issues, especially the role of government to determine what conscience decision must be followed: either the person’s own moral and conscience decision, or that dictated/enforced by the Federal government. For me the answer is clear: we stand with our moral principles and heritage over the centuries, not what a particular Federal government agency determines.

As Bishops we do not recommend candidates for any elected office. My vote on November 6 will be for the candidate for President of the United States and members of Congress who intend to recognize the full spectrum of rights under the many conscience clauses of morality and public policy. If any candidate refuses to acknowledge and to promote those rights, then that candidate will not receive my vote.

This is a sad moment in the life of our country where religious freedom and freedom of conscience led to the formation of this new Nation under God.

So, Obama Catholics, how can you possibly support your support for this Communist???

A Carmelite Teaching Order!

I recently responded to some anti-Catholic bigot who denounced a picture of my patroness, St. Therese of Lisieux, on another blog by making a comment about nuns and rulers. I pointed out to this idiot that Carmelites are contemplative nuns and not teachers. Well, it turns out there is an order of Carmelites out of Los Angeles who are specifically a teaching order, the Carmelites of the Most Sacred Heart, and like other conservative orders, they’re thriving in vocations:
www.carmelitesistersocd.com

Why Catholic Education in America is Totally Screwed Up

Even in the 1990s, we were hearing of Catholic schools being closed left and right, and it’s gotten worse with all the lawsuit garbage of the past decade. Meanwhile, the sense of Catholicism in Catholic schools, the orthodoxy of teaching, and the spiritual life have all been steadily declining since the 1960’s. Some of this is due to intentional agendas like the ones Dietrich von Hildebrand addresses in _The Charitable Anathema_, but, these days, it has less and less to do with intentional malice as it has to do with a system that’s just totally screwed up by a variety of factors, such that people don’t even know where to begin to reform, and a lot of people don’t even have a clue that reform is necessary.

1. Lack of Religious, and severe lack of them living their vows:
Let’s face it; priests and religious used to be and should be the backbone of Catholic schools. Education is one of the top four reasons religious orders exist. Education is *how* Orders recruit. We hear too much of how horrible “the nuns” were. Whenever someone talks about how “bad” the nuns “were” with their discipline, I have to point out the contrast to today’s children.
Then, the ones we *do* have of course, are largely ideologically liberal and, worse, they’re using the “relative to your society” interpretation of “poverty.” It’s like the recruitment ad I saw a few years ago for one of the Daughters/Sisters of Mercy/Charity orders: “We’re just like ordinary people. We wear ordinary clothes and work ordinary jobs for ordinary salaries. We just live in a community with other unmarried women and come home at the end of the day to share community and prayer.” Basically, “Hey! Join us! We’re a Coven of Lesbians!”
The point is that, besides the question of orthodoxy and declining vocations, religious are basically demanding the same salaries and benefits that lay teachers make. This takes away the financial advantage Catholic schools used to have of religious teaching there for poverty-level wages.
[While rising orders like the Dominicans of St. Cecilia or Dominicans of Mary Mother of the Eucharist are handling the “vocations shortage” and “lack of orthodoxy” issues, and while the nuns are living in a much truer spirit of poverty–our friend who’s a Nashville Dominican told us the motherhouse didn’t have A/C the first few years she lived there–I can’t say one way or the other if they’re helping on the financial side. The schools they teach at tend to have pretty high tuition.]

2. Catholic identity: the basic criticism that Catholics like us have against most Catholic schools is that they aren’t Catholic in *all* aspects of life. A Catholic education isn’t just supposed to be about 1-5 hours of “religion” per week–let’s ignore the fact that such “religion” is usually watered down milquetoast mush about “Jesus is nice.” It’s about integrating prayer–Catholic prayer–into the daily life of the school: school Masses (with proper liturgy and proper homiletics), school Adoration, school Rosary and maybe even school Divine Office. It’s about talking about the regular subjects from a Catholic perspective (i.e., intelligent design in the science classroom, morality and religious symbolism in the literature classroom, discussing Catholic figures in the history classroom).

Catholic schools celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., in January and talk about the pagan god Janus instead of talking about the Feast of the Most Holy Theotokos and what that means, or talking about the Saints of the month. They’ll talk about “Christian Unity Week” but not about the anniversary of _Roe v. Wade_. They’ll celebrate Native American History without talking about Archbishop Charles Chaput being the first Native American archbishop, or about Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, or St. Juan Diego, or St. Martin de Porres. Do they talk of Chief Seattle being a convert to Catholicism? Does talk of African Americans or Native Americans deal with St. Katherine Drexel and the many other great Catholics who have worked to help minorities in this country who were being oppressed by the Protestant Overlords? What about Mother Mary Lange?

A Catholic school should teach the students to exemplify Catholic virtue in all aspects of life. What we usually get is “Christian virtue,” with the same “values” that are taught at public schools willing to teaching “values,” of the sort expressed by Thomas Merton’s teacher who said, “Being a Christian is much the same as being a gentleman.”

There are three reasons for this problem, but I’m listing it, and them separately.

3. “Accreditation”: Secular Accreditation, as many Catholic homeschool associations and independent Catholic schools argue, is a big hammer used to suppress faith formation. First, in order to be accredited, schools have to teach certain subjects a certain way. This leaves out the question of teaching them in the aforementioned *Catholic* way. We’re talking about Martin Luther King instead of Martin de Porres precisely because the accreditation rules require talking about MLK and forbid talking about subjects that aren’t on the approved curricula for accreditation. Accreditation requires having “accredited” teachers, which means Catholic schools are hiring teachers based upon secular credentials, rather than on those teachers’ credentials as members of the Catholic faith. That gets to my favorite statement by Bishop Vasa, regarding how he requires a mandatum of all employees and volunteers in his diocese: “If I let a known child predator serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Communion or a CCD teacher, people would rightly accuse me of neglect of my duties. If I require, though, that the people distributing Communion and teaching CCD actually believe in transubstantiation, they criticize me for it.”

As I noted in an earlier posts and in many posts in the history of this blog, I get so sick of hearing that I should praise a given principal or teacher or other school employee because of secular credentials. Tell me about the person’s moral practices, prayer life and personal habits.

Just as accreditation means the curricula have severe deficiencies from a Catholic perspective, so too does it mean that the teachers have adhered to a particular course of education that probably means they’re deficient in other areas. Everything I’ve said about “accreditation” applies to the EEOC and several other government entities, as well.

Even more deeply than that is that education is about formation of a person. We forget that theories of education are to be based upon philosophies of human nature and how best to form human beings. The Classical Theory, the Ignatian Theory, the Scholastic Theory, the Liberal Arts Theory, and the Great Books Theory are all very traditional or neo-traditional methods that in different ways conform to the Catholic view of the person. Today, they get lip service from having textbook snippets about Plato or something, and they get lumped into vague categories by the schools that even bother to try, so that no one bothers to explore their nuances or differences. In any case, a school that is following the rules for “accreditation” cannot, by definition, adhere to any of these methods of education. It can try to adapt some principles of those methods to fit the Modernist, Masonic view of education that “accreditation” comes from, but no “accredited” school can be truly Classical, Ignatian, Scholastic, Liberal Arts, etc., and therefore no “accredited” school can be truly Catholic.

4. The people running the schools are badly catechized. The declining Catholic education system of the last 50 years is the system that produced the people doing the teaching and administrating these days. First, they’ve been taught by their teachers, pastors, etc., to shun “that stuff that Vatican II got rid of,” like Saints, Feast Days, sacramentals, devotions, dogma, etc. They’ve been horribly catechized, so they often don’t know what to do even if they want to. For the most part, the people who *are* properly catechized, whether by formal or self-education, are some combination of a) resigned to ostracism, b) homeschooling, c) not “accredited” as teachers according to secular standards (see above).

They’ve been taught that evangelization is “forcing your religion on other people.” They’ve been taught that “all religions are basically the same,” that we’re “multiple boats on the journey to the same place.”

Again, most of them are well meaning–they’ve just been totally brainwashed by the institutional rot in our culture and in our Church, and they don’t know any better. They probably sincerely believe that birth control and chastity are optional, that women’s ordination is on its way, that the Eucharist is just a symbol, etc., but unless someone sits them down and corrects them, they won’t change.

5. GOVERNMENT MONEY:

A school operating according to Catholic principles shouldn’t need much money. Good old books don’t cost that much money–keeping up with the “latest curricula” costs money. Technology and facilities cost money, OK, but those are the kinds of things that can be directly donated. Hiring “certified” lay teachers who need to support their families costs a *lot* of money.

Getting back to point 1, hiring nuns and monks who went straight into the monastery out of high school and received their education and training from the Church would cost a fraction.

So, if it weren’t for the desire for secular accreditation or the lack of vocations, the cost of running Catholic schools would be a *lot* less.

The Supreme Court ruled at some point that government money can go towards religious schools so long as the money is applied to non-religious activities. This ruling helped destroy Catholic schools in the 1960s and helped create the long-term problem. Prior to that ruling, there were extensive publishing houses of Catholic textbooks–on all subjects. After that ruling, Catholic schools started using completely secular textbooks in all their non-religion classes. This killed the Catholic education textbook publishing industry, so the books aren’t even available except for a handful of publishers like Seton.

All the various ways that the government supposedly “helps” Catholic schools–tax exemptions, grants, vouchers, scholarships, Title Whatever, etc., serve as subtle tools with which to undermine a school’s ability to incorporate Catholicism into all aspects of academic life. (This is the argument against vouchers raised by Maggie Gallagher and others). Even when the government *doesn’t* forbid religious activities in connection with some funding, the schools still fear being audited or whatever, so they stand their guard.

6. Parish Money:

A Catholic school *ought* to be getting the majority of its money from the parish and diocese, from tuition and from donations from well-to-do Catholics. The goal of most parishes and diocese, however, is to minimize the money they have to pay, since their budgets are so strapped. Therefore, they rely on secular grants and the aforementioned government money.

7. Confusion of Mission:

Lastly, there’s the confusion of mission. Catholic schools exist for two reasons: to give Catholics a safe environment for raising their children and to provide a good education to poor children (hopefully evangelizing them and their parents in the process). All the factors I’ve previously listed point to the fact that schools are *not* in general evangelizing their non-Catholic students. We were once involved in a Catholic school where the priest told the kids, “God doesn’t want everyone to be Catholic.” Now, we’re at a school where the priest clearly teaches Catholic dogma in his school homilies, and encourages the students to take that home to their parents, and that’s a great blessing to have these days.

However, there’s still the problem that when you have Catholic kids mixing with non-Catholic kids, or even Catholic kids mixing with other Catholic kids, no matter how good the school is, there’s still the issue of peer pressure. This brings us to

8. PARENTS:

Dr. Z. is an OB/Gyn who prescribes birth control pills and gives a great deal of money to the parish.
Mr. Y. has 8 kids, is theological orthodox, and politically conservative, *BUT* tends towards the “preppy” view of education, and gives a great deal of money to the school.
Mrs. X. is on her third husband and has 2 kids in the school.
Mr. W. isn’t even Catholic but is one of the wealthiest people in town and sends his kids to Catholic school for the “quality.”
Ms. V. is a non-Catholic racial minority mom trying to get her kids a good education.
Miss U. teaches at the school, is a registered Democrat and “volunteers” at Planned Parenthood (and not by praying the rosary on the sidewalk) on the weekends.
Mr. and Mrs. T. have a number of kids in the school, they struggle to make ends meet on a middle class salary while adhering to the teachings of the Church. Z, X, W, V and U consider them to be “goody two shoes” and “judgemental” and “Pharisaical.” Y doesn’t like them because they don’t dress nice. They’re the constant gossip of parent meetings and teacher meetings. They bring up any topic about the Faith, and it’s “Oh, they’re at it again.” They get virtually ostracized from the school and parish community for being “troublemakers.”
Miss S. is a young teacher who grew up in a family like the T’s, or maybe even like the Y’s. She never went to Catholic school but was either homeschooled or public schooled, or a mixture of both. She recently graduated from Christendom or FUS. She chose to teach at Catholic school because of her commitment to the faith. She gets in the classroom, and here’s a kid who’s parents are divorced and remarried; that kid’s parents have a mixed marriage; that kid’s parent is Dr. Z; that kid’s parent is an *ex*-Catholic; that kid’s parent is a Baptist minister; that kid’s parent is fighting in Iraq; that kid’s parent is a stockbroker. One kid is from the T. family, and the rest are non-Catholics. Miss S. finds herself walking on eggshells on every subject.
Principal R. wants to run an orthodox Catholic school but most parents, particularly the ones with money, are only interested in an elite prep. school. If any of the alternatives I’ve suggested (i.e., dropping accreditation in favor of Catholic identity, dropping some of the trappings to save money, hiring all religious to teach there) is implemented, then they lose their “elite prep school” aspect. If they get more orthodox in their teaching or practice, the various parents I described get ticked off and pull their kids.
Fr. Q. has recently transferred into the parish and gives firebrand homilies.

Mr. & Mrs. P. have just transferred their kids into the school after years of homeschooling. Suddenly, their kids who grew up on VeggieTales and EWTN and a carefully selected dose of secular entertainment are talking about iCarly and Hannah Montana and boyfriends and jewelry and make-up and “Justice” clothes. They want to know why their parents won’t let them do the “fashionable” things. They aren’t interested in watching _VeggieTales_ or _EWTN_ anymore. Even the youngest kids in the family are saying that _The Wiggles_ is a “baby show.” They find that their second grader’s classmates are talking about Stephen King movies and playing “werewolves and vampires” on the playground. Their kids get teased for dressing up as Saints for All Saints Day, for not participating in “vampires and werewolves,” etc.

They appreciate that Miss S., Principal R and Fr. Q are really doing their best. They wish the school would do more to integrate a Catholic life in all aspects of the curriculum, but that, for the various reasons I’ve listed in this article, they know the school is afraid of losing its government money, accreditation, rich supporters, etc., if it does so. They realize that maybe the faculty and staff don’t even realize how much they *could* be doing, but fear that if they suggest anything, even constructively, they’ll be ostracized just like the T family.

In any case, it boils down to the bad influence the other kids are being on their kids. The P’s don’t really know any of the other parents well or know how to address things. How do you tell another parent, “The shows you’re letting your kids watch aren’t only endangering your children’s salvation, but they’re endangering *my* children’s salvation by your kids’ bad influence”?

The P’s know that, when they homeschooled, they could just steer clear of families in the homeschool association whose parenting methods they disagreed with. If their kids had issues with other kids teasing or fighting or whatever, they could go straight to the parents and get the issue resolved, where at the Catholic school, they have to go to the overworked teacher and bring it up and hope for the best.

So the P’s go back to homeschooling, and the cycle continues.

No, You Cannot Privately Disagree with the Church: “Dissent” is Heresy. It’s all or nothing

I was at Byzantine Vespers the other night, and it was the feast of St. Athanasius. The liturgy praised how he defeated “men of evil minds,” and that really struck me.

There’s a popular notion since Vatican II that Catholics can “privately disagree with” the Church, and that’s not the same thing as heresy. This particularly comes up across the otherwise spectrum of ideologies in regard to divorce and birth control.

Tortured dissent, which is supposed to be *tortured*, is not the same thing as plain old dissent, which is why it’s “tortured.” Further, the “I can disagree with the Church privately” thing doesn’t seem to hold water in people who are *talking* about their disagreements with the Church.

Even on theological matters, I generally find that “disagreements with the Church” tend to be to justify some personal sin the person wants to excuse. I always use the example of the great “Reformers”–Luther was after sex, Calvin was after money, and Zwingli was after food–not that there weren’t plenty of priests, bishops and Popes int those days after the same things, but if you compare those three to the great Counter-Reformers, it’s no contest. Peter of Alcantara lived in a cave for 30 years. Francis Borgia gave up all the wealth of the Borgia dynasty to be a Jesuit. Francis Xavier traveled the world, making disciples of all nations, and condemning the priests sitting back at the universities instead of evangelizing. Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Ignatius are obvious. Put those people up against Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Henry VIII or even Elizabeth I. . . .

Anyway, prior to the 1960s, it was considered a pretty big deal that Catholics ought to conform to the Church’s teachings in mind, body and spirit. Prior to Vatican II, priests were required to preach on a rotation of specific doctrinal topics throughout he year (including contraception twice a year). Before Protestantism, it was understood that one had to adhere to a set of Christological principles to even be considered Christian. Now people insist that Mormons and JWs, who adhere to some of those very heresies, are “Christians.” Many Protestant denominations adhere to teachings on Christ that are condemned by the early Ecumenical Councils, and many day-to-day Catholics have practical beliefs that are objectively heretical–especially beliefs that have been filtered down to them by “spirit of Vatican II” clerics, religious and theologians.

When the great Dietrich von Hildebrand was converting, he told the priest, “I agree with the Church’s teachings on everything except birth control. That one just strikes me as totally irrational, and I cannot support it.” The priest told him, “Then you cannot be a Catholic. It’s all or nothing.” DvH replied, “Then I say with St. Augustine, ‘I believe in order to understand.'” He went on to be one of the greatest philosophical exponents on the Church’s teachings on sexuality and birth control, to the point that Bl. John Paul II credited him as one of the major inspirations for _The Theology of the Body_.

Bottom line: if you think you can get along with “privately dissenting” against the Church’s teachings, then think again. You’re gambling with your immortal soul. The Church’s teachings are a guaranteed path to Heaven. Jesus *may* give one a pass for sincerely disagreeing with the Church on some infallible teaching, based upon personal sincerity, invincible ignorance and all that, but it’s not worth the gamble. If you know what the Church teaches, you’ve gotta obey it or go to Confession. Period.

If Priests and Parishes Care About the Church’s Teachings, Why Don’t they Hold Up Catholics Who Exemplify Them?

This is one of those periodic “Older Brother on the Porch” rants. I see it over and over again: in parish council elections, biographies of Church employees, people who win parish or diocesan awards, etc.:

“X is a proud father of 2, military veteran, with a long history of volunteerism with various civic groups.” If you’re lucky, the person in question is a Knight of Columbus.

Then, on the flip side, your average liberal or “run of the mill” Catholic will say something like, “Do you think saying the Rosary every day makes you a better Catholic?” “Do you think having seven kids makes you a better Catholic?” “Do you think being in a Third Order makes you a better Catholic?”
Uh, yes, objectively, a person who prays daily, doesn’t use birth control or is a member of a Third Order is a better Catholic (especially the latter, since it involves scrutiny and evaluation. It doesn’t make one automatically a saint or “holy” or whatever, but it *does* make one objectively a better Catholic.

“But we’re not supposed to judge.”

Then why are you telling me that I should judge someone to be a “good person” because he’s a military retiree, Rotary Club member, successful worldly professional, etc.??

Conversions and reversions are great, but when we hold up secularly successful people as the models of parish life–because they’re the ones with the money, of course–it really enforces the idea that the other things don’t matter.

Just once I’d like to be told that I should support someone for parish council, or support some parish employee, because he or she is doctrinally sound and a person of great prayer.

Otherwise, it just sends the message that a) Catholic doctrine doesn’t matter and b) Money is all that matters.