Category Archives: Lent

How Sick is the Church? An Opportunity to Share Your Inputs

Francis: Rebuild My Church

Rebuild my Church

[But not into an art gallery, disco, or brothel!]

By way of introduction, here are a couple of examples from real life, that you may have experienced:

  • PS, a Roman Catholic priest and RCDA tribunal judge, made the revealing and statement in a moment of resenting sarcasm, “They’ll ordain anything these days!” That raises the questions of “Who?” will ordain and Who are the “anything?” But that’s just one example of the many careless and imprudent public statements that are being made by persons in visible and influential positions in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
  • A Roman Catholic Sister of Saint Joseph (you know, the nuns who seem to have usurped the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center and most administrative and higher teaching  positions) has a favorite innuendo – filled phrase, “Those men in Rome!” The impression made by such insensitive and indifferent statements on auditors of any persuasion can be devastating.
  • A Roman Catholic priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany claiming to be of Ukrainian origin and liaison to the Orthodox churches, refers publicly to the soon-to-be-canonized Pope John Paul II as the “Polack on see of St Peter.”
  • Women chaplain interns under the tutelage of a Calvinist supervisor at a major Albany, New York, hospital, in a Clinical Pastoral Education (hospital chaplaincy) announce that they are disgruntled Catholics, publicly announce their support for women in the priesthood and criticize the Roman Catholic Church openly and publicly; they are then invited to present talks at the so-called Spring Enrichment.
  • Roman Catholic clergy and male religious cow to that same Calvinist supervisor and are degraded by the non-Catholic, mostly women, chaplaincy staff.
  • Women gatekeepers decide who speaks with the bishop, the pastor, etc., and create an environment of exclusionism.
  • Hungry faithful feel unwelcome in God’s house; unwelcome at His table.
  • A well-educated, highly competent,  man in excellent health applies to the diaconate program of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. He is initially welcomed but is later called in by the director of deacon formation and told, “I did not notice your age. The deacon program is 6 years and you must be ordained by age 62. That’s the diocesan policy. You will be 64 in six years so we cannot enroll you in the program. Thank you for your interest.” In the meantime, poorly educated, ailing men are welcomed into the program, some drop out because of health or program leadership.
  • A graduate of St Bernard’s School of Ministry and Theology continues a ministry of pastoral and spiritual care to the faithful who are not affiliated with a Roman Catholic parish; the minister practices a Roman Catholic spiritual discipline with a local male religious community. The minister attempts to place an ad in the official Roman Catholic newspaper offering his services in pastoral care, provides the text of the ad, the ad is accepted by the Evangelist, he pays for the ad. Several days later the female editor of the Evangelist contacts he minister and informs him that the ad will not be printed because he is not associated with a parish.
  • A feminist theologian and member of a women’s lay religious community, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, comes under fire for her heterodox writings on the theology of the Trinity; she lectures to the public at the local Sisters of Saint Joseph Provincial House

Rebuild My Church!

Rebuild My Church!

We have over the past several years received a number of communications complaining of problems perceived in at least the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany but which may be reasonably inferred to be endemic in most of the American Catholic Church. We have listed some below, but instead of a bulleted list, we’ve made it into a survey list that our readers can check off and which can be tallied to get some idea of the range and nature of ecclesiological, pastoral, and magisterial problems the Catholic faithful are experiencing in their dioceses.

We’d like to invite our readers to review the following list and to click on the circle preceding a “problem” if you find that you have experienced such a problem.

At the end of the list, you can tell us whether you are Roman Catholic, Protest and, Jewish, or Other, and after that list you can tell us where you live.

This is all anonymous and for information purposes only. You can see the results up to the current date by simply clicking “view results” at the bottom of each poll box.

Thanks very much for your participation in this interesting undertaking.


Ecclesial and Pastoral Pathology List

In the list below, simply check off the list items that most correspond to how you feel. If something is not included in the list, you can enter it in the space at the end of the list or leave a comment to express your thoughts.


Religious or Faith Affiliation

This is where you can let us know about your faith tradition. It serves two purposes: (1) it informs us of the percentage of RC readers responding, and (2) it informs us of the percentage of non-RC respondents who have some perception of the problem.


Ministry Activity

We’d also like to know about your ministry activity. Are you involved as clergy or as a lay minister? What are your perceptions about these problems.


Where Are You Located?

We are discussing the situation in the United States but this doesn’t mean that these problems are unique to the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. But it is important for us to know where our respondents are located, and whether the majority of our readers are experiencing these problems in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.


Yes, it does come down on the heads of the American bishops; as the saying goes, “The fish rots from the head down.” If the bishops do not recruit to the ranks, the ranks deplete. If the bishops lose the reins of their diocese, the horses run amuck. If the bishops do not take command of the front line troops, they have mutiny on their hands. If the bishops abandon the rudder, the ship of Church runs aground. In the present state of affairs the faithful are angry, confused, depressed, and lost. It’s just such an ecclesiology and pastoral theology at work when Protestant authors note the hemorrhage of the Roman Church and the recourse of the faithful to evangelical, fundamentalist, and Orthodox traditions. The breakdown of Roman ecclesial hierarchical authority has created a festering wound that refuses to heal because it’s not receiving the appropriate attention.

But it’s not only the bishops who are failing us and the Church, its we, too, who as members of that mystical body we call Church, turn our backs on Mater et Magistra, Mother and Teacher, and then point the finger as if we were pure as lilies. Now, during Lent, instead of giving up something, let’s do something. We can start by identifying where the pathology is and then proposing a course of therapy. That’s the whole sense of this survey.

Otherwise, and generally speaking, the Roman Church must return to its origins and principles or it is doomed to mutate into an institution that bears no resemblance to its former self; much is the fault of bishops who have lost control over their dioceses, and much the fault of those who want to be Church but want Church to change according to their parameters. This is a similar situation where some agendas want God to have specific genitalia or be a particular something; in otherwords, anthropomorphizing God, downward theism, if you will. Poor teaching has brought this about; God is pure spirit and doesn’t need a created body! God is perfect and doesn’t need to be made according to creature parameters. God is unmade and cannot be made.

Our culture is overwhelmed by idolatries! Idoltatry is worshipping something created as if it were God. Look around you, what would you give up to be closer to God? If you don’t say everything and anything, then you are an idolater! You are putting something before God or between you and God. In the simplest of terms, that’s idolatry!

But much, too, can be attributed to the ambitions and scandal of those with heterodox agendas acting under the aegis or cover of the Church; these are the most insidious and dangerous pathogens that must be eradicated if the Church and the Tradition is to survive.

 Please leave a comment about this article.

Where are you on this scale?

Where are you on this scale?


Liturgy: Deviations In Holy Week

These are just a selection of many inquiries about blatant reordering of the liturgy in general and the Easter celebrations in particular. Why these things happen and why some priests are deluded into thinking that this is a more “pastoral” approach than following the prescribed rubrics, remains a mystery.

I remain convinced that the best and most effective pastoral policy is to offer Christ’s faithful the rites that his Church proposes. This is what has stood the test of time and of widespread use. Our personal tinkering can only impoverish and weaken their effectiveness.

From the legal standpoint, all of these initiatives violate Sacrosanctum Concilium 22’s basic principle of liturgical law quoted by our first questioner. This norm is not restricted to the Mass but to the entire liturgy, including all celebrations of the sacraments and also the sacramentals. In the case of the sacramentals and the Liturgy of the Hours the official books themselves occasionally allow for greater leeway in choosing texts and modes of celebration, provided that certain core criteria are always met.

As our first correspondent observed, they also explicitly violate many other liturgical norms. This is the case in Q2 where, effectively, the only occasions when laypeople are allowed to read the Gospel along with the priest is Palm Sunday and Good Friday. The other exception, foreseen in No. 47 of the Directory for Masses with Children, does not apply to Masses celebrated for the whole parish community.

Read or download Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara’s, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university,  complete responses at Deviations in Holy Week.

Articles of Interest

Here are some worthwhile short reads I’ve selected from Zenit News From Rome:

Art+Faith-Visible Images of the Invisible God: Art historian Monsignor Timothy Verdon, director of the Office of Sacred Art and Cultural Goods of the archdiocese of Florence, will be there and he spoke to ZENIT about the event.

Binging Sacred Music Back to Liturgy: Participant in Mexico Conference Shares Insights

Englands Wars of Religion: Same-Sex ‘Marriage,’ Prayer Ban and Faith Cards

Findng Jesus in Israel: Vicar of Hebrew-Speaking Catholics Tells His Story

Journeying Together Toward Spiritual Perfection: Australian seminarian reflects upon ancient tradition of visiting station churches

Liturgy-Exorcism of Salt and Water: The previous Book of Blessings included a blessing (exorcism) of salt and water which would then be mixed together. To my knowledge the current Book of Blessings does not include this type of prayer but just prayers for the Blessing of Holy Water. Is it still permissible to use to old prayers of blessings over salt and water … and the prayer of blessing over oil which exorcists use in their ministry?

Pope’s Ash Wednesday Homily_Gods Unthinkable Nearness: Gods Unthinkable Nearness: “God’s Unthinkable Nearness … Opens the Passage to the Resurrection”

On the 40 Days of Lent: “Time Spent in the Desert Can Be Transformed Into a Time of Grace”

Where to Draw the Line on Cooperating With Evil: What Would It Mean to Follow Obama’s Health Care Mandate?

Like a Pack of Starving Rats…

“Like a pack of starving Rats…descending on a wounded bird.”

 A recent incident which I had the [mis]fortune of witnessing this past week called to mind how Christians, especially some Roman Catholics, so easily lapse into a self-righteous, hypocritical, cannibal feeding frenzy when given half the chance. I was able to witness firsthand how a group of allegedly educated Christians, the majority of whom were Roman Catholics, led by a Roman Catholic religious, can turn into an inquisitorial mob at the drop of a hat.

It was a witch burning!

 Mind you, an emotionally flooded midlife woman, a milquetoast pastor-in-training, and an inquisitional female religious (= a nun) with a tendency to incite and prooftext were just some of the volatile ingredients of this witches’ brew, but to have witnessed how a situation can be initially misused and then lapse completely out of control was baffling, to say the very least. All that could come to mind is some of the historical research I’ve done on the Inquisition, on the Protestant heretic trials in Geneva under Calvin, of the mob scenes in the Stoning of Soraya M. No matter what the religion, the education level, the status of human beings, the beast is alive and well within.

(The entire scenario reminded me of a passage in Birds without Wings, “But there was no one with any authority, and the plebians were of the sort that enjoyed a spectacle, paticularly when someone cleverer or more fortunate than themselves was degraded.” (“The Humiliation of Levon the Armenian,” p. 145))

Ironically, there were about twelve Christians, all of whom are in some form of ministry, who eagerly took up their verbal and non-verbal stones and cast them wildly at a single individual, while they chanted “disgraceful,” “inappropriate,” “offensive,” “Christian values,” “How could you?” “Prick!” Urged on by a would-be-moderator who, far from maintaining professional neutrality, actually fueled the flames by making unfounded remarks and observations, while those in the mob had no idea what she was talking about, much less whether the statements made by the emotion-flooded woman were factual or the product of her flooding emotions and histrionics–Who cares!–but they availed themselves greedily of the factoids to justify their aspersions and judgments.

(Interestingly, before the inquisitorial proceedings began, the mobsters required oaths of secrecy–that’s why I can’t provide more details–dirty deeds have to be kept confidential, don’t you know?)

So that’s what Christianity is all about. Silly me! I must have missed something in my formation and training.

The whole scene reminisced of some really poignant words I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I recently read a wonderful historical novel by Louis de Bernières, “Birds Without Wings,” and in that book I found some wonderful wisdom and worthwhile observations. Let me share a couple of quotes here, quotes that came to mind while I was experiencing the “stoning” last week.

As the narrator describes a group of Sufi dervishes arriving with clashing symbols, bells, chants, and the reaction of the character Mustafa:

“He divines clearly the advance symptoms of spiritual and philosophical immaturity, he smells a repellent backwardness, a radical irrationality and credulity which is only just beneath the surface, and he is increasingly convinced that it is Islam that is holding his people back, locking them behind the door that separated the medieval from the modern age. He will never understand why it is that so many of them actually like to be there, locked behind that door, enwombed within their tiny horizon, perpetually consoled and reassured by their tendentious but unchanging certainties.” (“Mustafa Kemal (3),” p. 39)

He could just as easily be describing Chrisitanity, the pastoral centers, with those words. And Bernières, through his narrator, reflecting on the evils done by the pious of all religions, but especially the licentious scrupulous piety he observes among Christians and Muslims, writes:

“… so many nominal Christians throughout history, took no notice whatsoever of the key parable of Jesus Christ himself, which taught that you shall love your neighbour as you love yourself, and even those that you have despised and hated are your neighbours. This never made any difference to Christians, since the primary epiphenomena of any religion’s foundation are the production and flourishment of hypocrisy, megalomania and psychopathy, and the first casualties of a religion’s establishment are the intentions of its founders. One can imagine Jesus and Mohammed glumly comparing notes in paradise, scratching their heads and bemoaning their vain expense of effort and suffering, which resulted only in the construction of two monumental whited sepulchers.” (“The Humiliation,” p. 143)

Christians, particularly those who feel that they are so righteous, should during this Lenten season, a time when they stand on their soapboxes with their heads anointed with ashes, and talk the talk so eloquently of self-examination, preparation, reconciliation, etc., should ponder the narrator’s words that ring so very true still today, right here in the midst of the pastors and the divines.

You don't need to change anything! Just learn to listen!

It’s almost laughable when I reflect on that evening last week and what I saw and heard. “Christian values?” Like the ones I was experiencing? “Truth?” Like the truth coming from those androgynous façades, painted expressions, the clichéed histrionic drama, and the vacuous heads and hearts? “Love?” If that was your Christian love at work, let’s try some hate, couldn’t be more vitriolic or strident, or more painful or humiliating!

I’ve written already several pieces on hypocrisy on this blog and since then nothing’s happened to change my mind. The more one looks below the idiotic grins and beyond the sorrowful grimaces, the personalized private piety, the uglier the ugliness gets beneath. It doesn’t take much to scrape away the patina and see the corruption, like scraping way the wax from a corpse’s face to see the decay beneath.

Sign of the Feminazi

Yes, it might appear that the Church is rotting from within. The symptoms: when our emasculated male clergy fawn to feminist-sexists and fail to correct their heretical and errant views on women’s roles in the Church. When the female religious disparagingly refer to “Those men in Rome,” forgetting their own diaphanous vows and casual opportunist commitments to their Church (when it’s convenient). When we include in our theology seminars required books by renegade feminist theologians who want to perform transgender surgery on God because He’s too male (Lunatics!) Or the pitifully ignorant or scandalously scrupulous pious or outright evil parish lay and ordained ministers instructing the gullible, vulnerable old and young, even thrust upon the grieving and dying (! ) [See my articles Chaplain Wuss, Interfaith-Denial of Faith? and Interfaith & Supervision?] with their half-baked theologies and well-done hypocrisies. It’s shameful to see.

Yes, it’s true, as Paul VI preached in 1972, «da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio» (“through some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God”).

Yes, indeed, dear feminist religious, “Those men in Rome!” Indeed! And those eunichs sitting next to you!

But some of those “men in Rome” do make some sense–as much as it sticks in your anatine craws–, and it’s worth repeating here: According to the Vatican Information Service (Vatican City, 2 March 2012) this year’s meditations during the Lenten spiritual retreat of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia are being guided by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who is focusing on the theme of “the communion of Christians with God”. According to the cardinal “We must walk in the light. In other words, we must choose to abandon sin” and let the Truth transform our lives via a journey of conversion. Understanding God as truth is particularly important for people “who have no awareness of their own sins, for people who have lost the sense of sin because they no longer pose themselves the problem of God”, and for people who do no longer possess moral criteria and confuse good and evil. This tendency is related to “religious indifference which affirms that all religious are alike but which, in reality, is seeking a lax morality.”

The cardinal continued, “To live in truth is to live according to the Beatitudes. It means repudiating the lies of our words and actions. It means rejecting the hypocrisy which impels us to appear other than as we are”. The Church too must combat lies and deceit, both within herself and in the world, and struggle “so that the truth of Christ’s Gospel may be known and lived.”

Prayer Fasting Charity

So my dear “Christian” brothers and sisters who have made the name of God as pedestrian as the word “hotdog,” try to keep in mind that it’s not what you say, it’s how you live. Wearing out the name of God does not make you divine. That might be a good Lenten meditation for some of you.

Look in your Lenten mirror. What's reflected?

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