Everybody I run into is asking me what I think of the recent announcement by the Holy Father that he will resign. The most ignorant comments I hear are that he is hiding something or that scandals in the church are forcing him out.
If you get all your information about what's going on in the Catholic Church from the Los Angeles Times, network news, or talk radio, you are ignorant of the papacy of Benedict XVI. You think it's all about scandals because that's all you hear about. I don't have time to explain everything to you. If you want to know the truth, study church doctrine, traditions, and papal encyclicals and letters that get issued all the time.
I don't have any inside information, or even any particularly well formed opinions, about the resignation but I do have a gut feeling. My feeling is that the Holy Father made a decision long ago that this was the best way to handle papal succession. He's a brilliant man. It's been said that he has the intellect of a great philosopher and the piety of a 1st communion candidate.
It makes sense to hand over the reigns while you still have all your faculties. AND he's right about the amount of energy that the papacy takes today. It takes more. The world is changing. Brilliant, divinely inspired, or just common sense, it matters little. He's a great pope that has done wonders to restore respect for traditional principles of the Catholic Church like faith, prayer, Eucharistic adoration, Latin mass, and strict adherence to the magisterium.
The mere fact that he is still alive is likely to influence how the college of cardinals vote for his successor. To me, that is the best news of all.
What's this? I'm not exactly sure, but as a daily communicant, I know I'll find out someday.
I’ve been getting some interesting feedback from my Catholicism lately.
How do you do this with your background?
Do you take heat from people in the entertainment business
who generally trivialize religion, or even work to attack it?
Is your church “culty?” (I'm like, "not enough, really.")
Given an opportunity to explain my Church, some people want to start taking
notes because most have never heard someone explain the
awesomeness of this ancient institution to them in a way that didn’t sound Jesus
I have no special gifts. They just don’t get out much. I
only have one secret. And that is daily mass. Some people don't even know that masses are offered every day. They are. They are short, sacred, and uncrowded. (You unusually get a bench all to yourself!)
Most people believe in God. And most Catholics will at least
profess to believe his real presence is in the Eucharist handed out to the
people during each mass.
Well, if you believe that this wafer contains the real presence
of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the 2nd person of the Holy
Trinity, why wouldn’t you make every effort to be there every day?
We all go through periods where this would be tough to
impossible, but what I’m saying is that if you understood the benefits of being a Daily Communicant you
would arrange your life to attend make it possible, the same way you arrange your
life to make sure you have enough to eat some shelter. If God is truly in the tabernacle, what are we doing out here? Shouldn't we get back in there?
So what are the benefits of daily mass attendance?
Metaphysically, most of it is impossible to explain, at
least for me, and it differs for everyone but I’ll list a few concrete things
that happen to everyone, and will happen to you.
marriage will improve. That should be enough, because nothing is more
important, especially if you have kids. If you are a man this is especially
true. A wife will not get very far complaining to her friends and sisters about
her daily mass attending husband. Who cares if he leaves the toilent seat up if
he’s at mass every day. Everyone will want to trade her for you. The only thing that compete with this habit would be to suddenly love shopping. That would be a conversion of a different time that soon she would regret. Although you would probably remain friends. As a father, the mere sight of dad on his knees praying is an image that will burn many things into a child's psyche, all of them good.
2.If you are a married woman, your marriage will eventually improve. Improvement
will come slower however because the reality is a wife attending daily mass is
something many men would gladly complain about to their friends. Your rewards
come from prayer and sacrifice. You are praying and sacrificing for a
conversion. The conversion will eventually happen if you are faithful. I
believe this. Ask St. Monica. And your children will be profoundly effected by this pious act. Everyone wants to believe that their mother is holy, and you will be. What a great gift to give your children.
you are single, you are going to find a mate that will last a life time. This
you will not find by learning to salsa dance.You will either find one there, or be introduced outside of church as the "one who attends daily mass." This cuts out the riff-raff.
will quickly realize that you are not going to confession as much as you
should. Even if this wasn’t your original intent, daily mass will do this to
you and the benefits of the regular cleansing your soul of mortal and venial
sins is so powerful, your spirituality will rise to new levels. New graces will
befall you, and so on, and so on.
will surround yourself with other holy people praying for you. This is just a
physical fact. You’re spending 30 or so minutes in a room with Jesus, a priest,
and other daily communicants. This is the place to be. This is where you will
find a peace each day unlike any other that you can hope to find in any other
place. People do a lot of strange and dumb things to find some elusive peace
they think might be out there. They follow gurus and yogis from cultures far
from their own, when real peace is in their back yard. Don’t be like them. This
is like trying to find a “smarter mother” because you are not satisfied with
your own who loves you and is right in your home. Only a dumb kid would do that. Mary is your true mother. If you seek
another, you are as dumb as a kid trying to find parents who will let it eat
Skittles for dinner.
will learn your faith. By being exposed to the liturgy of the mass every day,
you will eventually have most of the entire Bible read to you for free while
you sit on your butt. Not only is that a good deal but it kind of makes you a
biblical scholar. By hanging around you will eventually be exposed to
traditional prayers that everyone else knows but you forgot, and other
traditions like The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Liturgy Of The Hours, The Spiritual Exercises of St.
Ignatius, or The Diary Of St. Faustina. Papal Encyclicals will be pointed out
to you. The Glorious Communion of Saints will become your new BFFs. And I mean
F. You will pray the Rosary, daily, eventually. This is huge. These things separate the pros from the amateurs. Why be a philistine
about something so important as your role in the 2,000 year old Universal Catholic
will learn how to defend the Church. This comes easy after experiencing some or
all of the above. The Church was there for you when you and your family wanted
to be baptized, confirmed, wed, and buried. Why not pay a little back by
learning to defend it when jealous haters are on the attack?
The above is true, so what are you waiting for? And I’m just scratching the surface
here. If you can think of any other benefits of daily mass attendance, or have
any questions, please put them in the comment section.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes that reasonable minds may disagree on how to arrive at what some might call “social justice” in this world. It could be by a political and economic system like the one proposed by Barack Obama, where the government takes a large role in attempting to create economic equality. Or it could be more like the system proposed by Mitt Romney, where the government takes a back seat, or “gets out of the way” so free markets can “lift all boats in a rising tide.” Catholics are free to support either way to help bring about a better nation. However, the Vatican is firm about what are commonly called in the Catholic Church the “non-negotiables.” Catholics may not vote for a candidate that is “pro-choice” when there is also a candidate running that is “pro-life.” This is elaborated on further in this EWTN article .
This is a very simple one for PRACTICING Catholics. You may vote for anyone you want for President on Nov. 6, but you may not vote for Barack Obama because there is another candidate on the ballot who is Pro Life. In my state that is only Mitt Romney. You may write-in another pro-life candidate. You don’t have to vote for Mitt Romney, and no Catholic official will order you to do so. Not voting at all? This is at least a venial sin when the lives of so many unborn lie in the balance.
It is said that only 20% of American Catholics go to mass. If you don't even go to mass, I guess you don't care about sins on your conscience but if you claim to be a practicing Catholic, you must help shoulder the burden of the Non-Negotiables.
One of the most compelling things about the Catholic Church for me is its profound resignation to free will. God gives each of us the gift of free will. When people ask "How could a loving god allow this, or that?" They really mean they haven't thought this through much, but their bitter about something. Free will is the ultimate gift to creation. Free will creates the cruel Stalins and Pol Pots of this world, but it ultimately triumphs with the Mother Theresa's and St. Max Kolbes as well.
Even more compelling than this is that to get the honor of the highest calling of all in life, that to become a priest or nun, you have to use your free will to create a fertile field for God to plant the seed. Then you have to be open to hearing his voice. That's why priests tend to be such good men.
If you are blessed enough to hear this calling, you could do a lot worse than joining the order of the Oblates Of The Virgin Mary out of Boston. I post this because Fr. Jeremy, who is the Director of Vocations is in town through August at St. Peter Chanel. It's a good time to be an Oblate priest.
At a recent meeting of the Orange County St. Thomas More Society we
were fortunate enough to have Father Robert Spitzer, SJ present a his
new book 10 Universal Principles: A Brief Philosophy Of Life Issues.
You might remember Father Spitzer as the Jesuit Priest who defended
God’s existence against physicist Stephen Hawking’s belief that God
isn’t the creator of the universe on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” I’ve been
fortunate enough to hear many talks from Father Spitzer, including
dozens of riveting homilies from the pulpit. He is a brilliant and holy
His conversation at the latest Thomas Moore gathering centered
around his efforts to challenge young people (he's primarily an
educator) to recognize certain universally held principles when
addressing the notion of when life begins in connection with the
morality and legality of abortion.
If this summary seems
incomplete, that's my fault. I have no philosophy background and I'm
taking notes best I can. Spitzer uses no notes as he excitedly takes us
through his new theory. I encourage you to get his book to fill in the
Fr. Spitzer points out that the abortion issue has
historically been argued with the same false reasoning that supported
such historical follies as the subjugation of Native Americans as
inferiors and the Dred Scott decision.
In those areas, available scientific data could not prove that Native Americans or Africans were not
inferior so courts and governments declared them inferior, since there
was doubt. It was a backwards philosophy that basically said, “we’re not
really sure, so we’re going to err on the side of ‘you are inferior’ and let the harm to you continue.”
Sound familiar? This is Roe V. Wade. “We’re not really sure. We have
these trimesters, we think we can divide abortion rights into what’s OK
and what is less OK, but by all means let the fetus killing continue.” Universal Principles of Reason and Ethics The Principle of Complete Explanation:
Are all opinions equally valid, or at least have some kind of validity? Yes?
If so, then Newton was just as correct as Einstein with respect to the
physical universe? Of course not. Einstein had more information. He knew
a lot more so his opinions were better. The theory that explains the
most data wins! The theory that leaves out large amounts of data, loses! The Principle of Non-Contradiction:
cannot both “be and not be” in the same respect at the same place and
time. Objective reason, contradictory theories need to be ruled out. We
should prefer theories without contradictions. Principle of Objective Evidence:
You can’t make a public argument relying upon subjective experiences. (A posteriori - corroboratable; or a priori evidence -based on non-contradiction).
With this foundation, Fr. Spitzer starts to quiz his contrarian students about the definition of human life. “Would you say that a human life is life that belongs to a being of human origin? “Yes,” the student says, “but how do you know they’re human?”
I can map out the entire genome of a single celled human zygote and
tell you for certain that it will develop into a human being with human
We all, as human beings, share the same
mitochondrial DNA. We all come from the same “Eve Gene,” but apes do
not. At the single cell stage, prior to attachment, the science can
even tell what the zygote will look like when it’s older.
would agree, and follow Spitzer’s logic. Most do agree that this is a
fine definition of a human being. And from there it is not hard to
convince them that this should be the legal definition of a human life
in court cases involving abortion.
Why? Because according to our
universally accepted principles, we need to be consistent to obtain
justice. We want the best and most complete definition of a human being
science can bring us. If it is not the best, it is incomplete, or
contradictory, or non-objective. Hence any court cases which used an
inferior definition of human life should be revised to reflect the best
evidence now available in the same way Einstein revised the
understanding of the physical universe vis-à-vis Newton.
V. Wade was decided PRIOR to the genome and protein sequencers. It
used completely inadequate criteria to define a human being. The court
even admitted it was “uncertain.”
But, as Father Spitzer points
out, even faced with this uncertainty the court allowed for the killing
of pre-born babies, not unlike the Dred Scott court case where faced
with uncertainty about the humanity of the Black race, allowed for their
Principles of Ethics:
1. Principle of Non-Maleficence “Do no unnecessary harm, but if a harm is necessary, minimalize it.” This is an objective good.
2. The Ends Do Not Justify The Means
can’t use a harmful means to get to a non-harmful end. You need a
“non-contradiction” to get to the end. If the end causes harm, it must
prevent a greater harm or evil. In both Dred Scott and Roe V. Wade, the
court said, “When in doubt, do harm.”
Spitzer also brings up the 16th Century debate between Dominican Friars Sepulveda and De Las Casas
over whether Indians in the new world were mere savages to be
subjugated, or capable of full human potential. Sepulveda’s argument
was again, “When in doubt, do harm.” De Las Casas had evidence that some of the Indians were quite accomplished in the arts and sciences.
De Las Casas’ argument was that until it can be proved that these are not human beings, do no harm.
This is the correct priority. Roe V. Wade and Dred Scott said you have
to prove you are a human being to have rights. That is a sad priority
that we should reject.
The Dred Scott Court actually asserted “we must assume they are not citizens or human until it can be proved that they are.”
What would be proof? Well, if they were mentioned in the constitution
that would have satisfied the court. But it wasn’t there of course
because certain rights were not mentioned in the constitution because
they were so intrinsic.
The Roe V. Wade Court looked for evidence
that fetuses were “persons” but claimed they couldn't find it.” (The
victim has to prove his personhood?). The Court misspoke when it said “the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense."
Spitzer’s book points out the very public cases that did establish that
pre-born infants had the right to sue and inherit property.
even if there weren’t any cases that indicated the personhood of the
fetus, we are left with the same fallacy. People have to prove they are human. De Las Casas warned that this theory would open ourselves up to rampant violations of the universal Principle of Non Maleficence. 3. Principle of Full Human Potential.
The assumption that people that have the capacity to develop into
humans with the full potential to achieve all that is human, e.g., self
reflection, moral, and aesthetic cognizance, etc.
Roe V. Wade’s
denial of this principle was one not based on race but on the
nonsensical notion that since fetuses haven’t historically achieved full
human potential, this is their death warrant. Principles of Inalienable Rights:
This fundamentally Christian notion, first expressed according to Father Spitzer in 1620 by Jesuit Francisco Suarez in his book De Legibus.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of property are inalienable, yet not
expressed in our Bill Of Rights because they should not be granted to a
people, for then they could be taken away theoretically. John Locke
studied Suarez’ principles at Oxford, fortunately.
Locke wanted to
ground justice in these principles independent of “positive law” to
avoid the tyranny of the majority that might vote to deny them to some.
Surprisingly, both Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson agreed with this
notion of Natural Law. Federalists and anti-Federalists alike were on
board. Why did the Dred Scott and Roe V. Wade Courts go so wrong? The
Emancipation Proclamation nullified Dred Scott. What will nullify Roe V.
Wade? Where’s our Lincoln?
Today we celebrate an extraordinary American Saint of the Catholic
Church, Katherine Drexel of Pennsylvania. Her story raises some
interesting questions about America's new pattern of imposing on the
religious freedoms of its most philanthropic allies.
Mother Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People.
The American government had turned their back on these people in the
late 19th century so a private rich person, a true 1% er, worth over
$200,000,000 by today's standards, spent her own money to come to their
aid. The title of the community she founded summed up the two great
driving forces in her life—devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and love
for the most deprived people in her country.
She didn't stop there. She went on to found approximately 60 schools,
Sixty!!!! The most famous foundation was made in 1915; Xavier
University, New Orleans, the first such institution for Black people in
the United States. The First!
Today, during his homily, Father Larry
asked us to pray for the next generation of millionaires and
billionaires to be so generous with the world's forgotten. Then he
bravely posed this question: "With the anti-Catholic policies of the
current administration, imposing more and more limits on religious
freedom and individual liberties, would God allow the next Katherine
Drexel to use her fortune to create institutions that would be forced to
participate in procedures that violate the conscience of the Church? Probably not. Probably not.