A blessed Christmas and happy new year to you all. Another year rolls by and suddenly it’s 2020 ~ a year to restore our vision, one might hope. But vision seems to be an increasingly disfavored quality in today’s culture of anxiety, fear, and polarization as various factions compete to “fix the world” according to their own preconceived agendas. Yet caught up in that worldly frenzy we also stand to loose the very thing that God once set foot on this mortal coil to give his restless creatures: PEACE. Today one must work overtime to restore that vision of interior peace which, after all, is God’s vision as well.
Peace is, to a large extent, dependent upon our knowing who we are and the humble acceptance of our relative insignificance – not our imagined importance – in this broken world. After all we have very little time at our disposal in the great scheme of things, and how we use that limited time may well determine our ultimate state of happiness. This thought struck me forcefully as I was counting down the hours and minutes to midnight on December 31. Continue reading
Colorado Special Masters Report asserts clerical “Guilt by Association”
With the unqualified blessings of four Colorado bishops and following the same biased template laid out by the 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, former U.S. attorney Robert Troyer on October 24 released the Special Masters Report (the Report) on clergy child sexual abuse in all three Colorado dioceses. I will here limit my observations to my own Archdiocese of Denver but those observations could well apply in principle to the two sufragen dioceses. The report spans a 70 year period from around 1949 to the present found 123 cases of abuse, including alleged abuses, in the archdiocese ─ a distinction clearly overlooked by the Report.
Clerical abuse is a reprehensible disorder which ought never to be tolerated. Nevertheless the current “Me Too” hysteria only seems to be muddying the waters. What we now increasingly see is a rash of unverified allegations from decades long past being blithely fobbed off as established facts. Just so, the evidentiary standards adopted in this Report appear to be rather slim ─ i.e., whether “from our investigation it is more likely than not that a child sex abuse incident occurred.” Who determines what is “likely” and what is not? This is a purely subjective standard which demands no substantial evidence of wrongdoing. Continue reading
For 500 years now the Eucharist has been a source of contention and doctrinal division among Christians. Yet it is entirely Scriptural. In fact Catholic Eucharistic Liturgy boasts of its deeply Jewish roots going back to the very first Passover. From its very institution at the Last Supper it has been understood as the New Passover which institutes a New Covenant just as the Mosaic Passover instituted the Old Covenant. By reviewing the Book of Exodus, we can see the close correlation between that first Passover and Christ’s later institution of the Eucharist.
Anticipating their departure from Egypt, Moses instructs the people, even before the actual Passover event, “You shall observe this as a perpetual ordinance for yourselves and your descendants. Thus you must observe this rite when you have entered into the lands which the Lord will give you as he promised.” (Ex. 12:24-25) Similarly, at the last supper Christ exhorts his disciples thus. “Do this,.. in memory of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes,” (1Cor. 11:25-26) Does the first rite not anticipate the second? And what is it that both rites are actually commemorating? It is the imminent deliverance of God’s people, the first from slavery to the Egyptians, the second from that slavery to sin which is synonymous with bondage to Satan. Continue reading
A close friend of mine recently fell into a severe emotional state when a good priest friend, who had suffered a long and painful bout with brain cancer, finally succumbed to the disease. How could God have allowed such a horrible thing to happen? Fr. M was still quite young and apparently had many good years ahead of him. When I mentioned that perhaps this was God’s will for Fr. M my friend lapsed into a bitter state of denial. “I don’t believe that God had anything to do with it,” he snapped back as if unable to reconcile a loving, merciful being with a deity who could actually will such terrible suffering on such a good and decent man.
I had no quick answers to his complaint, yet something deep inside me said that no matter how unpleasant the implications God, in fact, not only permits us to suffer, to which my friend would tacitly agree, but more to the point there are times when God positively wills us to suffer. It is on this second point that my friend and many fellow Christians would violently disagree. In fact, the all too common depiction of God as some cosmic sadist has likely turned more people against religion in our materialist, pain-averse culture than ever before. A mass consumerism which promises instant gratification has somehow robbed us of the former stoicism by which our great-grandparents quietly accepted pain and suffering as natural parts of life. Continue reading
Now that domestic terrorism is becoming a regular weekly event I wonder, should we permanently start flying our flags at half mast? Of course, my deepest prayers and sympathies go out to the victims and families of the irrational and savage violence being perpetrated in places like El Paso and Dayton. But in official responses from the leadership class I keep hearing the same worn and tired narratives, i.e. We need to address “access to guns,” “ammunition magazines,” “video violence,” the current “mental health crisis,” etc., as if taking guns off a shelf will magically turn psychotic killers into model citizens. But if not guns, such deranged domestic terrorists will surely resort to homemade bombs, axes or knives, bottles of acid, even large vehicles to commit their reckless mayhem.
Unfortunately, the one thing that politicians, journalists, and countless activists on both sides of the divide seem strangely reluctant to bring up, much less actually admit to, is that fundamentally what our society is now dealing with is not a “mental health crisis” but a moral health crisis. Continue reading
What are angels and what effect, if any, do they have in our lives? To begin with, angelic and human natures are totally separate and distinct forms. People often confuse angels with deceased persons, probably stemming from countless Hollywood depictions such as Clarence, the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Real angels are spiritual beings who have never been attached to a body. Just so you and I will never become angels because we are human, something entirely different in both essence and nature. Catholic teaching has long insisted that our special human dignity derives from the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God. But if God is pure spirit it would seem more likely that he is reflected in his angels, not men and women. Yet man actually bears a closer resemblance to God than even the highest angelic hosts. We know this because God himself took the form of a man, not an angel, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Angels are quite literally God’s ministers who execute his divine will in the universe as they have from the beginning. They are of the spiritual order which is superior to and in control of the material order. They are like cosmic traffic cops charged with implementing and directing the physical laws of nature. Science may understand, for instance, how gravity hold stars, planets, even galaxies together and can even make mathematical predictions based on it’s laws. But what science cannot fully answer is why gravity exists in the first place and what mysterious forces cause it to behave as it does. In other words there must be, behind all the physical sciences, some Divine science which ultimately orders the cosmos. Continue reading
A follow-up to my prior post regarding the Courage Deficit we are now facing.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13) Since posting my last column on today’s Deficit of Courage (April 20), events have confirmed many of the arguments made in that post. Exactly one week later, to the day, a shooting erupted at the Chabod House of Poway synagogue in San Diego followed three days later by another savage attack on a college campus in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then on May 7 a third brutal attack unfolded at a STEM high school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, practically my own back yard. But in each instance, what might have unfolded as another major tragedy was foiled by the courageous intervention of ordinary citizens whose quick and selfless actions prevented major bloodbaths. Of those five courageous individuals who confronted various gunmen, two survived their assailant’s attacks, still, three of their company perished while preserving the lives of others. Continue reading
Americans have a long and cherished tradition of independent self-reliance and initiative which is, I fear, being eroded into something the consistency of wet sand. Witness the recent fiasco in Denver area schools where a panic attack, fomented by public officials, spread like a virus to affect some 400,000 students. In the end the only casualty was a tragically disturbed 18 year old girl who, on little more than a hunch and having broken no apparent laws, became the object of a massive FBI manhunt which ended only after her suicide was discovered in a secluded mountain forest. Meanwhile thousands of Denver area students and indeed the entire nation were, once again, manipulated and traumatized by our trembling officialdom, ably abetted by a vulture media establishment. Yet mental images of frightened students and teachers cowering in a locked classroom make me wonder whatever happened to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave?
I remember quite a different America growing up where kids routinely rode their bikes to school and played outdoors unsupervised till dusk. We Boomers inherited a legacy of valor, self-sacrifice, and courage from our parent’s generation, who had recently fought a terrible war to secure freedom for all. Freedom is not free; it sometimes exacts a very high price after all. Continue reading
What should the proper attitude towards history be? Today, campus ideologues and Antifa iconoclasts are busily knocking down monuments or eradicating any positive memories of the past. Consider the case of Notre Dame University which recently covered over some century old murals of Christopher Columbus using the “doublespeak” mantra of, “not concealing anything but rather to tell the full story,” so claimed university president Rev. John Jenkins. (But how does erasure tell a story?) Such academic politicians are especially adept at distorting, altering, or re-interpreting genuine history as a cheap propaganda tool. I call it “weaponizing history,” using the past as a weapon to smite one’s opponents or, more often, to advance some favored agenda.
These kinds of historical abuses should raise serious questions about what is a proper attitude towards history in our modern world. Obviously a good faithful historian is truthful in so far as the limitations of documentation allows. But beyond that, good history neither embellishes the past needlessly nor is it used as a blanket condemnation of persons or events already transpired. It needs to be objective and fair minded, taking into consideration the context of culture, belief systems, even geography ~ all of which have enormous bearings on human activity in any age. But too often the grievance mongers only aim is to hijack history for personal gain. Continue reading
Mary Beth Bonacci wrote a marvelous piece recently in the Denver Catholic titled, “On Toxic Masculinity.” It seems that in the current #MeToo climate, normal masculinity is routinely equated with being a racist, misogynist, or even rapist. But Bonacci bravely stands up for manhood. She notes, “I don’t believe masculinity is ‘toxic’. Masculinity is raw material, just as femininity is. Men can use their gifts for good or evil, just as women can. (But try using the term ‘toxic femininity’ in polite company and see what happens.) For millennia, the goal of society has been to channel those instincts, not to suppress them… But there seems to be a movement to neutralize masculinity entirely.” Rather than subscribe to some prescribed gender ideology, namely that men are basically rotten and women are always good, Bonacci rightly places the responsibility for actions on the individual, not on one’s gender. She reminds us that stereotypes are overly broad generalizations containing some small grains of truth that tend to be conflated to absurd proportions. But one thing is undeniable: men and women are cut from very different cloth, and with good reason.
Watching Peter Jackson’s poignant documentary on World War I, “They Will Not Grow Old,” I was reminded that male attitudes and behavior are little changed over the past 100 years, indeed the past 1,000 years. Men are generally the physically stronger sex but weaker morally. It is women who have historically provided the real moral strength in any society. But after 1918 the moral attitudes of women began to change in the West. Legal emancipation and the vote opened up a whole new sense of self sufficiency which, ever so gradually, morphed into today’s radical feminism. Continue reading