Monday, July 30, 2007

Ave Maria Town

Checked out the Ave Maria town on Sat (July 28, 2007) and found the Catholic town to be very impressive. The Oratory is located in the middle of the town and all of the various communities spiral out from it. Despite the controversy surrounding the Oratory it was very beautiful. It was not made out of glass as was originally intended. The front and back were stone and the body was metallic with windows. They intend to consecrate this Oratory this coming week and it will be used primarily for celebration of the Latin Mass.
The town itself was charming, pristine and well thought out. It will be a walking community and each subdivision (housing, university, commercial, condo, townhome) will have their own satellite chapel for Eucharistic Adoration and Daily Mass.
It's worth a visit and the University is definitely top notch as far as it's orthodoxy/authenticity is concerned. It's also expanding rapidly - expected to have 6000+ students soon, and the law school opens in a few weeks. It remains to be seen how this community concept will work out!
Ryan (1) in front of the Oratory in Ave Maria. 75 foot Crucifix being installed near where he is standing.
The back of the Oratory.
This is a picture of the town area - surrounding the Oratory.
View from the far side of the University area.
The town area (under contstruction still) leading up to rear of the Oratory.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Most recent column by Bishop Vasa re use of the term Church - must read!

Thoughts on differentiating the ‘Church’ from ‘churches’
07/20/2007 Bishop Robert Vasa

Prior to his being elected to the Office of Saint Peter, Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that one of the great dangers facing the Church was what he termed “the dictatorship of relativism.” He used this phrase in contradistinction to the other types of worldly dictatorships which have attempted to destroy the Church over the centuries. Perhaps before I continue, a brief statement about the meaning of relativism would be in order. Relativism comes in many shapes and sizes. At its core it is a mindset which judges the truth or reality of a thought or event or thing on the basis of subjective feelings, attitudes or personal values. Those afflicted with the disease of relativism attempt to ignore the fact that there is such a thing as objective truth. In fact, they often despise and disparage the very concept of truth. Perhaps you have heard the refrain from relativistic friends, “Well, that may be true for you but it certainly is not true for me!” Obviously there is great confusion about the meaning of the very word truth itself. There are ways in which the phrase used above would make perfect sense. For example, I can recall as a child being informed that liver tasted good. That claim was not consistent with my personal experience. Looking at the claim that liver tasted good I later realized that the claim should have been phrased by the liver lover, “I like liver.” This is a clear subjective, personal statement. It is not a universal claim of objective truth. I am, at the same time, perfectly free, while preserving the philosophical reality of truth, to make the contrary statement, “I do not like liver.” It is, however, important to note that there are certain objective things which can be said about liver. It provides a certain, quantifiable level of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and the like, and so one could make the statement, if liver does in fact provide some of these things, that liver is good for you. This is something which is true or not true regardless of whether I happen to like liver or not.
In our seriously misspoken and relativistic age we have otherwise good and faithful Catholics making subjective statements, that is statements which they hold personally to be true, but they make them in absolute ways. Thus we hear, “The Church is wrong in her teaching about the sinfulness of contraception.” The speaker is making a definitive declaration but doing so does not establish a fact. In truth, what the person means is that they do not accept, understand or intend to follow this clear teaching of the Church. A rejection of the teaching authority of the Church or a rejection of the truth of the teaching is a lot different than an acknowledgement of both the authority and the teaching and a subsequent recognition that one is not personally disposed to give assent to that teaching.
I bring this up at this time in order to try to understand the vehement outrage at one of Pope Benedict’s recent clarifications issued through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. According to news reports the document states: “Christ established here on earth only one church.” The necessary conclusion drawn in the document is that the other Christian communities “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” because they do not have apostolic succession - the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ’s original apostles. This clarification of the theology of the Catholic Church is described as having a “harsh tone” which is another ploy of relativists. When something is said that is difficult for them to accept, rather than engage in substantive discussion about the truths at stake the whole matter can be dismissed because it might make some people feel bad.
The Holy Father notes that dialogue between the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations, in order to be constructive, “must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith.” In other words, there are truths which cannot be ignored in the name of simply wanting to get along. As I understand the statement, its internal logic goes something like this. Jesus came to save us from sin and to establish a Church which would continue His saving work. “Church” is the word used to identify this very specific Christ-established reality. This “Church” has an objective God-given reality. While we often use the word church in a very generic, non-specific fashion, the truth remains that the formal and proper use of the word “Church” has a meaning given to it by Christ Himself. Giving formal recognition to other churches, as “Churches” implies that they do, in fact, completely fulfill the definition of Church intended by Christ. Since we believe that Christ established only one Church, then either all of the churches equally fulfill the intention of Christ and are really “one Church” or there is one true Church and those which are not substantially identified with that one Church are really something else altogether.
In our relativistic age in which feelings take precedence over objective reality, it is judged that such a claim is “harsh,” lacking in sensitivity and unnecessarily divisive. In this view it is better to bury a truth, allow people to continue to coexist in a beautiful relativistic complacency and avoid the tough questions. The common tendency is to create a new definition of church, meet that definition and then make the claim that we are all one big happy church. If church is a coming together of various people to give praise to God, then this is certainly a very good thing but such a church has little need for Jesus. If church is a coming together of like-minded people to provide charitable service to the poor, then this is again a very good thing but this does not require the passion, death or resurrection of Jesus. If church is a gathering of people whom God’s word has convoked and who are themselves, by virtue of being nourished with the real Body and Blood of Christ, constituted as the Body of Christ, then we have something more closely identifiable with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church about which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has spoken.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Protecting God's Children's Souls

Much energy and effort has been expended by the Church in helping to assure that no child is ever the victim of abuse, especially at the hands of Church employees. While these efforts in theory are most commendable, Protecting God’s Children does little more than protect society’s insurance companies. The materials promoted by these insurance companies are often deceptive and show less concern for our children than they do for the underwriters of judicial settlements. Many have observed that a primary objective of this program appears to be the build up of massive paper trails which, when tragedy occurs, can be used in court to demonstrate that there was no neglect, benign or malignant, local or systemic, on the part of the institutions or persons subsequently in the sights of aggressive litigators.

Concern must extend beyond protecting God’s children from physical, sexual or emotional harm. We must, in addition to protecting their human bodies, be vigilant about protecting the immortal souls of our children. Popes, parents, and priests all have important roles to play. But a crucial role for the salvation of our young people’s souls is entrusted to the local Director of Religious Education, i.e. the parish or diocesan D.R.E.

Space available here does not allow for a complete listing of everything a D.R.E. must be. We can, however, list a few things a D.R.E. must not be. A D.R.E. should never profess disloyalty to the Church through membership in or sponsorship of dissident, anti-Catholic groups. A D.R.E. should not support dissident groups by acting as a member, speaker or contributor of any kind at any time. Seriously problematic groups like Future Church (demanding an inclusive priesthood, i.e. the ordination of women and married priests) and Call to Action (promoting dissent against Church teachings on a broad range, including women's ordination, homosexuality, creation spirituality, married priesthood, and liturgical reforms, while incorporating new age and Wiccan spirituality) should be avoided by competent D.R.E.’s (and all loyal Catholics in general) at all times. Membership in, allegiance to, or commitment to any organization that denies the Magisterial teachings of the Church while at the same time being appointed to teach what the Church teaches can only redound to absolute confusion for and harm to our little ones. Acceptance of the authority of the Church and a reverence for what she teaches, whether definitively or through the ordinary Magisterium, must stand at the very heart of what a DRE must be. External or formal support of groups which deny the Catholic Church’s teaching on any issue should automatically disqualify a person from official teaching roles in the Church, especially when that role involves imparting or overseeing instruction of innocent children and potential converts. Whether you agree with Bishop Fabian Bruskewicz or not, the fact that he formally excommunicated anyone affiliated with the above groups should at least raise the question about suitability for educational ministry. The delicate minds, hearts and souls of our children demand vigilance.

The relevancy of this issue is manifested in the fact that there are a plethora of Directors of Religious Education who fit the above description. It is difficult to accept that anyone is permitted to function as a D.R.E. while simultaneously adhering to positions diametrically opposed to the clear teachings of the Church. It should never be tolerated that a D.R.E. who has a direct impact on the minds of the young people of the Parish can publicly (or even privately) reject the Magisterial authority and teachings of the Church. If some church employee tampers with a child’s sensitive body or tender psyche, charges can be made to a Board and that person can be removed and dealt with severely. But where does a parishioner turn to redress grievances against a spiritual abuser who subtly and sweetly infects a child’s mind with heterodox lies and endangers a child’s soul with her own ecclesial agenda? Perhaps a nationwide or Diocesan-wide program of intellectual, academic, and doctrinal background checks on D.R.E.s would be a good step in keeping our children safe. No diocese tolerates physical, emotional or sexual abuse of children, yet there seems to be total obliviousness to this most insidious form of detrimental spiritual abuse.

To protect its treasury almost every diocese has in place a user friendly mechanism by which priests and directors of religious education who violate children and young peoples’ bodies can be put out of commission. Probably no diocese has a user friendly device by which priests and directors of religious education can be taken out for damaging minds with false and misleading information and destroying souls with formal and informal heresy.