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Posts Tagged ‘Catholics’

Vatican’s New Guidelines for Seminarians a Good Start

Posted by jytmkh on November 1, 2008

Psychological testing has been used as far back as the 1960s in some seminaries. The new guidelines are meant to help church leaders “weed out candidates with psychopathic disturbances,” as well as “confused and not yet well-defined” sexual identities.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Inside Catholic) – Today the Vatican issued new guidelines for the screening of seminarians. They are in response to the call for more strident criteria in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Psychological testing has been used as far back as the 1960s in some seminaries. The new guidelines are meant to help church leaders “weed out candidates with psychopathic disturbances,” as well as “confused and not yet well-defined” sexual identities.

Pre-screening is necessary, but not enough for a healthy priesthood. Parish priesthood is one of the most difficult and lonely lives on the planet — especially in some areas. (Full disclosure: One of my brothers is a parish priest.)

I’d like to see bishops consider restructuring things in their dioceses to foster greater fraternity among priests and lay leaders. Priests need relationships as much as anyone, and they need consistent familial-like community to provide support and feedback, hold them accountable, and call them to holiness.

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Pope Benedict XVI’s writing: Salt of the earth

Posted by jytmkh on November 1, 2008

Life can sometimes make our Christian faith feel like a burden, as Jenny Ang says. But through Pope Benedict’s writings, she has found that it is faith is what makes life filled with joy in the first place.


Dear readers,

We are called by God to lead a life worthy of being a Christian but along the way, we often find ourselves falling again and again.

It is no doubt a deep comfort to feel God’s love and forgiveness when we confess our waywardness and strive to change, but this constant struggle can take its toil. The heart of the matter is: faith can sometimes feel like a burden strapped on our back along this arduous journey of life. How then is one able to find joy in our faith?

On that question, this brings me to a book length interview titled, Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium, given by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) to Peter Seewald, a secular German journalist.  The book was first published in 1996.

The Pope answers that, “I would put it the other way around: faith gives joy. When God is not there, the world becomes desolate, and everything becomes boring, and everything is completely unsatisfactory. It’s easy to see today how a world empty of God is also increasingly consuming itself, how it has become a wholly joyless world.  The great joy comes from the fact that there is this great love, and that is the essential message of faith.”

He goes on to explain, “To that extent it can be said that the basic element of Christianity is joy.  Joy not in the sense of cheap fun, which can conceal desperation in the background…. Rather, it is joy in the proper sense.  A joy that exists together with a difficult life and also makes this life liveable.”

He reminds us that, “The history of Jesus Christ begins, according to the Gospel, with the angel saying to Mary, “Rejoice!” On the night of nativity the angels say again: We proclaim to you a great joy.  And Jesus says, “I proclaim to you the good news.” So the heart of the matter is always expressed in these terms: I proclaim to you a great joy, God is here, you are beloved, and this stands firm forever.”

The Pope’s answer to this question of joy is very moving. It opens up a window for us to look at God with pure joy, instead of seeing him as a heavy yoke.

In the book, the Pope squarely faces a barrage of other incisive questions that took him through his own personal biography, the problems of the Catholic Church and the Church in the new millennium including Christian unity.

He addresses questions on moral controversies such as contraception, abortion and euthanasia unflinchingly in truth.

He also discusses the “canon of criticisms” such as celibacy, women’s ordination and the remarriage of divorced persons and points out that there is a fixation in the Church on these issues.  They are “serious problems” but “there is too little attention to the fact that 80 percent of the people of this world are non-Christians who are waiting for the gospel, or for whom, at any rate, the gospel is also intended, and we shouldn’t be constantly agonizing over our own questions but should be pondering how we as Christians can express today in this world what we believe and thereby say something to these people.”

In addition, to the call from liberals that the Church should change and move with the times on these issues, the Pope recalls the view of another theologian, Johann Baptist Metz, who says that it was a good thing that the experiment was made in Lutheran Christianity for “it shows that being a Christian today does not stand or fall on these questions. That the resolution of these matters doesn’t make the gospel more attractive or being a Christian any easier. It does not even achieve the agreement that will better hold the Church together.”  He believes that “we should finally be clear on this point, that the Church is not suffering on account of these questions.”

To the question whether the approach of society wanting to examine the Church, the history of the Church and the doctrine of the Church in terms of a certain plausibility, the Pope illuminates that it is not wrong when one tries to find a certain reasonability in the faith since it can be understood and could be made evident to people.  However, “if one conceives the term plausibility so narrowly that one accept only those things about Christianity that suit our way of living at a certain time, then, of course, we make Christianity too cheap and at that very moment are no longer worth anything.”

It is also apparent from the book that truth is the central concept of the Pope’s thought and the quest for truth is a constant of his life. He says that “it became clear to me how important it is that we don’t lose the concept of truth, in spite of the menaces and perils it doubtless carries with it.  It has to remain the central category.  As a demand on us that doesn’t give us rights but requires, on the contrary, our humility and our obedience and can lead us to the common path.”

In this sense, we can understand why when the Pope says, “The words of the Bible and of the Church Fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread.  Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive.”

Throughout the book, I find the Pope’s answers to be pastoral, insightful, learned, forthright and above all, coming from a heart of deep faith grounded in truth.  In my view, he sees the crises facing the Church as primarily stemming from a crisis of faith. His clarion call to return to our true faith by living it convincingly and to pass on that faith is particularly poignant.

What ultimately comes through in the book is the Pope’s unwavering conviction that Jesus is Lord and in God’s promise that he will never abandon his Church, come what may.  This is reason enough to rejoice.

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What has come to pass, Vatican II — what went wrong?

Posted by jytmkh on October 18, 2008

What has come to pass, Vatican II -- what went wrong?
 Fr. Ray Blake at St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton: “As a priest in my 83rd year I have to make a confession. I implemented the Pauline r…
  Fr. Ray Blake at St. Mary Magdalen in Brighton:

“As a priest in my 83rd year I have to make a confession. I implemented the Pauline reforms without understanding or sensitivity. I did it relying on the advice and coercion of my bishop and diocesan authorities. As I did it I witnessed the hurt and pain of many of the devout , so many of the ardent became lukewarm, many lapsed . I thought I acted rightly but in my 59 years of priesthood I recognise that that which we hoped for has not come to pass .

I do welcome a careful reappraisal and assessment of what has been done since my ordination, especially by the younger clergy. In order to do that they must learn something of the spirituality that brought men of my generation in vast numbers to the seminary.

In short I welcome this Merton initiative .

Incidentally, in the solitude of my retirement, since last September, I have relearnt the Mass of my youth, it brings me great consolation. It is the Mass I have not celebrated out of obedience since 1970.

I am always amazed by priests like Fr O’Rourke who persevered through the storms and after the 30 or 40 years of madness, can give a testimony such ad this.  I think that it is clear that if many priests who stood on both sides of the divide are honest with themselves these would be their testimony as well.  What a sad and touching comment. Given the devastation wrought by the destruction of the liturgy and practice of the Church by Vatican II, there’s sometimes a certain bitterness towards the clergy who enforced this. But many of them probably had no choice; and in turn, many bishops probably felt they had no choice, either, and were probably not very happy about it.  I’m sure this priest is not alone in looking back with regret.

Another reminder that the “reform of the reform” must be carried out with understanding and sensitivity lest many devout and ardent souls who have known nothing other than the Ordinary Form be hurt, become lukewarm, and lapse.  When you had about 75% of American Catholics attending Sunday mass pre-Vatican II compared to about 23% now, what on earth were they trying to fix?  This testimony by the priest speaks volumes of why MANY people who stopped going to Mass because their hearts were broken.  Many people think that confession went out the window after Vatican II.  There is a reason why they think that—because their shepherds told them so.  I have been in churches where those who were not in favor of the innovations were ridiculed and marginalized.  Those who prayed the rosary were scorned and on and on ad nauseum.    Sanctification via the liturgy was the constant theme of Dom Gueranger, the 19th cent founder of Solesmes and father of the true liturgical movement. And there is a famous book by Madame Cecile Bruyere, the first abbess of St Cecilia, sister house of Solesmes.

It’s true, yes, that some mumbled to get through the mass quickly. So what do we have now? Priests are hamming it up and emoting through a show biz mass complete with corny songs. Whatever deficiencies in the old way of saying a poor mass, at least, no one left mass offended by such vulgar parodies of Catholic spirituality.  Most Catholics even today think that Mass in the vernacular and priests who told them to let their consciences be their guide (about anything!) were the best things that ever happened to Catholicism. This from people who also claim that missing Mass on Sunday doesn’t really matter—God loves you no matter what.  Paul VI, in ordering Bugnini to manufacture a new mass, actually saved the traditional form! I don’t know why this isn’t more generally recognized, but VII called for a reformation of the TLM , not, necessarily, a new mass.

It’s like this: The TLM was saved in a Cacoon through the tumult of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and has been given to us, anew but unchanged, almost as a gift from God, because it hasn’t been adulterated and watered down by all the legions and legions and legions of liberal screw-balls who have inserted themselves into high positions in the Church and parade as “Catholics,” when, really, they are subversive deconstructionists who hate the
Traditional values of our Holy Faith: and, thus, hate Christ Himself, as He truly is….

Worship” was called “Orate Fratres.” In retrospect they should have kept
the old title.  The 83 year old priest confesses to having gone along with a poor and mistaken implementation of the liturgical reforms. What I do not understand is why Vatican II and Pope Paul VI are demonized for the crises which afflicted the Church, while other forces at work from the outside always seem to get a pass.

The Pope and the Council are spoken of as if the Church existed in a vacuum, unaffected by the storms raging around in the 1960’s. The marxism sweeping the universities gets a pass. The existential and utilitarian philosophies confusing everyone’s notion of truth gets a pass. The sexual revolution gets a pass. The contraception and population control movements, backed by big money, get a pass. The radical feminist agenda gets a pass. The drug trafficking gets a pass.

The Pope and the Council were up against various tsunamis and if you read the documents and the encyclicals, there is nothing contained therein which implicates either as the agents of satan they are painted out to be. There is every indication that both the Holy Father and the hierarchy were trying to use their teaching office to steer the Church through these raging storms and avoid being dashed on the rocks.

The devil must be really delighted at this historical amnesia. While his true munions who worked to tear the Church apart from the outside are getting a pass, his enemies like the Pope and the Council are being demonized.

The good priests of those times had to fight enemies within the Church—I do not deny this. But the Council and the Pauline Mass which followed were sincere attempts to respond to the external attacks which painted the Church as fossilized, medieval, and incapable of responding to modernity.

The elderly priest cautions against repeating the mistake of imposing change without a respect for continuity. But he also challenges us to see the spirituality which brought so many men to serve the Church as priests. Is not love and respect for the Pope and the hierarchy part of that Catholic spirituality?

Do I think that form of the Mass in Latin turned Protestants away?  Of course the Latin turned Protestants away. One of the first things that Martin Luther did to his Mass was to abolish Latin.  Consider this quote from the year 1840 by Dom Prosper Gueranger, founder of the Benedictine Congregation of France and first abbot of Solesmes,he wrote the following in Liturgical Institutions

“ Hatred for the Latin language is inborn in the hearts of all the enemies of Rome. They recognize it as the bond among Catholics throughout the universe, as the arsenal of orthodoxy against all the subtleties of the sectarian spirit… We must admit it is a master blow of Protestantism to have declared war on the sacred language. If it should ever succeed in ever destroying it, it would be well on the way to victory. Exposed to profane gaze, like a virgin who has been violated, from that moment on the Liturgy has lost much of its sacred character, and very soon people find that it is not worthwhile putting aside one’s work or pleasure in order to go and listen to what is being said in the way one speaks on the marketplace.”

The best place to look would be in the official explanation given by the Pope who promugated that missal. It can be read here:…omanum_en.html

Archbishop Bugnini: “We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren , that is for the Protestants”

The Mass was changed for ecumenism. The Latin Mass was an “impediment” it made the Protestants feel “ill at ease”.
Here in his own words is what Bugnini though of the Mass of countless saints and martyrs and over 250 Popes.

“Signs and rites are likely to become incrusted by time, that is, to grow old and outmoded . They may therefore need to be revised and updated, so that the expression of the Church’s worship may reflect the perennial youthfulness of the Church itself…the Liturgy feeds the Church’s life; it must therefore remain dynamic and not be allowed to stagnate or become petrified .

Latin is a sign of unity. To say that I think using other languages is heretical is a misconception. Traditionalist prefer the Traditional Mass not for just the Latin.   Reform of the liturgy isn’t code for some conspiracy by modernists to subvert the One True Church. The liturgy has been reformed and has developed over time.  Over time. Not in a couple of years.  Trent did not “update” the Mass. It did make it uniform.  But it did state the authority of the Church to change how the sacraments are dispensed to fit the needs of time, place and circumstance (which is what an update is).(Session 21, Ch. II).

There have been plenty of innovations throughout history that would have seemed radical–even scandalous–when they were introduced, but are now seen as venerable traditions today–for example, private confession and mild penances of prayers rather than more corporal satisfactions, the different modes of Baptizing, or the application of indulgences primarily to satisfaction in the after life, rather than the lessening of prescribed satisfaction to be done in this life.

The previous practices made a great many Saints, and yet they were changed–and according to the traditional doctrine of the Church, there’s nothing wrong with that

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Pope’s Final WYD Homily: ‘You Will Receive Power!’

Posted by jytmkh on August 1, 2008

Catholic Online (

“Empowered by the Spirit,a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God’s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished – not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed.”


Though barely noticed by much of the secular media, Pope Benedicts' entire visit and all of his messages to the huge crowds of young men and women who traveled from around the world to
Though barely noticed by much of the secular media, Pope Benedicts’ entire visit and all of his messages to the huge crowds of young men and women who traveled from around the world to “World Youth Day 2008” in Sydney reveal his conviction that we are beginning a new missionary age for the Church. The Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ, Benedict XVI is convinced that the young will lead it.
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SYDNEY (Catholic Online) – Dear Friends,

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room.

In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.

In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ’s Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people “from every nation under heaven” (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room.

May the fire of God’s love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ! “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today’s Mass.

But they are also addressed to each of us – to all those who have received the Spirit’s gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord’s body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, “one body, one spirit in Christ”.

But what is this “power” of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God’s life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God’s grace.

Here in Australia, this “great south land of the Holy Spirit”, all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: “charged”, as the poet says, “with the grandeur of God”, filled with the glory of his creative love.

Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit’s presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord. The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life!

Through the grace of the Church’s sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit’s power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: “Come, come to the Father” (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).

Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. God’s love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires.

That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to God’s grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive “power from on high”, enabling us to be salt and light for our world.

At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: “You will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands – witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.

Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom?

How are you using the gifts you have been given, the “power” which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make? The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God’s Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today’s Gospel!

Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all God’s promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ’s Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can “renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30)!

Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith’s rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God’s gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished – not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships.

Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.

The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning – the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity’s sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.

The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4)! In today’s second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power!

I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say “yes” to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!

In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be “sealed” with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christ’s witnesses. What does it mean to receive the “seal” of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same!

Being “baptized” in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being “given to drink” of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lord’s plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being “sealed with the Spirit” means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.

As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God’s presence!

Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen.

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