Saturday, May 17, 2003

There is a letter up on the Diocese Report website from the priests of the Altoona-Johnstown diocese to the bishop. It demands, among other things, that the bishop request his legal representative to address the possibility of censoring the Diocese Report, that the retired priests in the diocese who seem to be living in diocesan housing be given a monthly retirement benefit payment of $1,500, that the retirement home be improved. The priests threaten to use civil disobedience if their demands are not met, and claim that Jesus would make the same demands if He were a priest in the diocese. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Friday, May 16, 2003

Some quotes from a UPI article titled: "Analysis: No more messy Mass? WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- You don't have to be a Roman Catholic to feel some nostalgia for the days when the holy Mass was a less messed-up affair -- and sung in Latin. Now there are signs of hope that some of the beauty of the Church's ancient liturgy will soon return. Vatican sources told United Press International Thursday that three congregations of the papal curia are working on a document setting liturgical norms intended to put an end to the frequently ugly abuses that have become rampant since the Second Vatican Council 1962-65. The paper will be published before the end of the year and include "prescriptions of a juridical nature on this very important subject," as Pope John Paul II stated in his latest encyclical letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia" (Church of the Eucharist). In this context, a Vatican insider said it was highly significant that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, recently celebrated Mass according to the old Tridentine Latin rite in St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. "It's not that the Church will return to the Latin liturgy full-time," a Rome-based prelate cautioned, "but we should celebrate it more often." He added that this should contribute to the reconciliation between the Vatican and the followers of the late French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the traditionalist Society of Pius X headquartered in Switzerland. There is more to this article at the website. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Deal Hudson's e-Letter this week concerns Fr. James F. Keenan, S.J. and his approval of legislation in Massachusetts that would legalize homosexual marriage. What's He Talking About? CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter May 16, 2003 ********************************************** Dear Friend, You're going to need to sit down for this one. A few weeks ago, moral theologian Rev. James F. Keenan, S.J., appeared before the joint committee on the judiciary for the state of Massachusetts to offer the Catholic perspective on a bill they were debating. The bill is constitutional amendment H.3190, whose purpose can be summed up in the following excerpt: "...only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Massachusetts. Any other relationship shall not be recognized as a marriage or its legal equivalent." The amendment would be similar to those currently on the rule books of many other states, protecting the institution of marriage against those who are trying to legalize homosexual unions. A similar bill was shot down in Massachusetts last year, so it seemed doubly important that a Catholic theologian -- especially one with Fr. Keenan's credentials -- be there to present the traditional Catholic understanding of marriage and the family. This is what Keenan said: "[H.3190] is contrary to Catholic teaching on social justice. ...The Catholic theological tradition stands against the active and unjust discrimination against the basic social rights of gay and lesbian persons." No, you read that right. A Catholic priest stood as a representative for his Church before a state government and encouraged them to vote AGAINST a bill that would ban homosexual marriages. How could this be possible? It certainly isn't that Fr. Keenan doesn't know his material. As a professor of moral theology at Western Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, he received a doctorate in moral theology from Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and will be a visiting professor at Boston College this year. He certainly has all the apparent qualifications one could ask for in a theologian. So why is he supporting anti-Catholic positions in the name of Catholicism? His arguments from Church teaching against the bill simply don't hold water. His basic point is that the Church teaches tolerance and respect for homosexuals, and banning marriage from these people would be the highest form of discrimination. He quotes the Catechism: "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided" (2358); and earlier, the bishops' document "Always Our Children": "Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them." From these two statements, Keenan assembles his case for same-sex marriage. But the holes in his logic should be immediately apparent to any Catholic. First of all, it's true that we teach respect, love, and understanding in the case of homosexual persons. Catholics believe that ALL God's people deserve these fundamental dignities, being created in His likeness. And since we're all sinners, the old adage "love the sinner, hate the sin" really holds true. But while we respect and honor the sinner, that doesn't mean we must honor the sin. And the Church is very clear in its position on homosexual acts. Take this passage from the Catechism, the entry directly before the one Fr. Keenan quoted: "Tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved" (2357). That seems abundantly clear to me -- "under no circumstances" can we approve homosexual acts. Fr. Keenan conveniently skips over this passage in his rush to condone what the Church explicitly says can NEVER be condoned. His quoting from the document "Always Our Children" is no better. It was written as a message to parents struggling with the homosexuality of their children. Naturally, then, focused on the need to love homosexuals, rather than the explicit Church teachings against homosexual acts. But even here, Fr. Keenan is wrong in his description of the document. The bishops do not endorse homosexual behavior: "Accepting [your child's] homosexual orientation does not have to include approving of all related attitudes and behavioral choices. In fact, you may need to challenge certain aspects of a lifestyle that you find objectionable." Aside from not condoning homosexual acts, the fact remains that homosexual marriage is impossible from a natural law standpoint. We were created to be joined one man to one woman. It's part of our nature and part of God's plan since He first created Adam and Eve. You cannot claim a right to an institution that, by its nature, was not designed for you. That would be like men claiming discrimination because they cannot bear children. We simply were not created for some roles in life, and like it or not, it provides no grounds for charging discrimination. This all seems fairly straightforward. But the real puzzle is how Fr. Keenan could endorse such an incredibly wrongheaded interpretation of the Church's teaching. A man with his extensive knowledge of moral theology couldn't just stumble into such a gross error. (Of course, the Jesuits have been in decline the last 30 years...) The amazing fact is that he's not alone. When last year's bill was before the committee, TWO Catholic priests stood in opposition to it: One was Rev. Richard Lewandowski of St. Camillus Parish in Fitchburg (who also happens to be the Chaplain at Fitchburg State College), and the other was the often-heralded Rev. Walter Cuenin from Our Lady Help of Christians Parish (and a staunch supporter of Voice of the Faithful). The common link between all three? They're all priests with great influence. Keener teaches at a seminary; Lewandowski works with college students; Cuenin has his own personality cult among the laity in his area. When they speak, people listen. And these men are no fools. I find it hard to believe that they are simply mistaken in their opinions. Rather, they're attempting to mislead not only Catholics, but the population at large by presenting anti-Catholic rhetoric in the name of Catholicism. I find it interesting that in Boston -- the hotbed of a scandal in the Church that involves crimes mainly perpetrated by homosexuals -- Catholic priests would present a solution to the problem by further endorsing homosexuality! Where have they been? My hope is that the bishops of these priests will reprimand them and denounce their ideas publicly. The damage done to the Faith - in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics alike -- will be serious indeed if the bishops don't have the courage to speak out. But you and I don't have to wait for the bishops to act. We can make our voices heard right now, so that people will know what Catholics really believe. If you live in Massachusetts, encourage your representatives to endorse H.3190. If you're an alumnus of Boston College, threaten to withhold donations as long as Fr. Keener is teaching there. And please...by all means, help others understand what the Church really teaches about homosexuality in our culture. Talk to you next week, Deal CarrieTomko@aol.com

A not to be missed commentary by Amy Welborn at Catholic Exchange. She comments on the use of Rock and Roll music at Mass. CarrieTomko@aol.com

The term "lidless eye" has been used with derision in some blogs. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I've always assumed it was a reference to conspiracy theory/Masonry. I happened to be looking for something in this Alaskan Masonic Lodge website when I noticed the "eye" on the webpage. (You have to scroll down to see it.) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The topic on talk radio here this afternoon was tongue splitting. I tried to imagine what it would look like without success. Then I found this link in Mark Shea's weblog and got to see. Nineteen, and the kid thinks it's cool. I guess it's a good thing that young people are waiting longer to marry these days considering the maturity level required for making marriage work. For some reason a grocery store where I used to shop had a lot of cashiers with excessive body piercing. Ever try to pay your bill without looking at the cashier? It didn't work very well. I usually left the store slightly nauseous. Somehow body piercing and food make a bad combination. I think the first thing I would want to ask the proud owner of the latest mouth art would be whether they spoke with a forked tongue or merely looked like they did? What's the worst that could happen...I get my tongue split for free? (Better make sure to ask a girl my snotty question, I guess.) Do any of these people realize that if someone tortured them by splitting their tongue, they would have complaining privileges for the rest of their lives? There will be no complaining about the consequences when you do it to yourself kids; and you only get one body, so mess it up with caution. CarrieTomko@aol.com

I've done more digging and found the following websites which also talk about Jesus as a "tekton." CATHOLIC ALMANAC: Quick Questions (1993) From the website: I've always thought that the Holy Family was poor and that in their poverty and humility Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are models for all families. But recently I read someone's claim that the Holy Family was not poor because the Greek word describing Joseph's profession (Tekton) indicates that he was a "master craftsman," a class of artisan who made a very comfortable living at his trade. What light can you shed on this? It's true that Joseph is called a tektonos in Matthew 13:55, but the Greek word tekton simply means "craftsman" and does not connote anything with regard to level, skill, or income, and the rendering "master craftsman" is not etymologically supportable. The scanty biblical evidence indicates that the Holy Family was poor, not middle-class, certainly not affluent. Luke writes, "When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was born. When the days were completed for their purification [40 days (Lev. 12:2-8)] according to the law of Moses, they [Mary and Joseph] took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,' and to offer the sacrifice of 'a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons,' in accordance with the dictate of the law of the Lord" (2:22-24). This passage suggests that Mary and Joseph were poor. According to the Mosaic law the mother had to purchase and have sacrificed in the Temple a young lamb as a burnt offering and a turtle dove as a sin offering (this being done to expiate ritual impurity related to blood and childbirth, not personal sin). If the parents were too poor to afford the lamb, they were allowed to substitute two turtle doves or pigeons (Lev. 12:8). Other than this brief glimpse at the Holy Family's financial circumstances, the Bible tells us very little about their economic status. While it's true that the three Magi offered Jesus expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:11), there's no biblical evidence to suggest that they kept these items. ---------------------------------------- Masonic Beliefs and Practices From the website: "The ancient Mysteries did not cease to exist when Christianity became the world's most powerful religion. Great Pan did not die! Freemasonry is the proof of his survival. The pre-Christian Mysteries simply assumed the symbolism of the new faith, perpetuating through its emblems and allegories the same truths which had been the property of the wise since the beginning of the world. There is no true explanation, therefore, for Christian symbols save that which is concealed within pagan philosophy. Without the mysterious keys carried by the hierophants of the Egyptian, Brahmin, and Persian cults the gates of Wisdom cannot be opened." - Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy "For he (God) is the Builder and Architect of the Temple of the universe; He is the Verbum Sapienti." - Yost, i, 411 "In Plato's Timaeus, there appears the earliest known equation of the Creator with the 'Architect of the Universe'. The Creator, in the Timaeus, is called 'tekton', meaning 'craftsman' or 'builder'. 'Arche-tekton' thus denoted 'master craftsman' or 'master builder'. For Plato, the 'arche-tekton' crafted the cosmos by means of geometry." - Baigent & Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge ---------------------------------------- Freemasonry and Catholicism, by Max Heindel, Part VII through IX From the website: But the man of high ideals and lofty aspirations, who would be the one likely to seek the path of Initiation, feels the impelling force of levitation drawing him outward into the purer strata of the air where the First Heaven is located, and is thus effectually prevented from trespassing upon the path of Initiation. Stories are told of Initiates having overcome the law of gravitation in order to RISE IN THE AIR at certain times for a definite purpose while still in the dense body. Initiates are also taught how to suspend the law of levitation when they are in their soul bodies, and how to pass through the nine strata of the earth. It is said that Jesus was the son of a carpenter, but the Greek word is TEKTON, and means builder; ARCHE is the Greek name of primordial matter. It is also said that Jesus was a carpenter (tekton) himself. It is true, he was A TEKTON, builder or Mason, a Son of God, the Grand ARCHETEKTON. At the age of THIRTY-THREE, when he had taken the three-times-three (9) degrees of Mystic Masonry, he descended to the center of the earth. So does every other TEKTON, Mason or PHREE MESSEN, (CHILD OF LIGHT,) as the Egyptian called such, descend through the NINE arch-like strata of the earth. We shall find at the time of the first advent of Christ both Hiram Abiff, the son of Cain, and Solomon, the son of Seth, reborn to take from Him the next great Initiation into the Christian Mysteries. Max Heindel, the author of that passage, is a Rosicrucian who follows the teachings of Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy, which is based on Theosophy. His attitude toward Catholicism is rflected in this statement: How is the Rosicrucian occultist a son of Cain? Heindel traces the lineage of Christian Rose Cross through Lazarus to Hiram Abiff to Cain. The Masons also cite Hiram Abiff, the builder of Solomon�s Temple, as their spiritual ancestor. In fact, Heindel, though not a practicing Mason, described himself as �a Mason at heart and therefore frankly opposed to Catholicism� (Freemasonry and Catholicism, F&C, p 6). Why? �Catholicism is an activity of the Hierarchs of Water [who seek] to quench the spirits seeking [spiritual] light and [occult] knowledge and to inculcate faith in Jehovah�. Freemasonry �is an attempt by the Hierarchs of Fire, the Lucifer Spirits, to bring us the imprisoned spirit �light,� that we may see and know�. To be sure, this is not the mystic�s objective. He seeks God directly through faith and has no desire for knowledge per se. Heindel spiritually opposes Catholicism with the �weapon of the Spirit�Reason� and �firmly believe[s] it to be for the everlasting good of mankind that the Masons should win [�the battle for the souls of men� ---------------------------------------------- THE MASONIC CONNECTION From the website: The Masonic Connection ************************************************** Although I am not a freemason, I suspect there is some linkage between the masons and Jesus as carpenter. This started with a hunch, which resulted in several clues. Therefore, this section should not be viewed as a condemnation or approval of Freemasonry. Rather, the following research should be viewed as a study of evidence related to the consideration of Jesus being a carpenter in an ancient and traditional organization. If any of the readers have additional information they can provide on the subject, it will be most appreciated. The linkage of Freemasonry and Jesus the Carpenter begins with a word study. �The Book of Word Origins� makes the bold observation that God was a mason and His Son a carpenter. (75) Another word study clue of the Masonic link comes to us from the Greek. The ancient Greek word for "Carpenter" is tekton. Jesus was referred to as a "tekton" in Mark 6:3 by His towns' people. However, the Modern Greek word for "Carpenter" is maragkos. Surprisingly, the Modern Greek word for mason, or free mason, is Tektonas. And the word for "Masonic" is tektonikos (Reference: "Oxford Greek Mini-dictionary"; Watts, Niki; Oxford University Press, 1997) The research of the linkage continues in "secret" Masonic literature. Claudy, in his books on Freemasonry, refers to Christ as the �Carpenter of Nazareth.� (58, 120 Vol II) Also according to Claudy, The College of Architects (in the Roman times) are considered to be a heritage of Freemasonry. Many members of the organization were Christians, and adopted the doctrines of Christianity. The teachings of the �Carpenter� were considered to be desirable, which taught brotherhood resulting from having a common Father. (58, 10 Vol I) CarrieTomko@aol.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

On a message board recently, someone who is part Jewish and a convert to Eastern Catholicism, said that Jesus wasn't a carpenter, he was a "tekton." I'd never heard the word before, but Google soon gave me this website which describes a tekton as a "craftsman who builds," and goes on to describe Israeli buildings as being consructed mostly of stone. It didn't take long for me to combine this concept with my interest in Freemasonry and start to wonder if we have gotten it wrong and they have gotten it right all along! It took a few hours out in the backyard potting flowers to recover! So what do the rest of you think...was Jesus a carpenter or could He have been a stonemason? CarrieTomko@aol.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Last Sunday, Mother's Day, I attended Mass at the Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio. They have a tradition there. On Mother's Day each worshipper takes a carnation from a pail of them provided, puts the carnation in a vase at the altar of the Blessed Virgin, and says a prayer for his or her mother. The altar was loaded with flowers. It's a popular tradition down there and a nice way to remind us that Mary is the mother of all of us. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Robert Moynihan at Inside the Vatican reports: Forty years after the Second Vatican Council, after four decades of liturgical "experimentation" which has troubled many of the faithful, Rome is about to issue a major disciplinary document, ending years of a generally "laissez faire" attitude toward liturgical experimentation and �do-it-youself� Masses. The document is now in draft form and is expected to be published between October and Christmas this year. In a bombshell passage, the document will also encourage far wider use of the �old Mass�, the Tridentine rite Mass, in Latin, throughout the Roman Catholic Church. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Robert Moynihan at Inside the Vatican reports: Forty years after the Second Vatican Council, after four decades of liturgical "experimentation" which has troubled many of the faithful, Rome is about to issue a major disciplinary document, ending years of a generally "laissez faire" attitude toward liturgical experimentation and �do-it-youself� Masses. The document is now in draft form and is expected to be published between October and Christmas this year. In a bombshell passage, the document will also encourage far wider use of the �old Mass�, the Tridentine rite Mass, in Latin, throughout the Roman Catholic Church. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Catholic News reports that Dr. George Carey, retired Archbishop of Canterbury, has proposed that leaders of other religious communities make regular ad limina visits to the Pope, as Catholic bishops do. He made the proposal during the last day of the seminar on John Paul II: 25 Years of Pontificate, the Church at the Service of Man, organized by the Lateran University. Instead of the "Church at the Service of Man," shouldn't the title have read the "Church at the Service of God"? CarrieTomko@aol.com

The Holy Father talks of the "New Springtime" in our midst, while we here in America struggle to hold onto our faith during the sexual abuse crisis and the rejection of America in favor of Iraq. Meanwhile Catholics in other nations run from their persecutors. But let's conclude that this is the "New Springtime" as the Pope tells us that it is. What then does this "New Springtime" consist of? One thing it seems to consist of is new ecclesial communities which are more and more often in the news. It seems to be the emerging trend in Europe, but many of the more progressive Catholic parishes in America have experienced them as well in the form of various Renew programs. The "New Springtime" consists of interfaith gatherings such as the one in the mosque where Cardinal Law bowed to Allah. Does the future of Catholicism lie in our acceptance of all faiths as equal to our own? Yes, I know what the Pope said in Dominus Iesus. But I also know what he did at Assisi. Many Catholics disapprove of these gatherings. But if we are thinking "New Springtime" we must cloak them in positive comments. So I will give it a try. "Fading Winterspeak" says the "New Springtime" has seen Mass attendance plummet. "New Springspeak" says Mass attendance will no longer be an obligation. Instead Mass will now be a joyous celebration that we look forward to and participate in with enthusiasm and pleasure. "Fading Winterspeak" says our parishes are in crisis over lack of priests and sexual abuse. "New Springspeak" says we will form new faith communities where we become a concerned and caring family of love, taking care of each other's needs and treading lightly on the Earth. We will be able to provide for our common needs and share our common goods and concerns while we practice organic farming and build our shelters of Earth-friendly materials. We will have less need for material possessions because our life will be simplified. The hierarchy and the papacy will be redefined as a mission of service to all in communion with all. "Fading Winterspeak" says our parishes will soon be priestless. "New Springspeak" says that the Holy Spirit is once again shedding His Pentecostal fire on each and every one of us. We will no longer have the need for priests and the study of theology. We will all be illuminated from within by the direct workings of the Holy Spirit. The Luminous Mysteries show us the way. The Earth will be filled with the Light of Christ. It will be a glorious new future of faith and love and compassion for all men. "Fading Winterspeak" says that our God is a jealous God who guards His own and resents our straying into idol worship. "New Springspeak" says there will no longer be wars over religion. We will treat all faiths with respect and dignity and share each other's worship spaces. There will be peace upon the earth since wars are all caused by disagreements over religion, and that will disappear. We will learn to see in each and every religion the natural law that was formed by our Creator in the heart of each and every man. We will worship in peace and tranquility at each Solstice and Equinox festival. "Fading Winterspeak" says that we have chaos in our churches and in our faith. "New Springspeak" says that all birthing takes place in chaos. There are miracles in this "New Springtime" that we celebrate. The chaos we see now is merely a sign of the new Christianity in the birthing process. Chaos will drop away when the transition is complete. Soon there will be solidarity of all peoples who live in the Spirit of the New Times and in our shared unity in diversity. The Pope has told us that this is the "New Springtime" which we are experiencing now. Only fundamentalists doubt. CarrieTomko@aol.com

Is parish life as we know it coming to an end? Is the future construction of the Roman Catholic Church destined to be a wholly different affair? John Allen presents some ideas about what the future of the Church at the local level might be: Quote: ...the parish will not disappear, but it will play a very different role. Instead of being the center of Catholic life, the crucible in which one�s spirituality is forged, it will function as a meeting place for the movements. The parish would become a sort of ecclesiastical piazza, in which adherents of the Neocatechumenate, Opus Dei, Regnum Cristi, Catholic Action, Communion and Liberation, etc., meet to share experiences, to work on joint projects, and at least sometimes to worship together, before moving back down their different avenues.Under this scenario, the pastor becomes a facilitator rather than a shepherd in the traditional sense, someone whose task is to bring the movements into conversation and collaboration. The parish becomes the guarantor of communion, but the focus of Christian living will be inside the movements.A related question is what happens to bishops. When the primary identity of Catholics is defined in geographic terms, i.e., as a member of such-and-such as parish, the diocesan bishop is the key authority. But once Catholics understand themselves in terms of a charism or spirituality, one that crosses geographic boundaries, they become analogous to members of a religious order in the sense that they take their cues more from leadership of the group rather than bishops.Already one sees this process at work in Spain, where Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, co-founders of the Neocatechumenate, are higher-profile and more powerful figures than most Spanish bishops. Each group seems to offer a somewhat different spirituality. There is the very conservative and rigorous Opus Dei which practices a corporal mortification using the celice and the discipline. There is Neocatechumenal Way with its unusual arrangement of churches that have a large, central baptismal pool which rivals the size of the altar (and thus the sacrament of the altar?), at least in this picture. Focolare concentrates on ecumenism and their communities are made up of Catholics and nonCatholics alike. Some of the groups are charismatic. Will we end up with competing spiritualities? Will we choose our ecclesial community and the spirituality that goes with it in the way that we might currently choose our parish or even our Church? Will this be unitive or divisive? Are we recreating the nationality churches of the immigrants, and if we do recreate them, will the rivalries be similar? As well as the groups Allen metions, there are the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups which are sometimes connected to a motherhouse of women religious. Genesis and Michaela Farms are two examples of CSA groups. These groups function in much the same way as the CSA groups of the theosophical Share International. Both Catholic and theosophical groups hold Solstice and Equinox celebrations, and both give lip service (or more) to "Gaia" and promote the Earth Charter. These groups are being established in Third World countries as well as in the U.S. While all of this is happening, the parishes seem to be suffering from a lack of priests for which no one has a solution, and from the sexual abuse crisis. Vibrant Parish Life is attempting to address some of these problems in my Diocese, using the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) methodology which I've already blogged. Coincidentally, the creater of AI, Dr. David Cooperrider, was interviewed last Saturday on the evening news in conjunction with the story about the 7-hour shooting spree on the Case-Western Reserve campus which took place in the new building of the Weatherhead School of Management, home of Appreciative Inquiry. CarrieTomko@aol.com

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