Sunday, September 29, 2019

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Comfort in the Lord

Today's readings remind us not to forget the poor nor become selfish if we are rich.  We are not called for comfort in this world.

In the first reading, God tells us of the complacency in Zion. The people got wealthy. They lived comfortable lives with beds of ivory, eating lambs and enjoying the high life.  The people drank the best wines and anointed themselves with the best oils or perfumes.  He tells them that they will be the first to go into exile and that their revelry will be done away with. Zion forgot its humble beginnings. The people of Jerusalem in Israel forgot the times they were under chains living in the desert and in poverty (Exodus 14:30).  God provided for them (Exodus 16:4). They are now established in the holy land and feel they are entitled to the best the earth had to offer at the time (Exodus 16:35).  We must not become like them (Psalm 106). We must not become too comfortable in this world. Unfortunately, our Catholic Church has gotten too comfortable in the world. Recently, we have learned of bishops living in luxury spending large amounts of money on private jets, alcohol, hotels, huge mansions, jewelry and what not. The same has been discovered among priests, deacons and even religious who have taken vows of poverty. This is not what Christ wants. Christ wants simplicity. This is why our Holy Father has criticized those who use the priesthood as a career. He recently voiced his concerned over young rigid priests who love to wear saturnos and other regalia from the past. While these things are not bad in themselves, the intention behind using them can be bad.

Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI have reminded us of this many times. Benedict XVI reminded us that we forgot our evangelization zeal.  He also stated, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness."  We are not going out into the world as we should in order to preach the Gospel.  Instead, we sit in our parishes and wait for people to show up on schedule. Then when they do not show up, we wonder what happened and begin to shut down parishes.  Pope Francis reminds us that we have locked ourselves up in the walls of rectories and the like.  We are not going out there getting the scent of the sheep, so to speak.  We are not going out there reaching out to the one sheep that got away (Matthew 18:12).  I say "we" because of the "pastoral sloth," as I call it, not only rests on the clergy but on all of us, religious or lay. We all have an obligation to evangelize depending on our state in life. Our Church has gotten too comfortable. We have gotten too comfortable with man-made governments. We have gotten too comfortable with the customs of societies where Mass times are altered to fit our work schedules rather than the other way around.  Which is more important!?  The new Zion, our Catholic Church must get out of the ivory bed and be as Jesus was who had no place to rest His head (Matthew 8:20). The beautiful Church buildings and artistic wealth the Church has is fine and dandy, but at the end, God has no need of it (Acts 7:48). He prefers having His children back (2 Chronicles 7:14). This should be our focus. If we do not evangelize, we will be left with these beautiful buildings empty and ready to be sold in order to become parking lots or apartments.

The Church must be poor, as our Holy Father Pope Francis has said numerous times. She must be a field hospital, not a Hilton hotel. Our clergy must be shepherds, not princes or lords.  We must concern ourselves with evangelization, bringing souls home to God, especially our own. Blessed indeed is he who keeps the faith forever, as the responsorial Psalm tells us.  He is the one who secures justice for the oppressed and feeds the hungry. We must help others, especially the stranger (Exodus 22:21-22, Hebrews 13:2). It pains me to see on Twitter and other social networks how some Protestant conservative Christians attacked the young boy in the ambulance who was rescued after an attack in Aleppo, Syria. People tweeted that the boy should have died.  Others say, that his life is no concern of ours; that we have our own children to worry about.  These people dare to call themselves Christians and bible-believers!  How dare they!?  This attitude goes against Christ (Jeremiah 22:3, Matthew 19:14)). We must care for one another whether citizen, illegal immigrant or refugee. Granted, we must do so safely and with prudence, but the help must always be there. God gives the blind sight (Luke 4:18).  Raises those who are made to bow down (James 4:10). He is always there for the stranger and just.  We must imitate God and be there for the pariahs of the world. We must lead by example, as the second reading tells us (Titus 2:7).

The second reading should be meditated upon by all of us, especially the clergy.  The men and women of God must pursue righteousness, not their egos.  They must have devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.  They must be a well for the faith so that others can come drink and be quenched of their thirst (Matthew 5:16). Priests must not be rude, nasty, egotistical or maniacal (1 Timothy 3). They must be humble and kind, bearing things for the sake of Christ and His priesthood (Titus 1:5-9, Proverbs 27:23).  This goes for all of us as well.  I mention the clergy specifically because they are the official representatives of the Church. It takes just one nasty bad-attitude priest to scare one or more from God and the Church.  This is not what a priest is supposed to do. A shepherd protects the flock, not scare it. Only the wolf does that. We all must lay hold of eternal life which can only be found in Christ present in the Eucharist, the bread of life (John 6:35).  A holy bishop I worked for years ago as a master of ceremony told me that a great priest is made when he is devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady. He is 100% correct. Priests who follow this model go on to become holy men. This is also applicable to religious and the laity. We must be devoted to Christ in the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady. Next month is October, the month of the Rosary. I recommend this prayer to every Catholic.  This week, we celebrated the feast day of St. Pio of Pietrelcena (read more on him here: This humble Franciscan Friar from the Capuchin branch of the Order of Friars minor was devoted to the Holy Eucharist and Our Lady. It is no wonder that he became a saint because of his focus on Jesus and Mary. Jesus and Mary is the reason the Catholic Church exists; the reason the Bible exists. God promised Adam and Eve that the woman will come who will bear the child who will crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). It is clear that Jesus and Mary are the center of it all. In them, we restore the image of God that we are supposed to be (Genesis 1:27). We grow in grace and learn to love one another while at the same time avoiding becoming the rich man we will read about in the Gospel.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us of the rich man and Lazarus. The Church Fathers debated as to whether this was a parable or based on historical figures. They argued that in parables, Jesus never used names. However, in this case, he gives the name of Lazarus which may indicate that this poor man did exist and Jesus used his life and circumstance to tell the parable. In any event, we must understand and focus on the purpose of the parable. There was a rich man who wore purple garments and had great dinners each day.  At the rich man's door was Lazarus, a leper covered with sores. This man was ignored by the rich man who left him outside desiring even the scraps that fell from the rich man's table as dogs licked his sores.  The sight must have been ghastly. Eventually, the poor man Lazarus passed away.  He was taken to the bosom of Abraham by the angels.  Some scholars believe this bosom is a reference to purgatory. We can assume this because if the only "places" that exist outside of earth is heaven and hell, then what is this bosom of Abraham?  Clearly, there is another "place" or state of being. Anyhow, the rich man eventually died as well and was taken to the netherworld or hell.  There he suffered and was in torment.  He looked up and saw Abraham and cried out, "Father Abraham, have pity on me."  Clearly, the rich man was in hell since he had to look up to Abraham who is called "Father."  Our Protestant brethren often have an issue with us calling our priests and pope "father."  Clearly, this was no issue for Jesus who used the title for Abraham. Abraham is our father in faith just like the pope and our priests are (1 Corinthians 4:15).

The rich man saw Lazarus with Abraham and asked him to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger with water in order to cool his tongue.  He has some nerve!  While on earth, he denied Lazarus even the crumbs from his dinner table, yet wanted Lazarus to bring him water on his finger tip!  This tells us how out of touch this rich man was.  However, Abraham was not having it and told him, "My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, where you are tormented." Then he tells the rich man that a chasm was created to prevent souls from crossing to either state (heaven, hell, purgatory). This verse shows proof that there are other states. It is not just heaven and hell like our separated brethren in the Protestant faith believe. This passage is also erroneously interpreted by the Orthodox Church when they claim that souls can be released from hell. Hell is permanent.  It is the consequence of our choices.  The rich man realized that after life there are consequences to what we do or not do on earth.  He asks Abraham to send Lazarus to his father's house so he can warn his five brothers about hell.

Abraham tells him that they have Moses and the prophets to listen to via the Torah.  However, the rich man insists that an apparition or the resurrection of a dead Lazarus would be more effective. Abraham replies that if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets, that they will not listen to anyone who will rise from the dead. These are powerful words.  They remind me of atheists who will argue against you for the sake of arguing.  They will not accept anything you tell them or show them in regards to God and religion.  Some even will not believe unless they see an old man with a white beard sitting on a throne above the earth!  St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”  We must avoid getting into arguments with a contrarian fool (Proverbs 26:4-14, Proverbs 29:9).  This rich man represents those with no faith and those who are lukewarm.  We must not be like him.  Our faith must be sincere.  We have the Church, Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium or Sacred Deposit.  There is nothing more that we need. We must not pick and choose what we want to accept. As the late Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor of New York said,"The Church is not a salad bar, from which to pick and choose what pleases you." We must accept the whole meal and accept suffering just as Lazarus did.  He trusted in God's words.

The rich man was not condemned to hell for being rich.  What condemned him was his selfishness.  He had enough to help Lazarus but did not.  God gives wealth so that it may be used for good (Deuteronomy 8:18, Ecclesiastes 6:2).  St. Pope John Paul II tells us, "Was the rich man condemned because he had riches because he abounded in earthly possessions because he "dressed in purple and linen and feasted splendidly every day?" No, I would say that it was not for this reason. The rich man was condemned because he did not pay attention to the other man. Because he failed to take notice of Lazarus, the person who sat at his door and who longed to eat the scraps from his table. Nowhere does Christ condemn the mere possession of earthly goods as such.  Instead, he pronounces very harsh words against those who use their possessions in a selfish way, without paying attention to the needs of others. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the words: "Blessed are the poor in spirit". And at the end of the account of the Last Judgment as found in St. Matthew's Gospel, Jesus speaks the words that we all know so well: "I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was away from home and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing. I was ill and in prison and you did not come and comfort me" (Mt 25:42–43). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience. Christ demands openness to our brothers and sisters in need—openness from the rich, the affluent, the economically advanced; openness to the poor, the underdeveloped and the disadvantaged. Christ demands an openness that is more than benign attention, more than token actions or half-hearted efforts that leave the poor as destitute as before or even more so.(Apostolic Journey to the United States of America, Holy Mass at Yankee Stadium, New York City, October 2, 1979)"  We must not be selfish. If we have wealth, we should try our best to help others, especially those in dire need. This is why I am always asking readers to help me expand this ministerial work by donating at my PayPal or so that I can reach more people and those who donate can add to their "books" the good works necessary for salvation in conjunction with faith and grace.

This book is what God will read, the book of our lives.  We want the pages in the book of our lives to be added to the book of life (Daniel 12:1, Luke 10:20, Revelation 20:15, Philippians 4:3).  St. Augustine tells us, "Jesus kept quiet about the rich man's name and mentioned the name of the poor man. The rich man's name was thrown around, but God kept quiet about it. The other's name was lost in silence, and God spoke it. Please do not be surprised. God just read out what was written in his book. You see, God who lives in heaven kept quiet about the rich man's name because he did not find it written in heaven. He spoke the poor man's name because he found it written there, indeed he gave instructions for it to be written there. ("Sermon 33A.4", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 261.)"  Having wealth is not a bad in itself.  It is how we make use of it that determines whether it is bad or not. Donating to help the poor, our parishes or helping me expand this evangelization work pleases God.  This is because in giving, we show detachment from material goods. They do not control us. We do not worship it as master like last Sunday's readings warn us against. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us, "In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus admonishes us through the image of a soul destroyed by arrogance and opulence, who has created an impassable chasm between himself and the poor man; the chasm of being trapped within material pleasures; the chasm of forgetting the other, of incapacity to love, which then becomes a burning and unquenchable thirst. (Spe Salvi, 44)"  We must help others, especially the poor and less fortunate in the eyes of the world. Our riches are not secured in heaven (Matthew 19-21). We cannot take anything to heaven, not even our bodies.  This is why we must make good use of our material goods by helping others.  Those who give will receive (Luke 6:38).  Today is also the feast day of the archangels, Michael, Rafael and Gabriel, or Michaelmas. Let us pray to St. Michael that he may cast out satan who is in the Church causing trouble. Let us ask him to stand up for the poor and others who have no voice. Let us pray to St. Raphael that we may bring healing to others and to St. Gabriel that we may announce the Gospel to those we come into contact with. St. Gabriel was the first to say the "Hail Mary." Marian devotion is important and was taught to us by an archangel. May Jesus Christ be praised!


In light of today's readings, please consider donating or becoming a regular benefactor. Donate at my PayPal, or use and get rewards.  No amount is too small or too big.

Friday, September 27, 2019

NYC Restricts Constitution to Protect Illegal Aliens

As a New Yorker, born in Manhattan and raised in The Bronx, I am ashamed of my home city. The Twitter account for New York City tweeted out this graphic stating that it is now illegal to "threaten to call ICE" on illegal immigrants and that it is illegal to tell someone to "go back to your country."  They also will penalize anyone who calls illegal immigrants "illegal aliens."  No, this is not satire, the Onion or a parody post. This is for real! 

The new law is unconstitutional. It violates the first amendment. One does not have to be a Constitutional scholar to see this.  ICE exists to arrest people who are here illegally. They are a federal law enforcement agency. To tell a city that they cannot be called is an affront to the first amendment and the rule of law. Moreover, to make the phrase "go back to your country" is the restriction of free speech by the government. This is a gross attack on freedom of speech which is guaranteed by the first amendment.  The government cannot restrict or dictate the speech of the people.

The news has angered many people, both conservative and liberal who value the United States Constitution. This law will not stand in court. I am sure it will be taken to court.  Citizens have a right and duty to call ICE to report illegal immigrants, especially those who have violated a warrant or committed other crimes. Moreover, while telling someone to go back to their country can be rude, it is not discriminatory.

I invite all New Yorkers and Americans to voice their concerns over this new law and encourage lawyers to take the city to court for this gross violation of the first amendment.

What do you think?  Post below on Disqus.  Be sure to follow the rules for commenting.

UPDATED: 10/1/19
The Twitter account for NYC deleted the original tweet which was stormed with disapproval by many and retweeted it as a pinned tweet.  Here it is.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Pope: Rigid With Planet Saturn Hat Means Disorder

Pope Francis has caused another uproar among so-called "traditionalists." During a meeting with fellow Jesuits in Mozambique, he indicated that clericalism is a direct consequence of being rigid and this rigidity is linked to that fixation towards sexual immorality or sexual sins. The pope said, "One dimension of clericalism is the exclusive moral fixation on the sixth commandment. We focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip, and lies.  The Church today needs a profound conversion in this area." He continued, "Once a Jesuit, a great Jesuit, told me to be careful in giving absolution because the most serious sins are those that are more angelical: pride, arrogance, dominion… And the least serious are those that are less angelical, such as greed and lust. Clericalism has a direct consequence in rigidity. Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems." 

The pope added to this that he had to personally intervene in three diocese due to what he described as "problems that expressed themselves in these forms of rigidity that concealed moral problems and imbalances."  Before this statement, he said, "Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems."

This line is what triggered some Catholics the most. They found it offensive and an insult against priests, especially those priests who are fond of traditional garb. The pope seems to be attacking young priests who wear cassocks and saturnos or the Cappello Romano. This is the hat that priests wore decades ago that looks like a flying saucer or like the planet Saturn.  The hat is not liturgical, but is more of an accessory to the roman cassock and is used to shield from the sun or weather.

So what does this mean? What are we to make out of this?  Is the pope really attacking young priests?  After reading the full comments, I believe he is not attacking young priests. The pope is sharing personal experience and is using this as an example to warn about rigidity. He is not condemning young priests who use the saturno nor is he condemning any cleric from using it. If his intention was to do so, then he could have easily prohibited their use on the first day he took the chair of Peter. It has been six years since his election and he has yet to ban any clerical garb. Therefore, we cannot assume that he hates clerical garb. While he has opted to use the white papal cassock outside of Mass or any liturgical function, this does not mean he hates clerical garb.

In fact, photos of him as a young priest shows Jorge Mario Bergoglio wearing the cassock. I am sure there may be photos of him out there using the saturno or biretta. This was the common dress of seminarians, priests, and bishops during his time. So now that we are sure that he is not attacking the use of this garb, what are we to make of his comments?

Well first, he is speaking to a small group of Jesuits. This was meant to be informal. As a novice master, he is sharing his experience with what he has noticed during the formation of candidates under him. Moreover, he is sharing his experience overall as a seasoned priest. As I have stated before in a post regarding Taylor Marshall, rigidity is often a sign of an underlying mental disorder. Dr. Allen of the University of Tennessee has stated that those who are rigid exhibit a polarized behavior.  This is presented as extreme and an inability to be flexible. Those who are rigid are often those who call themselves conservative.

Rigidity in priests or seminarians is when they are so caught up on the rules and regulations that they fail to see anything else.  It is like if on a Sunday a devout Catholic sees an old lady fall but will not help her get up because lifting her is work and work is prohibited on the Christian sabbath.  This is the sort of rigidity that the pope is concerned about. Rigidity can make someone feel superior to the rest, which may lead to narcissistic personality disorder, depression, adjustment disorder, and schizotypical personality disorder. These are serious disorders to have if one is to minister to others.  Being a priest means being a pastor. If a seminarian or priest focuses simply on wearing clothes or playing dress-up, then that is a serious problem. This is where clericalism comes into play.

Now, the pope links this to a fixation with sexual immorality. He is correct.  Many of these rigid people are often caught up on sexual sins; particularly, the sexual sins of others.  How many times have we heard of pastors, priests and conservative politicians criticizing homosexuality and then end up being caught in a homosexual scandal?   How many times have we heard of the aforementioned going after prostitutes, porn and other sexual immorality and then get arrested for hiring prostitutes, possessing child porn and what not?  It happens far too often.  Last month, McKrae Game the founder of Hope for Wholeness, a gay conversion group came out as gay himself.  According to studies, conservatives watch more pornography than any other group. Sociologist Laud Humphreys discovered decades ago that this was true then. Those who engaged in sexual deviancy were often married, conservative both religiously and politically, and often held what he called a "breastplate of righteousness." In other words, they condemned others for the same thing they were doing secretly. 

Let us not forget the former priest Jonathan Morris who left the priesthood over the summer. He was part of the Legionary of Christ, a group that is very conservative and seen as rigid by others in the Church. The formation he received was clearly damaging.  I knew another person named Adley Lobo who was part of the Immaculate Conception Province of the Franciscans, Order of Friars Minor. He worked at St. Lawrence Martyr in Scarborough, Canada and studied at St. Philip Neri Seminary in Toronto. This young man was very conservative and rigid. He was overly concerned with liturgical garb, secular garb and never smiled.  When people saw him on the street and said hello or smiled, he walked stone-faced and ignored them which offended these friendly people.  He got upset with me when I offered some fraternal correction after witnessing this much and accused me of being uncharitable.  I told his superiors about this and they did not care and pretty told me to mind my own business.  His mentor was Friar Ralph Paonessa, OFM, who is a staunch traditionalist and even made racist remarks against black people.  Well, this young man was later arrested for possessing and creating child pornography.  He was released by the order and is now working in photography and the culinary arts.   This Franciscan province has had many incidents with pedophile friars.

This is what the pope is concerned about. He is not out to insult priests or young seminarians who wear cassocks and garbs from decades ago which are not prohibited. There are many stories like this, both private and those which have made the news or headlines. In any event, they are to be taken seriously and must make us think when we see odd behavior in seminarians, priests, any clergy and religious. The pope as the universal pastor is right to show concern for those who are rigid in the ranks and those about to join the ranks. There are many signs. Ambivalence is one of them. Not being able to be flexible is another major one. Focus on religious garb and nitpicking others is another big sign. Again, this is not to say that all priests who wear religious garb or religious who wear habits are rigid or mentally ill. Remember, we have to look for all of the signs.

If a seminarian is overly concerned about wearing priestly garb and is cold, distant and inflexible, then there may be a serious problem in his psyche going on. The same applies to the ordained and religious.  Remember, the cassock or collar does not make the cleric nor the habit make the religious. These items are sacramentals which are used to witness to the faith. The cassock is supposed to symbolize Christ with the 33 buttons, the black color as a sign of being dead to this world, and the collar a sign of ministry and vocalizing the Word of God. Similarly, the religious habit represents the charism of the order or institute. These garbs are not meant to be used by seminarians, clergy or religious to show off, get attention or feel superior to others as if they were Superman or Batman wearing a superhero costume. These garbs are not mean to present any sort of prestige or dignity either. The dignity rests in the person already.  If someone needs clothes to feel dignified, then he or she may suffer a self-esteem issue. 

That being stated, these garbs are to be used as their purpose warrants. I personally use traditional surplices, cassocks, shoulder capes, the sash and biretta when the situation warrants them. The key is intention. Is a seminarian or priest wearing the cassock and saturno to show off and get attention or is he just wearing them as a sign of his office? Is the saturno being worn for weather reasons or to play dress-up? At seminary, rectors must make this distinction clear with seminarians. In fact, I think seminarians should not be allowed to wear clerical garb outside of a liturgical function. Seminarians should use secular clothing or a shirt, slacks and necktie until they are ordained deacons. This makes more sense and can help seminarians transition and learn humility along the way.  I cannot stress enough the need for thorough psychological testing for seminarians throughout their training.  This is very important.  Mental illness can develop in anyone. Stress and other factors can lead to psychological disorders in anyone.  No one is immune.   So keep a lookout for the signs of what the pope is concerned about. 

Here is the transcript of the Pope's encounter with the Jesuits:

It is not easy to rebuild a divided society. You live in a country that has experienced civil strife, with Mozambicans fighting one another. I think, for example, that the apostolic preference regarding the Spiritual Exercises can help a lot in this context. They can be given to people engaged in different sectors of society and thus make them more able to carry out their task of uniting and reconciling. The experience of spiritual discernment can guide action.
It is appropriate to accompany all parties, especially where there is a need for unity and reconciliation in society and in the nation. We know that sometimes the best is the enemy of the good, and at a time of reconciliation bitter pills must be swallowed. In this process you have to teach yourself to be patient. It takes the patience of discernment to reach what is essential and put aside the accidental. It takes a lot of patience sometimes! Of course, it is also necessary to share our wisdom, that is the social doctrine of the Church. But be careful: Jesuits must not divide. There is a need for reconciliation in the society of Mozambique: unite, unite, unite, unite, unite, have patience, wait. Never take a step to divide. We are men of the whole, not of the part.
You work in the educational apostolate, and you are among the young. Your work is important and demanding. Young people have good will, but they can be easy prey to deception as well as impatient. It is necessary to be close to the young people, to give them space so that they can discern what is happening in their hearts. Formation considers ideas and feelings together. To act well you always have to consider your ideas and feelings. For example, we must help the youngest to recognize when they live in resignation, and therefore in stagnation, and also to recognize when they live a healthy restlessness. In short, we need spiritual discernment, of accompaniment for the good of society.
Next came a question from Bendito Ngozzo, chaplain of the Santo Inácio Loyola High School: “Some Protestant sects use the promise of wealth and prosperity to make proselytes. The poor become fascinated and hope to become rich by adhering to these sects that use the name of the Gospel. That’s how they leave the Church. What recommendation can you give us so that our evangelization is not proselytism?”
What you say is very important. To start with, we must distinguish carefully between the different groups who are identified as “Protestants.” There are many with whom we can work very well, and who care about serious, open and positive ecumenism. But there are others who only try to proselytize and use a theological vision of prosperity. You were very specific in your question.
Two important articles in Civiltà Cattolica have been published in this regard. I recommend them to you. They were written by Father Spadaro and the Argentinean Presbyterian pastor, Marcelo Figueroa. The first article spoke of the “ecumenism of hatred.” The second was on the “theology of prosperity.”[3] Reading them you will see that there are sects that cannot really be defined as Christian. They preach Christ, yes, but their message is not Christian. It has nothing to do with the preaching of a Lutheran or any other serious evangelical Christianity. These so-called “evangelicals” preach prosperity. They promise a Gospel that does not know poverty, but simply seeks to make proselytes. This is exactly what Jesus condemns in the Pharisees of his time. I’ve said it many times: proselytism is not Christian.
Today I felt a certain bitterness after a meeting with young people. A woman approached me with a young man and a young woman. I was told they were part of a slightly fundamentalist movement. She said to me in perfect Spanish: “Your Holiness, I am from South Africa. This boy was a Hindu and converted to Catholicism. This girl was Anglican and converted to Catholicism.” But she told me in a triumphant way, as though she was showing off a hunting trophy. I felt uncomfortable and said to her, “Madam, evangelization yes, proselytism no.”
What I mean is that evangelization is free! Proselytism, on the other hand, makes you lose your freedom. Proselytism is incapable of creating a religious path in freedom. It always sees people being subjugated in one way or another. In evangelization the protagonist is God, in proselytism it is the I.
Of course, there are many forms of proselytism. The one practiced by soccer teams, acquiring fans, is all right, obviously! And then it is clear that there are those forms of proselytism for commerce and business, for political parties. Proselytism is widespread, we know that. But it doesn’t have to be the case with us. We must evangelize, which is very different from proselytizing.
St. Francis of Assisi told his friars: “Go out to the world, evangelize. And, if necessary, use words, too.” Evangelization is essentially witness. Proselytizing is convincing, but it is all about membership and takes your freedom away. I believe that this distinction can be of great help. Benedict XVI in Aparecida said something wonderful, that the Church does not grow by proselytism, it grows by attraction, the attraction of witness. The sects, on the other hand, making proselytes, separate people, promising them many advantages and then leaving them to themselves.[4]
Among you there are certainly theologians, sociologists and philosophers: I ask you to study and deepen the difference between proselytism and evangelization. Read well Evangelii Nuntiandi of Paul VI. There it is clear that the vocation of the Church is to evangelize. Indeed, the very identity of the Church involves evangelizing. Unfortunately, however, not only in the sects, but also within the Catholic Church there are fundamentalist groups. They emphasize proselytism more than evangelization.
Another typical thing about proselytizing is that it does not distinguish between the internal and external forums. And this is the sin into which many religious groups fall today. That is why I asked the Apostolic Penitentiary to make a statement on the internal forum, and that statement is really very good.[5]
Evangelizers never violate the conscience: they announce, sow and help to grow. They help. Whoever proselytizes, on the other hand, violates people’s conscience: this does not make them free, it makes them dependent. Evangelization gives you a filial dependence, that is, it makes you free and able to grow. Proselytizing gives you a servile dependence at the level of the conscience and the society. The dependence of the evangelized person, the “filial” dependence, is the memory of the grace that God has given you. The proselyte instead depends not as a child, but as a slave, who in the end does not know what to do unless he or she is told.
Once again I recommend these two articles in Civiltà Cattolica: read them and study them because they address much of what I am telling you. Here I tried to communicate to you the main message.
Fr. Leonardo Alexandria Simao, a scholastic in formation in Beira, speaks next and tells about his work with young people. The pope tells him that it is an important work and that “his ask is to communicate the Gospel and to ensure that young people are internally free.” Then the Jesuit asks him if and how his experience of God has changed since he was elected pope. Francis takes a short time to reflect and then responds…
I can’t tell you, actually. I mean, I guess my experience of God hasn’t fundamentally changed. I remain the same as before. Yes, I feel a sense of greater responsibility, no doubt. My prayer of intercession has become much wider than before. But even beforehand I lived the prayer of intercession and felt pastoral responsibility. I keep walking, but there’s not really been any radical change. I speak to the Lord as before. I feel God gives me the grace I need for the present time. But the Lord gave it to me before. And I commit the same sins as before. My election as pope did not convert me suddenly, so as to make me less sinful than before. I am and I remain a sinner. That’s why I confess every two weeks.
I have never been asked this question before, and I thank you for asking me because it makes me think about my spiritual life. I understand, as I told you, that my relationship with the Lord has not changed, apart from a greater sense of responsibility and a prayer of intercession that has spread to the world and to the whole Church. But the temptations are the same and so are the sins. The mere fact that I now dress all in white has not made me any less sinful or holier than before.
It comforts me a lot to know that Peter, the last time he appears in the Gospels, is still as insecure as he was before. At the Sea of Galilee, Jesus asked him if he loved him more than others and asked him to tend to his sheep, and then confirmed him. But Peter remains the same person he was: stubborn, impetuous. Paul will have to confront and fight with his stubbornness about the Christians who came from paganism and not from Judaism. At the beginning Peter in Antioch lived the freedom that God gave him and sat at table with the pagans and ate with them quietly, putting aside the Jewish food rules. But then some came there from Jerusalem, and Peter, out of fear, withdrew from the table of the pagans and ate only with the circumcised.[6] In short: from freedom he passed again to the slavery of fear. There he is, Peter the hypocrite, the man of compromise! Reading about Peter’s hypocrisy comforts me so much and warns me. Above all, this helps me to understand that there is no magic in being elected pope. The conclave doesn’t work by magic.
Fr. Joachim Biriate, the provincial’s socius, asks a question: “How can we avoid falling into clericalism during formation for priestly ministry?”
Clericalism is a real perversion in the Church. The shepherd has the ability to go in front of the flock to show the way, stay in the middle of the flock to see what happens within, and also be at the rear of the flock to make sure that no one is left behind. Clericalism, on the other hand, demands that the shepherd always stays ahead, sets a course, and punishes with excommunication those who stray from the flock. In short, the very opposite of what Jesus did. Clericalism condemns, separates, beats and despises the people of God.
I once went to confess in a sanctuary in northern Argentina. After Mass, I left in the company of another priest. A woman approached him with pictures and rosaries, asking him to bless those objects. My friend explained to her: “You have been to Mass and at the end of Mass you already received the blessing; therefore, everything has already been blessed.” But the woman kept asking for his blessing. And the priest continued with his theological explanation: “Is Mass the sacrifice of Christ?” And the woman said “Yes!” “Is itthe sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ?” And the woman said “Yes!” “And you believe that Christ with his blood saved us all?” And the woman said “Yes!” At that very moment the priest saw a friend of his and was distracted. And the woman immediately turned to me, asking, “Father, will you give me the blessing?” The poor people should not have to beg in this wayf or a blessing! Clericalism does not take into account the people of God.
In Latin America there is much popular piety, and it is very rich. One of the explanations given for the phenomenon is that this happened because the priests were not interested, and therefore could not clericalize it. Popular piety has aspects needing correction, yes, but it expresses the sovereignty of the holy people of God, without clericalism. Clericalism confuses priestly “service” with priestly “power.” Clericalism is rise and rule. It’s called “climbing” in Italian.
The ministry understood not as service but as “promotion” to the altar is the fruit of a clerical mentality. I can think of an extreme example. Deacon means “servant.” But in some cases clericalism paradoxically affects precisely the “servants,” the deacons. When they forget that they are the custodians of service, then the desire to clericalize and be “promoted” to the altar emerges.
Clericalism has a direct consequence in rigidity. Have you never seen young priests all stiff in black cassocks and hats in the shape of the planet Saturn on their heads? Behind all the rigid clericalism there are serious problems. I had to intervene recently in three dioceses with problems that expressed themselves in these forms of rigidity that concealed moral problems and imbalances.
One dimension of clericalism is the exclusive moral fixation on the sixth commandment. Once a Jesuit, a great Jesuit, told me to be careful in giving absolution, because the most serious sins are those that are more angelical: pride, arrogance, dominion… And the least serious are those that are less angelical, such as greed and lust. We focus on sex and then we do not give weight to social injustice, slander, gossip and lies. The Church today needs a profound conversion in this area.
On the other hand, great shepherds give people a lot of freedom. The good shepherd knows how to lead his flock without enslaving it to rules that deaden people. Clericalism, on the other hand, leads to hypocrisy, even in religious life.
I often tell the story of a Jesuit in formation. His mother was seriously ill and he knew that she would not live much longer. He lived in another city in the same country, and so he asked his provincial to be moved closer to his mother so as to be able to spend more time with her. The provincial said that he would think about it before God and would answer him before leaving early in the morning the next day. The young Jesuit stayed in the chapel that night for a long time, praying that the Lord would grant him grace. But the provincial, since he had to leave early, did not really think much about it and wrote all the answers to the petitions he had received and gave them to the minister of the community[7] to hand them over the following day. Among them was the answer to this young man. The minister, since it was late and he thought that everyone was sleeping, put the letters at the doors of those concerned. The young man, who returned to his room from the chapel late at night, saw the letter from the provincial and opened it. He realized it was dated the next day. It said, “After reflecting, praying, celebrating Mass and making long discernment before the Lord, I think you should stay in this place.” This is clericalism, it is the hypocrisy to which clericalism leads. The young Jesuit did not lose his vocation, but he never forgot that hypocrisy. Clericalism is essentially hypocritical.
Fr. Afonso Mucane, parish priest of the parish of Sant’Ignazio, in the diocese of Tete, asked for some thoughts on the Apostolate of Prayer, which is now called the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network and has just celebrated its 175th anniversary.[8]
I think we should teach people the prayer of intercession, which is a prayer of courage, of parrhesia. Think of Abraham’s intercession over Sodom and Gomorrah. Think of Moses’ intercession for his people. We must help the people to exercise intercession more often. And we ourselves need to pray more. The Pope’s Worldwide Network of Prayer, directed by Fr. Fornos, is doing this very well. It is important that people pray for the pope and his intentions. The pope is tempted, he is very besieged: only the prayer of his people can free him, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. When Peter was imprisoned, the Church prayed incessantly for him. If the Church prays for the pope, this is a grace. I really do feel the need to beg for in prayer all the time. The prayer of the people is sustaining.
The last question is from a scholastic, Ermano Lucas, who works at the secondary school “Sant’Ignazio.” His question is about rampant xenophobia.
Xenophobia and aporophobia[9] today are part of a populist mentality that leaves no sovereignty to the people. Xenophobia destroys the unity of a people, even that of the people of God. And the people are all of us: those who were born in the same country, no matter whether they have their roots in another place or are of different ethnic groups. Today we are tempted by a form of sterilized sociology, where you consider a country as if it were an operating theater, where everything is sterilized: my race, my family, my culture… as if there were the fear of dirtying it, staining it, infecting it. There are those who want to stop this very important process of mingling cultures, which gives life to people. Mixing makes you grow, it gives you new life. It develops racial mixing, change and gives originality. The mixing of identities is what we have experienced, for example, in Latin America. There we have everything: Spanish and Indian, the missionary and the conqueror, the Spanish lineage, people’s mixed heritage.[10]
Building walls means condemning yourself to death. We can’t live asphyxiated by a culture as clean and pure as an operating theater, aseptic and not microbial.
The meeting between Pope Francis and the Jesuits ended with thanksgiving, a shared prayer and a group photo.
* * *
On September 8, during his visit to Madagascar, at the end of the meeting with priests, religious and seminarians on the sports field of the Jesuits’ Saint-Michel College,[11] Pope Francis met 200 of the 260 Jesuits of the Malagasy province, led by the provincial, Fr. Fulgence Ratsimbazafy. The meeting took place in the College Chapel and lasted about 40 minutes.[12]
The pope’s entrance was accompanied by the singing of the “Veni Creator” in a cordial and appropriately solemn atmosphere, a solemnity that the pope immediately wanted to dampen, saying that he would not make speeches and that he did not want to listen to them. Instead, he asked that those gathered “speak like brothers,” and to have a completely spontaneous interview with questions and answers. The meeting alternated between a series of rapid responses[13] and three broader responses.
Fr. Joseph Emmanuel Randriamamonjy, who works in the apostolate of the Spiritual Exercises, takes the microphone and asks a question in Italian: “What is your impression of Madagascar? What struck you most?”
One thing that struck me very much and that seems to me to be the real focus of the visit was the people, the Madagascan people. I have seen a people capable of withstanding poverty, suffering, and exploitation. I was struck by their ability to express joy, even when lacking the necessities of life. This is a real grace. It also says a great deal to us consecrated persons and calls into question our needs, which are refined and sometimes the typical needs of the elite. I have seen a people that seeks what is essential to survive, and precisely for this reason it is fruitful. Do not lose sight of the roots that make your people joyful even in suffering! When you are tempted to become a little acidic and dissatisfied, concentrate well on the spirit of your people and its fruitfulness.
Fr. Noel Cyprien, coordinator of the social and ecological apostolate of the province, spoke: “You are from Latin America. Today you’re in Madagascar. Do you see any relationship between our different peoples?”
I would say that our peoples must be careful not to fall into an ideological colonization that takes away our identity. Our peoples still have the ability to express themselves in a popular way without falling into populism. It is important to preserve the identity of one’s own people, an identity that comes from the spontaneous expression of the people. But we must defend ourselves against an identity that is ideological. The experience of the people goes far beyond ideologies, which are abstract and fit for a museum or laboratory. Ideology makes us lose our identity. The identity of a people cannot be expressed in concepts, but in stories. The people are sovereign in their expressions of art, culture and wisdom. St. Ignatius understood that well. If you recall, in our Constitutions there is a kind of refrain that takes up the choices and the way of acting that always depends on context, on the reality “according to places, times and people.”
The criterion of action is never abstract, but has as its reference a certain place, a given time, precise people. The inner vision does not impose itself on history, trying to organize it, but dialogues with reality, fits into history, and takes place over time. This ensures that discernment guides action, always respecting the variety of cultures and peoples, and the interiority of individuals.
It is for this reason that the Society of Jesus has been able to have figures such as Saint Francis Xavier, Matteo Ricci, De Nobili and Valignano. Our missions in South America have been creative with the people, and have not reduced them to a theoretical scheme. The rule of action in missions has always taken into account the concreteness of places, times and people. The rule is this discernment.
Fr. Joseph Rabenirina, director of the publishing house Ambozonyany, asks: “I heard from my parents and grandparents that the French missionaries used to give as penance for sins that of planting trees. What do you think?”
That sounds like a very creative pastoral initiative to me. From what you tell me it was a social and environmental penance, which is attentive to building up society. Today, when I went to the “City of Friendship,” Fr. Pedro showed me some pine trees. He told me he planted them himself 20 years ago. This is really very nice.
At the end of the meeting various gifts were given to the pope. Among these was a book on Antonio da Padova Rahajarizafy, who was the first Malagasy Provincial. Francis had mentioned him during his speech at the Presidential Palace while speaking of the “Fihavanana” culture. The pope then wrote a dedication to a book for the Golden Jubilee of the Malagasy province, which will be celebrated in 2021. Francis then placed his signature in the Malagasy translation of the encyclical Laudato Si’. He spoke and joked with some of those present and a group photo was taken. In an atmosphere of great joy and some confusion, Francis went out while those present sang Taizé’s canon Ubi Caritas.
So let us take the pope's words as a deep concern for the psychology of priests and seminarians. This is important in light of the scandals today that the Catholic Church is facing.  Grace build on nature, as St. Thomas Aquinas taught. If we do not know the state of our nature, then how can grace build on our nature?  It is important to make use of psychological testing often.  This along with spiritual direction will help form a person better whether in seminary or outside of seminary. 

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Fr. Dwight Longenecker Abuses (Cyber bully) Teen Girl

It seems so-called "traditionalists" or "conservative" Catholics have lost their sense of shame and whatever intelligence they had left. First, we remember Father Z who made ridiculous comments regarding the Vatican light show (see: We all pretty much lost respect for him after this. I unfollowed him as I could no longer take him seriously. Then, we saw how Dr. Taylor Marshall engaged in implicit racism by setting aside decency in favor of scrupulosity that was offensive to Africans (see: His criticism of a chasuble worn by Pope Francis which represented cultural elements of the African people showed his disdain for non-whites and indirectly presented itself as white supremacy. Well, now we have another one who demonstrated ageism and hate against people with disabilities.

As many of you know, we are in the middle of summits at the United Nation. Every year around this time, leaders from the world gather in New York City to discuss issues that concern the globe. During one session, a young 16-year-old girl named Greta Thunberg from Sweden gave a very powerful speech about Climate Change. I have come to call it the "How dare you" speech. In this speech, she called out the failure of world leaders to engage the crisis with global warming. Here is the speech:

This young girl was met with attacks from those in the conservative faction of politics. They mocked her face, accent, attacked her tone, and worse of all, attacked her disability. Greta has Asperger. No one can expect this sort of puerile behavior from political fanatics, but how about from a Catholic priest? Well, this is exactly what we have witnessed. Fr. Longenecker, a convert and married Catholic priest from the Charleston diocese posted a tweet mocking this young lady. He posted this tweet:

Screenshot of Tweet

The tweet was met with disgust by Catholics and others who value decency, and rightfully so. The tweet had angered many people from all walks of life. Fr. Matthew of the Legionaries of Christ and who calls himself the "Autistic Priest" gave an excellent response and fraternal correction:

Other clerics and laypeople joined in the fraternal correction of Fr. Longenecker's tweet. Here are some of their tweets:

Fr. Longenecker responsed with a different tone which came across as immature and childish. He began to act nonchalant and smug, using gifs to dismiss the concerns of people:

However, some returned the favor and mocked his appearance:

There is not much I can state regarding this other than Fr. Longenecker was out of line. He was either drunk when he posted this tweet or showed his true colors. How can a priest make fun of a young girl with Asperger's? Where is his morals? I understand people can be overly passionate over the climate change issue, but to attack a child over it? The fact that this is coming from a Catholic priest makes it worse.

In light of the scandals with priests, it was not wise for Fr. Longenecker to post such nonsense which is abusive and offensive. He is abusing a young female child by cyber-bullying her. I cannot imagine how parishioners at parishes Fr. Longenecker works at must feel. They must be thinking as to whether or not he is mocking their own daughters. As the saying goes, children are off-limits when it comes to criticism.

Fr. Longenecker believes this is a joke which tells us that he is not well educated in communication and sensitivity training. As a quasi-representative of the Catholic Church, he has to know that optics matter. The Catholic Church is under the scope now due to scandals. For him to be making fun of a girl with Asperger is distasteful and presents itself as an arrogant priest acting high and mighty above others. Perhaps Fr. Longenecker should read Proverbs 19:29 which says, "Those who make fun of others will be judged. Foolish people will be punished."

Then again, based on Longenecker's reaction, he does not seem to care who he offends and has no idea that what he did was wrong and sinful. This may be a sign of dissociative personality disorder.  It may also be that this is just how so-called "traditionalist" or "conservative" people behave. They rely on ignorance and puerile behavior to push talking points instead of actual facts. This is not surprising with Longenecker since he hangs out with others who do the same. Birds of a feather...?  Look at his company from these screenshots:
Who Were the Historical Wise Men? Dr Marshall Interviews Fr Longenecker on Mystery of the Magi - Taylor Marshall

In Which Fr Z Gets Noticed by Big Media – Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Let us see if Fr. Longenecker will find it funny when people storm his diocese asking for him to be disciplined. I am sure many have already contacted the diocese and parish where he is stationed at. I advise readers to voice their concerns as well.

Diocese of Charleston
901 Orange Grove Road,
Charleston, SC 29407
Phone: 843-261-0420

Father Dwight Longenecker Pastor
Phone: (864) 422-1648 ext 210

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Racism from 'Mundabor,' Taylor Marshall & So-called 'Traditionalists' against Africans

Like the Pharisees, some so-called "traditionalist" Catholics love to nitpick how a priest is dressed at Mass, the vestments are used or even if he wears a cassock or if his clerical collar shirt has long sleeves. Short sleeves are frowned upon. I guess forearms are too sexual. Nuns are not immune either. If a habit is not full enough to cover a woman like a hajib, then this nun is labeled all kinds of things. God help her if she is not in a habit. The criticism is just childish and borderline psychotic. Well, Pope Francis is not immune either.

After viewing his recent trip to Africa, they began to target his chasuble and crosier or ferula. Nevermind listening to the homily or the Mass. These are not important enough like what the pope wears is. Rather, they focused on a chasuble with a leopard pattern to them. Conspiracist Taylor Marshall took to Twitter and Instagram to mock the pope with some sarcasm.

A white wealthy man criticizing African cultural expressions in the liturgy is not good optics. Implicit racism anyone? If that is not bad enough, a so-called "traditionalist" blogger posted a very offensive blog post where the pope is mocked and racism is put on full display. This blogger goes after the pope attacking his use of the chasuble and ferula while at the same time disparaging African natives. The blogger writes:

"What does an idiot who visits Africa does? He tries to please the natives with leopard themed vestments.
It is not only the vulgarity that is staggering. It is the condescending stupidity that once again with this man, leaves one speechless. Pope Francis has become the best parody of himself.
Oh, and have you seen the Ferula? Suitably simple, as befits the poor, primitive, leopard-loving natives."

The blogger then ends the post with a very unchristian and quite frankly, racist remark, "Imagine how happy the simple natives will be!"

So there you have it. This blogger makes fun of the use of the simple wooden ferula that comes from the native people in the area and calls them "simple natives." That is right. This blogger describes African natives as "simple."

It is not difficult to see that whoever wrote this blog is not shy about being a racist. Taylor himself implicitly has demonstrated his racism as well. Both of these bloggers either are willfully ignorant or are truly racists. There is no gray area. To attack the pope for using vestments that inculturate the people of Africa is an insult to the African people and their culture. It is xenophobic and racist. This eurocentric mentality has no place in the Catholic Church which prides herself as being universal. This is what the word "Catholic" means. The Catholic Church is centered in Rome, but this does not mean it is the "Eurotholic" Church. She is the Catholic "Universal" Church.

The Catholic Church has always incorporated elements from the cultures she has encountered. Any well educated Catholic knows this. Why Marshall and "Mundabor" do not know this is troubling. In fact, Catholicism incorporated things from Judaism and Paganism. Judaism incorporated things from Paganism such as the idea of sacrifice and use of altars. The Catholic Church has made use of altars which are Pagan and origin, and temples. In fact, the Church had no building until about 313 AD when Constantine legalized Catholicism. He gave the Pagan temples to the Catholic bishops. This is why our churches are modeled after the famous Pagan temples in Rome. Later on, architecture for churches developed adopting cultural elements from the regions the Church found herself in. In Catholic parishes and chapels around the world, you may have noticed a red lamp with a candle. This is usually hanging above the altar or next to the Tabernacle. The candle is called the Sanctuary Lamp. It serves as an indication that God is present. In other words, Jesus is in the Tabernacle under the Sacred Species of consecrated bread or hosts. This lamp comes from the Jewish one call the Ner Tamid which served the same purpose. The lamp is perpetually on in every Synagogue and is an indication that God is present. I can go on and on, but we get the point of how the Church as incorporated many elements from Judaism from which she was born from and Paganism, whom she has evangelized.

There is nothing wrong with this. The Church makes it clear that culture is important when evangelizing people, Gaudium Spes states:

53. Man comes to a true and full humanity only through culture, that is through the cultivation of the goods and values of nature. Wherever human life is involved, therefore, nature and culture are quite intimately connected one with the other.
The word "culture" in its general sense indicates everything whereby man develops and perfects his many bodily and spiritual qualities; he strives by his knowledge and his labor, to bring the world itself under his control. He renders social life more human both in the family and the civic community, through improvement of customs and institutions. Throughout the course of time he expresses, communicates and conserves in his works, great spiritual experiences and desires, that they might be of advantage to the progress of many, even of the whole human family.
Thence it follows that human culture has necessarily a historical and social aspect and the word "culture" also often assumes a sociological and ethnological sense. According to this sense we speak of a plurality of cultures. Different styles of life and multiple scales of values arise from the diverse manner of using things, of laboring, of expressing oneself, of practicing religion, of forming customs, of establishing laws and juridic institutions, of cultivating the sciences, the arts and beauty. Thus the customs handed down to it form the patrimony proper to each human community. It is also in this way that there is formed the definite, historical milieu which enfolds the man of every nation and age and from which he draws the values which permit him to promote civilization (Gaudium Et Spes).

So we see here how culture is very important in the life of man. Culture develops and perfects all that man is, body and soul. When evangelizing, culture is extremely important. The Church has to know and understand the people she is preaching the Gospel to. St. Pope Paul VI tells us:

Evangelization loses much of its force and effectiveness if it does not take into consideration the actual people to whom it is addresses [sic], if it does not use their language, their signs and symbols, if it does not answer the questions they ask, and if it does not have an impact on their concrete life (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 63).

If the Church does not use the language of the people and their signs and symbols, she cannot fully evangelize the people. This is why culture is extremely important, especially in evangelization and the Liturgy. Moreover, the Church borrows from the customs and ways of the people she evangelizes. We read in Ad Gentes:

22. The seed which is the word of God, watered by divine dew, sprouts from the good ground and draws from thence its moisture, which it transforms and assimilates into itself, and finally bears much fruit. In harmony with the economy of the Incarnation, the young churches, rooted in Christ and built up on the foundation of the Apostles, take to themselves in a wonderful exchange all the riches of the nations which were given to Christ as an inheritance (cf Ps. 2:8). They borrow from the customs and traditions of their people, from their wisdom and their learning, from their arts and disciplines, all those things which can contribute to the glory of their Creator, or enhance the grace of their Savior, or dispose Christian life the way it should be.(5) (Ad Gentes)

The things the Church borrows from the culture of the people she evangelizes is used to give glory to the Creator and enhance the graces needed so the Christian life can be lived. These elements are culture are purified in order to serve God. We read in Lumen Gentium:

Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, (Lumen Gentium 17)

So we see that the Catholic Church does not want to destroy or erase the culture of the people and replace it. Rather, she borrows from them, cleanses them and uses them to glorify God and evangelize the people so that the people can live their Christian life as it should be lived. The Catholic Church is not an imperialistic empire looking to assimilate and destroy other cultures. She has made it clear. In Faith and Inculturation and Evangelii Praecones, we read this clearly:

24. The Holy Spirit does not establish a superculture, but is the personal and vital principle which will vivify the new community in working in harness with its members (FAITH AND INCULTURATION, 1988).

"The Church's aim is not the domination of peoples or the gaining of temporal dominions; she is eager only to bring the supernatural light of faith to all peoples, and to promote the interests of civilization and culture, and fraternal concord among nations."[23] (Evangelii Praecones)

The idea that every culture must adopt a European or white way of doing this is not the Church's thinking. As stated, The Holy Spirit did not create a super culture in the Church that seeks to replace other cultures. The Catholic Church does not exist to dominate other people and erase their culture. Rather, she cleanses them and makes use of them so they can glorify God and evangelize the people more effectively. Evangelii Praecones goes further by stating:

58. This is the reason why the Catholic Church has neither scorned nor rejected the pagan philosophies. Instead, after freeing them from error and all contamination she has perfected and completed them by Christian revelation. So likewise the Church has graciously made her own the native art and culture which in some countries is so highly developed. She has carefully encouraged them and has brought them to a point of aesthetic perfection that of themselves they probably would never have attained. By no means has she repressed native customs and traditions but has given them a certain religious significance (Evangelii Praecones 58)

We said: "The herald of the Gospel and messenger of Christ is an apostle. His office does not demand that he transplant European civilization and culture, and no other, to foreign soil, there to take root and propagate itself. His task in dealing with these peoples, who sometimes boast of a very old and highly developed culture of their own, is to teach and form them so that they are ready to accept willingly and in a practical manner the principles of Christian life and morality; principles, I might add, that fit into any culture, provided it be good and sound, and which give that culture greater force in safeguarding human dignity and in gaining human happiness. Catholic inhabitants of missionary countries, although they are first of all citizens of the Kingdom of God and members of His great family,[46] do not for all that cease to be citizens of their earthly fatherland."[47] (Evangelii Praecones 60)

So as you can see, the Catholic Church does not seek to make every culture into a European one. While we are the Latin rite, that does not mean that every culture must become Roman in the cultural sense. That being stated, "Mundabor" and the comments made about the Shaman etc are out of line and purely ignorant. It shows that this blogger does not know Catholicism well and how it works. The same applies to Taylor Marshall. Despite having a Ph.D. and Protestant theology degrees during his time as an Anglican priest, he has demonstrated his ignorance of Catholicism. Making fun of the pope's chasuble is pretty much-making fun of African culture. It demonstrates a subliminal form of white supremacy. European white culture is not superior to that of the African's. The Catholic Church has made it clear and any sane and intelligent person would know this.

The chasuble itself is something the Catholic Church borrowed from Pagan Rome. It had a secular use, or to borrow from so-called "traditionalists," a vulgar use. This is why I find it silly when these so-called "traditionalists" nitpick chasubles and the like. It really shows that they are ignorant of the Catholic Church, her Liturgy, and her history. Moreover, "Mundabor" attacked the use of the simple ferula the pope carried. EWTN announcers during the Mass stated that this ferula was made from the debris of homes destroyed after a natural disaster hit. In other words, this ferula has a symbolic meaning for the African people the pope was visiting. To mock it is to mock the suffering the people endured during and after the disaster. Very Christian behavior right?

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal tells us that the Church allows for flexibility on materials for vestments. Vestments can reflect the cultural richness of a region and can be approved by the bishops of the region. It says:

342. As regards the form of sacred vestments, Conferences of Bishops may determine and propose to the Apostolic See adaptations that correspond to the needs and the usages of the individual regions.[137]
343. For making sacred vestments, in addition to traditional materials, natural fabrics proper to each region may be used, and also artificial fabrics that are in keeping with the dignity of the sacred action and the sacred person. The Conference of Bishops will be the judge of this matter.[138]
344. It is fitting that the beauty and nobility of each vestment not be sought in an abundance of overlaid ornamentation, but rather in the material used and in the design. Ornamentation on vestments should, moreover, consist of figures, that is, of images or symbols, that denote sacred use, avoiding anything unbecoming to this.
345. Diversity of color in the sacred vestments has as its purpose to give more effective expression even outwardly whether to the specific character of the mysteries of faith to be celebrated or to a sense of Christian life’s passage through the course of the liturgical year.
Number 343 makes it clear that the use of traditional materials and natural fabrics is allowed by the Catholic Church for vestments. Moreover, according to Dr. Jeanetta Selier, leopard skins are used for ceremonial wear in both religious and cultural ceremonies.  The KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland groups, as well as, the Nazareth Baptis Shembe sect uses it in their worship. In the west, it is a symbol of wisdom. In other words, African culture sees the leopard pattern as equal to gold or silk. It is valuable in their culture.

I hope this post helps Catholics understand how the Catholic Church works with other cultures and why the pope may wear vestments that may look strange to an outsider. He is not trying to disrespect the faith or start a fashion trend. The vestments are meant to incorporate the culture of the people he is visiting. This is what the Church has always done. Remember, the use of vestments was never really part of the Church. She borrowed it from secular, Jewish and Pagan use. It as not until about the year 800 that vestments were formalized and universal in the Church. The chasuble the Church used was more like the one we use today and not the shorter sleeveless fiddleback one that is used in the Extraordinary Form. Knowledge is power. Hopefully "Mundabor" and "Marshall will take the time to do research and not post false information on social media about the Liturgy and the Catholic faith.

Racism in any form is a sin and is evil. It can manifest explicitly or implicitly. "Mundabor" and "Taylor Marshall" need to be more careful and avoid posting racist commentary. Remember, Africa is the life of the Catholic Church now. She is thriving there and vocations are coming out of the MotherLand, Africa more than any other place. She is supplying other regions with priests. Let us respect the African Catholic Church and all cultures the Catholic Church has adopted as her own.

But any kind of social or cultural discrimination in basic personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language or religion, must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.
Gaudium et Spes (“The Church in the Modern World”), Vatican II, 1965, #29.

The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Vatican, 1992, #1935.

Diversity is a beautiful thing when it can constantly enter into a process of reconciliation and seal a sort of cultural covenant resulting in a “reconciled diversity.”
Evangelii Gaudium (“Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis, 2013, Chapter 4, #230.

Also, this fetishism with vestments is not healthy,  psychologically speaking. it may be an indicator of repressed homosexual tendencies.   Externals are externals, nothing more.  There is no need to engage in scruples by nitpicking everyone and what they are wearing at Mass.  If Africans see leopard skins as valuable and worthy to use as vestments, who is Taylor or anyone else to judge?  It is not the place for white men, or any layman to dictate how Africans run their liturgies. They have their bishop's conferences and the GIRM gives them the authority to use whatever materials they want for their vestments.  If the pope wore then, then clearly he approved of them.  The pope always has the final word. 

What do you think? Post below on Disque. Be sure to follow the rules on commenting.



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