Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, June 30, 2006

LUF et Veritas

Lighten Up Friday!

Steve Bogner, a fellow traveler A Little Battalion blogger, hereby declares today "Lighten Up Friday."

In honor of "Lighten Up Friday", the lovely and gracious Karen has created a silly meme, which I think she has entitled: The 5 Silly Facts About Me Meme:

(1) I cannot stop at just one marshmallow. If the marshmallows in question are from TinyTrapeze? I may go on a senseless rampage for more after inhaling one bale.

(2) I wear my watch on my right hand, even though I'm not a lefty.

(3) I actually stay up nights wondering what to fix for dinner. If company's coming, I may stay up 2-3 nights.

(4) I refuse to drive cars with automatic transmissions. I'm not so convinced by power steering, either.

(5) I love altering lyrics to songs to suit the conversation in I'm participating.

I tag anyone who wants to be aligned with "Lighten Up Friday."



Thursday, June 29, 2006

A wholly unrelated rant

There's something that has been chapping my [insert medical term here] in the last few days. I see discussions and comments and things bouncing around the blogosphere where the names of assorted Catholic priests are slung around freely. Sometimes with reverence and sometimes in terms of opprobrium.

What bugs me is that even the ones I consider to be the wackiest nutjobs, the looniest of the loons, the very conductors of The Disoriented Express deserve to be addressed with respect. It's FATHER (or Fr.) Whathisface, not "that Whatshisface." Priesthood is a serious gig. As a Catholic, I believe a priest has been given the awesome power by God to, by his words and actions, consecrate bread and wine...which becomes a Really Truly Present Jesus Christ (body, blood, soul and divinity).

Think of the priest with whom you disagree the most...I don't care if it's Fr. Drinan or Fr. Neuhaus. His hands give you Christ. Disagree with him as strenuosly as your conscience demands, but respect his office as one instituted by Christ himself.
Today's relevant Scripture bit: The Gospel according to St. Matthew, 23:2-3

Off you go.



In which God says: "Hey, I'm just sayin' "

So I'm struggling with my own sinfulness.

Big whoop.

And I'm praying (in the "prayer is a conversation with God" way) over it because--duh!--sinfulness, frankly, is a bite. Through the course of this prayer I eventually found myself saying to God something like: "Why didn't you make me stronger when faced with the eleventy bazillion* things which tempt me?"

That's when the thought popped into my head** "Why don't you work out more to get stronger?"

If prayer is a conversation with God, it's also your soul's workout. By workout I don't mean the sort of workout the old guys at my gym enjoy...15 minutes on a stationary bike at 2 mph (or 3kph). That's not working out, that's saying you've gone to the gym. There is a difference. In the workout sense, prayer takes you a little further, a little closer to God's vision for you. Not a better view--although as you get closer there IS that--but greater proximity. You know you're getting stronger and more limber and greater stamina, because the things which cause you to sin seem fuzzier, less focused, more abstract.

It's not that Temptation X will come charging at you full-tilt and you'll be able to wrestle it to teh ground and leave it tied up. No, Temptation X simply won't mean that much to you, it'll trot over to see if you want to play with it, sense that you no longer want to and trot away.

Like a workout schedule, prayer has to have a place in your routine. Read carefully...words mean things...that does not mean your prayer should be the routine, it means regular prayer ought be an ingrained part of your daily cycle of activities.

Now drop, and gimme 20.


* Seriously, if you were to get transcripts of my thoughts, you could go through the Ten Commandments and check them off as I broke them in thought, if not thought and deed.

** This is actually God talking to me, but if you say that too loud, the Cookie Truck comes to collect you these days.

Dear God: Thank you.

Those of you who have been following the discussions centering around the collected body of Theological, Ecclesiological and Liturgical works wrought from the keyboards of the lovely and gracious Karen and mine (but also scattered throughout the blogosphere) will benefit greatly from reading this comment in one of them, which I boldly reprint in its entirety because I want all of you to groove mightily therewith it as much as I have. I have, in the interests of discretion, omitted names, pending approval to use them.

X and Y are not alone!

I'm one year away from ordination in the Society of Jesus, which means I've been in a while, and it's certainly far from perfect. Z, believe me, you do not have to inform any young Jesuit of the problems of the Society. We face them daily. And we endure them to live out the vocation that God has called us to, trying to maintain hope and charity in all things. But as a Jesuit I have already been able to work hard in the new evangelization and seek to grow in holiness through a life of prayer and vows, as well as grow in my love of the Church and knowledge of her teachings. Most of all, I've been able to follow the most unlikely but exciting vocation I ever could have imagined.

[Here's the part that just HIT me where I live]

It pains me to read the awful things people say about the Society, not because it's all lies, but because there's much truth in it all. But it's also not fair: there are over 3000 SJ's in America, and most are honest, hardworking priests who love the Church, seek to save souls, and never get in the newspaper or on TV. They say ["say" not "celebrate"...I love this guy already] Mass, hear confessions, teach classes, etc., etc. They are Jesuits, too.

The Jesuits did an extraordinary amount of good in the Church and the world for 400 years. The Pope is keeping us around because he wants, and needs, us to do that again.
[I agree, I believe the Holy Father knows only the Jesuits can do what the Jesuits can do.]

The original point of this thread was a potential Jesuit vocation. The Society is for men God calls to it. It's not about testing ideological winds, or finding the most "perfect," comfortable place to spend one's life, but following God's call, even if it is difficult and less than ideal. For men who love the Church, love the Holy Father, and are zealous for souls, the Jesuits might be the place God is calling you. No doubt, it's not easy, but you can absolutely be faithful to the Church and the charism of St. Ignatius in the Society of Jesus. It is defintely not for everyone, however.

X has generously offered his contact. Mine's _____ Anyone thinking of the Jesuits find out about what we're really all about, and don't listen to all that hating

Amen and AMDG,


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Uh oh.

To my non-Catholic pals, please forgive the detour of the last few days. Enjoy a refreshing and soothing beverage, and check back with me tomorrow. I promise good stuff.

I can almost see the lovely and gracious Karen, doing her Oliver Hardy impression, saying unto me "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into."

This is the situation as I see it:

Imagine there is a big car wreck. Several people recognize the car, and stop. Someone emerges from the car, barely recognizable in places. Blood everywhere, busted lip, broken arm, a bad limp. Someone in the crowd yells: "Poor SOB. Shoot him! He'll bleed all over us." Someone else says "Poor SOB, he still has one good arm and one good leg...but there's no point in doctors trying to patch him up."

And then the guy who emerged from the car looks around at the crowd and says "What? WHAT? I'm fine! See? I can move my head. There's nothing wrong."

This is what I believe I am staring at daily.

It bears reiteration: I LOVE the Jesuits. I have a deep, abiding, permanent, searing love for the Society of Jesus, jointly and severally. All I am and all I have become in my awkward walk towards God, I owe to the Jesuits. I even love the ones who are way off the reservation. (About them I feel like Dennis Miller did about Michael Jackson: "C'mon, babe, come back to us.") I particularly love the ones who think I am wrong. And the more wrong they think I am, the more I am going to love and pray for them.

People who demand anyone with an SJ appended to their name be handed to bulimic cannibals are making it very, very hard on whomever my confessor will be this Saturday.

Plain English: Them's fighting words.

But it's also like watching someone with, say, a gambling problem or addicted to Twinkies. Yes, Virginia, it is possible to have an utter, inexpressible love for the Jesuits and not gloss over the problems that exist. Problems, mind you, that will never be fixed until someone stands up and says "Yep. Pushing for the ordination of wolverines was wrong. Removing all the crucifixes from the classroom was wrong. Trying to parse [insert encyclical here] was wrong. Suggesting that Mao would have made a swell Pope was wrong. Making paper airplanes with the Mandatum was way wrong." And so forth.

This, you will kindly note, is markedly different from trying to explain away the problem. "We really didn't make paper airplanes with the Mandatum...we to send it to Christ directly, eliminating the middleman and saving money."

So here I am, all bent out of shape at two groups (the group that sees the problem but wants the patient executed, and the group that thinks the patient is in perfect health and wonders about people who see problems which obviously don't exist) for whom I have the greatest affection. To top it off, I have to deal with those who say I am "bashing" the accusation which rips my heart. Envy me, why don't ya?

To my Jesuit friends: I love you. I pray for you harder than you will ever know. You may not think I do, you may not think I understand...but you're wrong. Just because I may have different solutions to war, famine, violence, poverty, exploitation* etc. does not mean we're blind to it, callous to the suffering of our brothers in Christ. It is because I believe--to the inner core of my marrow--the only true and permanent solutions to these ills come through evangelization and catechesis, that I pray for you. Because only the Jesuits can really perform this facet of the Lord's work, which is the only way these solutions will come about. No matter how glorious the cart, no matter how brilliant the driver, it will never work when placed before the horse. If you want peace? Evangelize. You want justice? Catechize.

You can simultanously desire both the salvation of souls and the righting of all societal wrongs, but until it sinks in the latter can only descend from the former, you will never achieve either. Never, ever, ever.

To my orthodox friends: We (few, we happy few) have fought the same fights, we have suffered--patiently--through the grievances of enuretic liturgies, of nonexistent catechesis, interpretations of received truths. Your kinsmen are my kinsmen, and your people are my people. The Society of Jesus doesn't need your anger and your derision. They need your prayers. And they need them now. Not "after they straighten out," not after America Magazine becomes the sword and shield of the Magisterium, not after all Jesuits get a crewcut and go teach Latin. N-o-w. Right now. Shut your eyes and pray. If you ever harbored anger at the Jesuits pray for forgiveness like you should pray for the Jesuit in question's forgiveness.

That's all being asked of you. Pray for the Society of Jesus. Pray the steadfast ones may walk and not be weary, pray the called answer God, pray the weak ones be strengthened, pray the wayward ones will awaken one day and return to the house of the Father where a ring and a fatted calf awaits them. Whenever you are moved to anger by something Fr. XYZ, SJ at Big Jesuit University has done/said, lash out with kindness, with charity and with prayer. Your mission (and mine) is to pray up the good, that they may help the wayward...not to dissuade those who've been called by God. Don't make me come over there.

Pray now. I'll wait.

On the matter of Fr. Arrupe and The Change. All the things I have ever read from Fr. Arrupe** were beautiful and lovely. I mean, that's nice. But there is an aphorism in Spanish that says "Between the word and the deed is a chasm." I believe the changes undergone by the Company have been harmful all around. In fact, I can't see a single objective positive thing to be said for them. The nucleus of this is the issue of "adaption."

Adaption has a purpose, to facilitate the work to be done...not to alter the work to be done. The work to be done is very simple: To save souls. That's it. St. Ignatius was pretty clear (In Latin, Spanish and English) on that and I, personally, regard it as revisionism to dilute this message. When you think about it, what else could souls possibly need but salvation? Therefore, I am taking it upon myself to pray up those vocations, and consequences be hanged. The reason the lawn care guy goes to The John Deere (or Snapper, I'm not issuing free plugs) store is to trade in the old and get a new lawn mower to mow better these newfangled lawns...not to trade in the lawn mower for a roto-tiller.

The estimable Mark, I think, suggests a change was needed. (Karen, not surprisingly, disagrees using characteristically frank and vigorous language.) To which I reply..."why?" I don't believe change was needed, and that's not just because I am hidebound and reactionary. To me, change is necessitated when one surveys a situation and says "Hmm. This is SO not working." Even under circumstances where change is warranted, the change ought exist exclusively in the realm of the "how" and not of the "what." Because monkeying with the "what" no matter how subtle and delicate you may be in doing so irredeemably alters your "who."

Which brings us to 2006.

I will not comment at all on "liberation theology" because I am trying--Lord knows I'm trying--REAL-L-L-LY hard to be kind and charitable ovah heah. But if you believe anything even remotely positive about it, you may rest easy in the knowledge you're in my most fervent prayers.

You KNOW I'm right.***



P.S. No, I'm not going to stop. I'm going to stay on this hobbyhorse until I get old, or Fr. Schall (or Fr. Carola...I'm not fussy) becomes Pope.

* I spent much of my childhood in South America, where the shanty towns and ghettoes make Southie and Appalachia and Compton look like Club @#$%ing Med. I have seen children die from starvation within 3 yards of me. I have known people whose husbands and fathers and sons and brothers received a knock at the door at 3am and never returned.

** To be prefectly honest, I neither know (nor care) to what degree Fr. Arrupe was responsible for what. I don't believe I ascribed blame to him. Rather, I pointed out his tenure as a chronological frame of reference.

*** The fact this flew out of my fingers and on to the screen in INSTANTS is proof enough. I feel like the prehensile version of Balaam's donkey.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

To be 100% fair: A Counter Rant

As I'm watching the ripples of the rants posted by the lovely and gracious Karen and me, I am filled with a ::cough, cough:: limited ability to contain my displeasure at the Jesuit-bashers. The general attitude among many of the self-proclaimed orthodox runs the gamut from "Suppression isn't enough, we need autos da fé." to "Well, I'm sure there are 2 or 3 halfway decent Jesuits, but the rest could use an auto da fé."

The upshot is the same: The Society of Jesus is a useless collection of tye-dye Birkenstocker heterodox heterophobes and utterly beyond repair. To say the Jesuits are beyond repair means they are beyond prayer. Which is, frankly, a manifestly disgraceful way of thinking. As my relatives in Spain would say (after some translatin') thinking like that means "Satan has just walked in through the front door."

Not only are the Jesuits clearly, totally, unarguably not beyond prayer; rather they need and deserve our prayers. From St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Isaac Jogues through Bl. Peter Faber, Bl. Miguel A. Pro on down to Bergoglio, Dulles. Hardon, Pacwa, Fessio and all those nameless Jesuits who toil in seemingly thankless anonymity strictly Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam...they all deserve our prayers.

It seems to me the way God will straighten out the Jesuits (and yes, the Society needs a good straightening...don't make Karen and me go over there and have an don't have time to mop the place after Karen gets done wheezing fabada out her nose like some sort of mutant Iberic RainBirdTM sprinkler) is by calling and keeping men faithful to Him and His Church's teachings.

But how is this to be when the ostensibly faithful take every opportunity to gleefully kick the Company in the slats? It's one thing for the faithful, orthodox, solid Catholic guy to answer the call knowing the difficulties ahead but confident of God's wisdom and steadfastness, as manifested by the support and encouragement of the faithful. It's another, and a more daunting, thing to do so unsure if anyone, anywhere really cares whether or not Mr. Orthodox Q. Faithful is swimming against the tide to the deafening silence from the peanut gallery.

In other words, people who willfully or innocently discourage good, solid, orthodox men from becoming or remaining a Jesuit when God has called them're doing Satan's work.

Yes. Strong words. Sometimes you have to call a spade, a spade...and sometimes you have to call it a @#$%ing shovel.



As a special treat, I bring you a rant.

As loyal readers to this blog, you know I'm not about the rants. Sweetness and light is my motto here. Sometimes there will be a certain something which will have me all exercised and, upon further reflection, I'll leave it in the "draft pile" never to see light of day.

That was my original intention with what you're about to read. The genesis for this screed is an email exchange I had with the lovely and gracious Karen. There was something that was sticking in my craw and which I felt was not suitable for public consumption, but which I needed to vent and I thought Karen would be the ideal person to lend a sympathetic screen thereto.

Her first words of response to the rant were-and-I-quote: "You need to write that rant." Then she followed up with the clincher I know she knew I'd be unable to resist..."We owe it to St. Iggy, who is somewhere in beautifully graceful Iberic slow boil, I am convinced." So, because Karen is slowly becoming the big sister I never had, I nodded assent.

Here is the rant, edited (slightly) to accomodate the change from personal email to blog entry.


I hope you have time for a rant. All you have to do is read and nod and smile benevolently.

OK. I'm reading one of the more popular Catholic blogs and, as is the case with some frequency when things are slow, an anti-Jesuit post appears. The usual stuff, heterodoxy gone mad, Important Jesuit Magazine advocating sacrifices to Baal, neo-enuretic "peace 'n' justice" imbecilities*, Important Jesuit University President saying the mandatum is "a load of dingoes' kidneys"...yaddayaddayadda. Y'know...the normal stuff.

So far, nothing to which I am not inured. The comments to the post are similar in tone. "Supress the Jesuits!" and the like. We've all seen it before and my eyes roll like a busted slot machine. But THEN some Jesuit guy (one of the solid, orthodox, good ones, too) responds. And it's the SAME rote response. That is to say: "Problem? What problem?" and he goes to (rightly) make mention of all that is good, holy, decent and admirable about the current state of the Company to bolster the notion that all is both hunky and dory in Jesuitville. But it isn't. This isn't a spreadsheet where Fr. X's lunacies are canceled out by Fr. Y's holiness. On this blog and Karen's group blog, I make an effort to exalt the positive aspects of the Jesuits such as I see them. But that doesn't mean there aren't problems, and gravely serious problems at that, in the Society of Jesus.

This drives me UP THE [insert bad word]ING WALL. Yes, there are good, solid, orthodox Jesuits. Maybe even TONS of them. But they are being done a grave disservice by the attitude that, because there are solid/orthodox Jesuits, everything is just peachy-fine. Boston College is not Barely Catholic, Fr. Drinan is an exemplary servant of Christ, that whole "gays in the seminary" thing doesn't really mean anything nudge-nudge-wink-wink, legalized abortion is "lamentable" but military action in Lower Elbonia is an abomination, and Jesus certainly would have favored a confiscatory tax rate and socialized medicine.

What frustrates the Hell out of me is that this is the sort of thing that scares off a lot (thank you God, not all) of the guys who are ideal "real" Jesuits. Think of someone CLEARLY called to join the Society...but it is an idealized Society to which he is called. What does a man like that do when the reality falls so far short, so damned (literally) often, of what it is called to be?

I often detect--even from many orthodox, solid Jesuits--a faint whiff of the "we're Jesuits first, Catholic second" attitude. Perhaps the orthodox ones (the ones who do not enjoy the "immunity" of Fr. Fessio or Cardinal Dulles) are just trying to not be assigned the post of Second Assistant Latrine Supervisor at Our Lady of Internal Exile in Walrus Teat, Alaska.

I would (pending being presented evidence to the contrary) assign responsibility for this state on Fr. Arrupe and the day the Company decided that "peace 'n' justice" (or, as it is known in my house, "appeasement and redistribution") was the most important--albeit previously unnoticed by anyone--part of Ignacio's charism. Feed the hungry? YES. But catechize between courses. Clothe the naked? OF COURSE. But baptize them in the fitting room if you have to. Quench the thristy? UNDOUBTEDLY. But pray with them. Liberate the oppressed? CERTAINLY. Especially those oppressed by sin, independent of their desire to admit it. We need Jesuits who have their eyes on the prize, which is saving souls...not righting wrongs, however important that may be.

Wrongs, even the most appalling, egregious, heinous wrongs are only transitory. Salvation (or damnation) are forever. Do the math.

You may now imagine why 75% of the stuff I write here winds up saved as a draft, never to see the light of day.

Thus endeth my rant.



* Please, please, PLEASE do not assume I am against peace and against justice--I am frequently called upon by God to ensure same in my household--although I take serious exception to the solutions posited by the adherents of P&J; firmly believing they will bring to pass neither.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

That whole ICEL thing

Unless you have been in a cryogenic chamber, by now you know all about the changes to the Mass voted upon by the USCCB and the arguments in favor of this and against that. This is not what I'm addressing.

While a lot of reports (most? all?) stress is that, says the Vatican, the English translation of the Mass should conform closely to Latin. But what nobody is saying is the reason for this goal is not because Latin is somehow "magical." The idea is for the English version to be like every single solitary other language in Christendom's. As someone who attends Mass in Spanish and English, the differences are stark and jarring.

I agree with the Wall Street Journal's take on this: a translation this abysmal cannot happen by accident. Something this awful is only done on purpose. Its awfulness is manifest in two primary ways:

1- It weakens the sense of universality; when EVERY SINGLE OTHER TRANSLATION has X but English has Y, this cannot possibly enhance the sense of universality.

2- It waters down the catechetical nature of the Mass. (To say nothing of dumbing it down.)

There. Now you have my views on the matter.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tolerance is as tolerance does...

Those of you with small children, or who have a history of high blood pressure might want to avoid this little gem:



The hardest thing

I have realized that what is the hardest thing for me is forgiveness, both coming and going.

One the one hand, I am often saddled with the nasty feeling of "what do I have to be sorry for?" or "___ isn't that bad..."

By the same token, I often want to see people get their just desserts, much like the Mikado.

You'll notice the thing at the very nucleus of this is the root cause of every single solitary sin: Pride.

What I do is OK, what you do which upsets me requires a heavy penalty.

Therefore, I have to work at the letting go of my ::cough, cough:: righteous wrath and to embrace my need for constant, incessant forgiveness borne of true repentance. This involves trusting God. Trusting that He will forgive me as He has said He will, and trusting that He will deal appropriately with everyone else.

Let go, and let God.



Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I thought the quiz was kinda crummy, but here it is: the reason I don't discuss politics on this blog.

Your Political Profile:

Overall: 85% Conservative, 15% Liberal
Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Monday, June 05, 2006

Remain calm, all is well.

I'm just back from vacation and the boys got hit with unsavory tummy trouble.

As you were.