Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here,There and Everywhere

One of Sir Paul's greatest hits

I heard an instrumental version of this in a store in Tucson today.  Had to find it and post it.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Still On The Road Again

Getting Close to Our Winter Home Site

We are settled into Peoria, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix for the night, having spent a day that included Mass at the Parish of el Cristo Rey at Grand Canyon, which was a delightful experience.

We followed that up by moving on to Sedona, which is an interesting tourist focused town, surrounded by much natural beauty. It is also the home of a special chapel called Holy Cross Chapel, which was built into the landscape of the area.

We have pictures galore of our stops at Antelope Canyon in Page AZ, the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding area near Sedona, AZ.  This is some of the most beautiful country in North America, and because we think of Tucson AZ, as our winter home, we take some teensy weensy bit of pride in seeing some more of our adopted (partly) state.

El Cristo Rey Parish has only 37 families who live in the area of the Grand Canyon.  The Chapel is in a converted house in a residential area of the town of Grand Canyon near the Visitor's Center.  The pastor is Father Steve Sedlock, a well spoken man who treats the Eucharist with reverence.  As well, he touched us as he spoke about the readings of the day, particularly rhe Gospel reading about the rich man and Lazarus.  He reminded us that it is our duty to not overlook the poor, and this provided My Dear Wife and I with food for thought as we journeyed today.

Tomorrow, we hope to get to Tucson, and get our motorhome out of storage and situated at Rincon where we stay.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Still on the Road

It's Been over 5 days now

Since we left London Ontario, a long, long time ago, last Monday morning, we have seen parts of the US that have been new and exciting to us.  Monday night we stayed in Bloomington Illinois, and found a nice pub for dinner there.

We met up with My Dear Wife's son Cameron in Topeka Kansas as plannedon Tuesday evening, and had a wonderful dinner together.  Who knew that the best Thai food in North America was in Topeka KS?  It was pretty good.

We spent Wednesday night in Colorado Springs, heading towards Page AZ to see the Antelope Canyon, but ran out of steam Thursday, in Durango CO, where we had another excellent dinner, and spent some time in a town that we did not know existed prior to arriving there.  We also saw a beautiful waterfall and overlook east of Pagosa Springs that we have many pictures of.

What was most memorable was that MDW and I hiked up (successfully) to the falls itself, which was no mean feat for us, and a victory, emotionally and physically.

Today, we intended to drive to Page AZ from Durango CO, and after a brief stop in a quilt shop in Durango, were on our way.  We were to pass through the only place in America where 4 states meet, CO, NM, AZ, UT.  However, I had forgotten to turn Garmin on, and so we ended up missing the special point, and headed down into New Mexico instead. Garmin got us back on track, and we ended up in AZ as planned, and heading west on Hwy 160 again. 

However, we came across an accident that covered the road with tractor trailer bits, and made it impassable until a tow truck could be dispatched to clean things up.  The man in front of us was from Flagstaff, and he received directions from a native woman, that we followed with him, with a couple of very minor hiccups, such that we drove up into Utah, and then back into Arizona, several miles past the accident.  This is not like London to Toronto, where you can take any number of nearby alternative routes.  This took about 80 miles of driving to circumnavigate.  But, in so doing we entered all 4 states that met at that one point, and saw some beautiful countryside that we would have missed otherwise.

So, we arrived in Page, AZ at about 6 pm, instead of 4, to find that we had gained an hour, so it was only 5 PM.  As we drove into Page, we noticed that it was very busy, and that there was a major music festival going on.  MDW suggested that we check for rooms at the local Holiday Inn Express, and so we did.  Fortunately, MDW is not pregnant, because there was no room in the inn.  We checked another and also tried a neighbouring city by phone, to no avail.  We returned to the Holiday Inn, and the young man working the desk, a handsome young Navajo man named Nick, attempted to find us a room at the Holiday Inn in Flagstaff (Flag for locals).  Again, Casey had struck out.    Seeing how fatigued we were, Nick was able to pull a rabbit out a hat for us, or at least a room.  He had one room available for emergencies, and we emerged as tonight's emergency.  He also booked us onto the tour of the Antelope Canyon in the morning, and then to add to his aura, he booked us a room for tomorrow night at a Holiday Inn near the Grand Canyon.

We figured that we would end up missing both of these natural wonders, and so were disappointed, until we trusted God, and let Him work it out for us.

God Bless You Nick.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On The Road Again

Going Up the Country (with some Canned Heat)- Maybe

Well, there will be little to no blogging for a week or so, as My Dear Wife and I go up the country, a la Canned Heat.

Except we're not going up the country really.  We're going to the land of the free and home of the brave, ie.we are leaving the land of the more politically correct and squeamish, crossing the St. Clair River at Sarnia/Port Huron, and heading west and south through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and then our winter home state of Arizona.

Surprisingly, our trip coincides with a business trip that My Dear Wife's son is making to Topeka KS, and we hope to meet up with him there on Tuesday.

We will be seeing some of the sights of the Southwestern US as our trips to Arizona have previously been focused on getting there, and not on what we could see along the way. Snow and icy roads in early January and March can do that for you.

We will return to Canada in a few weeks, and stay here until the end of the year, when we plan to go back to Arizona for the months of January to April.  This is longer than usual, but is slightly precipitated by weather reports that call for a long cold winter in the north.  We don't do long and cold any more, if we can avoid it, and so we can and we will.

Anyway, here is Canned Heat from Woodstock, and Going up the Country.

Now Behold the Lamb

From "The Gospel"

Welcome Home

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Interesting Dialogue Where the Rubber Hits the Road

It All Started So Simply

As so often happens over at Father Tim Moyle's blog "Where the Rubber Hits the Road", and with this piece as an example, the convergence of rubber and concrete sometimes involves some heavy driving.  I commented yesterday on an Archdiocese of Washington article on Cardinal Newman here, where he called on Catholic Christians to not be "disputatious" among other things. I confessed that that had often eluded me, and in particular my disputatiousness has surfaced almost exclusively (for public consumption) over at Father Tim's blog, and almost without exception in responding to comments by Small Town Guy. 

The particular dialogue that I have excerpted below is an example that did not result in any semblance of a car wreck, at least not yet, and certainly in part because I have kept my own itchy fingers off the steering wheel.  In the mean time, the good father, has carried on a meaningful dialogue with our west coast friend and former Catholic, Small Town Guy, who raises interesting questions about the Catholic faith, from the perspective of one raised in it, who abandoned it for greener pastures, in his (humble) opinion.  His opinions often describe the barrenness of the pastures of the Catholic Church, an opinion that though erroneous, he does not hold uniquely. 

There were other parties to the discussion, and they had meaningful things to say about the actual originiating topic, which was a National Post opinion piece on Quebec's Colective Depression.  While the commenting carries on and has for the last couple of days, the opinion piece that originated the discussion seems to have been lost in the sauce.

Well, no matter, when Small Town Guy is involved, the topic is religion and the perfidy of the Roman Catholic Church.  So, here is the excised dialogue precipitated by the response of Father Tim Moyle to STG's first in the string of comments.

Small Town Guy said...

Tim Moyle,
The apostle Paul spoke about being absent from the body and present with the Lord. If you have that assurance, good for you. You would be a rare RC who believes that way, don't you think? (I wonder where he comes up with this kind of dig, and the real WHY behind it.)

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the official teaching of the RC church that nobody can have the assurance that they will be with the Lord after death and be in heaven? Isn't it RC teaching that RCs are judged according to their sins and good works and must make atonement in purgatory an unknown number of years (could it be thousands or millions?), for sins that were never satisfied for or atoned for in this life? So isn't it correct to say that Roman Catholicism gives no real assurance to anyone and all must suffer an unknown period of time in purgatory? (Read on.  He will be corrected.  But, at least he was open to being corrected.  Good on you, STG.)

Fr. Tim Moyle said...

STG: I think you are looking at the teaching of the Church from the wrong angle. The Church offers the teaching about assurance to remind us that no one knows the state of another soul before God. It is always used as such: we cannot say that someone's soul has been denied God's grace and forgiveness - irrespective of what human understanding might lead us to conclude. The 'Good Thief' was rightly condemned for his acts, yet Christ assured him of a place in heaven.

As to Purgatory: you are making the mistake of 'time'.

Catholic Theology teaches us that everything that exists, including time, exists in this reality. Time does not exist in eternity. So, to be denied the fullness of the God's love even for an instant will be like thousands or millions of years. Further, the Church teaches that every soul in purgatory enters into heaven with God. It is simply the state by which we are washed of the temporal effects of our sin so as to be brought before God able to experience the Beatific Vision and survive the encounter.

This teaching was GREATLY abused prior to the period of the Reformation. It is not such today.

One last point. Catholics receive the 'blessed assurance' and enjoy its wonder and peace just as anyone else who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. It does require a 'rebirth' (aka 'born again') - a process that begins with baptism and continues to a point where an individual takes up the mantle of a saved/redeemed Christian and lives it to the fullest.

I thank God - FIRST THING every morning for the gift of Christ and for the assurance that he will bring me to paradise at the end of my days.

In this, I am hardly unique among Catholics.

Fr. Tim

Small Town Guy said...

"STG: I think you are looking at the teaching of the Church from the wrong angle. The Church offers the teaching about assurance to remind us that no one knows the state of another soul before God. It is always used as such: we cannot say that someone's soul has been denied God's grace and forgiveness - irrespective of what human understanding might lead us to conclude. The 'Good Thief' was rightly condemned for his acts, yet Christ assured him of a place in heaven."

Ah but don't priests, yourself included, have the power to withhold forgiveness for sins? If you have the power to absolve sins in the confessional, don't you also have the power to withhold absolution if you felt there is a reason for doing so? If you withhold absolution (or forgivenss) are you not withholding God's grace and forgiveness, according to RC teaching? (Okay, so let's take another approach.  There is a familiar pattern here, but it is all good.)

Isn't it true that Roman Catholics fear falling into mortal sin and being lost? If that is the case, please tell me how Roman Catholics can have assurance of salvation. How can one have assurance of going to heaven if according to Roman doctrine they fall into mortal sin and can be lost?
"STG: One last point. Catholics receive the 'blessed assurance' and enjoy its wonder and peace just as anyone else who has accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. It does require a 'rebirth' (aka 'born again') - a process that begins with baptism and continues to a point where an individual takes up the mantle of a saved/redeemed Christian and lives it to the fullest."

So according to what you said, becoming a redeemed christian (saved and going to heaven) is a "process that begins with baptism".

If this is the case, at what point can one say he is a redeemed, saved christian? Or is this a lifelong process during which one can never really know he has been redeemed?  (Good questions from our friend)

Fr. Tim Moyle said...

STG: You are giving WAY TOO MUCH power to the human institution of the Church. (That is a very common problem, and part of the challenge of dialogue among Christians.)

Yes, priests have the power to assist people to confess, but it is as an aid, not an agent. Take for example a person who would come to confession to receive absolution but is neither sincere nor complete in their confession. Just because I offer the words of ABSOLUTION (only God FORGIVES) does not mean that such a person stands in good stead before God. If absolution is withheld, (something I have never had to do in 21 yrs) it is only done as an application of St. Paul's teaching on bringing people back to Christ by shocking them with the gravity of what they are throwing away (their eternal soul).

Now let's move on to baptism and assurance. When we baptize infants, we are opening that person to becoming an inheritor of the graces won for us by the paschal mystery. Should they die before reaching a point in their life where they take personal responsibility for themselves, they go to heaven. However, there comes a point where they can make a decision by the acts and deeds where they may decline this invitation of God. They can choose through sin not to follow the path that leads to God and eternal life. Put simply, the gift of salvation is offered to all - but not all will accept the gift.

How about in your beliefs? If someone is 'born again' and then proceeds to live a life of sin and debauchery, is that person saved? They might claim salvation but do they actually receive it if they have lived their lives in an impious and unholy manner? (Good question.)

I believe that it is clear that such a 'one time' act of acceptance of Jesus as Lord and savior, if it does not result in a change of life so as to follow the dictates of scripture has the capacity to throw away God's great gift. Thus 'assurance' is based upon a continuation of grace throughout life by which we continue to walk with Christ.

Do you agree?

Fr. Tim
Very civilised, and not particularly disputatious.  I gotta learn to do that.  Since this posting, Small Town Guy has responded with a very interesting perspective, thought provoking, and the kind of thought that allows Christians from both sides of the house to work towards meeting at a mutually satisfactory place.  I won't say the middle, because this is not about compromise, but more about understanding what we agree on, openly discussing what we do not agree on, and looking for Jesus in it all.

Here is the latest from STG:

Small Town Guy said...

"I believe that it is clear that such a 'one time' act of acceptance of Jesus as Lord and savior, if it does not result in a change of life so as to follow the dictates of scripture has the capacity to throw away God's great gift. Thus 'assurance' is based upon a continuation of grace throughout life by which we continue to walk with Christ.

Do you agree?"

Tim, I want to study this a little and reply a little later because you are getting into some pretty deep but important topics.

You mentioned throwing away God's great gift.

Does one's salvation depend then on the individual or does it depend on God? What do you think of what Jesus said "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neith shall any man pluck them out of my hand." John ch10 vs.18

From what you are saying about assurance, do you believe assurance (of salvation or going to heaven) depends on an individual's ability to live a holy life or in accordance with the dictates of the church? If assurance depends on the individual himself and knowing human weakness, what kind of assurance is that?

Father Can You Hear Me?

From Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman

Southern Gospel

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What do you expect from your relationship to Jesus Christ?

A Meditation on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit by Monsignor Charles Pope

Monsignor Pope has another fine article over at the Archdiocese of Washington DC blog site about our relationship with Jesus and our usually very low expectations of that relationship. 

Here are his thoughts on our expectation levels:
I have come to discover that many do not expect all that much. In effect they hope that faith can kind of help them “muddle through” life and offer them a few consolations that, perhaps things will be better some day, and in heaven. Others see the moral life described in the scriptures more as a duty than a description of the person being transformed by Jesus Christ. And because they see it as a list of duties,  rather than the result of grace, they tend to resent it, consider it unrealistic, or just feel overwhelmed by it. Very few expect to be able to radically live this moral life and experience it happen in their life.
Over the years, I have known many of my Protestant brothers and sisters, who spoke about their "personal" relationship with Jesus Christ, telling me that you gotta have it, or you are toast.  But, they also had something going for them that had some meat to it.  Generally, when I encountered that I offered them a single digit in salute, not meaning that I thought they were Number 1 with me.  Yeah, Yeah!! You have a personal relationship with a dead guy.  You gotta be kidding me!

I went from being raised a Catholic, to abandoning the Church, to returning but being just a more mature version of what I was raised to be in the 50's, and 60's before Vatican II worked its way into the fabric of the Church.

But, then one night Jesus Christ came to me.  He was not dead at all, but very much alive, and He, the God of the Universe, loved me as much as He had ever loved anybody, and He knew all about me.  There was something to this.  Heck, there was a lot to this.  I thought I sold out then, but I have learned in the intervening 30 years, that it was only the beginning, and each day I sell out a teensy weensy bit more, and have come to grasp bit by bit the life that Monsignor Pope speaks of in his article.

As he says:
Scripture describes the Christian life as consisting in  joy, victory, confidence, hope, love, self mastery and so forth. This is the normal Christian life.
He then provides us with a few references to prove his point.  But, it is true.  If any of us would like our lives to be filled with "joy, victory, confidence, hope, love, self mastery and so forth", we only have to look to Him.  But, these fruits don't look quite like you might expect.  For example, walking in victory.  Never losing at anything again, right?  Successful in business.  Successful in love.  Successful in life's challenges.  Not so fast there.  This success is a different kind of success.  This success is embracing all those challenges and hardships and being at peace because the God of the Universe loves you so much that they are not only bearable, where they would not appear to be, but they are opportunities to grow as a person, because of doing so in faith.

He speaks briefly but profoundly about 12 of the fruits of life in the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, self-control, generosity, modesty, and chastity.  And you know, I never thought about it, but as I have decided to try and be like Him, as He was on earth, those things are happening in my life, not perfectly, but significantly.  I do love better than I did, not perfectly, but better, and getting better.  I have become a somewhat peaceful person, and there are days when I am patient, kind, and operate to an extent in the fruits. 

But, I know that it is not me, but Him in me that is shining through, when I live these things well.

I see that what Monsignor Pope writes about is a life that is full, and one that I am certain believers that I know are aspiring to, with many bumps and bruises along the way, but the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Praise the Lord.  He's alive.

Call to the Laity Some 150 Years Ago

John Henry Cardinal Newman

From the Archdiocese of Washington DC blog comes an article by Susan Timoney about the late and soon to be canonized Cardinal John Henry Newman.  She quotes him from a sermon of his about Catholics relating to Protestants.  Interestingly this sermon was given almost 150 years ago, and is as current today as it was in its day.  He said:
 “I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men [and women] who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity – I wish [them] to enlarge [their] knowledge, to cultivate [their] reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism.’  (Sermon 9, Duties of Catholics towards the Protestant View, 1851)
Well, I can get "disputatious" - good word, which of course, means argumentative.  Over at Where the Rubber Hits the Road, the blog of Father Tim Moyle, of the Pembroke Diocese, there is a commenter, a former Catholic, who propounds protestant fundamentalist prevarications about the Catholic Church.  Often, I have risen to the occasion, being in fact disputatious, and it has borne no fruit, except that it raises my blood pressure precipitously.  I offered up a very brief comment to one of his prevarications the other day, and Father Tim, in his wisdom, it being his blog, chose not to post it.  It was definitely disputatious as comments go, and would have brought no good, so I believe that Father Tim made the correct choice.

I have been trying to be the kind of lay person that Cardinal Newman writes about, though I had no idea until today that he had so written, but the disputatious part I really need to work on.


Michael Grimm is Anything But

The America's Got Talent 2010 Winner

Here is the performance that won it for him.  As a 30 year old professional musician, he already has albums behind him, though none have been outperformers.  His performance here was excellent, and he has a good story behind him.

But, Jackie Evancho, who came second is a star on the rise.  Here was her performance of one of my personal favourites, Ave Maria.  She was beautiful but at 10 years of age is a seasoned performer as well.  She released an album last year, and has done a few significant performances previously.

Listening to the Rain

It's Raining in Southern Ontario

As we listened to the falling Fall rain here in London, Ontario this morning, I thought of the song that Jose Feliciano sang very long ago, "Listen to the Falling Rain."

Here are the lyrics:

Listen to the pouring rain
Listen to it pour,
And with every drop of rain
You know I love you more
Let it rain all night long,
Let my love for you grow strong,
As long as we're together
Who cares about the weather?

Listen to the falling rain,
Listen to it fall,
And with every drop of rain,
I can hear you call,
Call my name right out loud,
I can hear above the clouds
And I'm here among the puddles,
You and I together huddle.

Listen to the falling rain,
Listen to it fall.

It's raining,
It's pouring,
The old man is snoring,
Went to bed
And he bumped his head,
Couldn't get up in the morning,
Listen to the falling rain,
listen to the rain

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today We Celebrate This Marian Feast

Not known by many is the Feast we celebrate today, as we remember the Sorrows of Our Blessed Mother.  There are 7 of them that we commemorate, and they all relate to her son Jesus.  Here they are:
1.The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus. (Gospel of Luke 2:34)

2.The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family. (Gospel of Matthew 2:13)
3.The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days. (Luke 2:43)
4.The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross. (Luke 23:26)
5.The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross. (Gospel of John 19:25)
6.The Descent from the Cross, where Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms. (Matthew 27:57)
7.The Burial of Jesus. (John 19:40)
I think too that Our Blessed Mother takes on as any mother does, the sorrows of all her children, and not just her first born.  When Jesus hung on the cross dying, he commended her motherhood to John for us all, and the Catholic Church has adopted her as a special mother of the Church and therefor of us all.

As a good mother, I am certain that she weeps and intercedes for us in our trials and tribulations.

One of the antiphons today in the Lauds, said along with the Canticle from Daniel 3: 57-88, 56 is "Let us rejoice that we have been made sharers in Christ's passion."  That is a difficult line to say and to mean.  We are not like Christians of older days who would mortify their flesh with painful practices.  But, we do share in Christ's passion as we offer up to him all that we are and all that we have.

Some of us, of course, are invited to offer more, like Father's Gruber and MacRae, where they have been imprisoned, either in an actual prison as Father MacRae, or hidden away in a monastery, and kept from those things he loves, in the case of Father Gruber.

As Catholics, we believe that Mother Mary has a special love for her priests, and they, in turn have a special love for her.  So many of them are devoted to the Rosary, and to living a life of holiness as she did on earth, in service to God.

From the intercessions for this morning's Liturgy of the Hours, which were taken from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the response was "May your mother intercede for us, Lord."

One of the set prayers for which the above was the response, said: "Saviour of mankind, Your Mother stood at the foot of Your Cross, grant, through her intercession, that we might rejoice to share in Your Passion."

Both of these priests are sharing in His Passion, as they, like Him, were unjustly accused and lied about, and shunned after the lies.

Father Gruber had a profound statement that I put in a posting the other day from John Allen, as he said to John: "No man is just, except Jesus our Savior, and while I’m certainly not guilty of this crime, we all deserve any sufferings short of the fires of hell, simply for being a sinner on this earth.”

We do deserve any sufferings short of the fires of hell, but these sufferings unite us with Christ our Saviour into His Passion and Death.  For without the passion and death, there could be no resurrection, and though His sacrifice was sufficient for us all, we are called still to join Him in his suffering, and Our Mother in her sorrows.

Lord, may Your Mother intercede for these two men of God, and for us all.

Seizing the Day

Sometimes It Take the Young to Remind Us

At 1:30 am today, our youngest daughter Molly (21) hopped on a plane to go and visit a friend in Seoul South Korea.  When I awoke to an email from her overnight that she was in the lounge at the Toronto airport nervously awaiting the boarding call, I was also reminded of a good song by Carolyn Arends called "Seize the Day."

So, this posting is for all those people who will seize the day as it presents itself to them today, and particularly for Molly, who we will keep in our thoughts and prayers as she experiences this adventure of a lifetime.

Here are the lyrics:

I know a girl who was schooled in Manhattan
She reads dusty books and learns phrases in Latin
She is an author, or maybe a poet
A genius but it's just this world doesn't know it
She works on her novel most every day
If you laugh she will say
Seize the day, seize whatever you can
'Cause life slips away just like hourglass sand
Seize the day, pray for grace from God's hand
Then nothing will stand in your way
Seize the day
Well I know a doctor, a fine young physician
Left his six-figure job for a mission position
He's healing the sick in an African clinic
He works in the dirt and writes home to the cynics
He says "We work through the night so most every day
As we watch the sun rise we can say

Well I know a man who's been doing some thinking
He's as bitter and cold as the whiskey he's drinking
He's talking 'bout fear, about chances not taken
If you listen to him you can hear his heart breaking
He says "One day you're a boy and the next day you're dead
I wish way back when someone had said


Well one thing I've noticed, wherever I wander
Everyone's got a dream he can follow or squander
You can do what you will with the days you are given
I'm trying to spend mine on the business of living
So I'm singing my songs off of any old stage
You can laugh if you want, I'll still say


Monday, September 13, 2010

An Online Document from a Supporter of Father Mark Gruber

John Allen

John Allen is a 2009 grad of St, Vincent College in Latrobe PA, and a supporter of Father Mark Gruber, in the insanity that has surrounded him.

He has written a heart felt reflection, and not just heart felt, but the reflection of a man of deep faith, and trust in Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  He spoke of words that Father Mark said to him personally, and which though repeated below, are so profound that I am repeating them here to set the stage for the reflection that follows.
“No man is just, except Jesus our Savior,” Father Mark spoke to me several months ago, “and while I’m certainly not guilty of this crime, we all deserve any sufferings short of the fires of hell, simply for being a sinner on this earth.”
What a grace filled statement by a man who in the midst of this terrible trial still trusts the God who died to save him and us all, and in His Divine Mercy.  John was clearly touched by Father's faith even in the midst of this awful trial:
I would like to offer a reflection on the events recently disclosed but have long been present in the hearts of those involved for more than a year. Often I am inspired to write for the cause, but my words fall short of expression, my heart loses hope of affecting real change, my mind becomes embittered by the never-ending struggle and persistent evil. My greatest trial has been to contemplate God’s role in this disaster, in this crucifixion of a man. It is but empty words to say reassuringly that God will bring about a greater good from all this pain. The God of our faith is not compelled to right all wrongs, though in His Providence, good will inevitably triumph over evil, this is not necessarily true in our own lives. God is free to test us as Abraham was tested, “to the end of his strength.” For us there are some tests that we cannot suffer, some burdens we do not bear as gallantly as Christ our Savior. The saints and martyrs that follow our Savior, and have gone before us, never saw in this life the resurrection of their cause. Only our faith, which by the grace of God may remain unshaken, reveals to us a future longing where “every tear shall be wiped away.”

As Father Mark’s case begins to swing toward resolution, yet while victory is still uncertain, we should do well to contemplate the martyrdom that has taken place and the trials on the road ahead, and ask ourselves where we are going. I am certain that neither Father Mark nor any of his closest community would be as arrogant as to say we deserve or demand justice. Certainly we hope to empower justice, we long for it, we hope for its coming, and we pray that Father Mark’s justice in this case be revealed. But we dare not presume it in our own lives. “No man is just, except Jesus our Savior,” Father Mark spoke to me several months ago, “and while I’m certainly not guilty of this crime, we all deserve any sufferings short of the fires of hell, simply for being a sinner on this earth.” I was so emotionally struck, and still am, by his blunt and humble acceptance of the cross which was forced upon him that it serves to truly renew my faith. Not my faith in the Church, in the world, in Abbots or monasteries, in priests or bishops, in laypeople or colleges, but in God’s presence among us. Surely, if the message of Christ could come to the lost and forsaken of the world in such a real and life conforming way, perhaps Christ could come to me.

For anyone who might have questions as to the suitability of Father Mark proceeding legal restitution, please be assured of my utmost conviction of his holiest intentions. For his own sake he might suffer, but for the sake of those who hold his name and reputation in so high regard, Father Mark will continue to work to bring about the truth. No man is compelled to suffer the agony of defamation, especially when it is so integrally tied to those whom he has ministered and mentored. It is entirely natural, just, and appropriate that Father Mark bring his case against defendants who consistently have resisted all other avenues of resolution. Until that resolution is final may we pray that the martyrdom of our friend Father Mark bear fruitful change to the world so corrupted and void of Christ. May through your prayers and support, the faith and hope of all involved in this legal effort will be rejuvenated, and our encounters with Christ in each other will be blessed.
I am reminded in what Father Mark said, and in John's reflection of a vision that came to me one night.  As the individual in the vision stood on a rock in a lake, a terrible storm swirled all about.  There was thunder, lightning, and rain, and waves were crashing all around, but the person standing on the rock was unharmed by it all, and lifted his eyes and his hands to heaven and prayed for God to save him.  Father Mark has effectively done this in this trial.
Let us continue to intercede for him.

Father Mark Gruber and Father Gordon MacRae Update

Free Will Sucks Often

As I continue to think about the cases of Father Mark Gruber and Father Gordon MacRae, I have received some comments from those who are supporters of both of these men.

Dr. Ken Minarik, a childhood and long time friend of Father Mark made this comment the other day:
Thanks for your interest in justice for my dear friend Mark Gruber.

His complaint reads like a bad b-movie script that never ends.

I would point out especially paragraphs 123 and 129, which point out that Towey and Nowicki showed binders of unedited, unpixelated pornographic images to a variety of people who had nothing to do with the legal community or law enforcement. Fr Mark's attorney believes that since they possessed images that they purported to be of underage persons, they are themselves guilty of felonious criminal behavior. Such would have to be proven in court. Such alleged behavior is obviously vulgar, violent, and morally heinous in any case.
As well, I heard from Ryan MacDonald who has been a faithful supporter of justice for Father Gordon MacRae:
As someone who has researched and written extensively on the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae, I want to thank and commend you for what you have written to date about not only his situation but Fr. Gruber's as well. At this juncture, I must believe that God has something in mind for the case of Fr. MacRae. Though none of us can know God's mind, I hope that that something will be not just an exoneration, but a demonstration of how easy it is to set up and destroy a priest in the current climate of accusation and fear that has permeated our Church.

I happen to know that there are some accomplished investigators and a legal team hard at work on exposing the truth behind the claims against Fr. MacRae. I also happen to know that this team is itself convinced from the newest evidence that this priest was set up for the purpose of extorting money from the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the Church has been all too eager to be a party to that extortion as our bishops "reach out" to victims with lucrative settlements and few questions asked. It seems to me that what has happened to Fr. MacRae has been complicated by the fact that he has refused to play along with such an agenda, has named his false accusers, and has forbidden his Diocese to settle. It did so anyway, and simply cut him out of the equation. I know that Fr. MacRae is now forced into fighting his case, and splitting his meager resources against two fronts. He is trying to overturn an unjust conviction while simultaneously trying to prevent his administrative laicization. Let's keep up some due vigilance. Thank you for your interest and support.
This indicates to me that people of faith are actively working on helping out these two men of God.

The most telling comment to my recent article on the Thorn in the Flesh came on the FaceBook site for Father Mark came form Peg Skurka Waldmann:
I have some difficulty with that whole concept, even the permissive part-- I always have--God gave man free will to choose to do right from wrong. The abbot chose "wrong" and that is not God's work nor his will--it is true evil.
Peg says what so many of us do not have the courage to speak out loud about free will, and its operation in our world.  
But, to imply that God does not have his hand in what is going on, or in every part of what is going on here, is to limit God's abilities to actually be God for us, in times of trial, as well as when "right' choices are made.

God will bring good out of these terrible situations, because those in the situation Father's Gruber and MacRae trust in Him.  However, God will not trample on the free will of those who have perpetrated evil in the lives of these two faith filled priests.  His plan is bigger than that.

That in no way reduces the disgust and sorrow that the supporters of Father Gruber must be feeling at this time, particularly if they read the document that Dr. Minarik put up, being the claim filed on Father Gruber's behalf.

In the mean time, as Ryan MacDonald states above, there are people on the ground trying to unravel the false allegations against Father Gordon MacRae.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  But absolute power occurs often in the Church, where a local Bishop or Abbot has power over individuals in their charge.   That power is a burden for them, and yet many of them work very hard and take their responsibilities very seriously.  But, they all seem to come aflutter when sexual abuse is mentioned even remotely. 

Father MacRae was railroaded over unsubstantiated lies, and no one would come to his aid, as the Church reeled from the sex abuse scandal that was being unveiled at the time.

Father Gruber's case is different.  Here, using the guise of sexual abuse, which is totally unfounded in this case as well, Father Gruber has been railroaded because he had previously stood up for his fellow faculty members, and for others against an oppressive regime at St. Vincent's College.

Those who have allowed two fine priests to be falsely imprisoned should be ashamed of their actions, and should seek forgiveness for their abandonment of the Christian principles of our faith.

It is bad when non-Christians malign faithful Christians.  It is worse when those claiming to be Christians, of the more fundamentalist persuasion, routinely speak in derogatory fashion of the Catholic Church and Catholics in general.  But, it is far worse when those in Church hierarchy abandon their principles of filial love, to perpetuate lies and deceptions against faithful priests.

Neither of these situations look to be coming to a healthy conclusion soon, and so we must pray for both of these men, and for their persecutors, and those who have been instruments of their imprisonment.

On this feast of St. John Chrysostum, a priest of the 4th century, who was himself persecuted for speaking the truth, let us invoke his patronage for Father Mark Gruber and Father Gordon MacRae, and invite him to intercede on their behalf.

Saint John, we beg you to pray intercession for these our brothers, Father Mark Gruber and Father Gordon MacRae, that they may have the peace that you had during persecution, and that they will remain in the truth.  Please also pray that these false accusations that have been levelled against them will be shown to be false and be repudiated, and that they will be free once more to perform fully their priestly ministries.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in your love for Father Mark and Father Gordon. Sacred Heart of Jesus, we trust in your love for all those who have been involved in their persecution.  Sacred Heart of Jesus fill them all with Your Blood.

When the Tribunal of the World Condemns the Church for Heresy

I might have let this article by Sandro Magister, from Chiesa about 3 weeks ago slide on by, even though I highly regards Archbishop Chaput of Denver, and think him to be one of the fine minds of the Catholic Church hierarchy in this time.

But, as Father Tim Moyle posted a link to it on his blog Where the Rubber Hits the Road, it caught my eye.  Still, I would have let it go by, until today, when one of the commenters to his link, a man calling himselg Small Town Guy, spouted his usual rant, but with a little more vigour than uaual.

Bearing in mind, that Small Minded Guy is a member of one of the 30,000 splinters that separated themselves from the Catholic Church about 500 years ago, and can't seem to get their act straight to offer 1 alternative to Catholicism, his continued and unmitigated gall to offer criticism of the Church that he left for his current splinter miffs me.

Here is his latest screed, which I will follow up with the full text of the article that he was spewing on.  Here is his comment.
As logical as this article sounds, he is beating a dead horse because it is coming from inside the RCC.

Defending the faith of the RCC is not even on the radar as far as the public is concerned. The general public could care less what doctrines the RCC believes or preaches because most people are not interested. What they see are the reports in the media of widespread sexual abuse coming to light in different countries such as today's report out of Belgium.
If one wishes to have God's truth, even if only a relatively few are believing it, it would be better to disassociate oneself from the RCC and the baggage it is carrying, including, in the opinion of many Bible believers, a binful of false doctrines, and turn to Jesus as the only Saviour and the God of the Bible as the source of truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
The truth of Scripture has not been embraced by the hundreds of millions of people in the various religions of the world. If one believes in a sovereign God and what the Bible teaches, then one must conclude that God has predestined or foreordained a relatively small part of the world's population to be the elect (true church). As Jesus said the broad way leads to destruction and the narrow way leads to eternal life and few there be that find it. Don't expect to find the truth in a huge organization. That is not what Jesus said would happen.
His screed sounds a lot like the Reverend Terry Jones, of the Quran burning stunt from last week.  But here is the article about Archbishop Chaput to which he was responding.
There are truths that the dominant culture sees as subversive: on life, the family, sexuality. American archbishop Chaput explains why, and calls Christians to a great battle of resistance. "Only the truth can set men free"

by Sandro Magister

ROME, August 25, 2010 – Spisske Podhradie is a rural spot in Slovakia, dominated by the ruins of a castle (in the photo). Here, yesterday, in the geographical center of Europe, an archbishop came from the United States to explain that on the Old Continent just as much as on the New, the Catholic Church today has just one battle to fight. A battle "of resistance," he called it. But above all, "of truth."

The archbishop is Charles J. Chaput. His diocese is that of Denver. Together with the cardinal of Chicago and president of the episcopal conference, Francis George, the archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gómez, and a few others, he is at the forefront of those few dozen bishops who embody the new direction of the American episcopate.

With respect to the past, the shift represented by the new course of the Church in the United States consists, on the terrain of politics, of abandoning the "Kennedy doctrine," the doctrine of a rigid separation between Church and state, the effect of which – according to its critics – is the privatization of religious belief in the isolation of the conscience and its elimination from the public sphere.

It is no coincidence that Archbishop Chaput himself subjected the "Kennedy doctrine" to harsh criticism with a speech given on March 1 of this year in Houston, the same city in which fifty years before the presidential candidate had presented his vision of the role of Catholics in American politics.

 The Doctrine of the Catholic Kennedy? Worthless (2.3.2010)

Reissued in multiple languages by www.chiesa, Chaput's criticism of the "Kennedy doctrine" prompted a point-and-counterpoint between the archbishop of Denver and a renowned political scientist, Professor Luca Diotallevi, a consultant for the Italian episcopal conference: a point-and-counterpoint also duly documented by www.chiesa.

Saving the Catholic Kennedy. A Reply to Archbishop Chaput (11.4.2010)

Kennedy Case. The Bishop Flunks the Professor (21.4.2010)

In the meantime, however, the cultural, political, and legal offensive aimed at taking the Catholic Church out of the game has taken new steps forward, both in Europe and in America, in part taking advantage of the scandal of pedophilia.

And it is against this offensive that Archbishop Chaput is calling Catholics to "resistance." Against the reigning "relativism" that preaches tolerance but in reality produces oppression.

But Chaput's appeal is not only defensive. It is above all proactive. And it is connected to the master plan of Benedict XVI's pontificate, for a "new evangelization" of the regions of the world in which Christianity is at risk of being extinguished.

The engagement of Catholics in the public sphere – according to Chaput – must be part of this overall plan. In which God comes before Caesar.

And this – in his judgment – explains why the questions of abortion and of marriage between one man and one woman must be so central, as they are already for the Church in the United States, but are becoming increasingly more so in Europe as well. The reason is that Christian beliefs about abortion and marriage "express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny."

These are, therefore, "subversive truths," in a world that wants to deny human life an intrinsic nature and end.

So the Church "must be punished," because by reaffirming these truths, it becomes "the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order."

Below are reproduced the essential passages from the talk given by Archbishop Chaput in Spisske Podhradie on August 24, 2010.

But those who wish to read it in its entirety can find it on this other page of www.chiesa:

Living Within the Truth

Archbishop Chaput was invited to Spisske Podhradie by the association of canon law scholars of Slovakia and by the country's episcopal conference.



by Charles J. Chaput

Today, in an era of global interconnection, the challenges that confront Catholics in America are much the same as in Europe: We face an aggressively secular political vision and a consumerist economic model that result – in practice, if not in explicit intent – in a new kind of state-encouraged atheism. [...]

In the United States, a nation that is still 80 percent Christian with a high degree of religious practice, government agencies now increasingly seek to dictate how Church ministries should operate, and to force them into practices that would destroy their Catholic identity. Efforts have been made to discourage or criminalize the expression of certain Catholic beliefs as “hate speech.” Our courts and legislatures now routinely take actions that undermine marriage and family life, and seek to scrub our public life of Christian symbolism and signs of influence.

In Europe, we see similar trends, although marked by a more open contempt for Christianity. Church leaders have been reviled in the media and even in the courts for simply expressing Catholic teaching. [...] Earlier this summer we witnessed the kind of vindictive thuggery not seen on this continent since the days of Nazi and Soviet police methods: the Archbishop’s palace in Brussels raided by agents; bishops detained and interrogated for nine hours without due process; their private computers, cell phones, and files seized. Even the graves of the Church’s dead were violated in the raid. For most Americans, this sort of calculated, public humiliation of religious leaders would be an outrage and an abuse of state power. And this is not because of the virtues or the sins of any specific religious leaders involved, since we all have a duty to obey just laws. Rather, it’s an outrage because the civil authority, by its harshness, shows contempt for the beliefs and the believers whom the leaders represent. [...]

Cardinal Henri de Lubac once wrote that “It is not true that man cannot organize the world without God. What is true, is that without God, [man] can ultimately only organize it against man. Exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism.”

The West is now steadily moving in the direction of that new “inhuman humanism.” And if the Church is to respond faithfully, we need to draw upon the lessons that your Churches learned under totalitarianism. A Catholicism of resistance must be based on trust in Christ’s words: “The truth will make you free” (John 8:32). [...]

Living within the truth means living according to Jesus Christ and God’s Word in Sacred Scripture. It means proclaiming the truth of the Christian Gospel, not only by our words but by our example. It means living every day and every moment from the unshakeable conviction that God lives, and that his love is the motive force of human history and the engine of every authentic human life. It means believing that the truths of the Creed are worth suffering and dying for.

Living within the truth also means telling the truth and calling things by their right names. And that means exposing the lies by which some men try to force others to live.

Two of the biggest lies in the world today are these: first, that Christianity was of relatively minor importance in the development of the West; and second, that Western values and institutions can be sustained without a grounding in Christian moral principles. [...]

Downplaying the West’s Christian past is sometimes done with the best intentions, from a desire to promote peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society. But more frequently it’s done to marginalize Christians and to neutralize the Church’s public witness.

The Church needs to name and fight this lie. To be a European or an American is to be heir to a profound Christian synthesis of Greek philosophy and art, Roman law, and biblical truth. This synthesis gave rise to the Christian humanism that undergirds all of Western civilization.

On this point, we might remember the German Lutheran scholar and pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He wrote these words in the months leading up to his arrest by the Gestapo in 1943: “The unity of the West is not an idea but a historical reality, of which the sole foundation is Christ.”

Our societies in the West are Christian by birth, and their survival depends on the endurance of Christian values. Our core principles and political institutions are based, in large measure, on the morality of the Gospel and the Christian vision of man and government. We are talking here not only about Christian theology or religious ideas. We are talking about the moorings of our societies – representative government and the separation of powers; freedom of religion and conscience; and most importantly, the dignity of the human person.

This truth about the essential unity of the West has a corollary, as Bonhoeffer also observed: Take away Christ and you remove the only reliable foundation for our values, institutions and way of life.

That means we cannot dispense with our history out of some superficial concern over offending our non-Christian neighbors. Notwithstanding the chatter of the “new atheists,” there is no risk that Christianity will ever be forced upon people anywhere in the West. The only “confessional states” in the world today are those ruled by Islamist or atheist dictatorships – regimes that have rejected the Christian West’s belief in individual rights and the balance of powers.

I would argue that the defense of Western ideals is the only protection that we and our neighbors have against a descent into new forms of repression – whether it might be at the hands of extremist Islam or secularist technocrats.

But indifference to our Christian past contributes to indifference about defending our values and institutions in the present. And this brings me to the second big lie by which we live today – the lie that there is no unchanging truth.

Relativism is now the civil religion and public philosophy of the West. Again, the arguments made for this viewpoint can seem persuasive. Given the pluralism of the modern world, it might seem to make sense that society should want to affirm that no one individual or group has a monopoly on truth; that what one person considers to be good and desirable another may not; and that all cultures and religions should be respected as equally valid.

In practice, however, we see that without a belief in fixed moral principles and transcendent truths, our political institutions and language become instruments in the service of a new barbarism. In the name of tolerance we come to tolerate the cruelest intolerance; respect for other cultures comes to dictate disparagement of our own; the teaching of “live and let live” justifies the strong living at the expense of the weak.

This diagnosis helps us understand one of the foundational injustices in the West today – the crime of abortion.

I realize that the abortion license is a matter of current law in almost every nation in the West. In some cases, this license reflects the will of the majority and is enforced through legal and democratic means. And I’m aware that many people, even in the Church, find it strange that we Catholics in America still make the sanctity of unborn life so central to our public witness.

Let me tell you why I believe abortion is the crucial issue of our age.

First, because abortion, too, is about living within the truth. The right to life is the foundation of every other human right. If that right is not inviolate, then no right can be guaranteed.

Or to put it more bluntly: Homicide is homicide, no matter how small the victim.

Here’s another truth that many persons in the Church have not yet fully reckoned: The defense of newborn and preborn life has been a central element of Catholic identity since the Apostolic Age. [...]

The evidence can be found in the earliest documents of Church history. In our day – when the sanctity of life is threatened not only by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, but also by embryonic research and eugenic temptations to eliminate the weak, the disabled and the infirm elderly – this aspect of Catholic identity becomes even more vital to our discipleship.

My point in mentioning abortion is this: Its widespread acceptance in the West shows us that without a grounding in God or a higher truth, our democratic institutions can very easily become weapons against our own human dignity.

Our most cherished values cannot be defended by reason alone, or simply for their own sake. They have no self-sustaining or “internal” justification.

There is no inherently logical or utilitarian reason why society should respect the rights of the human person. There is even less reason for recognizing the rights of those whose lives impose burdens on others, as is the case with the child in the womb, the terminally ill, or the physically or mentally disabled.

If human rights do not come from God, then they devolve to the arbitrary conventions of men and women. The state exists to defend the rights of man and to promote his flourishing. The state can never be the source of those rights. When the state arrogates to itself that power, even a democracy can become totalitarian.

What is legalized abortion but a form of intimate violence that clothes itself in democracy? The will to power of the strong is given the force of law to kill the weak.

That is where we are heading in the West today. [...] Writing in the 1960s, Richard Weaver, an American scholar and social philosopher, said: “I am absolutely convinced that relativism must eventually lead to a regime of force.”

He was right. There is a kind of “inner logic” that leads relativism to repression.

This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing Catholic life. The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be.

The Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman. This is no accident. These Christian beliefs express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny.

These truths are subversive in a world that would have us believe that God is not necessary and that human life has no inherent nature or purpose. Thus the Church must be punished because, despite all the sins and weaknesses of her people, she is still the bride of Jesus Christ; still a source of beauty, meaning and hope that refuses to die – and still the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order. [...]

We need not and should not abandon the hard work of honest dialogue. Far from it. The Church always needs to seek friendships, areas of agreement, and ways to make positive, reasoned arguments in the public square. But it’s foolish to expect gratitude or even respect from our governing and cultural leadership classes today. Naïve imprudence is not an evangelical virtue.

The temptation in every age of the Church is to try to get along with Caesar. And it’s very true: Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our leaders. We need to have a healthy love for the countries we call home. But we can never render unto Caesar what belongs to God. We need to obey God first; the obligations of political authority always come second. [...]

We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates.

James Taylor and Yo Yo Ma

Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison

Here is an interesting collaboration of James Taylor and the world renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma, showing how they worked together to get to the end result.

The Catholic Route to Birth Control

"Ego te absolvo."

H/t Illigitimi non carborundum

The following article was written by Sandro Magister, a respected Catholic writer for Chiesa expressonline the other day, and gives some of the history of the birth control CRISIS that we have faced in Catholicism for what is actually longer than the sexual revolution of the 60's.

Humanae Vitae is a wonderful teaching on human sexuality, and openness to life, unless of course it challenges your own view of sexuality.  Unfortunately, the attitude that existed prior to its writing has continued to permeate the faith of the Church, and so the encyclical has been viewed as an archaic view of what sex is for.  I remember when HV came out thinking that the Pope was out of touch, since HV deals with sex as being out of context except in a marriage and where there is respect for the transmission of life.  Lest anyone have any doubts or even care about my position on the matter, I was wrong, seriously wrong.

However, I was not alone, and the priests and many of the leaders of the Church did not really know how to balance the faith, and the sexual revolution, such that they could keep Catholics at home in the Church.  The result is that a lot of Catholics have left the practice of the faith, many for other churches, and many for inertia.  Really, the laity were lied to often, more so by silence than by actual words.

In a series of communications I had the other day with a Catholic young man that I know, we were discussing a deception that occurred in our communication.  It struck me that there had been a deception, and I called him on it.  He replied with acknowledgement of what had happened, and an apology.  I responded forgiving him.  In that note to him I indicated that it is more difficult to be honest than not, by which I meant that we so often tell people what we think they want to hear, rather than the real unvarnished truth.  Of course, once an untruth has been perpetrated, then it gets to be harder to come back to the truth, and the lie takes on a life of its own.

The path of human sexuality in recent times has been fraught with lies and deceptions that have been put forth by those who have an interest in perpetuating them, either those who have no control over their own sexuality and do not wish to exercise control, or by those who stand to profit from immoral sexuality working its way into the main stream.

So, here is an article displaying how small deceptions of the faithful by priests who were afraid to speak only the truth, led to a decline in faith.  The easy route turned out to be fraught with lies and deceptions.
The Church forbids contraceptive methods. But it has always been more indulgent in the confessional, not only today but also in the past. Here is what priests did in the first half of the twentieth century, in one of the most Christianized areas of Italy  
by Sandro Magister

ROME, September 8, 2010 – It is believed to be one of the most reliable proofs of the relentless advance of secularization: the contrast thought to have been created between Church teaching on contraception and the actual behavior of the population, including observant Catholics.

In reality, the divergence between the teaching, for example, of "Humanae Vitae" and the contraceptive practices in use among the faithful is by no means a new development in recent decades.

A divergence just as wide existed a long time ago, and even in places of widespread Christian belief and the generalized practice of the sacraments.

One of these "study cases" is the Veneto region during the first half of the twentieth century. Rural Veneto was at the time the most Catholic region in Italy, with an extremely solid, grassroots presence of the Church.

But even in Veneto in the first half of the twentieth century – where almost everyone went to Mass on Sundays and to confession at least once a year – the birth rate was cut in half in the span of one generation. It went from 5 children per woman in 1921 to 2.5 children per woman in 1951 because of generalized recourse to contraceptive practices, the most widespread of which was coitus interruptus.

A book has been released that analyzes and thoroughly explains for the first time – with documents never studied before – why the Church did not stop the spread of contraception even in "friendly" territory like Veneto in the early twentieth century.
The author of the book is Gianpiero Dalla Zuanna, professor of demography at the University of Padua.

The documents he has taken into examination for the first time – and published in a painstaking translation from the original Latin – belong to two segments.

In the first segment are the cases of morality discussed in the periodical "gatherings" of the priests of the diocese of Padua between 1916 and 1958. In these "gatherings" – four per year in the countryside, and eight per year in the cities – the diocese presented cases to the priests of each zone, asking them to submit solutions in writing. After a few months, the correct answer was printed in the official bulletin of the diocese, written by a professor of moral theology at the seminary.

In the second source are the answers from priests to a question about birth control, on the occasion of a pastoral visit made to the diocese between 1938 and 1943 by the bishop of Padua, Carlo Agostini.

The cases examined in the "gatherings," 23 of which concerned contraception, were used to ascertain the guidelines that the diocese gave to priests entrusted with the care of souls.

The answers given at the pastoral visit were used, on the other hand, to determine how the priests actually dealt with their faithful. The question about contraception, in fact, asked them to indicate "if the faults involving the limitation of offspring are being carefully combated."
So then, one constant guideline emerges from the solutions given by the diocese of Padua to cases of morality regarding contraception: that of employing the "theory of good faith" taught by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori. According to this theory, in the presence of a penitent who is suspected of committing contraceptive actions but appears unaware of the gravity of the sin and in practice incapable of correcting his behavior, it is best to respect his silence and take his good faith into account, absolving him without posing any further questions.

The Liguorian theory was dominant for many decades, not only in the seminaries and in the care of souls, but also in the guidelines given by the Holy See in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It even appeared in the code of canon law of 1917, in force until 1983, which said at canon 888: "The priest who hears confessions should be very careful not to pose curious and useless questions, especially concerning the sixth commandment, to anyone with whom he deals, and particularly not to ask younger persons about things of which they are unaware."

Not only in the confessional, but also in the pulpit priests were urged to be cautious, prudent, reserved on these matters. In rare instances it was suggested that men and women be spoken with separately.

A change took place in 1931 with the publication by Pius XI of the encyclical "Casti Connubii." From then on, at the behest of the hierarchy, conjugal morality became a bigger part of preaching. And therefore the room for inculpable ignorance was reduced. A few priests wrote about this: once it has been said in public what is good and what is evil between spouses, "good faith can no longer be admitted."
But decades of silence, interpreted by most of the faithful as consent to their contraceptive practice, had left its mark. In their answers to the question about birth control – a dozen years after "Casti Connubii" – some priests recognized that their preaching on this matter made no impression: "We are in front of a wall that seems unassailable." And another wrote: "Even seemingly good persons cannot be persuaded."
In the meantime, in Catholic Veneto the birth rate had fallen to levels near zero growth (and in the last decades of the twentieth century, they would end up well below it). But the distance between Church teaching and the use of contraceptives continues to be perceived by most of the population as neither a sin nor a rebellion.
Even afterward – and this brings us up to today – the condemnation of contraceptives would be the subject of papal documents, but already at the level of the bishops it would hardly appear in preaching. The clergy, for their part, would be almost completely silent on it. And would continue to be very understanding and indulgent in the confessional.