Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Did You Ever Have a Lent Like This?

By accident, a couple of weeks ago, John and I were in bed late one night and stumbled upon the movie Chocolat while flipping through the TV channels. Fortunately, it had just started, and so we thoroughly enjoyed watching it all over again.

Anyone reading this who has seen the film more than once (as I have) is astute enough to figure out that in addition to the film just generally being a delight, that this movie appeals to me on more than one level, especially in the sense that the Catholic struggle takes place in the storyline. Hilariously so; a great illustration of traditional phariseeism gone bad.

Anyway, remember the scene on the Saturday night before Easter morning? Remember what the mayor did and how he was found on Easter morning?

Yeah, that's pretty much me in the last two weeks. Most everything I vowed for Lent has broken down and went out the door. The gorging on chocolate and passing out in the patisserie window? Not so symbolic.

I believe many of us - perhaps most of us - give in, crash, lose interest, or just give up on various Lenten promises and ideals. And I sort of think that's the point - that you can't do it yourself.

The good news is that this is Holy Week, and even if I still don't keep my Lenten promises, I can take part in liturgy all week and walk with Christ. The bad news? I just want Easter to be here, so keep the chocolate (or wheat, or carbs, or fill in the blank) coming.

I'm glad that I don't know anyone foolish enough to openly proclaim that they have kept Lent perfectly, because if they did so, I think I'd want to sock them.


This past week, Catholic blogger Mark Shea posted the following on his Facebook page:

"So yesterday I posted some snippy memes griping about people who are griping at the new Pope. I don't think they helped anything and were not kind or peaceable. I thought better of it and took them down. Mea culpa to all I hurt or offended. Let's start Holy Week in peace."

My response? Exactly! and Likewise!

So maybe all my posts about the TRAD response to the new Pope weren't the most helpful or charitable. But I leave them stand because I still think they make points that need to be made and considered.

However, I have deleted a few other things from my blog today. A long time ago I read some "Blogging for Dummies" sort of book, and it was saying that it's unethical to take down previously-written blog posts or to significantly edit/amend what you've already written. I believed that book for a long time, but now have decided that in the spirit of Christianity (thoughtfulness, examination of conscience, detraction, forgiveness, etc., etc.) that such advice only makes sense for very secular/worldly blogs. 

So, I thank Mark Shea for his example, and state here that I reserve the right to take down anything that makes me feel bad, that I regret, that makes me anxious, or that in retrospect wasn't well thought-out, and even might have been pure garbage from the start!

Next: To everyone who emailed me and messaged me on Facebook disappointed that I blocked them from the blog or uninvited them, please remember that this is NOT the old blog. Thus, there are NO invites out there in the first place, so no one was uninvited or blocked. All I did was turn the blog off because 1.) A troll appeared that I didn't feel like dealing with, and 2.) I got mad at myself for things I wrote that weren't being received that way I wanted. 

I know! Wah! Wah! Wah!

Believe it or not, I often don't think I have the spine necessary for blogging, even though it's approaching five years of this. More specifically, the spine necessary to take the heat for the very opinionated things I say. If such a statement surprises you, recall the hell we have been through with my husband's co-workers over the old blog and do the math. (They haven't found this one yet, but hey, give it time! Ha!) And actually, there is MORE HELL that we were put through, but I couldn't blog about it for obvious reasons, and never will. You all don't even know how bad it got!

So anyway, as always, this blog is a journey and a work-in-progress, with plenty of f'ups to spread around.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In Defense of the Clown Mass (But Not Really)

One would think that the liturgy police would know how...well....that they would know how liturgy works in our modern-day world. But it seems they don't.

Case in point: I got a short and sweet(?) comment on my blog yesterday, as concerns the "Rorate Caeli Can Kiss My Ass" post, which was:

"FYI: Google MISA DE NINOS 2011. 'nuff said"

So I did. Although I have to say, even before I did, I knew what I was going to find. I was going to find a "clown mass" being offered by our new pope, the Former Cardinal Bergoglio. And I was right. If you care, here it is:

Now, the subject of this blog post isn't necessarily to discuss "clown masses." (By the way, I put that term in quotations because Traditionalists like to label ANY mass they don't approve of as a clown mass.) Rather, this post is meant to discuss how priests, cardinals, and bishops end up presiding at "clown masses" in the first place.

So, I'm going to break it down here for the Blind and Unthinking Traditionalist. Here's how I think it works:

1. Office of [fill in the blank with whatever name you want] bishop gets a phone call or letter from a parish, group, or other Catholic organization, asking if the good bishop is able to preside over mass on a particular date.

2. Secretary or personal assistant to the bishop checks the very busy and often booked-up schedule of the bishop and pencils in the date, and then sends out a confirmation letter (or perhaps a phone call), indicating that the bishop will be at the requested event to offer mass.

3. On the appointed date, bishop is handed a daily schedule, which includes the confirmed mass at which he is the celebrant.

4. Bishop shows up to the event and presides over the mass.

Now, this is KEY - listen up all you would-be liturgy police! - guess what? THE BISHOP DID NOT PLAN THE MASS AT WHICH HE IS THE CELEBRANT! Isn't that amazing? He had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the mass at which he kindly came to preside over! 

So, let's think this through, shall we? If the mass has lousy music, the bishop didn't plan that lousy music. If the mass is being held in the most abominable post-modern church ever built, he didn't build that church or plan that the mass would be said there. If the organ is broken and the musicians have to switch over to guitars? Nope, not his fault. If the readings selected don't correspond with the liturgical calendar - out of his control! If there are colorful flags and helium balloons festooning the church when he arrives? Not his problem, since he wasn't on the committee that planned how the mass would be celebrated.

Anyone not understanding this?

Now, let's enter the mind of a staunch Traditionalist. The kind of person who, say, leaves a comment on my blog implying that the above-highlighted "clown mass" is an absolute indication that our new Pope is indeed an advocate of killing the Latin mass. Here's how I imagine such a person would respond to my explanation of how bishops and the like end up presiding over "clown masses":

"Well, then, if the bishop saw that such a mass was even a possibility - if he walked in and saw colorful flags and electric guitars and liturgical dancers - well, then, he should have refused to say mass, rather than allow such liturgical abuse to continue on unchecked."

And that, my friends, is the problem. The problem is that the staunch Traditionalist would have the bishop respond to such a mass as if he were Christ in the temple, over-turning the money lenders tables. He would rather "truth" triumph over charity. He would rather deprive people of a mass, risking the disappointment of innocent Catholics, than allow a consecrated bishop allow such a mass to continue. 

Here's the thing, though. Bishops don't do that. They don't show up to say mass and then decide once they get there to back out. Instead, if they sense something is "off" about the arrangement, they proceed with goodwill, love, charity, and respect for those attending, as well as those who hosted and planned the mass. 

To imply that the mass in that You Tube video is the brainchild and preference of our new Pope Francis is ludicrous. Not only because no one really knows, but mostly because the chances are about 100% that he was invited to preside over that mass unaware of the stylings that were planned for that mass, as determined by whoever sponsored it. 

Therefore, it is triple-ludicrous to imply that such a mass is "proof" that Pope Francis hates the TLM, is against it, wants to limit it, or is a big fan of watered-down, feel-good liturgy. Taking the most extreme example of a mass that he presided over as proof of anything shows desperation to prove a point that can't be proven via normal means.

This past week, the Catholic internet has featured many, many written pieces that wonder aloud at the near crazy responses the Traditionalists have had to Pope Francis. I add this blog post to the growing pile, wondering if Traditionalists of this bent realize what damage they are doing to their cause?

I'm no fan of "clown masses," but in this case, I have to defend one. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

After the Retreat

One or two people wanted me to follow up on the silent retreat I took two weeks ago. I'll offer random thoughts and observations:

1. I don't consider it a silent retreat when mothers are allowed to bring nursing babies along. [NOTE: This is likely a pandora's box topic, so let's not allow ourselves dig too deep here, OK?] On the one hand, I don't want to deny a mother the opportunity to go on a retreat just because she's nursing. On the other hand, most of the moms attending this kind of thing are trying to GET AWAY from the noise of children and babies.

In this case, there were two mothers with babies along and lucky Char got the room next door to one of them, also sharing the bathroom. OK, I'm being snarky; it wasn't a problem at all, I barely noticed the baby in the room next door. However, on Friday night I was totally concerned and wondered who thought it was a good idea to allow babies on silent retreat. Of course, the irony is that Sunday morning, when silence was broken for breakfast, I sat with both mothers, connected with them, and left the retreat becoming Facebook friends with one. How the Holy Spirit laughs at me!

2. I've mentioned it here once or twice, but in real life, I have been absolutely terrified and freaking out about the potential prospect of my son's school closing next year. It's been my day-to-day obsession for months now. But when I left the retreat, a spirit of "I don't care" had come over me, with my realizing that whatever happens, God is not abandoning our family. Trust me, this is a good development.

3. A revolutionary concept particular to the Schoenstatt spirituality was revealed to me, which is: Ask Mary to take RESPONSIBILITY to CO-PARENT your children. I bring this up because it was like the biggest, brightest lightbulb moment that I've experienced as a Catholic in years.

A subject I no longer discuss as a blogger is my absolute loathing of being a parent. On the old blog, in the early years when Alan was a baby/toddler, I talked about this quite a bit. Then one day some anonymous a-hole of a commenter came in and read me the riot act, telling me what an atrocious parent I was, predicting that I'd have a completely f-up'd kid because all I did was complain about how much I hated the responsibility of being chained to a kid all day. After that comment, I vowed to pretty much never bring it up again, given that it seemed impossible to communicate my particular situation, mindset, and troubles.

To this day, despite Alan being close to six years old, I still struggle with these same parent issues. I despise the responsibility because I am an A-1 free spirit. Believe me, close friends have raised a few eye brows at some of my parenting choices and attitudes, since I cannot stand being a parent. However, they also know from real life experience and observation of how terribly much I love my son, which is something that cannot be adequately communicated on the internet.

Anyway, since the day I knew I was pregnant right up until today, I have felt alone, oppressed, and resentful about the parental position. So this Schoenstatt teaching has reached deep down into my heart, and it's something that I am going to cling to and examine and attempt to implement in our lives. Note this isn't just asking Mary for daily help at being a mom or dad, which is something we should be doing anyway. Rather, this is literally and seriously asking Mary to step in as a parent to your children. And why not?

4. During a group sharing time, a woman very vocally worried about whether as a married person, she had missed her calling to her true vocation, which would be a religious sister? It got me to thinking how many times I've wondered the same, and also suspecting that many other married women have too. Has that ever happened to you? Personally, I believe such thoughts naturally come out in an atmosphere like a silent retreat, because you're actually quiet enough to be talking to God and/or listening to Him, and when that happens, you recognize how much more you'd like that to happen - like ALL THE TIME - and thus you think, hey, this must be what's it's like for religious, and wait, maybe I missed the boat! Really, though, I think people only have this worry about a missed vocation when the going is tough in their own chosen vocation.

5. Finally, the retreat sealed it for me that I am very drawn to the Schoenstatt spirituality and wish to make their Covenant of Love with Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable. Again, I do plan to blog about Schoenstatt soon, so that I can introduce this movement to others.

Now That's Just Weird

I woke up today to a text message from a good priest friend. It said, "Father X was asking about you, wondering how you are?"

Father X is the local priest who offers the Latin mass in his living room each week. I've met him ONCE. Granted, on that one occasion we had a decent, albeit humor-tinged conversation, but why that particular priest would ask about ME?

I KNOW what some people are thinking. Go ahead and think it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Something I Want Everyone To Know

Listen: In the last year or so, every time I have blogged something "negative" about the Traditional Catholics, a big part of me feels bad and guilty. I am being totally honest about this.

Many times I have considered swearing off blogging about TRAD stuff, knowing it's bad for my soul. It's been confessional material more than once, trust me.

But there is a part of me that when I see extreme uncharitability and general unkindness on the part of Traditional Catholics, etc. - that I just can't shut my mouth. I want to speak up and point it out.

This is probably too much personal information, but I'll share it anyway: I talk about this subject over and over with my very orthodox Catholic therapist. The bottom line always ends up that I need to be who I am, and that perhaps my pointing out the negative aspects of the Traditional Catholics is doing someone a favor somewhere because there really is much wrong with the mindset of Traditional Catholics.

I know I get people upset when I say things like this. But how many times do I have to make the cliche disclaimer that when I say these things I'm not speaking of ALL Traditional Catholics? Doesn't that go without saying? People want me to have a blanket charitably that never allows for criticism or testing, and I think that's unreal and unfair. Nothing is perfect.

Now, this leads to the very obvious question: What's it to you, Char?

That's a good question and I don't have an answer. Sometimes I've come to the conclusion that the TRAD topic has nothing at all to do with me, and thus I ought to shut up.I mean, it's not like I'm a Latin mass person!

But then I ask myself why the nastiness and negativity of some Traditional Catholics always gets me fired up? Sorry, but I don't have an answer to that other than I am really sensitive to bullying and underdogs. I know the TRADS believe THEY are the ones who are the underdogs, and that might be true. But the ones being bullied are absolutely the non-TRADS. Regular Catholics are routinely bullied by the Traditional Catholics and I hate it, since I tend to place a higher standard of Christian behavior on them, since they have voluntarily subscribed to - and more importantly - loudly proclaimed a higher standard of Catholicism.

That's all I've got right now. I say all this because I really, really, really, really, really want to write a blog post absolutely slamming the Traditional Catholics for what I've read out there in terms of their response to the new pope.

Some will say: Don't do it, don't be uncharitable, don't add fuel to the fire.

I say: Not sure yet. Because I have a clever approach for what I want to say. And I think what I want to say has some value.

Trust me, I have other things to blog about, that I have lined up in my head. But still, what I've seen in the last 2-3 days just gnaws at me to get out.

If it does come out, again, I will feel badly about saying it. I know I don't come off that way, but please know, I do have twangs and twinges of regret.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sick and Tired

No, really, I've been sick for 3 days and sleeping on and off all day.

I'm mentioning this because I have a whole big bomb of stuff to say about what I've been reading on the Catholic internet today. But I'm just too tired.

Of particular interest is the commbox on an entry today at Rorate Caeli, the one where they attempt to stand by their immediate assessment of Pope Francis being anti-traditional Latin mass. Note, this is an entry from today, not yesterday when the pope was elected. Sorry I'm not linking here, but I'm lying in bed with a tablet and don't know how.

Just do it. Go over there and read the commbox. Especially every person who has ever accused me of being wrong when I have said that Internet Trads are not a separate species from Real Life Trads.

Because somebody....real human beings are saying that stuff.

It makes me sad and scared.

Also sick and tired of the same old, same old.

Hilarious Traffic

Hilarious! People are showing up here in the last 24 hours looking for Rorate Caeli.

Welcome! Welcome! (Cough, cough)

Also, people are showing up here with the search term "Will the new pope allow the Latin mass?"


I told you so!

It's all about the Latin Mass.

Oh, Larry D over at Acts of the Apostasy is also echoing what I - and it turns out, MANY others - are saying about the dismal behavior of the Traditionalists.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rorate Caeli Can Kiss My Ass

Listen, I get that Rorate Caeli is authentically and wholly and completely Catholic, i.e. "Good Catholic" and Latin this and Latin that, blah, blah, blah. But for them to post this garbage on the same day as the Pope is elected? Shame! Kiss my ass!

The Horror! A Buenos Aires journalist describes Bergoglio
OK, and yeah, I get it that Rorate Caeli is "just reporting" and "providing information." Still, couldn't this piece of absolute, total negativity wait at least 24 hours?

For example (just one of many), half of all the Catholics on the planet probably don't even know what a Jesuit is. Could we just allow a basic grasp of the facts and enjoy the new Pope in a mode of happiness and hope before we shit all over everything?

When people want to know why I tend to be really, really negative about Traditionalists, here is a prime example of why. Publishing this crap just to stir the pot. 

And it's not just Rorate Caeli. Nope. Mark Shea can attest to the fact that the TRADS were all set and ready to crap on whoever was elected if it wasn't who they wanted. 

True confessions: I went over to the Fisheaters forum myself to see what they were saying. A lot of it was good, hopeful, and positive. But a lot of it wasn't. It was ALL about ONE THING and ONE THING ONLY: Our precious Latin mass. Will Pope Francis continue to allow it? (Answer: No one knows.) Is he supportive of the Latin Mass? (Answer: All signs point to "no," given that the Buenos Aires diocese doesn't really offer any and Cardinal Bergoglio is supposedly on record as being "anti.") And then even worse comments and speculation - more prophecies, more Fatima controversies, and an immediate witch hunt to find any crack or hole in Bergoglio's record - thus proving that modernist Rome is leading us all down the primrose path.

Oh, and numerous cries of: "Thank God he didn't take the name of John Paul III." That and criticism because the new Pope Francis asked people to pray for him! Horror of horrors! How weak of him! How un-papal! He's supposed to be praying for US!

Alright, I know that my publishing this is also stirring the pot. It's somewhat negative. But if this doesn't say it all, then what else will? This is a joyous event for the Catholic Church, and yet in their public persona these Traditionalists are largely incapable of grasping anything joyous. Will they also criticize the resurrection of Christ? I ask, since there's not much left joyous for them to grasp.

Oh, and check out the SSPX statement on this. Make sure to quote Pope Pius X no matter what, since he's, like, "the" authority by which to model everything.

By the way, I got teary-eyed over the coverage of the new Pope. So there.

And also, I know I have to get off the TRAD subject. I know it's a dead-end topic for me because of the exact content of this post. Nothing will make them happy, and thus, it's pretty pointless to continue to beat that drum. 

As one priest said on my Facebook page tonight, "They won't even be happy in heaven."

Kick Myself

If for some strange reason (I guess it would have to be the Holy Spirit), Cardinal Timothy Dolan was elected as the next Pope - which he won't be - I will kick myself for not getting a very special picture of him with Alan.

When Alan was still a baby, maybe 12 months old max, we went to a church in town for an evening mass of reparation for abortion. The mass was being said by then Archbishop Dolan. As is normal around here, it wasn't well-attended. Maybe 70 people were there? So when it was over, it was no problem to shake Dolan's hand, and when we did, he just reached out and grabbed Alan, and for the next 10-15 minutes, Dolan carried Alan around while he greeted people.

I didn't have a phone with a camera then, nor a camera with me. But the picture is set in my mind forever because it was so funny/weird that HE grabbed Alan and wanted to hold onto him for that long. Seriously, the personality profile you see of Dolan, it's for real.

Well, anyway, that's almost everything I have to say about the whole new Pope thing. I care, to a point, about the election of the Pope, but I'm sooo not into posting photos of the chimney every hour on Facebook, etc. I mean, it's gonna happen anyway, right?

Perhaps it's because I've never really put much stock in the Pope. Does that sound bad? I hope not. It's just that it's enough and challenging enough for me to live according to the Catechism or take cues from the lives of the saints to bother myself with recently written tomes and statements made by someone alive today.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Books I'm Bringing On Retreat

Here's the books I'm bringing with me to the weekend-long silent retreat I'm leaving for tonight:

-My Bible, a pre-wedding gift from John. It's New International Version (NIV) because that's what I was used to at the time and that's what I wanted. It's leather bound and engraved with my name and our wedding date on the front, also at my request. Note John said that he had a most difficult time finding a company to do the engraving.

-"Mother Love," a gift given to me by a person who now greatly dislikes me. Anyway, it seems to be an extensive book of various Catholic prayers for use in various situations. It's published by the "Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers."

-"A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken, a book my Catholic therapist has been after me to read forever. I never get around to reading it because I know it's gonna upset me or something.

-Saint Faustina's diary....initially a gift from John's mother (who died on All Soul's Day this past November, but I never talked about it on the blog.) She gave it to me as a wedding shower gift, but that's not the copy I'm taking. A few years ago, John gave me a copy for our 5th wedding anniversary? Well, whichever anniversary you're supposed to get leather as a gift. I received a leather bound copy from him, and it's much smaller and handier to carry around. My therapist has been after me to read this as well, but I balk because Saint Faustina sees visions of hell and I don't want to hear about it.

-"Foundations of Education in the Home" by Father Joseph Kentenich, the founder of Schoenstatt, which is the organization that is giving the retreat. If you've never read anything by Father Kentenich, he will blow you away with his simultaneous depth and simplicity.

There was another book I wanted to bring along written by Mark Shea - I bought it from him when I met him - it's about prayer. But I can't find it!

Of course, I'm not going to read all these this weekend! But I assume the premise is that you bring along a bunch of stuff and see where the Holy Spirit takes you. 

Oh, there's another book I'm packing, which is one of the favorite Christmas gifts I got this year - an adult coloring book. It has pictures of annual and perennial garden flowers, along with correct scientific names, etc. I'm bringing my box of 96 crayons that Alan isn't allowed to touch, and if the mood strikes, I'm coloring. Years and years ago, a secular counselor suggested that coloring is a help in relieving anxiety. Since then, I've met one or two people who got the same advice.

What else I'm packing? A ton of low-carb food to stick in a fridge somewhere. I talked to someone who's been on a bunch of retreats at the same place, and she confirmed that it's all carb-o-licious there. And homemade! Gotta protect myself.

Well, I leave in a couple of hours.