Seeking trouble

St. Rose of Lima died in her early thirties, and yet she attained the height of heroic virtue. Her words from the second reading of this morning’s Office of Readings:

“If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! Without doubt they would devote all their care and concern to winning for themselves pains and afflictions. All men throughout the world would seek trouble, infirmities and torments, instead of good fortune, in order to attain the unfathomable treasure of grace.”

I’m not there yet, I’m not even close. I can, however, see the holy wisdom in what she says. We don’t have to search far to find pain and affliction, trouble, infirmities and torments. Maybe there hasn’t been an easier time in recent history to attain heroic virtue, living as we do in a time of great mercy. Simply holding to the plain truth of the gospel and of Catholic teaching is considered incendiary in this post-moral society.

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Fire breathing lions, etc.

Indianapolis, September 20, 2014.  A day that changed my life.  My oldest son was supposed to accompany me, but car problems prevented him, and so I went alone, not knowing what to expect.  When you go to a Catholic men’s conference that isn’t sponsored by an organization not necessarily concerned about what I would call “solid liturgy,” you get what you get.  And what I got was the usual twangy guitar with the too-loud monitor, the liturgical drummer, and whatever other instruments can fit in the space.  In this case a piano, another guitar, and an electric bass.  Sort of Catholic Styx lite.  And even at that, I just rolled with it.  They chose some good solid hymns, and I sang along.

I’m not sure why the powers that be, the people who set these things up, think that we even want guitars and drums.  Seriously, the only people who want them are the people who play in “the worship band.”  I hope one or two of them will eventually discover that most of us would prefer anything else than the stuff we are bombarded with every day outside of sacred spaces.  Catholic liturgical music is supposed to, at the least, not interfere with the look and feel and smell of the genius of the Latin Rite.

Guitars and drums not only interfere with it, it thumbs its nose and sticks out its tongue.

But I digress.  I had to get the rant out of the way before going on to higher and finer things.  This conference slayed me, metaphorically speaking.  It was awesome.  It was epic that Archbishop Joe Tobin joined us and said Mass for us before lunch, but Fr. Mike Gaitley had both barrels pointed right at me.  I could exceed the bounds of grammatical brevity, but you’d leave.  Instead I’ll leave you with a few bullet points that sunk into my heart, hopefully in good soil:

* I’m a filthy habitual sinner with little or no redeeming qualities, but quite the opposite of what I imagined, that is exactly what attracts me so much to Christ.  The pity he takes on me is unfathomable and His desire for me is unquenchable, not because I’m Mr. Straight and Narrow.  Those guys are safe and in the fold.  He left the 99 and scoured the hills looking for me.

* In times of great evil, God’s graces abound all the more.  We are living in the age of mercy when it is so easy to become a Saint.  The way straight to Jesus’ heart is through consecrating ourselves completely and totally to Mary.

* Mercy for sinners is the heart of the Gospel.

* Love never turns in on itself, it always gives itself away.

* Our mission is twofold:  To breathe in, and to breathe out.  Breathing in is going regularly ourselves to the “cellar of wine” with the Lord in prayer, in the Mass, and through the Sacraments.  Breathing out is setting the world on fire with His Love.

I am so glad that I went to this conference, so thankful to our Lord for putting it in my heart to go.  So grateful for those who obviously prayed that the inspiration would hit and I’d sign up and go.  Your prayers worked.

All of a Sudden

Did you know that for the past, oh, say 2,000 years or so, must people have been horrifically evil bigots?  That is what those who are “all of a sudden” for gay marriage and homosexual rights would have you believe.  We have been big, mean, murderous homophobes.  That means, if you consider yourself a moral conservative, you’re a bigot.  If you are Catholic and actually believe what your Church teaches, you’re a bigot.  If you don’t want openly homosexual men to have access to your children through the Boy Scouts of America, you’re a bigot.  If you think that marriage predates “the state” and has no business redefining the term and the institution, you’re a bigot.

Well guess what?  Then consider me a bigot.  I’m Catholic and I believe what my Church teaches.  I’m a moral conservative.  Marriage predates “the state” and the state has no authority to redefine the institution, let alone the term.

Government’s biggest role traditionally has been to do everything within its limited power to protect the family and the institution of traditional marriage.  Government has gotten too big for its breeches.

The next group in the wings wanting recognition and special rights are grown-ups who think children should be able to decide which adults they “consent” to have sex with.  And these pervs are all for it.  They don’t think it leaves any scars on the childrens’ souls.  In twenty years, if you disagree with them, guess what?

You bigot.

new Mass translation, new music, please…

I’ve been looking forward to the new English translation of Mass for, oh, about forty years now.  Really it isn’t quite that bad, but I have been waiting.  Since coming back to the Catholic Church after thirteen years of wandering the Protestant wilderness, I’ve seen a range of good and bad Masses.  Not having anything to compare the Standard Sunday Mass to until I attended a traditional Latin Mass at Holy Rosary in Indianapolis after the turn of the millennium, I had a vague sense that something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Let me first say, in the spirit of fairness that my initial misgivings were more focused on the fact that these Masses were seeking to be more Protestant in style.  This is an undisputed fact at this point in history.  The funny thing is that Catholics suck at being Protestants.  If you want to hear real Protestant worship, put your ear up against the wall of a Protestant Church on Sunday morning.  After Mass, of course.  If you survive the exodus from the parking lot.

Anyway.  Once I knew what Mass was supposed to look and feel like, very few Novus Ordo Masses since have measured up.  Every liturgical abuse and poor music choice grates on my nerves.  From the fake hand shakers beaming at you and refusing to let you pass until you shake their hand (obligatory welcomeness) to the last squeaky strains of the scattering hymn, over half of the Mass is a fabrication nobody ever asked for or envisioned prior to the hippie heydays.

And I’ve been to a lot of solidly good non-Novus Ordo liturgies.  Lets see, Holy Rosary TLM in Indianapolis on many occasions.  Several Maronite Divine Liturgies.  Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio.  Simple weekday ad orientem Masses at Western Illinois University’s Newman Center.  I’ve gotten around the past several years.

So.  I really have been looking forward to the new translation coming into force at the end of the month.  Then I learned that my parish has chosen a new Mass setting from OCP’s “ex-priest living with a dude in San Francisco” Dan Schutte.  It is as bad as anything he has ever written.  It is hokey.  It is 4/4 bubble gum pop stupidity “and on earth, peace on earth, peace to people of good will.”

Why do we have to sing in refrains?  Why can’t we just chant the whole thing?  If we’re going this direction, why don’t we just strike up the Wurlitzer, join in a round of “I will celebrate” and do a Conga line around the outside walls of the Church waving facial tissues in the air like pom-poms like the Charismatics?

Why can’t we just be Catholics?

If I hear one more Mass setting from Schutte, or Hagen, or Haas, or Landry I may run out the back door screaming, holding my ears so the blood doesn’t trickle out.

1500 animals

I think my alarm clock thought it was Spring Forward day today, because it rang me awake an hour early this morning.  No wonder I felt so tired.  I didn’t realize it until I’d been up for 40 minutes.  Now that I’m awake I can see that daughter the youngest has posted to FB that “‎1,500 animal species practice homosexuality… Only one species in homophobic. Now, really, people? Do you see, like, little puppy dogs carrying signs saying “God hates gays?” Nope, I don’t. What the hell is wrong with you? Get over it, and worry about your own life, not other’s.”

Then she and her friends were falling all over themselves with congratulation that they were so cool.  Okay.

I put up my own post that fifteen hundred animal species probably eat their own poop, too, but you don’t see puppies carrying signs saying that God hates poop.

The larger culture around us has told her that being gay is okay.  Some bigger person somewhere actually came up with that FB quote, and now all of the little middle school kids who need a cause can re-post it and get an ego stroke.  But it truly is the quote of a middle school youth.  There is no thought behind it.  I’ve never seen a dog carrying a sign.  I’ve also never had a stimulating discussion on the finer points of Thomism over tea with a spider monkey.  They don’t have intellect for the conversation or the dexterity to stir sugar tea with a spoon.  They don’t have a free will.  Their memories stem from instinct.

And then there is the whole homophobic thing.  If you can’t win your argument reasonably, just start calling your opponents names.  What makes somebody homophobic?  Is that like people who are afraid of clowns?  I have never seen anybody running down the street pulling their hair out and hollering, “the gay man blew a kiss at me!”  I guess all it takes to be homophobic is to believe in sexual morality.  Now, there is a concept unique to this generation.  All of a sudden, if I stand up in any way for traditional morality as understood in the West for over three thousand years, of a sudden I’m a bigot.

Seriously?

Thats the best you got?

contrary

I used to be accused of being contrary when I was little, the local pronunciation being “con-TRER-re.”  Shouldn’t we all be contrary for Christ?  What would happen if being Catholic was seen as something so counter-cultural, people would make a bee line to the baptistry to get a piece of the action?  I’m not saying we should be contrary for contrary’s sake.  Love should be the impetus.  Infatuated love.  Thirteen year old pimply faced passing love notes in the school hallway love for Jesus.  Because He deserves that of us.

What if we just took that seriously?

It would change the world, again; a world desperately in need of changing.  What if a lot of people who were that in love with Jesus stopped pursuing the shiny American Dream and began, once again, building their lives around the love that saved us.  What if they spent more time with their families than they did at work, and shrugged off the difference in paycheck.  What if they actually made time to pray.  Every day.  Not distracted, gotta get done and get outta here prayer, but contemplative prayer.

Contrary.  I’m for that.