Sunday, March 31, 2002

Easter Sunday mass was very unique. The priest, visiting made up every prayer from the sign of the cross to the final blessing. His homily was even stranger--he requested that we all repeat after him "Resurrection Rollback" and then he told a story of a young altar server hugging the pastor and himself without a word as a surprise from Jesus. Folks, you can't make this stuff up!



After that it was a journey across Ohio, upper West Virginia and halfway across Pennsylvania to Harrisburgh where we reside for the evening.

Saturday, March 30, 2002

Wishing everyone a Blessed and Holy Easter!
This is a nice site, that details various customs for this day, Holy Saturday



Holy Saturday (in Latin, Sabbatum Sanctum ), the 'day of the entombed Christ,' is the Lord's day of rest, for on that day Christ's body lay in His tomb. We recall the Apostle's Creed which says "He descended unto the dead." It is a day of suspense between two worlds, that of darkness, sin and death, and that of the Resurrection and the restoration of the Light of the World. For this reason no divine services are held until the Easter Vigil at night. This day between Good Friday and Easter Day makes present to us the end of one world and the complete newness of the era of salvation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.





It'll be a day of preparation for us as we prepare to set out on a journey to New Jersey tomorrow.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Fr. Richard Neuhaus, in First Things provides a defense of Fr. Marcial the founder of the Legionaires of Christ (see below), in the March 2002 issue of First Things: The Public Square:



So what is a person who does not share their prejudices and purposes to believe? I can only say why, after a scrupulous examination of the claims and counterclaims, I have arrived at moral certainty that the charges are false and malicious. I cannot know with cognitive certainty what did or did not happen forty, fifty, or sixty years ago. No means are available to reach legal certainty (beyond a reasonable doubt). Moral certainty, on the other hand, is achieved by considering the evidence in light of the Eighth Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” On that basis, I believe the charges against Fr. Maciel and the Legion are false and malicious and should be given no credence whatsoever.



That being said, I would disagree with some of Fr. Neuhaus' reasoning.



I met Fr. Bruce Ritter once some years ago and I was very impressed with him. I spent a weekend with him, he never made any moves toward me that were inappropriate and we shared some moments watching news coverage of the Pope's visit to Nicaragua. Ritter's work was praised by President Ronald Reagan at the time and his Covenant House ministry spread throughout the country. But, sadly when tales started coming out about Fr. Ritter's inappropriate sexual activity, very few came to his defense. Human beings fail and they fall, whether they are conservative or liberal.



On Good Friday it seems redundant to have to bring this up. When the Son of God was arrested--all of the Apostles fled Jesus. In Mark's Gospel the point is driven home by telling us that one young man even left his clothes behind to get away from Jesus. When he called them, they left everything to follow him, now at the moment of decision they leave everything to get away from him.



If we make excuses for some priests who fall, then we are unjust. If we make our judgements based on idealogy and who agrees with us versus who doesn't than we are indeed libelous.



Our Lord counseled against judging and I believe wholeheartedly that this is the most ignored command of Jesus--I know personally it is a sin that I have confesses regularly throughout my life and made little progress allowing the Holy Spirit to convert me from, but he also counseled the Church to remove those who harm the "little ones", St. Paul in Corinthians counseled them to remove the man living in an incestous relationship from their midst. The Church has a duty to excomunicate those who pervert the Gospel for selfish means--whether they are conservative or liberal.



It is hard to know the truth when faced with two people, one accusing and the other claiming it didn't happen. In fact in Jewish law at least two witnesses were needed to condemn anyone. That didn't stop the evil elders from conspiring against Susanna when she would not give into their attempts to seduce her so there is good reason to doubt even two witnesses. But when a number of people come forward all claiming the same thing one has to wonder.



Utimately, God is the judge and ultimately God sees that justice is done no matter what I or anyone else thinks--the truth is the truth.
Holy Week gives us the unique oportunity once a year to join the crowds on Palm Sunday lauding Jesus as he enters into Jerusalem only to join the same mob on Good Friday yelling "crucify him." It is our sinful behavior that puts the Son of God on the cross, but it is in his mercy he forgives us largely because in choosing sin we show our ignorance.



Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem before entering it, "if only you knew what made for peace," words that haunt us, each time we choose something other than God and make the fatal mistake of looking for something other than God to save us.



May this Good Friday, give us pause to reflect that God alone can save us and that all of our causes and crusades will fail if they are not of His will.



Several people wrote me yesterday wondering if "conservatives" could be guilty of these crimes or guilty of homosexual activity. I suppose the answer is a nuanced one in that only someone who pretends to be conservative (meaning person of prayer, faithful to the Magisterium and Christ). There is a Latin phrase, pia fraus, meaning "pious fraud" for such people and they have always been around and continue to do their damage. And of course anyone can fall.



There are numerous examples of pious frauds. Brother Gino, later Father Gino in Italy at one time was thought to be the next Padre Pio. But unlike the soon to be saint Brother Gino was a fraud who faked his stigmata, scent of holiness and molested Children. You can read more about him here.



The founder of the Legionaires of Christ has had a number of former members claim that he abused them. The Vatican has been unwilliing to remove him, largely it seems because they feel the good that the Legionaires are doing merits it (but I for the life of me cannot reconcile this lack of action). You can read about the charges against the founder here.



Most recently in this country there has been a case in the Diocese of Scranton and two priests from the Society of St. John. You can read about it here.



Last night at Mass, the priest repeated words that I have heard a number of bishops use over the past few days, "this is a time of purification." Let us hope it will be a time of truth also.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

I received an email from someone claiming to be Michael S. Rose, the author of Goodbye, Good Men (see below). He didn't like my review of his book, which I can understand on some levels, but if I wasn't clear about one thing. let me state it here--it is a good book and one that should be read by every Catholic. My disagreement with him is his contention (I presume) that this is just a liberal problem.



Now when it comes to Ugly as SIn (his Sophia book), I would agree with him that liberal Catholicism builds ugly Churches and destroys beautiful ones.
Since a few people have complained about the pulsating blogger, I have changed templates again. I'm not sure why some people were having problems--there was no problem on my screen.
Eve Tushnet linked to my reflections on the Passion in Matthew's Gospel (see below March 26th). She refers to me as Mr. Amy Welborn, which is a first. Her site is very interesting, pay her a visit.
I read Amy's review copy of Goodbye, Good Men by Michael S. Rose (who has also authored a very good book that looks at Church architecture and what is wrong with it published by Sophia called Ugly as Sin).



First, I'm in a unique position when it comes to the subject of the book. I have both been a seminarian (in two different seminaries-one a college, the other a theologate) and a faculty member. As a faculty member, I also served as a formation director as well as a spiritual director.



With that as a backdrop, I would rate rate the book differently on several levels. It is very good when it comes to portraying the "gay subculture" that exist in Catholic seminaries, but a little weak when it comes to the point of who to blame.



There were some parts that even shocked me and there were other parts when I found myself somewhat shocked at the choice of a particular source who happens to be an incredibly effeminate priest (who himself had been kicked out a number of seminaries, supposedly for his conservativism, which is almost never the case in reality but often the "safe" excuse to tell everyone). I have learned from years of being around such individuals that truly spiritual people do exist in seminaries who are models of sanctity--but are hardly ever the "daughters of Trent", (a term that Rose acknowledges for those who wear cassocks and are conservative in seminaries but never delves any further as to why this term is used other than to mention it--since this obviously does not fit his agenda), who essentially are just the conservative flip side of the gay coin, and may be even more evil then their liberal counterparts (because at least you know where the others are coming from).



And that in a nutshell was my problem with the book. It is too much good bishop--bad bishop...conservative...liberal..., etc. The truth of this is that I have witnessed conservatives who act out sexually as well as liberals. For example, one of the bishops that Rose holds in high esteem has attracted more than his share of the "daughters of Trent" to his diocese and therefore has enjoyed a plethora of vocations who no doubt we will soon be reading about (in fact one recently made the news for dealing drugs out of the rectory).



Rose's central theme is that seminaries are a mess and themselves largely responsible for the lack of priests being ordained. Faculties are corrupt, (I would argue with this, but then again the Rector of the seminary I taught at is now defrocked after having a litany of charges of inappropriate contact with students brought against him some years ago. I also must add, that when I left the school, I was replaced by a faculty member who lived off campus with another man in a house that had mirrors on the walls and ceilings). So let's say that I would only offer that there are good and bad in the mess.



I would also add that in seven years as a student and two years as a faculty member I never witnessed anyone being thrown out of a seminary because they were too "rigid." I know of students who used this as their "reason" but in fact the reasons were often far worst, for example: a student was kicked out from the college seminary when he was caught having sex with a cow in a nearby farmyard--the farmer said he wouldn't press charges if the guy was kicked out, another student liked to masturbate in front of younger students (he was kicked out for this and then ordained by a "conservative" bishop)--there are a number of cases similar to this that I remember well--where someone was caught in the act with another student and kicked out, only to be later ordained by another bishop who bought the "I was kicked out because I was conservative," or far worst knew of the charge but considered it a sin (which it was--but one that was intrinsically evil and although forgiven had a lot of temporal effects to be dealt with in Purgatory--preferably not from a Church rectory).



I remember well a student in the college seminary, that I attended, who was very conservative--wore a cassock (in a place where most were clad in shorts and t-shirts), prayed the office in Latin and declared unfailing loyalty--that bordered on worship to the Holy Father. He received questions on his evaluation about "openness", but never was threatened with expulsion. He graduated and went on to a more conservative seminary and then was ordained. He lasted two years, before he left and began openly living with his male lover.



There is a big problem in seminaries and it is a homosexual problem but it is simplistic to think that it will be solved by having everyone clad in cassocks. Wearing something that resembles a dress is hardly the way to solve this problem.



Rose is right that prayer and orthodox teaching is necessary as well as not bending to every politically correct philosophy to come down the road, but these are no guarantee that deviant sexual practitioners will cease seeking out the priesthood. He is also right that extensive psychotherapy is not the answer either. In fact if someone is in need of therapy, they should be excluded from the seminary to begin with. Rose is right to condemn all of the sexual programs that under the guise to educate in fact seem more likely to titilate and lead to the spread of immoral behavior.



Some years ago, I wrote a piece that appeared in The Priest magazine, about a seminarian who had found a used condom in the seminary shower and wondered what it could mean. The unmistakable conclusion was that some semiarians were having sex in the shower and flippantly were leaving the evidence of the act behind.



I wrote that at that time the Pope had urged that greater screening for sexual problems be used to exclude problems from the seminaries. I concluded at that time that if the Bishops in the United States took that seriously that their would be very few men in the seminary, but at least the ones that were there would in fact be chaste and celibates.



Rose's book is the tale of someone from the outside looking in. The clerical culture does not allow outsiders (lay people) into their world, so necessarily Rose's tale is one of clerics on the fringe, and students who have left or been kicked out. The tale he weaves is sensational and not far from the truth. But the truth may in fact be far worst than any of us is willing or capable of believing. But whatever it is, it is greater than idealogy and we will make a great mistake if we believe that the conservatives have no problem in this regard and that it is just a liberal problem. It is a human problem, it is a problem of discipline, it is a problem of willfully ignoring a problem that has existed.



I witnessed both conservative and liberal priests fall, not only with regard to sexuality but with regard to prayer. I have seen conservative priests who resemble Jesus no more than the Pharisees did and liberals who do not even car to resemble him but seem terribly intent on mirroring some pagan deity.



What I crave are priests and bishops who are humble--not arrogant. I don't think humble priests or bishops commit these acts of indecency--it is the arrogant ones (liberals and conservatives) who do. Humble clergy will admit the sins that have and continue to be committed behind the sacred walls of seminaries. They will humbly acknowledge the mistakes and sins of the past and make restitution. They will turn to Jesus and follow his example. If they themselves are the cause of scandal they will resign. If their seminaries are filled with bad faculty and students they will ask them to leave.



The indelible mark placed on the soul of the priests is no reason to excuse their acts. Priests who leave to marry are not taken care of by dioceses in perpetuity (in fact they are seldom taken care of at all)--why should priests who cause the diocese to lose millions of dollars? Are other employees of the Church afforded this luxury? No.



Today is Holy Thursday. Tonight, we will hear the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. One will protest arrogantly that he will not allow this--he will deny knowing Jesus a few hours later. Another who also is recorded as speaking out against Jesus when a woman washed Jesus' feet with precious oil--will also now step forward in betrayal. One apostle will repent unto Jesus and become the first Pope, the other apostle will repent unto himself and commit suicide.



The question that Rose's book leaves unanswered is which Apostle will the bishops of this country model themselves after? In their arrogance they have all been complicit in allowing corruption and abuse to reign, will they repent and if so to whom?



What happens to the Church is in the hands of God, it will continue in spite of their answer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

For those of you who have nothing to worry about...



He predicted the Sept. 11 attacks, and now Islam expert Dr. Robert Morey warns there are three small nuclear devices within the U.S. on standby for more terror, according to Assist News Service (ANS).



The story posted on World Net Daily says that Dr. Morey told the FBI that his sources said a nuclear device was brought into the US through Niagara Falls several years ago.



CNN reports the Bush administration received information last October outlining a plot to smuggle a stolen Russian nuclear weapon into the United States, most likely New York City. The intelligence was deemed "not to be credible" after a polygraph test determined the informant was "bogus," one official told CNN. The perceived threat was one reason the president activated a shadow government, assigning about 100 senior officials to "bunker duty" to keep the government running in the event of a catastrophic attack.



Perhaps this is what we should meditate upon during this Holy Week as we recount Our Lord's passion, death and resurrection...our need for a savior to rescue us from death. Let us pray for each other that God will protect us and save us!
Evidently the Carpocrates were relativists too. Here is what St. Irenaeus wrote about them:



So unbridled is their madness, that they declare they have in their power all things which are irreligious and impious, and are at liberty to practise them; for they maintain that things are evil or good, simply in virtue of human opinion.
The book I worked on with Father Benedict Groeschel and Father Andrew Apostoli is doing very well. Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen is available from either Amazon or Barnes and Nolbe online.
While reading a commentary on the Passion narrative in the Gospel of Mark (C.S. Mann's Anchor Bible) last night, I came across an article, (pages 423-426), contained within the commentary that I found quite interesting. It dealt with a document that was discovered in the late 1800's that was attributed to Clement of Alexandria. It doesn't seem that anyone questions the veracity of the document but it does raise questions about a so called more "spiritual gospel"of Mark that supposedly existed in the early Church.

The subject of Clement of Alexandria's letter is that a certian group of gnostic heretics called the Carpocrates had perverted the text of this "spiritual gospel" in order to justify their behavior...which essentially justified homosexual encounters with young men, (this is in the second century!)

Of course, Clement of Alexandria condemns them and history records the gnostics as a heretical version of Christianity.

What struck me about this article of course was the relevance of this account to the daily revelations of clerical abuse. If you listen to the victims of these cases you find that the usual scenario is some perversion of the gospel or the church's teaching that justifies the abuse.

If the church is really serious about "purifying" itself of these priests it will begin by declaring them as heretics and excomunicating them. There is a long history of this and it seems this is where the Vatican should step in this case.

I believe it was St. Augustine who declared that, "every heresy comes from the altar," meaning the "clergy." At one time a third of the bishops were heretics (Arians), it could be today that a third of the clergy are Carpocrates. If so, they should be removed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Listening to the passion on Palm Sunday has always been very inspiring for me, but sadly because it is so long priests seldom have time to preach and bring out all of the nuances of perhaps the climax of the Gospel. Here are a few points from Matthew's passion that we heard on Sunday that you may not know...which give one a slightly different picture.



1) Judas' kiss of betrayal

The word used for "kiss" is kata philien which literally means to "shower with love", in this case it leads one to the conclusion that Matthew is recording that Judas didn't just offer Jesus a kiss on the cheek--the way it is often portrayed but literally showered him with kisses. In my mind this makes the whole event much more sickening and disturbing.



2) Peter's accent and Jesus'

Both when Peter is accused of being a follower of Jesus, because his "accent" gives him away and Jesus being misunderstood when he cries out "Eli, Eli" point to the fact that Galileans were notoriously bad speakers of Aramaic. They were often misunderstood because of the way they mis-spoke the Jewish language. Geza Vermes in his book points out a number of places where Jesus spoke Aramaic rather poorly. This gives us an insight into the incarnation, God taking on, as St. Paul says the "form of a slave", lowering himself. It also points to the marvel that often God works through those who others consider ignorant....Solanus Casey was not allowed to hear confessions or preach doctrinal sermons but people traveled for thousands of miles to receive his counsel. "God's way are not ours."



3) Judas' repentance

Some can listen to the repentance of Judas, "he regretted what he had done" and wonder why he was not forgiven (at least in the Gospel). The word used for Judas' regret is metanoia "repent", but the difference between Judas and Peter is that Judas repented unto himself. He turned his regret toward himself. This is probably why he committed suicide. We should regret all of our evil acts but we should never punish ourselves but turn to God and pray for forgiveness and healing. Sadly, too many people imitate Judas when it comes to their sins, turning their regret inward and slowly killing themselves versus realizing that God has created them for a purpose and it is only by turning to God that we can truly be forgiven and do what he wants us to.



4) The High Priest tearing his garment

When Jesus is accused of blaspheming by the High Priest, the high priest rends his garments. Any God fearing Jew hearing this part of the Gospel would gasp in horror realizing that the High Priest was blaspheming."The priest who is chief among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil is poured, and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose, nor rend his clothes," (Leviticus 21:10).



5) His Blood be on us and our children

This is the passage of the passion that has often been used to justify anti-semitic behavior but sadly this misses the whole point. As in Genesis when Joseph tells his brothers that what they did to him they meant for evil but God meant it for good, so too here we have a passage where the people uttering the words intend one thing but God intends another.

Jesus had declared on the night before he died that his blood what the blood of the new covenant. The Jews who asked to have this blood placed upon their heads and on their children's heads were invoking salvation, albeit unwittingly, mirroring the ratification of the "old" covenant of Sinai where after Moses read the law he sprinkled blood on the people's heads.

Again, what we can learn from this is that God is guiding the world in spite of our evil deeds and refussal to turn to him. God desires our salvation to the point that even when he stands before us and we reject him he finds a way to turn our evil intention into the key to unlock the gates of salvation for us.

I'm still in the office pool, having Maryland.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

This is just plain evil. From the Boston Globe today: Thomas Blanchette, another man who alleges that Birmingham molested him in the 1960s, said he approached Law at Birmingham's funeral in 1989 and told him about the abuse. Blanchette said Law silently prayed for him, but then instructed him to keep the information secret.

''He laid his hands on my head for two or three minutes,'' Blanchette, who said his four brothers were also molested by Birmingham, said of Law. ''And then he said this: `I bind you by the power of the confessional never to speak about this to anyone else.' And that just burned me big-time. ... I didn't ask him to hear my confession. I went there to inform him.''

Saturday, March 23, 2002

I'm still in the office pool with Maryland.

Friday, March 22, 2002

In the summer of 1992, I was making a retreat at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky. On the fourth day of the retreat, in the evening, I received frantic news from a friend, a priest, who managed to get ahold of me in my seclusion. "I'm leaving," he said.

The news caught me totally by surprise.

Walking out of the guest house, I walked up the hill to where a statue of St. Joseph overlooked the monastery and the surrounding valley. Somewhat stunned, I looked up at the statue and realizing that it was St. Joseph spoke to him--the guardian and protector of the Church, "You are not doing a very good job of taking care of your church, St. Joseph," I said.

A voice, very discernible answered my snide statement, "I am, I am calling my son out of Egypt."

That night, I accepted those words for my friend, but over the next couple of years I came to realize that the words I heard that night in the summer breeze were intended not for my friend but for me.
Working on a major revision of this site!

Thursday, March 21, 2002

On Monday evening, I had a very pleasant visit with the Carmelites of Indianapolis. This is there site.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
It is snowing here this morning. If you go to my homepage and click on the weather link, you'll find that it also snowed here one year ago today.



Joseph, is now standing on his own without the help of a table or chair nearby. He also is managing to walk great distances and to turn corners. Which means that he is able to "get into" just about everything now.
The retreat went well yesterday. We had around 20 participants. The time moved very quickly and everyone had high praise as they were leaving.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Well technically my team won, but it wasn't the team I usually follow. I went to school at Creighton University in Omaha and have a Masters Degree from that University, but Florida is the team I was hoping would win.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

I am giving a retreat this weekend, along with two other gentlemen in the parish. So far the paid retreatants number 15, not bad as these kind of things go...
Warm here today, but the weather people say snow is a possibility tomorrow night...

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Stand up to read this!One of the scolling headlines on CNN that I observed during lunch today was about a fan of the Florida Gator's being removed from the football practice because they refused to stand. Evidently, this is one of coach Ron Zook's new rules.

My mother had told me the other day, that people were told beforehand that they could not bring lawn chairs and that they would be required to stand throughout. Aparently, someone decided to test the resolve of this new rule and got the boot. I see a law suit coming and the "no stand" rule changing in the next few days.

Monday, March 11, 2002

The Florida Gators will play my alma mater Crieghton University in the first round of the NCAA Basketball tournament. So who am I for? Well, I will only say in the office pool, I've picked Florida to lose to Duke in the championship game (although in the Kinko's challenge on CBS Sportsline, I picked Florida to beat Duke). I know it's a longshot, but Florida probably won't be playing any SEC teams until the final 8, and then they'll be playing them on neutral ground. If you look at Florida playing teams outside of the SEC they were the number 2 team in the country, so why not?



Here is the story on the game as it appears in the Omaha World Herald Bluejays get Gators

Sunday, March 10, 2002

It is selection Sunday, so in a few hours teams will be crying about where they are seeded. I'm already--ready to be mad if Florida gets sent out West or if they are seeded lower than a 4 seed.

Friday, March 8, 2002

mdubruiel.jpgMy new book Praying in the Presence of Our Lord with Fulton J. Sheen is now available, hot of the presses. You can buy a copy at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com .

Thursday, March 7, 2002

I've posted a list of places, I'll be appearing this year. I hope to add some radio spots in the near future and perhaps a few book signings.
I am currently reading The Angels and Their Mission by Cardinal Danielou. It is good, I finished reading Prayer: The Mission of the Church about a week ago--it was an excellent book on prayer.
Thankfully, I have found out that I do not need to have sample pages of my September book in until next Thursday. On the flip side, that means I'll be tempted to procrastinate even more!

Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Pope John Paul II wrote a message at the end of my Preface in Latin Sayings for Spiritual Growth. I've posted a picture of what he wrote in the book on my web site here
Thankfully, there are some sane people still around who vote.Condit Loses Primary in California (washingtonpost.com)

Monday, March 4, 2002

If I thought it was cold the other day, it was nothing compared to this morning when we awoke to 5 degree temperatures. The windows are heavy with frost but the sun is shining!

Saturday, March 2, 2002

I've wasted most of the day, trying to freshen up my web site. Only accomplished a little though. You can check out the fruits of my labor here.