Thursday, October 6, 2005

Feast of St. Bruno

Founder of the Carthusians, patron of the possessed.

I have a good friend who is a Carthusian. We attended college together some years ago and I had lost touch with him after that. Recently I caught up with him after I had mentioned him in a book that I wrote called The Power of the Cross. Turns out he was carrying a cross way back then that I was not aware of at the time.

Now ordained a priest for his order, he told me that after college his life went in a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol and sex--homosexual sex. Now, even after he told me that he was/is a homosexual, I found it hard to believe.

The drugs and alchohol were an attempt to flee from the path he knew that he must trod and in sobriety he set out once more for the house of the Father.

He is a good man, a holy man, a chaste monk. I believe and he believes he is where God wants him to be, in the order that St. Bruno founded. Pray for him today and the many like him who have restless hearts until they rest in God.


  1. Must someone who is gay become a prodigal so that he can repent in order to be accepted?

  2. The point of the prodigal refers to someone who has fallen to the lowest spot with the aid of drugs and alcohol. All people need to repent and sadly most of us regardless of sexual orientation have to reach the state of the prodigal before we "come to our senses."
    When we attend the Eucharist we do not say "I confess that you have sinned," but rather "I confess that I have sinned." Those who wish to point the finger at the sins of a brother or sister without acknowledging their own sin first are not living in reality...those who want to deny sin in their own lives are also living in a fantasy world. My friend thankfully is happy now, he wasn't before.

  3. I don't deny the presence of sin in my life. The worst sins of my life have been credulity, scrupulosity, and despair. The first lead to the other two.

    I figured out I was gay when I was 12 or 13. Being aware that at my school some priests were homophobic and that others were sexually involved with students, I decided to consult the Catholic Encyclopedia for guidance. There, I read that St. John Chrysostom called homosexuals worse than murderers because while murderers sever the soul from the body, homosexuals destroy the soul within the body. I being a naive 13-year-old, believed it. As a result, I couldn't endure being attracted to anyone without becoming severely depressed with the prospect of damning someone I liked or even loved.

    Eventually, I realized that eros can become philos and that philos can become agape.

    I made my separate peace. However, I think chaste thoughts out of love and respect for another, not out of distaste for my sexuality, as the Church would have it.

  4. I think sometime what we today term "sexuality" is what traditonally was referred to as's gifts. The problem in our culture is that identity has been lowered to nothing but sex and not sex as it relates to the propagation of the species but sex as a form of entertainment and pleasure.

    The church does not teach a distaste for the use of sex properly understood. Nor does it have distain for each person's charisms.

    It is the culture that has distain for us as individuals and wants to limit a person in terms of sex alone as though that life were only about that and not the million other aspects that make up our lives.

  5. By sex properly understood, you mean monogamous heterosexuality as a Platonic ideal. If I don't idolize my own sexuality, why would I be interested in idolizing yours?

    Moroever, it takes quite a lot of tortured dialectical reasoning to arrive at the claim that Catholicism supports individuality. Catholicism is a collective ideology.

    Rabbi Hillel wrote:

    If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

    If I am only for myself, what am I?

    If not now, when.

    Can you demonstrate even one quote from a doctor of the Church that gives importance to balancing the individual and the collective?

  6. He's not a Father of the Church yet, but try on John Paul the Great for size in his Theology of the Body... in particular, audiences such as the one held on November 14, 1979.

  7. I would begin even earlier with another Rabbi...St. Paul and his teaching that the Church is the Body of Christ and every individual is an important element of that Body. You can read the Fathers commentaries on this basic teaching of Catholicism to bolster my claim.

    Plato didn't invent heterosexual sex as an ideal, by the way.

    Egoism is a dead end road.

  8. Sexuality is not a charism. Charism, as its root suggests, is a gift of the Holy Spirit given at baptism. Paul lists those charisms in 1 Corinthians 12. Not everyone has the same charisms, but everyone has sexuality. So, sexuality cannot be a charism. You make the mistake that many DRE's make that our "talents" are "charisms". So you have the "charism" of singing and Sally has the "charism" of making banners. That is not what charisms are and neither is sexuality.

  9. Michael wrote:
    >Plato didn't invent heterosexual >sex as an ideal, by the way.

    He did more than that. He invented a particular concept of an ideal, and the Church saw it as a convenient weapon and ran with it. Karl Popper saw Plato as the author of totalitarianism, and compared him to Marx. Certainly, the Church was two millenia ahead of Popper and new a good thing when it saw one.

    >Egoism is a dead end road.

    Narcissism is a sin, even heterosexual narcissism, though the Church panders to it.

  10. I agree that all narcissism is a sin and is recognized as such by the Church.

    We as members of the Church do pander to it as we do a variety of sins. "Wretched man that I am, who will save me? Thanks be to God, Jesus Christ."

    Let us pray for each other.

    To Annonymous: You are wrong to limit the gifts of the Holy Spirit to just seven..."there are many gifts, one Spirit." Read St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians...

  11. The Greek word your translation translates as "many", diaireseis, means "varieties" and not "many." Paul refers there to the charisms he has listed. Read the text in context. He does not multiply charisms, especially in the Corinthian churches where there has been some abuse of his teaching. Read 1 Cor.21:11 carefully: "all these (where the grammatical antecedent of the demonstrative, tauta [these], is the various gifts he just listed) are activated by one and the same Spirit..." Thus the parallelism between "varieties of gifts and the same Spirit" (v. 4) confirms that the only gifts he is talking about are the ones he has listed in this passage.

    Amateur exegesis is dangerous, especially, for an ortho-Catholic. What would Scott Hahn think?

  12. That should have been 1 Cor. 12:11.

  13. The New Jerusalem translates the passage as "many different" and any student of Greek knows their are a multiplicity of meanings to every word...God's Spirit blows where it will (Jesus in John's Gospel...I'm sure there is an issue to take up there as well).

  14. The Jerusalem Bible has fudged the translation in order to have it both ways. Just go to a Greek dictionary and see the range of meanings for the word. Contrary to your opinion its meanings are not unlimited. Furthermore, stick to the the text of Paul and pay attention to the structure and context. The "blowing" of the Spirit where it wills has nothing to do with what Paul calls charisms. They are fixed and definite.

    Exegesis is an art, and you cannot make it up as you go along. There are principles and rule to follow.

  15. Somehow I don't think a person with two graduate degrees in theology who has taught in a graduate school of theology in the past is engaging in "amateur" exegesis.

  16. Apparently this person knows little about the text of the New Testament. One can have all the degrees in Theology in the world and still not be able to exegete a New Testament text. What also matters is where the degrees were done, what languages one is proficient in, and how able a person is. Not all graduate programs are equal. A lot of graduate programs are forced to admit less than qualified students just to survive. As for "teaching" in a graduate program, that also depends on whether one were given a tenure track position or whether one were an adjunct. The area of instruction may differ too. Some people teach "pastoral" theology because of their practical experience rather than their academic expertise.

    So credentials need to be evaluated.

  17. You are choosing to take the most narrow definition, while Michael seems to have chosen the broadest definition.

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    The Greek term charisma denotes any good gift that flows from God's benevolent love (charis) unto man; any Divine grace or favour, ranging from redemption and life eternal to comfort in communing with brethren in the Faith (Rom., v, 15, 16; vi, 23; xi, 29). The term has, however, a narrower meaning: the spiritual graces and qualifications granted to every Christian to perform his task in the Church: "Every one hath his proper gift [charisma] from God; one after this manner, and another after that" (I Cor., vii, 7 etc.). Lastly, in its narrowest sense, charisma is the theological term for denoting extraordinary graces given to individual Christians for the good of others. These, or most of these, are enumerated by St. Paul (I Cor., xii, 4, 9, 28, 30, 31), and form the subject-matter of the present article. They are: "The word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the grace of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues, interpretation of speeches" (I Cor., xii, 8-10). To these are added the charismata of apostles, prophets, doctors, helps, governments (ibid., 28).

    These extraordinary gifts were foretold by the Prophet Joel (ii, 28) and promised to believers by Christ: "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues," etc. (Mark, xvi, 17, 18). The Lord's promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts, ii, 4) at Jerusalem, and, as the Church spread, in Samaria (Acts, viii, 18), in Caesarea (x, 46), in Ephesus (xix, 6), in Rome (Rom., xii, 6), in Galatia (Gal., iii, 5), and more markedly in Corinth (I Cor., xii, 14). The abuses of the charismata, which had crept in at this latter place, induced St. Paul to discuss them at length in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. The Apostle teaches that these "spiritual things" emanate from the Spirit who quickens the body of the Church; that their functions are as diversified as the functions of the natural body; and that, though given to individuals, they are intended for the edification of the whole community (I Cor., xii).

  18. Unfortunately the Scripture scholar "Annonymous" also cast doubt on the theological credentials of Pope John Paul II who said on June 24, 1992:

    "St. Paul describes the variety and diversity of the charisms, which must be attributed to the work of the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:4).

    Each of us receives from God many gifts which are appropriate for us personally and for our mission. Because of this diversity, no individual way of holiness or mission is ever identical to the others. The Holy Spirit shows respect for each person and wants to foster in each one an original development of the spiritual life and the giving of witness."

  19. Well John Paul II didn't get it either. His encyclicals demonstrate a shallow understanding of scripture; he basically uses it for proof-texting, so I wouldn't appeal to him in this case.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia confuses later theological distortion of Paul with what he actually said, which is the point of my argument.

    To return to the first point that started the thread, any way you slice it, sexuality is not a charism, it is a given of nature. It does not come to the human by special grace of God. Even the definition from the Catholic Encyclopedia would agree with that. Sexuality simply does not qualify as a charism, by any stretch of the word.

    You neocons are always railing against liberals for theological innovation. Do you have a double standard?

  20. Amazing discussion.

    You misunderstood my remark about sexuality. I wasn't saying sex is a charism, I was saying that modern people make everything about sex rather than realizing the gifts and talents people have isn't the same as their sexuality, something the original commenter was lumping all together in my opinion.

    I would still take issue with your so-called scholarly interpretation that everyone else seems to miss. The context of Paul's letter talks about "many different gifts, one spirit" followed by "many parts, one body"...the context of the juxtaposition of the Spirit and the Body of Christ clearly are playing off of each other therefore the reason no doubt that the NJB chose to place "many" in thier translation.

  21. Respectfully, let me say that the argument about the body adds a different dimension to the chapter. There in v. 12, Paul does use the word many "polla". He is not equating the "many" body parts, however, with diaireseis in vv. 4, 5, 6, the "varieties" of gifts. He does not use the parts of the body as an example of the charisms, which is why when he comes to the end of the chapter he returns to the eight gifts articulated in vv. 4-10. He is simply saying that, by analogy, as the body has need of different members so also does the body of Christ have need for all of the listed charisms. One cannot select from among them, for they are, as a whole, given for the building up of the church. All of them are needed. The body is a metaphor for organic unity and interdependence, not for a multiplicity of charisms. He uses the metaphor analogously, which means it is not an allegory with isometric correspondence of its elements.

    Remember the problem he is addressing is that some people claimed that they were more important than others, and they may have appealed to spirtitual phenomena to do it. He enumerates the various charisms to defuse the notion that one kind of gift is more important than another. A similar phenomenon happened among Christians in the charismatic movement, where some gave the impression to others that if you did not speak in tongues you were a nobody in the Church. So, in the end, Paul says the body of Christ needs all of those people represented in 12:28-30.

    It is an amazing discussion, thanks for hosting it.

  22. Michael,
    Your use of the term "charism" is a dodge. You'd never characterize heterosexual romantic love merely as sex. It's unfair to characterize same-sex romantic love as such. Nevertheless, this is precisely what the Church has done by calling the capability "intrinsically disordered." It's not merely dishonest; it's Orwellian.

    Moreover, the very desire of same sex couples to look after one another is precisely what the Church attacks by opposing every aspect of domestic partnership for these couples, including critical/intensive care visitation priveleges, and equal access to insurance.

    Given my medical history, which includes three different cancers, it's extremely likely that some time in the future, I'll find myself in a hospital in a state in which I'm unlikely to survive without the 24/7 supervision of a family member or partner. I've already been in that situation twice, and my mother, who shares my genetic propensity to cancer, was in that very situation 2 months ago.
    I had to watch her around the clock because she had a psychotic reaction to morphine and became a danger to herself.

    My parents are in their seventies. At this point there is no way that they can ever be expected to look after me. When I am in that condition again, I will need a partner to look after me and I can and want to provide the same protection for HIM.

    No amount of mealy-mouthed bullshit theology will gloss over the fact that where it is successfull, the blanked opposition to all forms of domestic partnership, written under the auspices of the current pope, will MURDER people like me.

  23. The current pope did not create the laws that exist and there are states you could live in within the United States where domestic partnerships are recognized. The pope's choice for head of the CDF argued in favor of such a position in San Francisco, so you are either misinformed about this pope or just anti-Catholic, hurling invectives against the church as though it were responsible for the fraility of humanity. This is a vale of tears and it is why all of us sinners desparately need the hope that belief in Jesus offers us. We are all dying, I pray that the Lord will raise us all in the last day.

  24. Cardinal Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1992. In that year a position paper entitled "Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons" was sent to the American epsicopate.

    The document seems to be about civil rights, but quickly evolves into a position paper on how to justify discrimination. The paragraph that supports my remarks is
    15. Since in assessing proposed legislation uppermost concern should be given to the responsibility to defend and promote family life (cf. no. 17), most careful attention should be paid to the single provisions of proposed measures. How would they affect adoption or foster care? Would they protect
    homosexual acts, public or private? Do they confer equivalent family status on homosexual unions, for example, in respect to public housing or by entitling the homosexual partner to the privileges of employment which might include ``family'' participation in the health benefits given to employees.

    The mandate of equal access to health insurance is sufficient reason, according to Cardinal Ratzinger to vote against a piece of legislation.

    We may all die, but that doesn't excuse your church for murdering some of us.

  25. Dear radiofreerome,

    I'm not sure how you believing you will die without a homosexual partner to look after you creates a moral law, or makes the Church a murderer.

    Our desires do not define the truth. We come to know the truth, and then offer our desires to God so that He may order them rightly. In may appear to bring death (and in fact it is a death to self), but it brings everlasting life, for the truth sets us free. And we will only experience more life by walking in more truth.


  26. Adrian,
    By the way, I gave up sex in 1984, when the cause if AIDS was found and I predicted an exponential growth in infection because of the long latency period of HIV.

    So barring and uncurable recurrence of cancer, this sodomite will be around for a few years yet.

  27. Dear radiofreerome,

    I don't find conformity of itself to be bad. Rather, it is what I conform to that determines good or bad. When I conform to the traffic laws of my state, I don't find myself acting badly. You are right to say that the Church values conformism, but conformism is good if it is to the truth, and when we conform to the truth, we do not become less ourselves, but more ourselves, more of who we were meant to be.

    I still fail to see how you believing that you will die without a homosexual partner to look after you makes the Church's teaching on homosexuality murderous/suicidal. Does your experience/expectation determine what is true? And if someone else's experience/expectation is different, does the truth become something different?

    I'm not sure, but it sounds like you may not believe in a knowable objective truth. Our discussion would need to lay foundation there, else the rest becomes moot.

    Your servant,

  28. Adrian,
    I don't believe in what the Church claims is objective truth. I do believe in ojbective truth; I know that Catholic Natural Law is false because it is based on flawed logic.
    It posits a single ideal in all cases, then tries to find the ideal. That's not legitimate in formal logic. One must first prove existence, then unicity, then the properties of the solution.

    Ex falsum quodlibet.

  29. Dear radiofreerome,

    Since you believe in objective truth, I would guess that you believe that homosexuality is not objectively wrong. I believe that homosexuality is objectively wrong, and give a couple of reasons below:

    --When I consider the human anatomy, I observe that the sexual organs of male and female are naturally complementary: one fuses with another. This natural complementarity is not followed in the homosexual act.

    --In my observations of nature, I see that the animals and plants each produce after their own kind, the oak tree after the oak tree, and humans after humans. The homosexual act is not capable of transmitting human life, contradicting this natural order.

    I would like to know a copule of the reasons why you believe homosexuality is not wrong.

    Your servant,

  30. Adrian,

    Nothing in nature has a single purpose. I reject the notion of Intelligent Design.

    I'll not take up Michael's weblog with such drivel.

    Michael, I consider your responses inane, but I do apologize for taking up so much of your bandwidth.

    Have a nice weekend.

  31. Dear radiofreerome,

    I have not said that things in nature have only a single purpose. Nor have I made any claim about Intelligent Design (I'm actually not too sure what Intelligent Design is, aside from having seen it used as an alternative proposition to the Big Bang/Evolution).

    Nor do I consider our attempt to understand each other as drivel.

    What I have observed is that you "reject" this, "don't believe" that, and consider other's responses "inane", but that you have failed to give reasons for what you do believe. If you are concerned for Michael's bandwidth (which is most likely free given that it is hosted on Blogger), I would be happy to correspond by e-mail-just let me know.

    But I must re-emphasize, do not come to tear down if you do not wish to build up.

    I remain...

    Your servant,


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