Thursday, May 08, 2003

I normally don't see anything in the newspaper of my diocese that I would blog about but today there is an article on a parish that has had 5 people recently enter religious life. The 3 sisters and 2 future priests all came from St.Patrick's Church in Smithtown which apparently does a good job of encouraging vocations.

"Most vocation research focuses on the individuals, not communities…insufficient attention has been given to the role of parish life in shaping vocations,” reads a CARA study entitled “Findings from a National Survey of Pastors and Recently Ordained Diocesan Priests. According to the CARA study, there are often similar characteristics in parishes
which produce multiple priestly vocations. These characteristics are very similar to descriptions of St. Patrick’s parish.

A parish which has yielded multiple vocations is more likely to possess the following:

• a community environment inclusive of young people.
• multiple priests at the parish who are approachable, dedicated, and have lived a fulfilled life. The parish priests openly invite young people to consider vocations.
• a parish school. (St. Patrick’s has a pre-Kindergarten to eighth-grade school attached to the church.)
• a strong parish prayer life including devotions and adoration."
Dietrich Von Hildebrand was able to escape from the Nazis who hunted him for his anti-Nazi teachings. In The Charitable Anathema he writes:

“The professional avant-gardistes in the Church today never tire of telling us of ‘the Christian faith in the postconciliar epoch’-of the changes called for by the ‘postconciliar spirit.” These vague slogans conceal a tendency to replace the infallible magisterium and unchanging faith of the Church with something else, something ‘new’. I am reminded of the famous program of the German National Socialist Party, which in Paragraph 17 declared that it accepted Christianity insofar as it corresponded to the ‘Nordic ethos.” In that case, too, the divinely-revealed doctrine of the Church was supposed to subordinate itself to an extremely vague and, moreover, purely natural norm."

Wednesday, May 07, 2003


Our parish had two deacons but one recently died and the other had surgery and can only do "modified duty" so to speak. Deacons can be a great help, depending on their orthodoxy of course. I read somewhere that Pope Paul VI's original idea for the restoration of the diaconate was geared toward mission work and that this never happened. Seems like the whole deacon restoration thing is still finding its way, and that we will feel the real impact in a couple of decades. I have also read that a diocese (Seattle?) refused to have permanent deacons until recently. As of 2002, there were 13,764 deacons in the U.S. Here are some more statistics on Deacons worldwide. Here is some official info on deacons from the U.S. Catholic Bishops office.
Wow! The Diocese Report links to a Remnant article by Dr. Thomas Droleskey that lays the smackdown on my diocese. I have heard Dr. Droleskey speak a couple of times and think he is brilliant and a refreshingly honest Catholic. His article gives some more details about Bishop McGann to add to the ones I already knew. I finally found out about what happened to Fr. Robert Mason of Our Lady of Lourdes. I had heard a couple of times about persecution of him but never the details. The article also mentions the priest who recently told seminarians here that he "can't wait for Mother Angelica to die". McGann was truly a horrible bishop and I am so sorry Bishop Murphy named a high school after him. I don't entirely agree that Bishop Murphy has not addressed problems here however. I know of a few good things that have happened and have blogged about them. Dr. Droleskey has taught a college course at the high school I am always pushing on this blog, and I hope this is not the "prominent high school" with the sad teaching that he describes. McGann's damage is still with us, but I have seen several younger priests who give me hope that the tide is turning.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

At each weekend there were small groups of guys, ranging from 5 to about 10. It has been awhile but I would say that most seemed sure of religious calling but were trying to find the right community. The weekends were good overall, but there was little follow through. The Benedictine monastery I visited seemed to be the most able to attract vocations. I don’t recall any real dissenting type stuff, but I really did not know much back then. I remember hearing the phrase “Novus Ordo” for the first time on one weekend retreat. The thing that probably turned away the most vocations was the general attitude of negativity, lack of enthusiasm, and lack of community in some of these groups. I think some of the priests and brothers were afraid to push or to be too aggressive which is probably correct. But, the guys I met on these weekends were looking for guidance and probably would have benefited from a more aggressive approach.
Most of these Vocation Discernment Weekends were ok, none of the above stories made me run from the community screaming. The absolute best weekend, for overall quality, was run by the Society of St. Paul on Staten Island. This group is involved in communications and run Alba House Publishers. The weekend was very busy and we heard presentations from priests, nuns, and lay people. This was not done in any other weekend I went to and I think it should be. The nuns, the Daughters of St. Paul, run Pauline Books and Media and they were fantastic. I almost wished I could have joined their community. They were energetic, funny, positive, evangelical and really seemed to love religious life. I thought it was great to see the male and female communities work together on this weekend, something I never saw anywhere else.
Years ago, before drifting away and then returning to the faith, I felt called to religious life and attended several vocation discernment retreat weekends. Overall, these were very good experiences and I don’t have any horror stories that could make the next Michael S. Rose book. The closest was at a retreat at a Franciscan community, where a man on the retreat spent the whole time talking as if he were some enlightened person who knows better than the Church and would single handedly bring the Church into the next century. The retreat house had a Brady Bunch setup – 2 adjoining rooms had a bathroom in between them so the 2 people in those rooms shared the one bathroom. The enlightened guy was my neighbor and knocked on the door and came into my room in his underwear and proceeded to talk about his friend who was gay and going into the seminary. I talked with him for a short time, kind of yessing him to death, which is my way of ignoring someone, and then went to bed with the door locked. Later the vocation director sent me all kinds of literature explaining work against land mines, human rights in Eastern Europe, etc.. All good and worthy stuff but I could get involved with that as a layman.

Another experience also included another Franciscan community-I liked Franciscan spirituality but learned my vocation was not franciscan. I don’t like animals and I don’t enjoy the idea of complete poverty, I think a community should have money just not the individual. Anyway, this community included a brother who proceeded to get drunk and moan about the good old days. I felt sorry for him, he was a good man but obviously when he joined a community he wanted to live in community. Once the 70’s came, each brother went off to do their own thing, so they did not even get together for Easter. I felt so sorry for him because I knew he was right, community means community. A couple of the brothers lived by themselves and did their own apostolate which does not make sense for Franciscans, who should be big on community.

One vocation director in a non-Franciscan order seemed to have an attitude that said: It’s good that we lose most guys during the formation process, cause most of them are nuts. Even if this was true, why tell a group of prospective candidates this?

More thoughts on religious life/communities:

There are diocesan priests and religious order priests, so why not have this for nuns too? Some nuns might be called to religious life but not necessarily to community life. There should be diocesan nuns who work for and report to the bishop. Like Diocesan priests, these nuns would have more freedom, and work in more individual apostolates. This is already the situation-many nuns do not live or work in community anyway. Of course this would not mean everyone would turn orthodox overnight, but it would make an already existing situation official and perhaps open the door for women who are called to certain apostolates but not religious community.

Monday, May 05, 2003

My positive experience in high school was due to the great community of brothers and priests that ran the school. It seems that they understood some aspects that are important to making a religious community work. They were a real community, one that lived together, worked together, played together, and prayed together. They were truly devoted to Christ and His Church. They put their spiritual study into actual use. The community all focused on education, at the time running 1 high school, by my senior year they started another. When a group of people focus their energy on one thing, the whole is often more than the sum of the parts. They also had a very strong work ethic, combining lots of manual labor with praying, teaching, and socializing. They were just as likely to be seen building a desk or installing carpet as they were tutoring a student in math. Not every community runs schools and teaches but I think the aspects of this community that form its strength are applicable to any other religious community. I see some of the same qualities in the Daughters of St. Paul in their communications apostolate. To the contrary, some of the religious communities in the Church have fallen apart because they lack these same aspects.

Aspects of good religious communities:
Real Community
Real Faith and Devotion
Combine all talents and energy into common work
Mix of manual labor/spiritual life/intellectual and social activities

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Six Degrees of St. Blog’s Part II

In the April 2003 issue of homiletic & pastoral review (which is spelled with no caps), Oswald Sobrino of Catholic Analysis has an article entitled “The fornication culture”. Also, Pete Vere of Envoy Encore co-writes an article on “The Canonical rights of God’s special children”. There is an ad for Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? , a book authored by Carl Olson of Envoy Encore. And finally, there is a book review of An Exorcist: More Stories by Gabriele Amorth. Now he does not have a blog as far as I know, but I bet if he did, it would be mighty interesting.
Just after my posting the VOTF thing, I saw that the Long Island Voice of the Faithful has invited , yes, Fr. Richard McBrien to speak to them. Funny how a group that claims to not want to change Church doctrine would invite a man who has made a career out of teaching people to change Church doctrine. Funny also how a group that claims to want to change the situation in the Church would invite a man that was a favorite of Bishop McGann, the bishop in charge for 20 + years and the one at the center of the pedophile priest scandal in this diocese. One would think that anyone interested in changing the way things were in this diocese would go as far away from Bishop McGann as possible. But then again, this same group supports a priest, Fr. Papa, who was found with child porn site cookies on his computer. VOTF = Voice of the Full of it.
Voice of the Faithful Donation Rejected by Catholic Charities

A $750 donation from Voice of the Faithful was rejected by Catholic Charities. The VOTF made donations to 4 charities totaling a less than whopping $3250 as part of their effort to bypass the Bishop's Annual Appeal. I have never given a dime to the diocese because I realized, way before VOTF was around, that much of the money was not well spent. But, I notice the VOTF (here and elsewhere) always give to politically correct charities and never to some of the necessary but boring causes. Why not donate to the Tribunal? Why not give to a religious education program? Why not donate to a fund that pays for Catholic school teacher's salaries? Can you imagine VOTF giving to Catholics United for the Faith or the Catholic League? It would make sense for them to donate to Roman Catholic Faithful since this group has actually had success in forcing corrupt priests and bishops out. VOTF are claiming to be faithful Catholics but I think if they were able to decide how money is spent and what the Church's priorities would be, we would be left with no Church but plenty of social services. This group sounds like the others such as Call to Action and FutureChurch, a bunch of old, ignorant secular humanists posing as Catholics.
Pope Canonizes Five New Spanish Saints Before Crowd of 1 Million

For a firsthand account of the Pope's Youth Rally yesterday go to the ibidem blog by Jesus Gil