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Sunday 1 December 2013

Catholic Disconnection

When I was very young, The Red Balloon was one of my favourite movies. In this classic film, a child has no friends but a balloon. When the "thug" kids in the neighborhood become jealous and destroy the red balloon, the balloons of the city come and take the boy away.

The story is poignant at many levels.

One of the main characteristics of an adult is the ability to face reality and hardships without running away.

In common parlance, the "fight or flight" syndrome is a real issue of people under stress. Physical symptoms can be attached.

But, a recent study in the United States indicated that up to 60% of Americans have an addictive personality, which means that flight can be a running into drugs, television, computer games, compulsive lying, alcohol, excessive shopping, even promiscuity and pornography. All of these addictions can result in negativity, as one is never satisfied with the object of the addiction, be it television or drugs. This negativity becomes a habit, and destroys faith, hope and love.

What has escapism to do with the lack of holiness?

The person who is trying to pursue holiness must be grounded in reality.

The problem with so many Catholics is that they have lost the ability to live in the present moment, which is the only moment in which we meet God.

Escapism, or running after other things, which become idols, take people away from God and substitute the things for His love.

Sometimes fear or anxieties push people into addictive behavior. And, much of it is condoned by the public.

I know, for example, one young person who saw three movies with friends over the Thanksgiving break.

This may be considered normal by some but indicates an emotional reliance on passive entertainment.

I know a family which watches television six or seven hours a day. This reveals to me an addiction, an escape.

Perhaps these people are escaping loneliness, or truth in their lives.

According to studies, people who watch more than four hours of television a day have a television addiction which keeps them from socializing with others and being involved in meaningful activities.

All of these addictions take a person away from God. But, our entire culture in America does not see the spiritual dangers of such behavior. In this culture where noise and entertainment fill up hours of the day and night, the times for reflection and prayer are wasted away.

In addition, as noted on this blog not too long ago, the passive capacity for contemplative prayer is ruined, as the brain function created by God is filled with nonsense.

Holiness cannot be found in escapism. Holiness is rooted in who we are interacting with other people and being involved in activities which feed the soul.

Starting in the early 2000s, I used an book called Bowling Alone in some of my classes. The author, Robert Putnam, showed, in extensive research, that America had changed from community-minded, socially localized groupings of people to a harsh world of individualism, loneliness, and the breakdown of relationships. Some of the results of these breakdowns of normal human activity was the falling away of communal, physical entertainment and the falling off of volunteerism. But, the family was also infected with gross individualism.

The effects of the decay of the community, and the family, which is the unit of community, has many causes.

But, for the sake of this short article, how Catholics are affected is my concern.

The call to Catholicism is one of community. The call to Christ brings one into the community of the Church. A person becomes a brother, a sister, in Christ.

I see a hardening of hearts across both America and Europe which interferes with the family relationships which should be seen in the Church. 

For example, my diocese has had no Catholic Charities for years.

Several friends of mine who are very poor cannot find help for severe financing difficulties and no one in their parishes help them. I know of a family with a person with mental problems who has been ostracized by the family and by the Church community because of the difficulties.

Escapism allows people to ignore and turn away from suffering. Escapism creates false worlds of stupor and unreality.

Without God as the center of our lives, escapism becomes the route to solving the questions of suffering and pain.

The Denial of Peter is in the Gospels for a reason. God wanted us to see a person who tried to escape pain and suffering by lying, by deceit. That Peter repented and came to know the love and forgiveness of God is a direct result of his faith in Christ. He stopped running away twice. Quo Vadis, Petrus?

Can we help those who are escaping stop and see that Christ loves them?

Sadly, many of those who are running away do not want to hear the Gospel, the Good News.

Salvation is not merely for the afterlife, it is for now. God wants us whole and healed. The Church needs strong, healthy, holy people

As long as Catholics run away from pain, from quiet, from reflection, they will not be able to see God and become holy.

Of all the problems of the Western World which have caused the demise of the family and the apostasy of the laity and the clergy, escapism may be the biggest problem.

A disconnection with reality, with one's own soul, with the souls of others are states which are destroying our country. Those who are disconnected are now running the show. Narcissism is a form of disconnection.

Those who are disconnected have voted in the disconnected....

God is in the details of our daily lives. Do not run away.

To run away from life is to run away from God.

I am seriously considering giving up movies, which I really enjoy, as a penance for those who are addicted to tv and movies.

to be continued....

Chicago Eucharistic Congress, 1926

Eucharistic Congress 1926 

This is from an article found here--more is found at that link.

The first Eucharistic Congress of the Catholic Church took place in Lille, France in 1881. The 28th Congress was held in Chicago, June 20-24, 1926, the first time it had been hosted in the United States. It was considered the greatest religious gathering in modern times. 

A High Mass was given at Soldier Field with an estimated 400,000 in attendance. Shown here are the "Nuns and Women's Choir of 10,000 Voices" which sang at Soldier Field on June 22.

On June 24th, 750,000 people made a pilgrimage in a Eucharistic Procession from Chicago to St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein. The participants traveled on foot, by auto, bus, and by rail. Shown below is a view of St. Mary of the Lake with the procession being led by Cardinal Bonzano. The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception is at left. 

The village's population swelled from 590 to 750,000, as the faithful and Church religious gathered from around the world at St. Mary of the Lake. Chicago's North Shore Line railroad made history when it transported 250,000 people to the event. Today, a trail on the south side of Route 176 is all that remains of the line that brought people to St. Mary's. 

In 1920, Cardinal Mundelein had announced plans to build St. Mary of the Lake. At right is a postcard view of the dedication day, celebrating the opening of the seminary. 

More is found at the link....

My dad said all he remembered were lots of adults' feet. He was three years old.

There is a link for over a thousand more photos on this site.

238 Posts for November

Well, if you get bored with shopping, you can read November.. Not a record, as there were 333 in February, and many in other months...

The Assault on Man; how to withstand turmoil

The Jesuit North American Martyrs

In the midst of frenzy, fear, even panic, or simply, group dynamics, some people cannot withstand the movement of the group.

I remember ago when Ringo Starr got married and three girls in my gym class went into hysterics. They had to be taken to the nurse's office.

I was astounded and perplexed by this strange manifestation of the adoration or cult of personality.

For some reason, even as a young person, I have been immune to this.

But, many are not and many have been swept away and will be swept away by the cult of the Messiah, whoever he or she may be.

When the final time of tribulation comes, some will not be able to withstand the psychology of the mob following of a personality.

Only God, the Trinitarian God, deserves such adulation, adoration, assent of the will.

Catholics must learn now how to withstand such large movements of group dynamics which carries some people into a frenzy of support for false messiahs.

These few habits will help one not be taken in by false apparitions, false messages, false messiahs.

One, know the teachings of the Catholic Church so that you can judge all teaching as against this measure of Truth.

Two, learn to control your emotions, so that if these feelings are assaulted by conformity, you will be able to stand firmly in charge of feelings, which lie and deceive us so easily.

Three,  learn to think clearly and to withstand false ideas. If one is in a position where the intellect fails to help one discern, pray, pray, pray.

Four, remember and be grateful for past graces. In times of trial and extreme tribulation, the memory of God's goodness, as in the heart and songs of the great Psalmist, St. David, steady us. If we forget, pray, pray, pray.

Five, and most importantly, give your will to God. Make Him the Master of your will. Then, you will be able to withstand all pain and hardships. Strengthen your will by learning meditation and letting God teach you contemplative prayer.

Six, parents, teach your children these habits of discernment and virtue.

By the way, we need to make daily decisions which make us strong against evils, both great and small. Sometimes, God gives some of us a lifetime of practicing standing up to evil. This is the story of my life in education and in the field of work. Compromise sets us backwards, even to death of the soul.

In His Will is our peace. I am learning these lessons, and a book like Lord of the World outlines these steps in the character of Father Franklin. Do not kid yourself, we need to be strong in the days coming.

to be continued....

A Nice Article on Advent Food And O Antiphons

and also, the O Antiphon prayers and symbols may be found on this blog as well.

The dates are last year's dates, but the prayers and symbols are the same.


Today is the name day of my son. He is named after two martyrs. One is the great Edmund Campion

St. Edmund Campion has been one of my heroes for a very long time. When I visited the Venerable English College in Rome so many years ago, I felt close to this great saint.

We have many connections to him, as he also worked in Bohemia, from where some of my ancestors came.

There is a very old book about Campion and Bohemia which is out of print. If anyone finds a copy, let me know.

This above link provides a good, short biography.

I have put Campion's Brag on this blog before, but one can never get too much of a good thing.

Here it is again.

To the Right Honourable, the Lords of Her Majesty's Privy Council:
Whereas I have come out of Germany and Bohemia, being sent by my superiors, and adventured myself into this noble realm, my dear country, for the glory of God and benefit of souls, I thought it like enough that, in this busy, watchful, and suspicious world, I should either sooner or later be intercepted and stopped of my course.
Wherefore, providing for all events, and uncertain what may become of me, when God shall haply deliver my body into durance, I supposed it needful to put this in writing in a readiness, desiring your good lordships to give it your reading, for to know my cause. This doing, I trust I shall ease you of some labour. For that which otherwise you must have sought for by practice of wit, I do now lay into your hands by plain confession. And to the intent that the whole matter may be conceived in order, and so the better both understood and remembered, I make thereof these nine points or articles, directly, truly and resolutely opening my full enterprise and purpose.
i. I confess that I am (albeit unworthy) a priest of the Catholic Church, and through the great mercy of God vowed now these eight years into the religion [religious order] of the Society of Jesus. Hereby I have taken upon me a special kind of warfare under the banner of obedience, and also resigned all my interest or possibility of wealth, honour, pleasure, and other worldly felicity.
ii. At the voice of our General, which is to me a warrant from heaven and oracle of Christ, I took my voyage from Prague to Rome (where our General Father is always resident) and from Rome to England, as I might and would have done joyously into any part of Christendom or Heatheness, had I been thereto assigned.
iii. My charge is, of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors—in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused.
iv. I never had mind, and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts.
v. I do ask, to the glory of God, with all humility, and under your correction, three sorts of indifferent and quiet audiences: the first, before your Honours, wherein I will discourse of religion, so far as it toucheth the common weal and your nobilities: the second, whereof I make more account, before the Doctors and Masters and chosen men of both universities, wherein I undertake to avow the faith of our Catholic Church by proofs innumerable—Scriptures, councils, Fathers, history, natural and moral reasons: the third, before the lawyers, spiritual and temporal, wherein I will justify the said faith by the common wisdom of the laws standing yet in force and practice.
vi. I would be loath to speak anything that might sound of any insolent brag or challenge, especially being now as a dead man to this world and willing to put my head under every man's foot, and to kiss the ground they tread upon. Yet I have such courage in avouching the majesty of Jesus my King, and such affiance in his gracious favour, and such assurance in my quarrel, and my evidence so impregnable, and because I know perfectly that no one Protestant, nor all the Protestants living, nor any sect of our adversaries (howsoever they face men down in pulpits, and overrule us in their kingdom of grammarians and unlearned ears) can maintain their doctrine in disputation. I am to sue most humbly and instantly for combat with all and every of them, and the most principal that may be found: protesting that in this trial the better furnished they come, the better welcome they shall be.
vii. And because it hath pleased God to enrich the Queen my Sovereign Lady with notable gifts of nature, learning, and princely education, I do verily trust that if her Highness would vouchsafe her royal person and good attention to such a conference as, in the second part of my fifth article I have motioned, or to a few sermons, which in her or your hearing I am to utter such manifest and fair light by good method and plain dealing may be cast upon these controversies, that possibly her zeal of truth and love of her people shall incline her noble Grace to disfavour some proceedings hurtful to the realm, and procure towards us oppressed more equity.
viii. Moreover I doubt not but you, her Highness' Council, being of such wisdom and discreet in cases most important, when you shall have heard these questions of religion opened faithfully, which many times by our adversaries are huddled up and confounded, will see upon what substantial grounds our Catholic Faith is builded, how feeble that side is which by sway of the time prevaileth against us, and so at last for your own souls, and for many thousand souls that depend upon your government, will discountenance error when it is bewrayed [revealed], and hearken to those who would spend the best blood in their bodies for your salvation. Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.
ix. If these my offers be refused, and my endeavours can take no place, and I, having run thousands of miles to do you good, shall be rewarded with rigour. I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almighty God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us his grace, and see us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.

A Line from Benson

"In the ages of faith a very inadequate grasp of religion would pass muster; in these searching days none but the humble and the pure could stand the test for long." Lord of the World, pg. 26, 1907 Edition

One of the reasons for this blog....

May this Advent find us growing ever closer to God in repentance and purification...