Friday, November 29, 2013

New Oxford Review Book of Gomorrah: An Eleventh-Century Treatise Against Clerical Homosexual Practices. By St. Peter Damian.


Book of Gomorrah: An Eleventh-Century Treatise Against Clerical Homosexual Practices.  By St. Peter Damian. Translated and edited by Pierre Payer. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 108 pages. $38.95.

By the time he published the Book of Gomorrah around A.D. 1049, St. Peter Damian had been preaching for some time against homosexuality. He told Pope St. Leo IX, to whom he directed this work, that he needed his support against those who despised him for this preaching. While others in authority remained silent, he lamented, homosexuality kept spreading: “Vice against nature creeps in like a cancer and even touches the order of consecrated men.”

That homosexuality was indeed a problem at that time may be inferred from the fact that the vice was addressed at the Council of Rheims (A.D. 1049) in the canon de sodomitico vitio. Also, Damian received, in reply to his treatise, what he had requested from Leo IX, “a decretal writing as to which of those guilty of these vices ought to be deposed irrevocably from ecclesiastical orders; and to whom, truly taking the view of discretion, this office can be mercifully granted.”

In the Book of Gomorrah Damian says he has preached against this sin “with a whole fountain of tears” because the sinner he addresses sheds none at all: “O miserable soul, I weep for you with so many lamentations because I do not see you weeping. I prostrate myself on the ground for you because I see you maliciously standing up after such a grave fall, even to the point of trying for the pinnacle of an ecclesiastical order.” Damian weeps from “fraternal compassion” because he sees a “noble soul made in the image and likeness of God and joined with the most precious blood of Christ” cast down from a great height of dignity and glory. Any Christian who commits sodomy, he explains, surpasses in sin the men of Sodom, for he “defies the very commands of evangelical grace.”

Damian reports that he has endured persecution for preaching against this sin, and he begs the Pope to use his sacred authority to quiet “the complaint of perverse men” who reason that “a statement brought forward by one person…is rejected by others as prejudice.” At one point he addresses the dissenters as men “who are angry with me and who hate to listen to this writer.” He tells the Pope that some of them “accuse me of being a traitor and an informer on the crime of a brother,” while others think it “valid to attack me who am on the attack” and to “accuse me of presumptuous prattle.” They also denounce him for not being “afraid of picking on Christians.”

No surprise, Damian observes, that he is not believed and that his “admonition is rejected,” since God’s own command is “taken lightly by the puffed-up heart of the reprobate.” His opponents even ignore the scriptural verses that condemn homosexuality because “the rashness of the complainers [does not] give in to divine testimony.” Still, he hopes that when the Pope speaks out, “the sick Church” will rise once again to her “rightful vigor.”

In his reply, Leo IX gives Damian his full support and warns those who would dare to criticize or question his papal decree concerning sodomy that they will be putting themselves in danger of being deposed from their rank. He agrees with Damian that severity against this sin is needed, that he who does not attack it encourages it, and that silence about it is rightly thought to incur guilt.

In this remarkable treatise, Damian condemns priests in authority who have been too indulgent with these sinners. As a result of their laxity, priests who have “fallen into this wickedness with eight or even ten other equally sordid men” have remained in their ranks. And so the sin has come “to be committed freely” without its practitioners fearing the loss of their priestly faculties. Damian calls this negligence rather than love because it allows a wound to spread in a neighbor’s heart, a wound “from which, I have no doubt, he dies cruelly.” Therefore, Damian himself will not “neglect to cure” that wound with the “surgery of words,” for if he remains silent, he too will deserve punishment. Rather than “fear the hatred of the depraved or the tongues of detractors,” Damian fears God, who warns him through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, “If you see your brother doing evil and you do not correct him, I will require his blood from your hand” (3:20). Damian will not be silenced, no matter how many tell him to put the sword of his tongue in the sheath of silence: “Who am I to see such a harmful outrage growing up among the sacred orders and, as a murderer of another’s soul, preserve the stricture of silence, and to dare to await the reckoning of divine severity? Do I not begin to be responsible for a guilt whose author I never was?”

Citing St. Paul’s condemnation not only of those who commit sodomy but also of those who “approve” it in others (Rom. 1:32), Damian observes that his adversaries’ silence can be interpreted as consent: Anyone who would “censure me when I dispute against mortal vice,” he says, should consider that Damian is trying to “promote fraternal salvation, lest while he persecute the reprover he might seem to favor the delinquent.” Although maligned and threatened for accusing his brothers, Damian refuses to be intimidated: “I would rather be cast innocent into the cistern with Joseph, who accused his brothers to his father for a terrible crime, than to be punished by the vengeance of divine fury with Eli, who saw the evils of his sons and was silent.” He even summons others to join him in his all-out battle to reform the clergy: “Whoever sees himself as a soldier of Christ should fervently gird himself to confound this vice, and not hesitate to wipe it out with all his strength. He should pierce it with the sharpest verbal arrows wherever it is found and try to slay it.” He will thus free the captive from “bonds by which he is held in slavery.”

Although it is “clearer than light” that homosexuals should not serve as priests, Damian says, some might plead “imminent necessity” and argue that there is “no one to perform a sacred function in a church.” In reply, he says that making shepherds of such “carnal men” will “result in the destitution of a whole people.” Their “burning ambition” to be priests is sure to “ensnare the people of God” in their own ruin. Although they may seem useful for their learning, they will lead the flock astray: “If the right order of ecclesiastical discipline is confused in a learned man, it is a wonder it is kept by the ignorant.” By the example of their presumption, these sinners lead the simple onto the “path of error” on which they walk with the “swollen foot of pride.”

What fruitfulness can be expected from men engulfed by “thick, dark blindness”? They have lost their “interior eyes” and cannot see the gravity of what they have done. Like the men of Sodom who tried to break into Lot’s house and seize the angels whom they mistook for young men, these carnal men “try to break in violently on the angels” by approaching God “through the offices of sacred orders.” Damian warns them: Take care lest you “provoke more sharply by your very prayers the one you offend openly by acting evilly.”

At one point in his treatise, Damian refers to the ancient Council of Ancyra (A.D. 314), which dealt with homosexuality in two canons. In canon 16 the Church Fathers declared that laymen who had committed sodomy before the age of 20 were not to receive communion for 20 years; and those who had committed it after the age of 20, for 30 years. Damian comments that if laymen in the early Church had to wait decades before receiving communion again, how can a priest who commits the same sin in his own day “be judged worthy not only to receive but even to offer and to consecrate the sacred mysteries themselves?”

In canon 17 of the same Council, the Fathers ordered those who had committed this sin to pray among the “demoniacs.” Damian comments: “When a male rushes to a male to commit impurity, this is not the natural impulse of the flesh, but only the goad of diabolical impulse. This is why the holy fathers carefully established that sodomists pray together with the deranged since they did not doubt that the sodomists were possessed.” Lamenting that this sin “evicts the Holy Spirit from the temple of the human heart,” the saint warns that it also “gnaws the conscience as though with worms” and “sears the flesh as though with fire.”

Even so, like a good pastor, Damian encourages these sinners to hope in God’s mercy through repentance. He rallies them to take a bold stand “against the importunate madness of lust. If the flame of lust burns to the bones, the memory of perpetual fire should extinguish it immediately.” He urges them not to let the “present satisfaction of one organ” cause them to be cast body and soul into everlasting fire. Calling them his brothers, he summons them to conversion: “If you were unable to spend time with Abraham far from the Sodomites, it is permitted to migrate with Lot, urged on by the destructive burning which is near at hand.”

The Book of Gomorrah demonstrates that it was no easier a thousand years ago than it is today to speak out against this vice and to bring active homosexuals to repentance, to an acknowledgement of the natural law, and to the practice of purity. In his little treatise, St. Peter Damian warns us against keeping silence in the face of such a growing evil and thus becoming complicit. He offers us a needed model of how to speak out fearlessly against the corruptions of our age.

St. Peter Damian, pray for us!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Real Lives of Gay Men | Crisis Magazine

The Real Lives of Gay Men | Crisis Magazine

The Real Lives of Gay Men -- by Austin Ruse

Not caring about what happens to gay men is like not caring about prison rape. Prisoners are our brothers, too, and so are gay men. We must care deeply about the abuse of our brothers in prison and we must care deeply about the lives led by our gay brothers.
Prison rape seems a world away from us, a subject we try not to think about, yet it is rampant, dehumanizing and deadly dangerous. In the same way, we avert our gaze from the lives led by gay men. Certainly ignoring the lives of gay men is what the paladins of the gay movement want us to do. If others peek behind the curtain of the white-picket-fence-homosexuality they have built up for public consumption, support for the movement would wither and probably die.
I do not equate sex between gay men and prison rape. I draw the parallel simply to compare how we look away from certain things and act as if the subjects of those acts are not part of us, part of society, part of the human family. The active gay man and the prisoner are our brothers and we have to be concerned with both. But we quite deliberately look away from the reality of both.
But look we must, particularly since we are being asked to consider that homosexuality is on par with heterosexuality, that same-sex marriage and opposite-sex marriage can be the same, that gay sex can in fact be spousal.

The arguments made by our best defenders of man-woman marriage focus almost exclusively on the definition of marriage and the rights of children to have both a mother and a father, and they explicitly say their arguments have nothing to do with the underlying question of homosexuality. Their arguments are very effective and I do believe they are making converts to the pressing cause of marriage. But in those arguments, one of the things lost is the real lives of gay men. It is as if we really do not care about them.
This is a difficult topic that no one wants to talk about. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage tells me that these arguments are not effective during active political campaigns. These arguments can backfire in those situations. Even so, we should show greater regard for our gay brothers by paying more attention to their lives.

Recently I was reading an excellent manuscript of an upcoming book by long-time Crisis Magazinecontributor Robert Reilly on how the gay movement has moved through our institutions and our culture. He references a 2006 essay by a man named Ronald G. Lee who described himself as “a refugee from the homosexual insane asylum.”
Lee lived as an out and active gay man for going on three decades and what he describes is not only insane but also deeply heartbreaking. Lee was lied to before he came out of the closet. He was lied to the whole time he lived the gay way of life. He was lied to each and every day. What was the lie? That gay men are interested in sexually monogamous relationships.

Lee writes about a gay bookstore in Austin, Texas called Lobo’s where if you look in the front window you see bookshelves full of books, gay books certainly but books. In the back, behind a curtain was a section on pornography. No one could be seen among the stacks of books, everyone was in the back room. He said such an arrangement was perfect for the big lie that active homosexuality was normal and non-threatening to any straight person looking in the front window. The reality, though, was that everyone was in the back room with the porn. This was the reality of his life and the lives of gay men.
Lee wanted love, gay love to be sure, but love that fell in line with Christian sexual ethics, that is to say a lifelong emotional and sexual bond. His whole life he looked for that. He read the influential 1976 book The Church and the Homosexual written by a Catholic priest that explained how the Church wrongly interpreted all those references in the Bible condemning homosexuality. The book explained that monogamous same-sex couplings were consistent with the teachings of the Church. Lee says the book by Father John McNeill made him “justified in deciding to come out of the closet.” Father McNeill later wrote an autobiography in which he explained he lived a widely promiscuous gay life far removed from any notion of Christian sexual ethics, gay or otherwise.
And that was the reality Lee discovered as he began his search for gay monogamy. “For twenty years I thought there was something wrong with me,” Lee writes. “Dozens of well-meaning people assured me that there was a whole, different world of homosexual men out there, a world that for some reason I could never find, a world of God-fearing, straight-acting, monogamy-believing, and fidelity-practicing homosexuals.”

Lee got a computer and continued his futile attempt to find gay monogamy. He joined a Yahoo group loosely affiliated with Dignity, the “Catholic” organization that affirms gays in their active homosexual way of life. A young man posted a note asking if “any of the subscribers attached any value to monogamy?” He received “dozens of responses, some of them quite hostile and demeaning, and all but one—mine—telling him to go out and get laid because that was what being gay was all about.”
Lee got an AOL subscription and wrote a profile describing himself “as a conservative Catholic … who loved classical music and theater and good books and scintillating conversation about all of the above.” He said he wanted to meet other homosexuals like him for “friendship and romance.” Within minutes the first response he received was “How many inches?” And it went downhill from there.

The ugly reality Lee discovered his whole gay life was that this way of life is almost wholly about sex and plenty of it. Even supposedly stable relationships, the ones we read about in the New York Times, are largely facades. A gay man once told me he was in a long-time relationship but they never had sex anymore, just masturbated in front of porn with lots of action outside the relationship. He said this was typical. Lee says so, too, and so does the research.
In his excellent manuscript, The Gaying of America:  How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything to be published next March by Ignatius Press, Robert Reilly lays out the horrific numbers. Keep in mind that even repeating these numbers opens you up to a torrent of vitriol. You will see in the inevitable comments below that even mentioning them is hate speech, no more than lies, myths on par with the oversexed black man. Other than invective and charges that the studies and their authors have been “discredited,” the numbers are unassailable. And they are supremely important for a young man considering taking a peak outside the closet door.
This is the door he is about to walk through.
Reilly writes: “one might ask how typical anal intercourse is in homosexual behavior. Is it fundamentally characteristic, or anomalous? Some claim that homosexual behavior does not necessarily mean that male couples engage in anal intercourse. The answer, however, is that it predominates.”
Reilly quotes psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Santinover in Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth that “The typical homosexual (needless to say there are exceptions) is a man who has frequent episodes of anal intercourse with other men, often with many different men. These episodes are 13 times more frequent than heterosexuals’ acts of anal intercourse, with 12 times as many different partners as heterosexuals.”
Reilly goes further. “The most rigorous single study—the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study [1987]—recruited nearly 5,000 homosexual men and found that: ‘a significant majority of these men … (69 to 82%) reported having 50 or more lifetime sexual partners, and over 80% had engaged in receptive anal intercourse with at least some of their partners in the previous two years.’”
Such relationships are not spousal in any way, shape or form and this is what Ronald Lee found in his decades long search for real love, for a relationship that would fit into any notion of Christian sexual ethics.
Studies show gay men are remarkably promiscuous. Dr. Santinover cites a study by two homosexual researchers that found that out of “156 couples studied, only seven had maintained sexual fidelity; of the hundred couples that had been together for more than five years, none had been able to maintain sexual fidelity.” They said, “[t]he expectation for outside sexual activity was the rule for male couples and the exception for heterosexual couples.”
Reilly cites a 1997 Australian study that showed “only 15% of the men reported having fewer than 11 sex partners to date, while on the other end of the spectrum 15% had over 1,000 sex partners. A whopping 82% had over 50 partners and nearly 50% had over 100.” The research goes on and drearily on.
Some have said gays act out promiscuously because they have internalized homophobia, that they were “forced to look for love in dimly lit bars, bathhouses, and public parks for fear of harassment at the hands of the homophobic mainstream.” Lee answers, “But 35 years have passed since the infamous Stonewall riots of 1969 in New York…. During that time, homosexuals have carved out for themselves public spaces in every major American city, and many of the minor ones as well. They have had the chance to create whatever they wanted in those spaces, and what have they created? New spaces for locating sexual partners.”

I will give the final word to Ronald Lee from his magnificent essay.
When the young man from the Yahoo group got all the hostile response from his query about monogamy, “He did not know what to make of it because none of the propaganda to which he was exposed before coming out prepared him for what was really on the other side of the closet door. I had no idea what to tell him, because at the time I was still caught up in the lie myself. Now the solution seems obvious. What I should have written back to him was, ‘You have been lied to. Ask God for forgiveness and get back to Kansas as fast as you can. Auntie Em is waiting.’”
Editor’s note: Riots broke out at the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, in June 1969. The event is considered the birth of the gay rights movement.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

G. K. Chesterton: It’s Not Gay, and It’s Not Marriage

G. K. Chesterton: It’s Not Gay, and It’s Not Marriage

g-k-chesterton@ desk
One of the pressing issues of Chesterton’s time was “birth control.” He not only objected to the idea, he objected to the very term because it meant the opposite of what it said. It meant no birth and no control. I can only imagine he would have the same objections about “gay marriage.” The idea is wrong, but so is the name. It is not gay and it is not marriage.
Chesterton was so consistently right in his pronouncements and prophecies because he understood that anything that attacked the family was bad for society. That is why he spoke out against eugenics and contraception, against divorce and “free love” (another term he disliked because of its dishonesty), but also against wage slavery and compulsory state-sponsored education and mothers hiring other people to do what mothers were designed to do themselves. It is safe to say that Chesterton stood up against every trend and fad that plagues us today because every one of those trends and fads undermines the family. Big Government tries to replace the family’s authority, and Big Business tries to replace the family’s autonomy. There is a constant commercial and cultural pressure on father, mother, and child. They are minimized and marginalized and, yes, mocked. But as Chesterton says, “This triangle of truisms, of father, mother and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.”
This latest attack on the family is neither the latest nor the worst. But it has a shock value to it, in spite of the process of de-sensitization that the information and entertainment industries have been putting us through the past several years. Those who have tried to speak out against the normalization of the abnormal have been met with “either slanging or silence,” as Chesterton was when he attempted to argue against the faddish philosophies that were promoted by the major newspapers in his day. In 1926, he warned, “The next great heresy will be an attack on morality, especially sexual morality.” His warning has gone unheeded, and sexual morality has decayed progressively. But let us remember that it began with birth control, which is an attempt to create sex for sex’s sake, changing the act of love into an act of selfishness. The promotion and acceptance of lifeless, barren, selfish sex has logically progressed to homosexuality.
Chesterton shows that the problem of homosexuality as an enemy of civilization is quite old. In The Everlasting Man, he describes the nature-worship and “mere mythology” that produced a perversion among the Greeks. “Just as they became unnatural by worshipping nature, so they actually became unmanly by worshipping man.” Any young man, he says, “who has the luck to grow up sane and simple” is naturally repulsed by homosexuality because “it is not true to human nature or to common sense.” He argues that if we attempt to act indifferent about it, we are fooling ourselves. It is “the illusion of familiarity,” when “a perversion become[s] a convention.”
In Heretics, Chesterton almost makes a prophecy of the misuse of the word “gay.” He writes of “the very powerful and very desolate philosophy of Oscar Wilde. It is the carpe diem religion.” Carpe diem means “seize the day,” do whatever you want and don’t think about the consequences, live only for the moment. “But the carpe diem religion is not the religion of happy people, but of very unhappy people.” There is a hopelessness as well as a haplessness to it. When sex is only a momentary pleasure, when it offers nothing beyond itself, it brings no fulfillment. It is literally lifeless. And as Chesterton writes in his book St. Francis of Assisi, the minute sex ceases to be a servant, it becomes a tyrant. This is perhaps the most profound analysis of the problem of homosexuals: they are slaves to sex. They are trying to “pervert the future and unmake the past.” They need to be set free.
Sin has consequences. Yet Chesterton always maintains that we must condemn the sin and not the sinner. And no one shows more compassion for the fallen than G.K. Chesterton. Of Oscar Wilde, whom he calls “the Chief of the Decadents,” he says that Wilde committed “a monstrous wrong” but also suffered monstrously for it, going to an awful prison, where he was forgotten by all the people who had earlier toasted his cavalier rebelliousness. “His was a complete life, in that awful sense in which your life and mine are incomplete; since we have not yet paid for our sins. In that sense one might call it a perfect life, as one speaks of a perfect equation; it cancels out. On the one hand we have the healthy horror of the evil; on the other the healthy horror of the punishment.”
Chesterton referred to Wilde’s homosexual behavior as a “highly civilized” sin, something that was a worse affliction among the wealthy and cultured classes. It was a sin that was never a temptation for Chesterton, and he says that it is no great virtue for us never to commit a sin for which we are not tempted. That is another reason we must treat our homosexual brothers and sisters with compassion. We know our own sins and weaknesses well enough. Philo of Alexandria said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a terrible battle.” But compassion must never compromise with evil. Chesterton points out that balance that our truth must not be pitiless, but neither can our pity be untruthful. Homosexuality is a disorder. It is contrary to order. Homosexual acts are sinful, that is, they are contrary to God’s order. They can never be normal. And worse yet, they can never even be even. As Chesterton’s great detective Father Brown says:  “Men may keep a sort of level of good, but no man has ever been able to keep on one level of evil. That road goes down and down.”
Marriage is between a man and a woman. That is the order. And the Catholic Church teaches that it is a sacramental order, with divine implications. The world has made a mockery of marriage that has now culminated with homosexual unions. But it was heterosexual men and women who paved the way to this decay. Divorce, which is an abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Contraception, another abnormal thing, is now treated as normal. Abortion is still not normal, but it is legal. Making homosexual “marriage” legal will not make it normal, but it will add to the confusion of the times. And it will add to the downward spiral of our civilization. But Chesterton’s prophecy remains: We will not be able to destroy the family. We will merely destroy ourselves by disregarding the family.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Love God above ALL else!

Sunday, November 17, 2013, 33rd Sunday Ordinary Time

Malachi 3:19-20, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, Psalm 98:5-9, Luke 21:5-19
Link to Readings -->


"Lo, the day is coming." -Malachi 3:19

Malachi prophesied about "the day." This is the last day of all, the day the world ends, the day of fire, the day of Jesus' final coming, Judgment Day. "The day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble" (Mal 3:19). However, for those who fear God's name, on the last day "there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays" (Mal 3:20). These Christians will definitely need these healing rays because prior to the final day they will be manhandled, persecuted, arrested, betrayed, hated, and some will even be martyred (Lk 21:12-17). "By patient endurance" they will save their lives and receive the healing rays of Jesus' final coming (Lk 21:19).

If Jesus returned today and the world ended or if you died today, would you be among the proud and the evildoers or among those who respect, love, obey, and fear the Lord? Are you the persecuted or the persecutor? Are you living for Jesus or for yourself? Are you going to be thrown into the fire or healed by the "Son-shine"? Repent, go to Confession, love Jesus, suffer for Him, rejoice in the present, look forward to the future. "The day is coming" (Mal 3:19). Come, Lord Jesus!

Prayer: Father, by repentance, intercession, and evangelization may I hasten "the day" (2 Pt 3:12).

Promise: "We enjoin all such, and we urge them strongly in the Lord Jesus Christ, to earn the food they eat by working quietly." -2 Thes 3:12

Praise: Alleluia! Praise Jesus risen from the dead! Alleluia!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Madonna of Medjugorje, by BBC (1986)

Bishop Paprocki will lead prayers of exorcism as Illinois governor signs gay ‘marriage’ bill

Bishop will lead prayers of exorcism as Illinois governor signs gay ‘marriage’ bill--
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois
SPRINGFIELD, IL, November 15, 2013 ( – The bishop of Springfield, Illinois will lead prayers of exorcism “in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage” at his cathedral on November 20 as Governor Pat Quinn signs a state law redefining marriage.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki says he was inspired by Pope Francis, who had condemnedsame-sex “marriage” as a “machination of the Father of Lies” in 2010 when Argentina was preparing to redefine marriage.

“Pope Francis is saying that same-sex 'marriage' comes from the devil and should be condemned as such,” said Bishop Paprocki in a statementThursday.

Illinois’ House of Representatives passed the same-sex “marriage” bill in a 61-54 vote on November 5, sending it to Quinn’s desk for approval. The governor had already pledged to sign it.
The day after the vote, the Chicago Tribune quoted two Catholic state representatives who cited Pope Francis’ famous “who am I to judge?” quote in explaining their decision to support the measure.
"As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people,” said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia.

In his statement, Bishop Paprocki called out those Catholic politicians who “twisted the words of the pope” and said Catholics who voted for the bill are "morally complicit as co-operators in facilitating this grave sin."
"It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church," he said. "All politicians now have the moral obligation to work for the repeal of this sinful and objectionable legislation. We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church."

The bishop also pointed that, because same-sex “marriage” violates God’s plan, anyone who contracts such a union is “culpable of serious sin.”
To explain the prayer event, the bishop’s statement quoted from the introduction to the Church’s rite of exorcism, which says that the Church recognizes the devil’s presence “not only in the tempting or tormenting of persons, but also in the penetration of things and places in a certain manner by their activity, and in various forms of opposition to and persecution of the church.”

“If the diocesan bishop, in particular situations, judges it appropriate to announce gatherings of the faithful for prayer, under the leadership and direction of a priest, elements for arranging a rite of supplication may be taken from [the texts provided in these appendices],” it reads.
The prayers of exorcism will take place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield on November 20 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Concluding his statement, Paprocki said, "Pope Francis has also urged us to be mindful of God's mercy, so it is good to recall the profound expression of divine mercy uttered by Jesus as he was dying on the cross to save us from our sins, 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do' (Luke 23:34).”
Bishop Paprocki is known for his strong stand on moral issues.
Last month, after a group of homosexual activists from the Rainbow Sash Movement planned a prayer vigil for same-sex “marriage” inside the Cathedral, he issued a strong video statement warning them that they would be guilty of “blasphemy.”

In June, the bishop debated dissident nun Sister Jeannine Gramick on gay “marriage” before a largely gay-friendly crowd. In his opening remarks, he revealed that his former secretary had been murdered by a homosexual activist after she suggested he change his lifestyle. “[Mary Stachowicz]’s murder was widely ignored by the media, despite the fact that she died as a martyr for her faith,” he said.

Leading up to the 2012 national election, Paprocki slammed the Democratic Party’s platform for endorsing the “intrinsic evils” of abortion and same-sex “marriage”.
“My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues,” he said. ”I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding ‘political’ and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues.”
In the Republic Party platform, on the other hand, “there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin,” he said.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Teacher who was suspended after apocalyptic lesson on 'good and evil' left children in tears wins backing of Pope

Teacher who was suspended after apocalyptic lesson on 'good and evil' left children in tears wins backing of Pope

A religious studies teacher suspended after her lesson on 'good and evil' left a classroom of children in tears has won the backing of Pope Benedict XVI.
Cristina Vai, 55, a teacher for 30 years, was disciplined after several parents complained that children had come home sobbing and frightened.
They said they were scared of her graphic description of battles between good angels and the Devil from the Book of the Apocalypse.
Suspended: Cristina Vai was disciplined after her lesson on 'good and evil' made children cry
Suspended: Cristina Vai was disciplined after her lesson on 'good and evil' made children cry
Mrs Vai was then left shocked after the headmaster of the school told her of the complaints and said that, after consulting governors, he was suspending her from her position.
She taught five and six-year-olds at the Bombicci primary school in Bologna.
She immediately informed her local MP of the decision and also wrote a letter to Pope Benedict describing the incident.
She explained how she had been a religious studies teacher all her life and was stunned when to receive a reply within days of posting it.
In the letter Monsignor Peter Wells, an assistant with the Pope's Secretary of State, said: 'The Holy Father thanks you with all his heart for your faithful gesture and for the sentiments that have inspired you.
'His Holiness also sends you from his heart an Apostolic Blessing which he also extends in particular to the young children in the class.'
Backing: Pope Benedict XVI has given his support to a religious studies teacher suspended after her lesson on 'good and evil' left a classroom of children in tears
Backing: Pope Benedict XVI has given his support to a religious studies teacher suspended after her lesson on 'good and evil' left a classroom of children in tears
Today Mrs Vai said: 'This is such a wonderful letter and it really puts my heart at ease - now I am convinced that nothing bad will happen to me.
'I was accused of upsetting the children by explaining to them good versus evil and how evil is always punished but that is what is in the Bible there is good and bad in every story and this was not a fairytale.
'The children needed to hear about good and evil so they know the right choice to make.'
Her fight for reinstatement has also won the backing of her local MP, Fabio Garagnani.
He said: 'I hope that with this letter from the Pope matters will be cleared up and it will become obvious that her lesson was in perfect accordance with Catholic teaching.'
School principal Stefano Mari said: 'This was not an easy decision to make. We had parents complain that their children were scared by the way she explained the lesson and so after discussions she was suspended.

'I am aware of the letter from the Vatican but I don't see what difference it makes. My decision was based solely for the benefit of the children but the teacher has decided to make it an issue.'
Punished: Cristina Vai was disciplined after several parents complained that children had come home sobbing and frightened
Punished: Cristina Vai was disciplined after several parents complained that children had come home sobbing and frightened

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Re-Entering the Kingdom of God – Conversion Story of Paul Lambert

Re-Entering the Kingdom of God – Conversion Story of Paul Lambert

Paul Lambert

Re-Entering the Kingdom of God 

by Paul Lambert
1968-1993 — The “Life” of a Spiritual Cadaver: The Possibility of Repentance

In the year 1968, the world was falling apart. Timemagazine blazoned on a cover April 8, 1966: “Is God dead?” And, two years later, the whole world was acting as if it had truly happened. In addition, it was the year that I realized my world was falling apart, if not ending. I was losing my faith and changing into a different person from what God meant me to be. Deceitfully, the world of 1968 was a world without God: confusion, hate, mind-numbing substances, raw power, and abuse aggravated an endless litany of daily insults to the dignity and sanctity of all men. All of this crushed my spirit and contributed to my personal loss of faith.
In 1968, I was at a crossroad in life. I was 23 and married for two years to Joan, a beautiful woman, and sharing life with a young newborn named Christina. We lived on the top floor of a three-decker off Washington Street in a working-class section of Brighton in Boston.
We both were going to school: she to Northeastern University to study nursing, and I to Boston College (BC) Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to study in a doctoral program in philosophy. At the time, I was taking four classes, teaching three classes on a fellowship, performing research assistantship work, and studying for comprehensive examinations. Joan also worked a 40-hour-a-week job in the Psychology department at Northeastern, and I with two part-time jobs for 52 hours weekly at a convenience store and the paint department of a nearby discount store. And, oh yes, we were raising a child. We both reminisce about reading in a rocking chair with a study book in one hand and the baby nested in our arms and neck in the other. Hardly idyllic memories, but nonetheless cherished now.

So, how did I end up losing my faith? 
I came from a devoted Catholic Family, attended a Catholic elementary school run by the Sisters of Notre Dame, went to a Catholic high school run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and before coming to BC, went to The College of the Holy Cross. Again, how did I come to lose my faith?
My attraction to the priesthood began in second grade as an altar boy at Julie Country Day School run by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. For six years, I participated in the Sacrifice of the Mass at 5:30 each morning. My moral and religious education was well crafted. But, I lived a rather sheltered and naïve life. I also served on the altar at my parish, St. Leo, and later in high school. In addition, I joined the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. All this activity nurtured my love of God. However, in many ways I was being overwhelmed with the conflicts, struggles, and aspirations common of a teenager. It seemed that being liked and accepted mattered most as a teenager. For the most part, my moral values wavered and adjusted to the levels of my close friends. Thank God for Confession.
I chose at the last minute in June of 1962 to pursue college at Holy Cross, because I felt drawn to the priesthood. Enrolled in a Latin-math major, my road to the priesthood began to map out: complete my A.B. degree in philosophy at Holy Cross, one year at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, and then studies and ordination at the North American College in Rome, Italy. I was advised to start hanging around with the men and to avoid any entangling relationships with females.
Ninety-nine percent of the priests I had encountered from childhood to college modeled what a follower of Christ should be and what I wanted to be. I highly valued the priestly role and I thought they could do no wrong. Sadly, I met one of the other one percent. I don’t believe the details of the abusive encounter really serve a useful purpose here other than a prurient one. However, the destructive effect on my vocation is important: I was stunned beyond reaction. I felt shock and numbness. I determined that I would never talk to another human being about it. I wanted to push this experience deep away and forget it ever happened.
What disturbed and confused me most was that the following morning, when we went to celebrate Mass, there was no hint of seeking God’s forgiveness, as if it did not matter. He gave me Communion, and I felt sick and overwhelmed with a deathly pall over my soul. I could make no sense out of it. Moreover, I sensed I wanted to hide from God, obsessed with crying out, “Why?” to Him, and sadly losing touch with my spirit within.
The problems in the Church after Vatican II actually contributed to a more quick and effective loss of my faith. There arose a slew of doctrinal theologians, particularly in America, who pridefully proclaimed that certain magisterial teachings were false. They promoted all kinds of heretical doctrines as truth, sometimes under the guise of re-defined conscience; they publicly dissented from the major teaching of Humanae Vitae, that each and every marriage act must be open to the transmission of life: that is, that the use of artificial contraception is morally wrong. In addition, many much-cherished and efficacious devotions and sacramentals (like statues and processions) went by the wayside as the years rolled on.
I prayed for truth in my vocation for months, but I was as yet unskilled at spiritual discernment; I did not seem to “connect” with God and, thus, felt abandoned. Now I realize that He had never left me and was always speaking to me through this crisis. I simply did not want to listen and found it easier to blame Him. I felt my own masculine identity questioned and sought solace and identity confirmation in female companionship and drinking. I gave up discerning the priesthood. As much as I wanted to be a priest, I wanted to get away from it more. I wanted to be a “man” and to prove I was a “man.”
What I failed to perceive was what would have made sense out of everything: that instincts and passions are God-given. Sin lies in the perversion of these God-given feelings and in the creation of obsessions. This affects both the sinner and the victim of sin. I could not recognize that Christ was the perfection of what a human was meant to be.

Falling into Hell
In the last two years of College, I had met Joan, who truly was the only woman who has ever meant anything to me and I love her dearly. We married in September of 1966.
My separation from God did not mean that I didn’t have a God — I was my own god and made gods out of addictions to satisfy my pride. I pretended to be the final and absolute arbiter of what was right and wrong. I adjusted my conscience to the way I wanted to live. I started deluding myself that the possessions of pleasure and money in the world were what I wanted. I thought that these things were essential for happiness and success. When I shoved belief in God aside, the universe became meaningless. Ultimately, I created nothing but sadness, distress, and emptiness. I was groveling in the quagmire of the world and dared not reach up to God to get me out.
Shortly after accepting a philosophy teaching position at the University of Scranton in 1969, and incidentally burning all the bridges to other possible teaching opportunities, they notified me that my spot was gone in a cutback in the department. This chaos changed my world: I put aside the university teaching profession and I chose the only “rational” solution — I joined the government! I took a Civil Service Examination and a Treasury Enforcement Examination and entered the Federal Government as a Drug Enforcement Agent in Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, which later became the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The design of this type of employment is exactly for someone whose conscience is on the verge of death and who is living without the presence of God for protection. You work in the worst possible environments, with the lowest, cruelest, and most remorseless elements of society. Lying and devious thinking become a way of life. Cases take you away from your home and loved ones more than you ever thought possible. Mostly, I fled from my conscience by drowning it in alcohol, starting early in the morning at the time most normal people took a coffee break.
When a person is not right on the inside, there can be nothing truly right on the outside. Real and imagined illnesses plagued me. I would often justify myself by saying I was following my conscience when, in reality, I was only following my desires. Total anarchy raged within me and consumed my body and soul — I was at war with myself. In the midst of all this, my family, now with three children, suffered terribly.

Things got worse
Just when you think things could not get any worse, I went into work one day in 1977 and ended up in jail. It certainly reflects an instance where you make a bad judgment, not thinking in your mind that it was bad, and end up paying the price for it. I am not trying to justify the misjudgment on my part or deny the illegality of my actions. However, I felt that the charges in the case were grossly inaccurate. I committed to fight them. In the end, it was a costly and futile attempt to get out of having made a dumb mistake. After eight weeks of pre-trial hearings, a long trial of several weeks, two weeks of jury deliberations, screaming emotions, terrorizing feelings, and a lot of alcohol, I received a 10-year sentence. The U.S. Marshals ushered me off to a new level of hell in prison.
Prison harbors an environment of daily inmate beatings, stabbings, and suicides. While incarcerated, eighty percent of your conscious efforts turn away from constructive things and focus on preventing destructive forces from acting on you. Wasted years of suffering and family pain sum up the time spent in prison. Finally, it was over. It makes you wonder if anything good could come out of it. However, looking back, I know that nothing happens in the world that God does not will or permit, in order to draw from it a greater good revealing His mercy. Let me try to reveal some of the good that I now perceive.
When first incarcerated, a true sense of loneliness and helplessness pervades every fiber of one’s being. The smells, noise, and vibrations of an evil presence assault one’s nerves and senses and contribute to an overwhelming feeling of fear. Along side fear, a feeling of hate grows like an irritation. Hate festers all the time, like an open wound, waiting to erupt spontaneously at an errant word or glance. Within several weeks of incarceration, I realized that all this hate could consume me. If I was to survive, I had to find a way to fight against it.
By the grace of God and, although I was unaware of His presence, I found the power of forgiveness. I lacked the understanding that true forgiveness requires love and that such love could only be grounded in God Himself, but it seemed to make sense at that time to forgive in an imperfect way to prevent being consumed in hate.
In the population of inmates around me, I came to discover that there was some goodness deep within in most of them. They made mistakes and judged morally wrong in so many ways, but goodness was there in them. I began to care about them and their sorrows. There were some people truly consumed with evil whose presence allowed you to sense the stench of wickedness that seemed to exude from their pores. Today, I know that Jesus would have wanted me to see goodness in all of them. Now, I know that the intuition of goodness in all creation comes through grace. Unfortunately, I felt very far from grace at that time. Now, I pray for all those in prison with the love of Christ for all of them within me.

Free on the outside…
One day, I was set free! In October 15, 1981, the efforts of another former U.S. Attorney and friend, F. Mac Buckley, resulted in the lessening of my sentence. He did the workpro bono and I will always appreciate what he did for my family and me. I presume the judge felt he had made his point and let me out of prison. I really suspect that the tireless and unwavering efforts of my father-in-law, who almost daily called the U.S. Attorney to plead for my return to my family was as effective as the faith of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30) or the persistent widow who constantly knocked at the unjust judge’s door (Luke 18:1-8).
Upon my release, the light of day was blinding. I was able to walk through a doorway without a pass, to do things without first getting permission, to come home to my wife and children — these were all things that were both fearful and happy. It took quite a few months to deprogram from the survival regimen I used while away. My wife and children had pretty much the same problem, but we were just happy to be together after such a long time. However, I was still carrying around the millstone of my personal defects and sinful desires.
I became hooked on my obsession for alcohol — just as if I never stopped — and suffered the same devastating consequences as before. I deluded myself into believing that I was a “functional drunk,” who was able to work at a job as long as the alcohol did not wear off. With my inhibitions impaired, I tossed open the lid on the Pandora’s box of my sinful desires and sank into obsessive and compulsive behaviors. I loosed all this chaos on an unsuspecting family, who quickly reverted to the problematic existence of co-dependency. Sadly, I imagined I hid my behaviors from my family, when all I did was betray their trust and faith in me in ways that were obvious to them. My family would tell me that they loved me, but hated what I was doing to myself. Half-heartedly, I went to a self-help program. The one thing that immediately happened from going to the program was that it ruined your drinking, because you become aware that this habit is not normal.

Facing the disfigurement of sin 
The real sticking point for me was when it came to turning my will and my life over to the God as a condition of sobriety. I simply could not be honest with myself. Often times, the best I could do was to be sober for a few days or maybe a week. The struggle for sobriety typified the real conflict I waged for control of my soul and conscience. Calling sins “disease” or “OCD” soothed my conscience since nothing was serious or grievous. Certainly, I had no need for Confession for real peace of soul. This delusion about my sinfulness controlled my actions for many years based on this absurd justification.
I had tremendous difficulty in recovering a spiritual life. My separation from church activity was my way of holding on to my godless and sinful life. And I occasionally went with my wife and family to church in literal fear of being in the presence of goodness. My own weaknesses and failings plagued me and caused many setbacks. My conversion was not a glorious one-time suffusion of grace with immediate life-changing impact, like many of the well-known saints. By contrast, I fought conversion tooth and nail, because I was truly afraid.
Finally, I arrived at a point, where the misery of my sinfulness confirmed my slavery to dark and evil ways, even to me. In my imagination, my own portrait reflected a horrible disfigurement caused by the addictions and passions that controlled me. I felt separate and alone from my wife and children, unworthy of them. My love was shallow and unfelt by those who still loved me. I was beginning to experience a reflection of the pain that I had inflicted on them. Nevertheless, I recognized nothing of the pains inflicted on Christ by my sin.
I also offer a reflection on the revelation of the powerful and prayerful influence of my Saint Monica, my wife Joan. In the early 1980s, she had had enough of me and sought priestly advice on divorce. The priest knew me and, as a result, suggested to Joan that she view the situation from the point of view of my having lost my faith, and that maybe Christ was asking her to bring me back. She chose to do that and I was wholly unaware that her constant love for me was predicated on that. She persistently nurtured our children’s education in Catholic schools and prayed for my conversion. How much I needed their prayerful intercession, and how blind I was to my family’s efforts. The focus of all of these inspirations and graces, truly God-given, resulted in a continual series of deepening conversions of my heart and soul.
I suffered a long and strenuous series of conversions from 1987 to 1997 to release me from hardened heart and transform my life. My conversions reflected, in part, all of the situations of faith in the “Parable of the Sower”: the seed on the path, the seed on the rocky ground, the seed among the thorns, and the seed on rich soil. My soul emerged in and out of darkness until embracing the light, which grew and withered like the parable’s seed of faith, but ultimately led to and deepened the intensity of my love for Jesus over years, helping to free me from the chains of evil and the world. My persistence in seeking freedom from alcohol led me to discover a broken relationship with a loving and forgiving God. I began to seek a return to my Catholic Faith to remove my fears and to immerse myself in his love. It was a slow process. It now continues to strengthen within me everyday by the persistent help of God’s Love and Grace.

1993-Present — Suffering and Conversion
On a very cold winter’s night in the beginning of January 1993, the phone rang at about ten-thirty. A voice told us that our son Paul had suffered an accident and was in the hospital. He passed away in the early hours of January 12, surrounded by his immediate family, loving him and caressing him. It seemed, in retrospect, that he had just fallen asleep. When we found out he was murdered, my first reaction to this information was certainly a human one — anger and grief seethed within me, reawakening emotions I had not felt for a long time.
One thing immediately came to my mind on the way home: I knew I needed to deal with my anger and, by implication, I knew that this meant coming to forgiveness so I would not be consumed by hate. I initially dealt with this problem with tears and anger, until I could summon up the courage to ask God for help. I was certain that I needed to forgive Paul’s attacker, which did not mean that I loved Paul any less, but, the more I loved Paul, the more I knew I had to forgive! I remember going to Paul’s grave one day after the funeral and kneeling in the snow, asking Jesus to hold on to Paul for me. This act of letting go finally freed a flood of tears acknowledging that I had released my son into God’s care. At the same time, I made a sincere effort in my heart to forgive Paul’s attacker and to ask God to forgive him too.

God’s cleansing mercy
Paul’s death destroyed any pretense of denial I had for the consequences of my sinful life. I discovered the damaged relationship I had with God. I became very afraid for my great sinfulness throughout life and the wretchedness of my soul. The words of Jesus came to mind that, with faith, we could move mountains and cast them into the sea. It occurred to me that He was speaking to me about my mountains of fear. By examining this idea, I also discovered I had hope for forgiveness and the possibility of true peace of the soul. I was comforted to discover that God had already forgiven me through His Death and Resurrection.
I began to feel an urgent sense to reconcile with God in the face of the abundant compassion and mercy He was showing to me in my suffering. Sadly, I never knew how hard it would be to break free from the slavery of sin. The trees of sin were now a forest and without God, I was lost. I became truly aware that I needed His help and grace, but I was still afraid to ask. I learned I just could not want Jesus to help me to stop sinning; I needed to actively convert to a virtuous way of life. When my son died, I questioned my life and my priorities. The moral life underlies the choices we make whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Right acts are still right if no one does them and wrong acts are still wrong even if everyone does them. Moral law grounds us and proves that freedom lies in the choices we ought to make.
My love for my son examined in light of the experience of his death transformed me through the graces given from God by this loss. Though I did not fully understand, I knew that I shared something from the experience that reflected the loss of the Son of God by God Himself. I began to sense the pains I had inflicted on my family for my wrongs and the pains I had inflicted on Jesus. I began to experience that in a very personal way, my own sins were the cause of Christ’s sufferings, passion, and death. All of this turmoil led to a full spiritual transformation in Christ by May of 2007, in which Christ freed me from the passions and defects which separated me from Him. I felt a mystical sense of true freedom, joy, and peace in a fully sacramental and mystical expression of His Love.
I began to read and devour the Word of God in the Gospels and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I needed to restore the true perspectives of the grossly false image I had developed of the Catholic Church. Instead of rebelling against the distorted view I had of the Church, I developed an attitude of realistically accepting the imperfection and deficiencies in myself, as well as in others in the Catholic Church herself. During 2000 to 2007, I began to rediscover my true conscience and spiritual identity and grew in God’s love. I cast off the distortions I had of what had taken place in the wake of Vatican II. Studying about our beloved popes and saints, reading their loving and insightful writings, gave birth in my heart to unquenchable fires of love.
On the human level, I had “lived” in a world where I was dead to those around me and unconscious of the reality of the evil. Moreover, without grace, I had no ability to affect that evil, much less, if I could, pray with satisfaction for those who suffer it. Finally, I could now begin to make amends for the suffering that I created in the world for my loved ones and the hurt I now realize I had inflicted on our Blessed Lord.
My conversion then became an opportunity to ignite the true fires of love within me for my wife and family and we have been together for 47 years. Within Christ’s presence, I began to share the richness of true love with Joan and my children. Christ is with me in this effort and I trust in Him completely.
Today I embrace my Church community in prayer and activities as a member of CCD, lector, extraordinary minister at church and in the hospital, and in raising a true Christian family. I experience a peace of the soul, wherein I give my whole personality to the will of God and seek to identify His will as my own. The Holy Spirit presents to my soul, in spite of my limitations and defects, what I can become through grace: the fulfillment of being perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, and the healing of my emotional life. I am perfected in Him and not by anything that I have done to merit it. It is His heart and love that I seek to dwell in.
The true joy of my Christian spirituality and prayer is responding in a world of suffering to the fears, pain, injustices, and failures of humanity. I must love as Jesus loves — until it hurts. In this way, I can live as a prayerful contemplative, mystic, in the world, always in the presence of God — bringing Jesus to others and witnessing the presence of Jesus in them. Amen!
Paul Lambert is a revert to Catholicism. His background includes a long and varied career in university teaching, working in the federal government, and many years of small business consulting. He is currently part-time teaching financial planning techniques in a community college. He is also primarily engaged in various parish activities with Joan, his wife of 47 years.