31 October 2010

Why on Earth does the Media Glorify Bad Behavior?


Do you know what your children
are watching on television?

This evening I was watching one of my favorite documentaries, and they were talking about a late fisherman's life. Their description went well beyond his skills on the water. It talked about and showed video footage of him talking about how he took "every drug on the planet," was a hard-drinking, fast-living, strip club-going individual. They then called him an American hero.

No one is perfect. People make mistakes. People can grow. Yet, when dangerous and immoral activities are promoted in conjunction with someone deemed a "hero" by the media, there is a problem. This sends the message that it is "cool" to be that way. There is no message of "I made some mistakes, kids. Don't follow those practices." If it were that way, then there is a sense of social responsibility there. When the complete package is presented in a positive light, however, it is a case of a negative role model portrayed as a positive one. This is what happened in this documentary.

It does not stop here with American media. Look at Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as just two examples.  Children somehow are allowed to watch cartoons like South Park and Family Guy. Television dramas promote immoral behavior and lack of responsibility. Trash television has taken over.
A nation that tolerates media promoting what is base, immoral, and indecent as good, positive, and acceptable has lost its moral compass. "Oh, so he used every drug known to man. So what? He's a good person, so it doesn't matter," they might say. This was the gist of what the television documentary was saying as well. What total nonsense. This is a clear product of the age of moral relativism in which we rationalize and justify everyone's behavior by saying that they as people aren't bad. If we say what they are doing or have done is bad, then we are accused of somehow attacking them as human beings. This is not what we are doing, however, when we condemn their behavior. Condemning the sin is not condemning the person. (Read more about that here.) 

When we justify sin by making the excuse that the sinner is inherently good, we are projecting our emotions about the person onto their sin. Pretty soon all behavior becomes acceptable, no matter how bad, especially if we like the person. The more this goes on, the harder it becomes to stand against it. And there is the problem with these media portrayals of bad behavior in a positive light.

And how is it we are ignoring all of this as a society? Perhaps we have collectively taken the crucifix down from the wall so we aren't constantly reminded that Jesus is watching us. It makes us feel better as we are fed the over-the-top garbage the media corporations are putting out to win the ratings game and get more money. The trouble is, God knows all. We as a society are not fooling him. Society is only fooling itself. So, we might as well put the crucifix back up on the wall where it belongs. We might as well put God back in society. He is everywhere anyway. We might as well admit it.

30 October 2010

The Traditional Old Anglo-Catholic Church - Thank God We're Behind the Times


"If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates.    My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh.    If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world.   Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world.   Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned.   Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth.    Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because he called Himself the Truth.    Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly.    Since it is other-worldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself.…”
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

My favorite bishop of the modern era does it again! The above words of Fulton Sheen were sent to me this morning, and they not only rang true, but they got me thinking of the See entrusted to me, the Archdiocese of the Southwest. We have certainly been called "behind the times." I'm not sure we get along with the world at all. We have been accused of essentially all that +Sheen mentions above. We rightly claim to represent the Truth of Christ, and many reject us. Indeed, we are in this world, but not of this world. But what about love?

Even when there are disagreements and varying opinions internally, as inevitably will happen with humans, I have always observed in our little archdiocese a sense of Christian love towards one another. How many divisions of Christ's Church do not practice this? From my experience, quite a few. This is what we want in the Archdiocese of the Southwest; Christ's unfiltered and unapologetic religion of Truth and Love. This is what we have. Christ's love for the Church is infinite, and this is what we reflect.

28 October 2010

The Role of Societal Leaders - Spoken over Half a Century Ago


This was an allocution of Pius XII to the Roman nobility on 11 January 1951. While the Roman nobility specifically is being addressed, it is nonetheless a good treatise on social responsibility and follows in the theme of my previous letter on role models (see that letter here). To whom much has been given, much is expected. The so-called elites of modern society often fail to see this crucial point. Yet, Pius XII saw it and, speaking more than fifty years ago, made it quite clear that the duty of society's leaders is service.

With all Our heart We extend Our paternal greeting to the members of the Roman Patriciate and Nobility who, true to an ancient tradition, have gathered around Us at the dawn of the New Year to offer Us their fervent best wishes, as expressed with filial devotion by their illustrious and eloquent representative.

One after another, each year enters history, handing down to the new year a legacy, the responsibility for which it bears upon itself. The year just ended, the Holy Year 1950, will remain one of the greatest in the moral and especially the supernatural order. Your family annals will note its more resplendent dates, like so many bright beacons to light the way for your children and grandchildren.

But will these annals be like a closed book? Will they count only the memories of a past dead and gone? No. On the contrary, they must be a message from the vanished generations to those of the future.

The celebration of the Holy Year came to a close for Rome, not like a spectacle that had reached its end, but rather as the program of a growing life purified, sanctified, and fecundated by grace, one that must continue to enrich itself with the endless contribution of the thoughts and feelings, the resolutions and actions whose memories your ancestors have passed on to you, that you yourselves might pass on their example to those who shall follow you.

The furious currents of a new age envelop the traditions of the past in their whirlwinds. Yet, more than this, these winds show what is destined to die like withered leaves, and what instead tends with the genuine force of its interior life to stand firm and live on. A nobility and a patriciate that would, as it were, grow stiff and decrepit by regretting times gone by, would consign themselves to an inevitable decline. Today more than ever, you are called upon to be an elite, not only by blood and by stock, but even more by your works and sacrifices, by creative actions in the service of the entire social community.

And this is not just a duty of man and citizen that none may shirk with impunity. It is also a sacred commandment of the faith that you have inherited from your fathers and that you must, in their wake, leave whole and unaltered to your descendants.

Banish, therefore, from your ranks all despondency and faint-heartedness; all despondency in the face of the age’s evolution, which is bearing away many things that other epochs had built; and all faint-heartedness at the sight of the grave events accompanying the novelties of our age. Being Roman means being strong in action, but also in support. Being Christian means confronting the sufferings, the trials, the tasks, and the needs of the age with that courage, strength, and serenity of spirit that draws the antidote to all human fear from the wellsprings of eternal hope.

How humanly great is Horace’s proud dictum: Si fractus illabatur orbis, impavidum ferient ruinae (Even if the world crumbles to pieces, its ruins would strike him without, however, unsettling him). Yet how much greater still, how much more confident and exalting is the victorious cry that rises from Christian lips and hearts brimming with faith: Non confundar in aeternum!

Thus beseeching the Creator of all good to grant you intrepid fortitude and the divine gift of an unshakable hope founded on faith, with all Our heart We give you, beloved Sons and Daughters, your families, and all your loved ones, near and far, sick and in health, and all your holy aspirations and undertakings, Our Apostolic blessing.
Pius pp XII

Good Role Models


Society is starved for good role models today. This applies to adults and youth alike. Considering positive role models are essential to the development of young people into good Christian adults and upstanding, productive citizens, this is particularly troublesome. 

Coming from the South, I need look no further than the fine collection of Confederate Generals for role models. For example, Robert E. Lee is rightly considered one of the finest gentlemen ever to live and produced much wisdom for living that is as applicable today as over a century ago when he wrote it. These are historical role models, though. Environment is important to development, and so youth in particular need living role models around them to look up to. In addition to those role models around them, they need positive societal role models to confirm to them that what is proper behavior really is proper behavior. 

I can certainly think of some living people who are good role models. Perhaps Ed Viesturs, the first American to climb all 14 mountains in the world that are above 8000 meters in altitude without supplemental oxygen would be a good one. He set a big (very big) goal and worked hard to overcome the odds, even giving up his veterinary practice to pursue mountaineering full time. And then there is the physical and mental accomplishment. This is not a bad choice at all. The only trouble is that, while he is well-known in the mountaineering community, he is not exactly a household name in America. The kids aren't all wearing Ed Viesturs t-shirts.

Now...contrast this to the over-paid egomaniacs in professional American sports today. What kind of role models are these? Even college athletes have it put into their heads that they can do whatever they want and have other people to do their work for them. Adultery is the norm. I just don't see a thing in their behavior or the general culture surrounding them that promotes good values to anyone, much less the youth of today. The message seems to be "do whatever you want, for there are no consequences." Yet, these are the household names. These are the ones to whom America's youth looks up to?

What about the popular music stars and other celebrities? I hesitate to call most of it music, but nevertheless, it is popular. Look at their far-from-moral behavior in the news. Is this positive? Not hardly. As with the sports players, they communicate to our youth that there are no consequences. They can do whatever they want, and they don't really even have to do much to work. It's all about the glitz and glamor. And then there is the complete and total lack of morality in Hollywood. These are the ones to whom America's youth looks up to?

We need role models for our youth and for society in general, and we need them now. It is time that those who are public figures, celebrities, movie stars, pop singers, and sports players are made to realize that there are consequences to their actions, if not to them, then to society. They need an injection of social responsibility instead of whatever else they're getting high on. They need to deflate their egos and help other people. They need a good dose of morality instead of booze. They need to start setting a good example for everyone now.

26 October 2010

What has happened to our educational system?


It's official. The more educated and more wealthy people in America are less moral! This is according to statistics stemming from a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. American society has been slowly becoming more and more permissive since the 1940s (see a book on the subject here). Modern secular psychology has been taking over as the dominant guide rather than Christian morality. These things rarely happen overnight. It should come as no surprise that it was a gradual process, slowly eroding our society's morality. What is most sad, though, is that financial success (having or earning more money) and education (going to college) are now associated with lower morality. No longer, it seems, is a permissive attitude limited to the stereotypical "liberal East Coast academic," but rather is a national epidemic. Perhaps now I see why someone once told me that no one with a brain could or should become a catholic. In fact, he told me I was too smart to be a catholic.

As a point of statistics, education and income are generally highly correlated, so we can simplify matters here by just focusing on education. So what is it about our educational system that breeds such liberals?

Let's look at some of the numbers by category....



If you graduate college you are 33.3% less likely to oppose abortion, and you are more than twice as likely to view the murder of unborn children as morally acceptable. College graduates are also almost twice as likely to view abortion as not a moral issue. Higher income also reduces your probability of opposing abortion.


If you graduate college, you are almost 50% less likely to view homosexuality as morally wrong, about twice as likely to think it is not a moral issue, and almost three times as likely to view it as morally acceptable. Income followed the same trend, though the differences between the income categories in terms of their moral view on this issue were less dramatic than for education.

Alcohol Abuse

If you graduate college, you are a little less than 50% less likely to view alcohol abuse as morally wrong, and well over twice as likely to view it as not a moral issue. What was particularly interesting was that the percentage of people who believed alcohol abuse to be morally acceptable was the same for high school graduates and college graduates, but twice as high for those with some college. Income followed the same trend, though the differences between the income categories in terms of their moral view on this issue were less dramatic than for education.


If you graduate college, you are a little less than 50% less likely to view fornication as morally wrong, around 33.3% more likely to view it as not a moral issue, and about 20% more likely to view it as morally acceptable. As expected, income followed in the same trend, but was less dramatic in magnitude. 

Marijuana Use

If you graduate college, you are a little less than 50% less likely to view smoking pot as morally wrong and more than twice as likely to view it as not a moral issue. What was a little surprising was that college graduates were slightly less likely to view smoking pot as morally wrong. So, they either refuse to say it is wrong (the same thing as saying it is right) or say it isn't even a moral issue. Income followed the same trends with about the same proportional changes.


These statistics make me wonder just what is being taught in colleges these days! They certainly aren't getting any of these notions from my classes! Of course, if I think back to what I witnessed during my college days and time in graduate school, I'm not overly surprised by any of this. My alma mater, despite being a conservative university in the South, still put on a production of The Vagina Monologues, complete with a wall advertisement in the student center about the size of Raphael's mural The Deliverance of Saint Peter. So, I suppose I just shouldn't be shocked that the survey showed that college graduates are less likely to profess Christian morals. 
As I sit here listening to Bach's organ chorale Wachet auf (Sleepers wake), I can't help but think that it is time for America to wake up. What we need is an overhaul of the university system, but the likelihood  of that anytime soon is probably as high as that of getting struck by lightening twice while in a cave. It's not all that bad, though. There are some things we can do.

Christians have got to continue preserving and promoting morality and increase the efforts to do so. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Yet, if we adopt a permissive, "anything goes" attitude, then morals and society necessarily degenerate. As for universities, we can promote ethics and morality within them, and especially give assistance to Christian universities and colleges, no matter the denomination, in their most valuable mission of educating our youth to be good citizens and good Christians, allowing Christian morality, principles, and faith to guide them in all aspects of their lives. We can promote Christian morals around our communities and in whom we elect to office. We no longer should remain silent.

25 October 2010

Chalice or Not - Part 2 - Intinction


This letter is a follow-on discussion to an earlier letter on whether or not it is absolutely essential that any other than the celebrating priest receives the chalice in order to obtain all the grace of the Sacrament. See the original letter here.   I was asked to address the issue of intinction and have also added Communion from the Reserved Sacrament.

In the earlier letter it was concluded based on theology, doctrine, and tradition that giving communion in both species is perfectly acceptable if done for the right reasons, but at the same time the faithful are not deprived of the spiritual grace of the Sacrament if they receive only in one kind.

One additional point to raise is Communion from the Reserved Sacrament. Only hosts are reserved, not wine. If wine absolutely must be received in order to receive the benefits of the Sacrament, then the practice stemming from antiquity of reserving the Sacrament for distribution outside mass would be deficient. Yet, Communion from the Reserved Sacrament is not deficient and has continually been supported by the Church. We even trust it to nourish the sick and dying.

Lastly, there is intinction. Intinction does have its fairly obvious practical benefits. In addition to the practical benefits, intinction has some nice symbolism. The Body and Blood are one, as discussed in the previous letter as one of the reasons why communion in one species is just as beneficial as communion in both. For this same very reason, though, communion by intinction is nice, as it can be thought of as symbolizing the joint nature of the Body and Blood. The Orthodox, for example, typically give the Sacrament on a spoon in the form of wine-soaked bread, i.e., the Body and Blood mixed together. It is for the practical benefits, as well as for the symbolic benefits that I prefer intinction.

I will reiterate the points that, based on theology, doctrine, and tradition, offering the chalice to the faithful is quite acceptable, as is intinction, as is offering only one species, provided the choice is made under valid intent. Ultimately everything we do in the Church must be governed and measured by validity of intent under Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church.

24 October 2010

Patience is a virtue that could save your life


Patience is a virtue that could save your life.

This is what could have happened
due to the driver's impatience!

As I was returning from the mountains on a bus last evening, we were still out in the countryside when this point was illustrated quite well. In the oncoming lane was a slow-moving farm vehicle. Behind the farm vehicle was a car, the driver of which apparently was not interested in waiting. So, he pulled out in an attempt to pass, right in front of the oncoming bus (the one I was in). The driver of the car was successful in his foolhardy attempt, but only just. A collision was barely avoided. Had a collision occurred, it would certainly have gone worse for the driver of the car than us sitting in the bus. Just think of how a little patience could have kept him from even being at such a risk of death.

How many times in life do we rush things? We get impatient, and so we oftentimes have problems as a result. Sometimes these are just problems for ourselves. Sometimes they are problems that involve other people. Medical problems such as hypertension can result. We can hurt people we care about. Impatience rarely leads anywhere good.

Try increasing your level of patience and see if you aren't pleased with the results. Of course, too much patience, and you'll spend your whole life waiting. It's all about balance.

23 October 2010

Do whatever it takes to fill the pews.... What?


The desire to fill the pews and get more people into the church is often the well-meaning justification for changes that shouldn't be made, or at least not without due and careful consideration. And, it is often the justification used by those who wish to make radical reforms or have the church "keep up with the times." There exists the potential for long term problems and negative results. Short term gains must not be sought at the cost of long term problems.

Whatever the intentions or justification, changes to liturgy, procedures, and policies must be carefully thought out, preferably over time and after consultation with many experienced members of the clergy. The key questions are:

1. Am I really doing this for the good of the Church and of the faithful, or am I simply trying to have a church as big as the rock and roll pastor down the street?
2. Can these changes be made in accordance with doctrine and canon law?
3. Will the long term benefits warrant making the changes?
4. Has the change been approved by my Bishop, or am I trying to do an "end run" around him under the heading of "local use?"

If one cannot truthfully answer "yes" to each of these questions, then the change definitely ought not to be made.

Let me illustrate with an example. I recall a church many years ago that was protestant, but quite formal and high church in style, right down to the gold processional cross. People came in suits and ties. The organ accompanied hymns, and they had a wonderful choir. They thought, however, that they could get more people in by starting a contemporary, quasi-rock style service. "We can reach more people," they said, "and then once they get 'churched,' they will naturally transition to the formal service." So, that's what they did. A hip and jive service it was. Come as you are, right down to t-shirt and shorts if you like. No worshipful atmosphere, but instead an environment aimed at giving an emotional high to the congregants.

I said then that this was not going to be the outcome. In fact, the opposite happened. People started going from the formal service to the casual service, and in some ways the formal service became less formal. And, sure enough, over a decade later, I happened to notice that the contemporary service worshippers have not made a mass transition to the formal service. The contemporary hip and jive service has grown and is more strong than ever.

What is the problem with this? After all, aren't they getting people into church? Aren't they pulling them in and exposing them to the Word of God? If so, then where is the problem? The problem is quite simple. It isn't contemporary language that is the problem, or necessarily even the music. It is overall style, attitude, and atmosphere. When the style, attitude, and atmosphere of the service become disrespectful and put the focus on the emotional high or uplifted feelings of the congregants rather than on providing a God-centered environment for the praise and worship of the Almighty in the dignity that it deserves, there is a problem.

The issues go deeper than this. When you start changing the style and content merely to satisfy the congregation or merely to get people in, you cease to be a church and instead become commercial marketers. If you advertise your church and people don't come, and then change the atmosphere in one of the negative ways I mentioned above, and then people come, here is what you have done. You have communicated to the people "If you don't like what we do or what we say and therefore won't come, we will change it to suit you." This is a dangerous precedent to set. Even if you think this is acceptable at the beginning just to get them in, and "then they'll change," you're still fooling yourself. If they see that you will change to suit them once, they will expect it again and again. It is basic human nature.

Furthermore, we have the issue of the good of the souls of the faithful. If we have to water down the faith to get them in for mass, then what good are we really doing them?

So what's a priest to do? Well, no one ever said the priesthood was easy. First, stick to your principles! Keep the faith and keep the tradition. The problems in reaching the people thatyou might be experiencing are nothing new. Look to the Saints for inspiration and to see what they did without compromising. Remember again that you must be able to answer "yes" to the four questions mentioned at the beginning if you absolutely must make any changes.

Instead of watering down the faith, give it to the potential converts in pieces...bite-sized pieces that they can handle. Try to figure out what they like, what they're all about, etc., and present the truth of the faith in a way they can understand...but without compromising doctrine or tradition. In other words, give them the parts of the catechism that they are most likely to be able to understand first. Establish a rapport and a dialogue, and then proceed from there. This is but one approach, but it provides a good pattern. Seek to understand your potential convert without compromising the faith, doctrine, or tradition, and then gradually help them to understand you, the Church, and most importantly, Jesus Christ. Through a personal relationship with you, you can help them develop a personal relationship with Christ.

These modern, radical changes are just quick fixes that provide a temporary solution. What you must seek is a long-term solution...and it takes work. Hard work. Our work is never easy, so let's not try to cut corners. In the end, we fail in our duty to God and also to the flock in our care.

22 October 2010

The Anglican Church and the Ordination of Women and Homosexuals


The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently acknowledged that the issues of the ordination of women and of open homosexuals may cause even deeper divisions than already exist within the worldwide Anglican Church. Who in America can forget the shock of Gene Robinson's consecration and his "marriage" to his homosexual partner while wearing pontifical attire? Few things could scandalize a church any more than that. Couple this with the clerical abuse of altar boys, and it is little wonder why the universal Church has such a vocations problems.

The question of the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church of the USA was one of the chief causes of the continuing Anglican movement in the 1970s. The downside of Anglo-Catholics leaving the Episcopal Church to be in independent Anglican communions may have been that it left the Episcopal Church with a higher ratio of liberals to conservatives than before, thereby making it easier for radical reforms to take place. Nevertheless, the desire to be in a diocese within the Anglican Church (within the Communion or not) that adheres to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition is entirely one with which I can sympathize. For the good of one's own soul, one wants to be in an environment that is God-centered, not a social experiment masquerading as a church. That is far more important, and that is, for example, why our own beloved Archdiocese exists. The Metropolitan See was founded as a diocese in the early days of the continuing Anglican movement and continues to offer haven to this day to those professing the faith and wanting a God-centered church in the Anglican tradition. 

The social experimentation in the Episcopal Church has gotten more and more radical over the years. It ultimately amounts to an attempt to change the Church to follow along with every liberal social trend the world can come up with in a misguided attempt to be "representative." Concerns of parishioners are flatly ignored as the steamroller of liberal heresy charges forth.

Once they "won" the women's ordination battle, they turned to the issue of homosexuals. There are moves afoot to have official rites for blessing of unions or pseudo-marriages...and some priests have already been doing this on their own, anyway. Open homosexuality has been tolerated as perfectly acceptable (apparently they ripped out certain parts of the Bible), and there is the question remaining of openly-homosexual clergy. These issues have caused severe splits in the Episcopal Church. In addition to clergy and parishioners leaving for independent Anglican dioceses, the Roman Catholic Church, and elsewhere, several American Episcopal dioceses seceded en masse and formed a new communion.

The social experimenters seem to think that keeping up with secular trends is more important than keeping the Church together. Apparently that whole unity thing Christ mentioned has escaped them. Of course, they put the blame on the conservatives in the Church who oppose this, saying that they are sexist for opposing the ordination of women or homophobic or anti-gay for opposing the ordination of homosexuals. It is the social experimenters and liberals who are the ones at fault. They can hardly blame the conservatives for trying to stay with what is proper according to Sacred Scripture and the tradition of Christ's Holy Church for the last 2000 years. A conservative who opposes the ordination of women does not hate women because of this. Women are and should always be welcomed in the Church, following the many similar examples of Christ in the Bible. Yet, the role of the priest is also defined in the Bible, and it is clearly limited to men. Similarly, a conservative who opposes the ordination of homosexuals does not hate homosexuals because of that. Indeed, homosexuals are accepted into the church. It is not them we hate, but rather their sin. This is not a matter of hate, but a matter of doctrine.

It is long since past the time that the Anglican Church worldwide has got to work for real unity, centered on true Catholic doctrine that has sustained our faith since the beginning. Social experimentation has no place in the church.

21 October 2010

To give the Chalice or Not to Give the Chalice...


The Sacrifice of the Mass
 It is sometimes a contentious question amongst Anglicans, even Anglo-Catholics, as to whether or not communion should be given in both kinds. Some vehemently defend that it "just isn't communion" without giving the Precious Blood to the faithful. Now, I could easily go into hygiene issues of a hundred people drinking from the same cup, especially during cold and flu season, but this is intended instead to be a theological discussion. Also, let me state that if a parish wishes to provide the option of receiving the Precious Blood, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. The question being addressed here is whether or not it is theologically necessary for the faithful to receive communion in both kinds to receive the saving grace of the Sacrament and to be in accord with Christ's commandment.

Protestant churches and even the modern Roman Catholic Church under the Novus Ordo gives communion in both kinds as a matter of practice. The Tridentine Rite churches within the Roman Communion still give only in one kind. All but the celebrating priest receive the host only. Other traditional churches sometimes do similarly. The question is whether or not communion in one kind is somehow deficient, and whether or not it is really necessary to give the Precious Blood to the faithful.

Before I continue, I must stress that this is not a Roman/Anglican debate, an attempt to supplant Anglican tradition with Roman, or anything else of the kind. It is, rather, a discussion of what is theologically proper and logical versus what is not. It is a catholic/protestant discussion.

 Let's begin with the oft-cited justification that both kinds must be given, viz. the Articles of Religion in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, which were adopted in 1801 by the Protestant Episcopal Church of the US. Now, if a parish celebrates mass under the rubrics of the 1928 BCP, it might make sense to give communion in both kinds to follow the traditions of that book. That is, of course, not what we are discussing here. Article No. 30 of the Articles of Religion states that "The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike." The Articles of Religion, though, have often been challenged by Anglo-Catholics as being thoroughly infused with protestant notions. For example, the Articles suggest that adoration and relics are not appropriate, while the use of images and icons, adoration, etc. are common practice among Anglo-Catholics.

So, are the Articles of Religion in the 1928 BCP truly representative of catholic doctrine, even within the Anglican tradition, or are they peppered with protestant heresy? When I read the Articles, they read to me like a document written by committee. Such documents often deem somewhat disjointed when there are opposing viewpoints on the committee writing them. Since the Protestant Reformation got a foothold (and sometimes a stranglehold) on the Anglican Church beginning in earnest during the time of Elizabeth I, there have been these competing factions within the Anglican Church, one Catholic, one Protestant. When I was receiving catechism, I was actually taught to take the Articles with a grain of salt due to the protestant influence.

Let's now travel back in time to the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent. While the Council of Trent was Roman, there is no need to say that it should be disregarded by Anglicans. In fact, when learned men of the Church come together to discuss a doctrinal matter of great importance, and they reach a conclusion that refutes protestant claims, it should be given its due. Furthermore, the points made by the Council of Trent, it should be pointed out , were nothing new, but were simply upholding the traditional positions of the Church up to that point.

The protestant claim at the time was that the Real Presence did not exist and both kinds must be given at communion. To refute this heresy, the Council of Trent came up with several key points. The first was that the celebrating priest was joined inherently to the Sacrifice of the Mass, and hence had to receive in both kinds to keep the comm-
The celebrating priest must receive the Chalice.
andment of Christ made at the Last Supper, "Do this in remembrance of me." At least in this sense, the protestant and catholic viewpoints are in some agreement.

The second point made by the Council was that there is no Divine precept requiring the faithful or non-celebrating priests to receive the cup. While both kinds were frequently given in the early church, it was not universal, and the use of giving communion in both kinds fell out of practice almost universally until the Reformation.

The third point made was and is the most crucial. Because of the hypostatic union of Christ and the indivisibility of his glorified humanity, Christ is really present in both the Body and the Blood. They are indivisible. This is signified in the mass with the commixture. Christ is indivisible, and therefore he who eats of his Flesh experiences the same spiritual communion as he who drinks of his Blood. The faithful are not deprived of spiritual graces by communicating only in the form of the Body. 

It was the Reformers, denying the Real Presence and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, proclaimed that the people should receive both kinds in order to fulfill the commandment of Christ. A century earlier, this same heresy was promoted by the Hussites, interestingly enough, though they did not deny the Real Presence and Sacrifice of the Mass. It should be remembered, though, that we do not individually get to come up with our own interpretations of the Sacred Scripture. This has never been permitted, nor was it ever the intent. Saint Peter himself said that such interpretations are not appropriate.

Procedures for administration
of the Sacraments must always
be chosen for the right reasons.

This whole issue is really that of Catholic doctrine versus Protestant heresy. Anglo-Catholics, then, ought to be reminded that there is no requirement, Divine or otherwise, that the faithful must communicate in both kinds. They may do so if deemed appropriate by Church sacramental law, providing doing so is not an attempt to suggest that both kinds are required, as this would cause a doctrinal violation. Similarly, the faithful must not be permitted to demand communion in both kinds as if it is their right or a necessity, as such would further be a doctrinal violation. What they receive sacramentally must be in accord both with doctrine and Church law. The Apostles and their successors were given this authority to tend to the flock. The Church leaders determine the appropriate methods for administration of the Sacraments.

So, it seems that administration of the chalice may be done for the right reasons. However, administration of communion in one kind also is equally valid and provides just as much sacramental grace to the faithful. It is Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and Church doctrine and practices that should and must govern how we administer sacraments, not the influx of protestant heresy that has been allowed to remain in practice for the past 500 years. Give the Precious Blood to the faithful if you wish and ecclesiastical authority approves, but it must be done only in accord with doctrine. Otherwise we fail in our duty to the faithful as shepherds and teachers.

20 October 2010

Getting out the Vote...in the Church


I recently read a pastoral letter by the Right Reverend Brian Marsh of the Anglican Church in America's Diocese of the Northeast. (Read the whole letter here...) His Grace is addressing the issue of accepting or not accepting the Pope's corporate conversion offer. He makes a rather good point that it seems unusual to break apart a diocese or a parish in order to achieve the end of unity. Indeed, where is the unity there? This is a struggle that many Anglo-Catholic parishes and dioceses are going through right now.

What I am particularly interested in are his comments on parish voting on this matter. He suggests not putting it to a vote in a parish as such, but rather trying to seek a consensus. The reason given is that a vote turns the matter into a result of "winners" and "losers." I wish to commend Bishop Marsh on his wisdom here, and the advice is really good advice for the Church in general.

The Church is not, has never been, and never should be a democracy. I do not suggest she should be an authoritarian, tyrannical dictatorship, either. However, the concept of "theology by popular vote" or "liturgy by popular vote" simply doesn't work. A vote on the church picnic might be fine, but not on more lofty matters. This is why God gave us church leadership. I am not in favor of vestries making major parish decisions, and ADSW Canon Law also prohibits this. Church leadership must remain with those whom God has put in charge, viz. the Bishops as successors to the Apostles, and the priests and deacons working in concert with them.

A parish should not be allowed to devolve into a case of "us" versus "them" or winners and losers. This is one way disaffected people leave the parish, the diocese, or the church as a whole. Voting doesn't help. It is not possible that every member of the parish will agree with everything the parish does at all times, but those who disagree should still not be made to feel on the outside. The strong leadership of the Rector is needed to bring the parish into a consensus as much as possible, without compromising doctrine, canon law, or sacred principles. This is easier said than done, but then, nothing in our work is easy.

19 October 2010

Anglicans and their Offer from the Pope


Pope Benedict XVI
The recent news of Bishop Broadhurst leaving the Church of England for the Roman Communion, as well as the intent of a parish in the Archbishop of Canterbury's own ecclesiastical backyard to leave en masse for Rome made the news, as have several other high profile conversions over the years. For the last year, the Pope's offer to Anglican had been the subject of much talk. Some welcome it with open arms, while others are skeptical. What does it all mean, and what should Anglicans do? 

First, the ability of Anglicans to become Roman Catholics is nothing new. Anglicans could cross over and join the Roman Communion like anyone else. Even Anglican clergy could often become Roman Catholic priests, serving in the Novus Ordo liturgy. They could even be married if they were married before their crossing over. Then John Paul II established the "Anglican Use," allowing the use of Anglican-style liturgy within the Roman Communion at special parishes. Now Pope Benedict XVI has continued this trend by allowing the establishment of Personal Ordinariates for the use of Anglican liturgy. The specifics might have changed, but the concept is certainly nothing new. 

This has been a welcome invitation for many, and some have taken advantage of it. The new plan is not without its problems, though. It seems some high-ranking Roman prelates have claimed that the traditionalists Anglicans not in the Anglican Communion are not really Anglican, and they don't know whether or not this new plan applies to them or not. This was certainly not welcome news to the several traditionalist Anglican Churches who wanted corporate reception into the Roman Communion. Still others are finding that the local Roman authorities are not so welcome to them. Not every Roman Catholic seems to think this is great...particularly the part about the married priests crossing over and remaining priests. There is the danger of the newly-converted Anglicans being treated as second-class citizens, particularly if they wish to continue using Anglican liturgy instead of "getting with the times" and using the Novus Ordo liturgy. None of this should come as a surprise, though. Just because the Holy Father is wise doesn't mean that his wisdom is shared by all Catholics.
Pope Benedict XVI & Archbishop Rowan Williams

And this is the danger in all of this. Devout Anglo-Catholics sit on the outside of the Roman Communion and look in. They often see a perfect world of spirituality, free from all the strife they are experiencing in their present church. It is a very jaded view. It is nothing new that some convert, only to find out that, once they are on the inside, the same problems persist that they tried to get away from. The Roman Communion has been plagued with problem after problem. The Novus Ordo, particularly after the changes implemented by Paul VI, has resulted in a watered-down liturgy and has eroded the theology of Rome. Indeed, traditionalists Roman Catholics have long called for a return to the traditional values, theology, and worship of the Roman Rite. Pope Benedict XVI has acknowledged their needs by giving a universal indult for the use of the Tridentine Mass. Not surprisingly, though, some local authorities have ignored this and have not permitted the use of the Tridentine Rite. Those who prefer and attend the Tridentine masses that are provided are, even after this indult, often treated as red-headed step children by the local Novus Ordo establishment. This gives even more pause for thought in terms of how Anglicans who wish to continue using Anglican liturgy will be treated once in the Roman Communion. In short, a change in jurisdiction is something that should be done only after careful, prayerful consideration...and for the right reasons.

So how did this new plan get started? I like to think that Pope Benedict XVI issued this offer out of a genuine desire to see unity and to reach out to those in the Anglican Church who wish to be in full and visible communion with him as Holy Father. A more cynical person might suggest that the numbers were down, so this is really an attempt to fill the pews. Perhaps so...but then, isn't that what we're all trying to do? Otherwise we would just end up preaching to the choir.

Whether this new offer will be effective in the long-run is harder to tell. The news reports of "mass conversions" paint one picture, but the data say something different. A recent article in Faith and Economics shows that frequency of attendance at religious services by catholics has been below that of protestants in the US for almost all the time since about 1980 (not surprisingly, just after the Paul VI "reforms"). Since the news of the priestly sexual abuse scandal has hit, the gap widened dramatically. In the late 1990s, protestants were seeing a dramatic rise in attendance, while catholics, already well below the attendance level of protestants, were seeing a further marked decline. In the last period of the data approaching 2004, there was an increase in attendance by both protestants and catholics, but the numbers for catholics were still considerably lower than that of protestants. One of the several propositions in this article is that it is strong doctrine and strong church leadership that provides higher numbers in the pews...not to mention better well-being for the flock. Pope Benedict certainly provides strong leadership. As for the rest of the Roman Communion leadership, particularly in the US, it is a mixed bag leaning towards the weak side. I have only found a few RC bishops in America (and really in the world) who are strong shepherds. This is one of the main problems the Roman Communion must deal with, not just for the recent offer to Anglicans, but also for its own health.

Whatever the outcome of the Pope's offer will be, there is one thing that is certain. We need more unity; true unity in Christ. We need to express far more love to out brother and sister Christians, regardless of Rite. We need a lot less arrogance.
De Leire, Thomas; Thomas D. Jeitschko, Seamus O'Connel, and Rowena A. Pecchenino. "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself: Community Formation and the Church." Faith and Economics. 2010.

18 October 2010

Mountain Climbing and the Church


Abp. Johnson on a summit in the Alps.
The Mountains and the Church....

My friends would hardly be surprised to learn I'm drawing a comparison between mountaineering and the Church. Neither would my students be surprised, as I frequently make mountain climbing metaphors in class. This isn't surprising, of course, as I thoroughly enjoy alpine climbing. Korea is filled with hills, which they call mountains. Though not high altitude, they can be challenging, and they certainly are a great workout. Ask any Korean War veteran who fought his way up one of these hills how strenuous it can be. I still prefer getting above the treeline, though, up usually on snow and ice where I can see for miles and miles. The pain of getting up to the summit or somewhere high on a mountain is worth it to me for the view.

View from an Alpine mountain hut at sunset.
I was sitting on the Upper Ingraham glacier on Mount Rainier in the early hours of the morning. A beautiful, moonlight early morning so we didn't even need our headlights. The temperature was rather low, as would be expected. Gazing out over the landscape, well above the clouds, mountaineering suddenly became philosophical and spiritual for me.

So what exactly does climbing a mountain have to do with the Church? Well, I'll tell you! It came to me as I was watching Seven Years in Tibet last evening. The protagonist is an Austrian climber. As I was watching the climbing scenes, I was reminded of a basic fact of mountaineering. The technology has changed to provide lighter weight and stronger equipment and warmer, lighter-weight clothing. Safety equipment and practices have improved. Yet, the techniques of climbing are essentially the same. The goal is the same, and the process is the same. One foot in front of the other until you reach however high you reach. Weather is still an issue, as are natural conditions such as avalanches, glacial crevasses, ice falls, etc. Even with all our advances, mountaineering still remains one person and the mountain. Watch someone climb today, and it will look virtually the same as someone climbing in the early 20th century.

In the Church we are facing a trend of trendiness. What we call modernism is the notion of "out with the old, in with the new." Over the past especially forty years, the Church has been shedding all the "old ways," replacing them with new ways. These new ways are largely shaped by the trends of the ever-changing world around us. This is one of the fundamental problems with the operations of the Church today. What is tried-and-true is being exchanged for what is modern trend. It is like trying to climb a mountain, but without doing things fundamentally in the way of the past. It just won't work. Climbing is still one foot in front of the other. The modern trends in the Church are like short cuts. They are like taking a helicopter to the summit of a mountain and saying that's the "new way to climb." It is not a smarter way to climb, though, as you miss out on all the personal growth, learning, and development that occurs while climbing. Think of all that we are missing out on when we abandon the traditions of the church.

I certainly do not say the church should not change. As I have said in sermons and pastoral letters many times, this change must be in an evolutionary fashion. Mountaineering gives a great metaphor here. The process is exactly the same as before. The ropes are better quality, the clothing is better, and so on, but the process is the same. This is what we should strive for in the Church if we are to maintain our duty to Christ and to give the faithful a meaningful experience that will truly help them in their spiritual and daily lives.

Come as you are to Church?


When I was young, men wore suits and ties to church, and women wore nice dresses. The "Sunday Best," as it was often called, referring to the practice of wearing one's nicest (or at least nicer) clothing to the worship of the Lord on Sundays. What I have been seeing on Sundays in church for the past decade, though, is a mixed bag, leaning towards the ultra-casual. We all know the casual, trendy, rock-n-roll services are all the rage in many areas now as well. Now it is "come as you are" instead of "show some respect for the Lord." The excuse made is that "God doesn't care how you come. He just cares that you come." It's a nice soundbite, but there are two main problems with it. 
Is this style of dress how we show respect for God
in his House of Worship???

 The first issue is that it bends the church to suit the individual. That's a dangerous precedent to set, but it gets repeated over and over. Now, some say that we should do whatever it takes in order to get people into the pews, and then hope they will change. It's a well-meaning, but misguided approach.

If someone won't go to church until to change various aspects of the church, and then he goes once you make those changes, why would that person suddenly expect anything to be different in the approach once he is a member?On the contrary, logic says that he will continue to expect things to be changed to suit him. Sure, there are no doubt some data points out there where some people have come in to the church this way and then had a true, spiritual conversion. And, we should try to take care of the needs of individuals in our parishes as much as we are able.

It is absolutely important to try to get people in the pews so they can at the very least have some exposure to faith and worship. However, we cannot allow ourselves to make trouble for ourselves or the church as a whole by entering into a position of having to change constantly to suit the desires of every person in the parish. Also, we cannot offer a watered-down version of the faith just to fill the pews. It is a disservice to both your present congregation and those whom you bring in. It is strength and consistency of message that ultimately will bring in those with true spiritual intent.

The second problem with "come as you are" is that it has the potential to generate a casual attitude towards worship and towards God in general. We could easily apply this to the general "dumbing down" of society, but let's stay focused on the church aspect.

When one is expected to dress up for an event and show some respect, it conveys the message that the event is indeed important and worthy of respect. On the other hand, saying "oh just come however" conveys the message that the event isn't all that important. This is traditionally how dress codes were set. The more important the event, the higher the level of dress. But, what if the "event" in question is the Holy Mass? If we tell people "come as you are," we are sending the message that the event is not that important. This has the strong potential to lead to a general casual attitude towards the mass, towards the Sacred Mysteries, and towards God and his Church in general. Why can't we have some standards in the Church, even if the rest of the world has decided that standards have gone out the window?

Someone I know told me the story of how he grew up in the rural South, going to church just as I did growing up, i.e., in a jacket and tie. He said that one Sunday he say a farmer showing up to church in overalls and remarked to his mother how awful that was. His mother told him that the farmer was poor, and he kept those overalls just for Sunday because it was the best he had to offer. This gets right to the point of what I'm talking about. Notice that I don't specifically say "wear a suit and tie," though that is what it would be for most people. What I say is "offer your best to the Lord."

17 October 2010

New Video Series Launched


The first in a series of inspirational videos entitled "Thirty Second Messages" has been released today. The first video is "Want to buy a house?" Check out the video below.

16 October 2010

Children Run Amuck!


Oh what I saw at dinner this evening. My wife and I were at a pizza restaurant sitting in a booth. I turned to my right, and there was a little child with a significantly dirty mouth inching dangerously closer and closer to my jacket sleeve. The child then went running all around the restaurant. He then climbed on the chairs of the table next to his...and then climbed up onto the table, walking around in the same dirty socks that had just been on the floor. I don't so much blame the child, though. I blame the parents. Folks, children are out of control all around the globe.

The parents of this little tike didn't seem to be bothered by his antics. The restaurant staff didn't raise even the slightest objection to his climbing on the table. So, the kid's behavior was reinforced. That he didn't know better was certain. That he still doesn't know better and may never know better is also certain. What on earth has happened to society to cause parents and adults in general to turn a blind eye to inappropriate behavior of children? What has happened to make adults think these antics are just due to "kids being kids" and therefore cute?

Children raised without boundaries grow up to be adults without boundaries. Perhaps it is not surprising that we live in an "anything goes" world today.

The worst thing is, though, if you try to discipline a child or say anything about the behavior of a child, somehow you become the villain. I was at a party once with children from several families. The children were running around making so much noise that it was like being at the Hard Rock Cafe. Utterly impossible to carry on a conversation. Kids were running around pushing toys over the hardwood floors...which couldn't have been good for the floors. They were treating the furniture like a jungle gym. Sure, one or two of the parents told them to stop or to slow down or to behave. Do you think the child even showed the slightest sign of having heard the so-called command? No, not at all! The parent didn't follow up, either. It was an empty threat, and the children knew it.

Then one came tearing up and ran into my leg. I looked down and said "Excuse you." The child said nothing. The mother came up and took the child without saying a thing to the child to discipline it, and without saying a thing to me to apologize. The others didn't much like it that I dared to suggest that children shouldn't go running through the house making so much noise people can't think and running into guests without so much as the tiniest of apologies. Yet, I blame those adults at the party and those like them for the negative way in which children are growing up today. No boundaries for them as children will lead to problems for them and for society later.

Parents, have the guts to be parents. Give your children the boundaries that they need. Do it for them, and for the rest of us.

China is at it again!


We should hardly be surprised when the People's Republic of China, a nation known for its utter cruelty in how it treats its citizens and its complete disregard for human life throws someone in prison for disagreeing with the government. This time, though, it happens to be the most recent recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo.

Liu was involved in the Tienanmen Square incident in the 1980s and has campaigned for human rights ever since. He has been imprisoned several times, and is currently serving a prison sentence now, according to news sources. His crime appears to be nothing more than disagreeing with the government.

I do not inherently call Liu Xiaobo a saint or even a crusader. Indeed, I do not know all that much about him. Certainly not enough to form an opinion. What I do know, though, is that China has responded in its typical paranoid fashion. The news today was full of reports of the crackdown on individual freedom by the Chinese government. They have engaged in heavy censorship on the internet over this matter as well. The rest of the details can easily be obtained from international news sources.

There is something fundamentally wrong with a government that feels it must block facts and censor the truth from its people. It surely must be running scared for fear that if the people knew the truth, they would rise up and end the tyrannical reign of the communists in China. It is no wonder that they might be feeling this way. After all, that's how they themselves gained power under Mao Zedong.

China's history of working against Christ's Holy Church is also well known. I also faced harassment of a much milder sort at the hands of the Chinese government. When attempting to get the visa necessary to go to China for a vacation with my family, I was stonewalled by the Chinese Embassy in Seoul because of my status as a priest. I first had to write a letter saying that I was going on vacation and was not going to China for any religious purposes. Then they wanted this document handwritten and sealed with my thumbprint, along with a complete and detailed itinerary. I finally got the visa, of course...once I promised the that the simple truth was true, viz., that I was going to China for a vacation, not specific "religious purposes." I should add here that I had already been to China several times on business before, including once to present a paper at a university on faith and economics, without any problems. Nevertheless, all this uproar so a priest could go on vacation? What are they so afraid of?

A little visa harassment is nothing, though, compared to what our Christian brethren have suffered at the hands of the communist Chinese government. We must continue to pray for our brethren trapped there, and pray that they are successful in maintaining the faith. Things are in many ways probably better there for Christians than they used to be, but religious freedom is hardly the case in the People's Republic of China. It is time for their government either to allow freedom of religion and respect life, freedom, and human rights, or else it is time that their government is instead replaced with one that safeguards the rights of the people.

14 October 2010

Students, Parents, and the Future


There are some shocking differences between education now and when I was a student. School was a place of discipline, respect, formal structure, and learning with the intent of shaping young minds and turning them into productive adults for society. We were taught to respect authority and to respect other people. We were taught that service is an important thing. There was a poster on the wall I remember quite distinctly, and it said that "everything you need to learn in life you learn in kindergarten." I'm sure you have all seen this. It has a long list of very important life lessons that you learn from all the typical classes and activities you do in kindergarten. That's really what students are there for in school. They are there to learn life lessons and life skills that will let them either learn a useful trade or go on to college.

Now, though, I stand in wonderment at what I see when I look at schools, not just in America, but around the world. Gone is the notion of respect in many areas, particularly in the US. I also see this here amongst the Korean university students I teach. But how can they, when they graduate and are in the real world, function? What kind of society is it when there is no longer respect for the individual or respect for one's fellow man in general? Without a culture of mutual respect, there is the great potential for society to degrade to a cutthroat state. Instead of working together, it becomes "you against me."

And think of how we learn things, both in school and in general. We learn through our mistakes. Failure today is considered not an option, but I say that America would not have become the great nation it is if it weren't for people willing to risk failure to achieve something great. Thomas Edison said of his many trials to make a working light bulb "I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work." This is the attitude that leads to success. You fail, but you never give up. Keep trying until you succeed. This ought to be the message of school.

Today's schoolchildren have another approach to failure that is far worse that simply giving up. They lay blame. "Surely it isn't my fault I failed," the child says to the parent. And today's parent agrees. So whom do they blame? Why, the teacher, of course! That's the answer of today. Sure, there are some bad teachers, and this is clearly not what I'm talking about. I am referring to the notion of shifting blame from one's self when one is responsible. The teacher is an easy target.

Parents of bygone generations would back up the school and back up the teacher in just causes for the good of their own children. They knew that their children did not need to be told they were perfect, but instead needed to be taught personal responsibility. This was the joint operation of the parents, teachers, and school administrators. Today parents have largely abrogated their parental responsibilities. Today any failure of their child is blamed on the teachers and the schools. The schools, perhaps due to fear of law suits or just simply being run by liberal administrators with a social agenda, cave in to the pressure in many cases and put the blame on the poor, overworked teacher. After all, a teacher is easier to replace in their mind.

The child complains. The parents threaten the school. The blame falls to the teacher. It's a vicious cycle. But wait until these children grow up and are full members of society. Heaven help us then. At least one generation with no sense of responsibility, constantly shifting the blame to others. Scapegoats will inevitably result. It won't be pretty.

As I teacher, I have also experienced this. One of my favorites was when a student copied so much material verbatim for an essay, that even though it was all cited, the essay was essentially just one big quotation. The grade was an F, obviously. The excuse? It was somehow my fault for not providing enough source material to complete the essay without copying. Apparently that student had never heard of the university library. I was truly unaware that I was supposed to do their work for them.

I also have heard this happened to a foreign professor here in Korea when that professor kicked a student out of her class after repeatedly telling him not to talk on the cell phone in class. This student was Korean. He called his parents, who then called the school to complain. That professor was removed. I should be shocked, but I'm not. It's just par for the course in an educational environment in which the student is king.

More and more burden is being placed on the educational system because students "cannot possibly be responsible." Parents can't handle their children's failure, and they must blame someone. Where will this blame game lead? Nowhere good. It will certainly not lead to a better educational system. Until the youth learn to take responsibility for their own actions, the situation will not improve. Where do they learn this? It starts at home with the parents. And there is the biggest issue of all right there. Parents must parent. It's that simple. Parents must stop treating their children as friends and start treating them as children.

Parents who ignore their responsibility as parents pass this trait on to their children by setting a bad example. The ultimate blame for this situation in which we find ourselves lies squarely with the parents. The Bible is quite clear on this. The Commandments say to "honor thy father and thy mother." From Proverbs we know that "He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him betimes." It's a very simple, but effective concept. If you discipline your children as needed, "...[they] shall give thee rest; yea, [they] shall give delight unto thy soul." Perhaps God has been booted out of the household. Perhaps the child complained about this Biblically-inspired discipline to the parents, and the parents politely asked God to leave.

The solution is simple. Parents must parent. Teachers must teach. School is not a social experiment. It used to be a place where young people are molded into good citizens. It can be so again.

13 October 2010

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin


I was watching a video of one of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's programs today on the issue of false compassion. This was made in the 1960s, but how true his words remain today. +Fulton Sheen truly is my favorite bishop of the modern era. He conveyed Christ's love while never being afraid to make a distinction quite openly and forcefully between right and wrong. It was a rare enough trait in +Sheen's time, and it is at least as rare now. It is probably even more rare. +Sheen died a little more than thirty years ago, but we desperately need men like him now.

So, what was this false compassion of which +Sheen spoke? It is the showing of pity and compassion where it ought not to be shown, and not showing it where it should be shown. To give an example, it is feeling pity for the rapist instead of the victim. There is indeed a lot of this notion today of blaming the victim. The leftists and liberals and social experimenters always have some excuse for the criminals while not caring much if at all about the victims. A large number of times, criminals come out of the prisons worse than when they went in, and then go commit crimes again. What's worse is when people stand up for themselves and defend themselves, their friends, and their families, they often are condemned for it. Sometimes they find themselves defending themselves in a court of law against the criminals instead of the other way around. Something is indeed very wrong with this picture. Nothing much has changed since +Sheen made that broadcast, and I would say it has gotten worse.

Archbishop Sheen gave a prediction for the future, and I believe he was right. He remarked on how the kids using alcohol have to switch to dope just to achieve the same high. In general, we habituate to the new level and much intensify the stimulus in order to achieve the same effect as before. We need only look to modern television to see how the "shock value" has had to increase in order to get the same level of shock in the audience.

+Sheen continued by suggesting that the future would be a revival of "bull fights" of sorts. We would turn to masochism and cruelty. I believe he was right. Today we have both of these things. We have people engaging in self-destructive and self-harming behavior, and other people stand by and say "Well, if that's what they want to do, it's ok. It's their form of self-expression. It doesn't mean they are a bad person." After all, that's what they say on television. That's what many modern television series promote. Well, they may indeed be a good person inside, but their behavior is not good and should be called what it is. Such behavior eats at their soul, tearing away at it, until it, too, is utterly destroyed. How can we stand by and say nothing? Perhaps these days we delight in watching this self-destruction in others. A "bull-fight" of sorts.

This is not the only form of cruelty we enjoy. America is one of the most litigious nations in the world, if not the most. Americans sue each other at the drop of the hat, often over nonsensical things. Why? Often for money or even some form of sadistic revenge. On top of that, the juries sometimes make bizarre judgments awarding large sums for the strangest reasons. What is going through their minds, I do not know. All I can say is that the notion of true justice must not be entering their thought process.

So it's a type of economic cruelty we face today. The rich despise the poor for being poor, imaging themselves to be better and to be able to do whatever they want simply because they are rich. The poor despise the rich because the rich have money and the poor believe that if they only had money, they would be better and have a better life. People sue others just to chance this elusive goal, thinking that money is the source of happiness. Or perhaps they see it as the source of power and want more power.

Money is often used to harm rather than to help. This is not unique to the present time period, but it is certainly a problem now. People are held helpless by companies that threaten to take their job away, even if only indirectly, if they do not go along with policies. A form of extortion arises, only it's perfectly legal, despite being immoral. People abandon their moral positions simply for the "almighty dollar." The government, which should be the guardian of freedom and should be there to help the citizenry, is seen by many, perhaps by a majority, as completely incapable of handling the people's money in an effective manner. They have lost the public trust because they can't tell the difference between right and wrong.

And that is what it ultimately comes down to: Right and wrong.

Archbishop's message was the message of the Church throughout the ages, and it is the same message I profess today in this writing. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. Hate the sin. Condemn it. Call it what it is, and never equivocate. Always, though, love the sinner. Pray for the sinner. This is the true compassion +Sheen spoke about, and it is what Christ meant by the term. When we put more Christ-like compassion into the world, we will have more love in the world, the world will be a better place, and salvation will be yours.

Are you Catholic or are you Christian? What?


"Oh, you're not Christian, you're Catholic." That was the declaratory statement I received a few years ago upon arriving in Korea from the Korean staff member who came to meet me. I was most perplexed and replied that I was indeed a Christian. This caused him much confusion.

It is very much like the old question "Are you Catholic or are you Christian?", as if the two are somehow mutually exclusive. Yet, in Korea that is precisely what they are. Catholics (Roman, Old Catholic, Anglican, etc.) and Christians are two different things. The Christians, by the way, are the protestants...in case you haven't figured that out already. I have quite literally been told by a Presbyterian minister that we are of two different religions. Not denominations, but religions. The Methodists, Baptists, etc., he considered all the same religion as his. They are the Christians here, while Catholics are not Christians, but Catholics. This left me scratching my head in wonderment, though the more time I have spent in Korea, the less surprised I am by it.

This is not the only place, though, where many people think Catholics are not Christians. One need only do an internet search to find plenty of such examples. I am completely baffled why or how anyone could actually believe such things. Then again, I have been told by a protestant that they use a plain cross, while Catholics use a crucifix, with the reason given as "our Jesus is in Heaven, while their (the Catholics') Jesus is still on the cross." Never mind the clear Biblical violation such "logic" would imply. Perhaps no one ever explained to him that it's the same Jesus! There is only one Jesus! Of course, with a belief like that, not even knowing the symbolic reasons for the plain cross and the crucifix (Catholics certainly use both), it is not surprising that they might just believe that Catholics and Christians are somehow two different things.

I can only imagine this misconception is the result of centuries of propaganda. A simple reading of a history book on the matter of Church origin ought to clear up the matter quite quickly.

The Christian Church was founded by Jesus Christ Himself, giving the authority to the Apostles and their successors. Peter was set as First Among Equals, the Rock upon which the Church would be built. This is in the Bible. There was only one Church, the Holy Catholic Church of Christ (which means "universal church"). The Romans weren't throwing "Catholics" into the Colosseum with lions, they were throwing Christians. Yes, there were some minor schisms and political bickering, but sadly that's the way of it with us humans.

The first split was the East/West split, forming what is now "Catholic" in the West under the principal patriarchate of the Pope, i.e., the Bishop of Rome, and "Orthodox" in the East, under the principal patriarchate of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Then orthodox developed into what you see today, i.e., essentially along national boundaries. In the west the next split was over an unfortunate political matter between Henry VIII and the Holy Father led to the severing of ties. It should be pointed out here that Henry VIII did not found the Anglican Church. It was founded by the Holy Father's authority about 1400 years ago when Saint Augustine was sent to become the "Apostle of the English." The terms "Anglican" and "Anglican Rite" were well in use essentially from the beginning, and certainly long before Henry VIII. The largest problem was the influence of the Protestant Reformation that came later under the rule of Elizabeth I.

From the Anglicans and Romans alike, protestant denominations sprouted, declaring tings such as Rome was false and, in England, that the Church of England was also flawed. Many of these made their way to the New World, particularly in the northern colony of Massachusetts.

They make their claim that the Romans and Anglicans are flawed, and therefore they are true Christians. Now, even if we take it as a given that they believe this, they need only look at a history book (something they seem determined not to do) to know that the Catholic Church has as much claim to being Christian as they do. Indeed, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, to include all those in Apostolic Succession, are the "original Christians." Who do you think wrote the Bible?

The further protestant error is quite simple, and that is they simultaneously claim to be guided only by the Bible (which they often claim to take literally) and also ignore large portions of the Bible. One of my favorites is the claim that the Hail Mary is somehow a vain, evil "Catholic thing." Yet, the Hail Mary is in the Bible. Perhaps they missed that one....

Couple with this the fact that they either place their knowledge and interpretation of the Bible over the collective wisdom of Church scholars over the past 2000 years or they simply choose to ignore scholars whom they themselves deem inaccurate. This sounds like the height of arrogance to me. Yet, the Bible tells us plainly that we are not free to come up with our own individual interpretations of the Bible. This is the duty of the Church and one of the reasons Christ gave her to us.

There is unfortunately no cure for ignorance in many cases. Trying to explain to someone who doesn't wish to listen often accomplishes nothing more than reinforcing their own views. I do, though, wish more people would see the big picture and get over this denominationalism. Indeed, I wish people sometimes would just pick up a history book...and read it.