So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Friday, December 16, 2016

When Catholics sound like L. Ron Hubbard.

"Who am I to judge?"

Suppressive Person - Scientology
A person who possesses a distinct set of characteristics and mental attitudes that cause him to suppress other people in his vicinity. This is the person whose behaviour is calculated to be disastrous.
Ask Mike Rinder, former senior member of the "(c)hurch of Scientology (CoSc) what it's like to become a "hunted" SP (Suppressive Person). Mr. Rinder was one of the CoSc upper echelon (he was head of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs) charged with ruining the lives of the enemies of the CoSc. When he left the employ of the CoSc, due to reality finally hitting home, he was harassed daily, subject to covert observation, brutal psychological warfare and the like, even by his ex-wife, daughter and brother who remain with the CoSc.
Rigid Person - Pope Francis
A person who unbendingly follows the law of God is "sick" and in need of the Lord’s help.
Rigidity conceals the leading of a double life; but, [Pope Francis] pointed out, there can also be something sick [behind it]. Commenting on the difficulties and suffering that afflict a person who is sincere about realizing their rigidity, the Pope said this is because they lack the freedom of God's children: “they do not know how to walk in the path indicated by God’s Law”.
Pope calling the kettle black?

Among the 266 occupants of the Chair of Peter, we've had some saintly popes (81 canonized saints; 10 Blesseds; 1 Venerable; 3 Servants of God), certainly some very complicated individuals, apt administrators, and a few very nasty fellows. Imagine what it was like for ordinary Catholics during the reign of, say, Pope Alexander VI (Roderic Borgia, Pope from 1492-1503... eleven long and troubling years). Word to the brethren: it's okay to sing lamentations when the occupant of the Chair of Peter behaves badly, or even oddly. A pope is always our spiritual father. Pray for him!

Fair Game - Scientology
The term Fair Game is used to describe policies and practices carried out by the Church of Scientology towards people and groups it perceives as its enemies. Founder L. Ron Hubbard established the policy in the 1950s, in response to criticism both from within and outside his organization. Individuals or groups who are Fair Game are judged to be a threat to the Church and, according to the policy, can be punished and harassed using any and all means possible. In 1968, Hubbard officially canceled use of the term Fair Game because of negative public relations it caused, although the Church's aggressive response to criticism continued.
Applying the principles of Fair Game, Hubbard and his followers targeted many individuals as well as government officials and agencies, including a program of covert and illegal infiltration of the IRS and other U.S. government agencies during the 1970s. They also conducted private investigations, character assassination and legal action against the Church's critics in the media. The policy remains in effect and has been defended by the Church of Scientology as a core religious practice.
Insults and Ridicule - Pope Francis
This (is the) healthy realism of the Catholic Church: the Church never teaches us ‘or this or that.’ That is not Catholic. The Church says to us: ‘this and that.’ ‘Strive for perfectionism: reconcile with your brother. Do not insult him. Love him. And if there is a problem, at the very least settle your differences so that war doesn’t break out.’ This (is) the healthy realism of Catholicism. It is not Catholic (to say) ‘or this or nothing:’ This is not Catholic, this is heretical. (Who, exactly, is saying 'or this or nothing'?)
Jesus always knows how to accompany us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, He frees us from the chains of the laws' rigidity and tells us: ‘But do that up to the point that you are capable.’ (Are we not capable, with God's grace, of growing in holiness? Where, in the Holy Father's teaching, is an appropriate emphasis on actual grace?) And he understands us very well.  He is our Lord and this is what he teaches us.
The Liturgy Guy exposes the inadequacy of using ridicule and insults (ad hominem) to deflect criticism:
T)he pope recounted this odd anecdote (from a homily at Casa Santa Marta):
About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus – and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow – he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest – before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one.
This has, unfortunately, become classic Francis. Note we have the elderly monsignor, who is both “normal” and “good.” In other words, the Vatican II generation priest is the good guy in our story. He just wants to buy a couple regular shirts.
He then encounters the usual villain in these papal admonitions: the young traditionalist. This one is extra young (not more than 25) and extra traditional (trying on a Saturno!), so we know that he is extra villainous.
For his actions, trying on the cape and Saturno, the young man is called “rigid and worldly”, which seems a bit extreme. After all, who are we to judge him?
Pope Francis went on:
And that priest – he is wise, that monsignor, very wise – was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’. Thus, does the work that the priest does when he becomes a functionary ends in the ridiculous, always.
Ridicule. Always an effective tool for educating your (spiritual) children. As a father of five I can honestly say that insults and ridicules are horrible ways to correct our kids behavior. Of course, there really is nothing to correct here. The villain of the piece is simply a young priest who prefers traditional garb. Period.
Perhaps if more priests (and nuns) wore religious attire appropriate to their calling, more people would see them and ask questions of them and be drawn into fellowship with Christ and His Church. A collar or habit can lead people to Christ far better than sloppy sermons and beige pantsuits (which are more signs of easy living and timidity). Priests and nuns in their religious clothing give laymen permission or confidence to be more visibly Catholic. Religious clothing is part of the art of evangelization. It silently infiltrates the imagination of the onlooker and invites them to confront what they see. Some will react allergically; some will react pleasantly. The Lord can work through each encounter.

Hearkening back a few paragraphs to Pope Francis' comments on"rigidity":
Jesus always knows how to accompany us, he gives us the ideal, he accompanies us towards the ideal, He frees us from the chains of the laws' rigidity and tells us: ‘But do that up to the point that you are capable.’ And he understands us very well.  He is our Lord and this is what he teaches us.
Compare that version of accompaniment with the kind exhibited by Jesus walking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Consider Jesus' comments about putting one's hand to the plough and "looking back" (Luke 9:62). Was Jesus more of a social worker than the Lord God Who reveals His plan and calls us to embrace it without holding back?

Jesus set before us the terms of salvation, of eternal life. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15-23), and not excuse ourselves from observing His commandments.

Jesus accompanies us in the Truth. When we fall, we can go to Him and, if we are truly contrite, receive absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and proceed in hope. Of course, we do sin and fall short of the Gospel (Romans 3:23-24). That does not mean we cannot overcome sin and grow in holiness. We can and should ask for grace. How are we going to recognize our need for grace unless pastors teach us that we need grace? Jesus first words, as He entered His public ministry, were not "Welcome". Jesus said "Repent!"(Matthew 4:17)
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Recall a most basic element of an Act of Contrition.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
Grace Transforms

The Gospel is so much more than a mere set of ideals. Christianity is not about ideals; it's about reality. God gives us His grace, His very life (via the Sacraments and His word) to live the design He intends for us.

It seems that too many of our bishops and priests have forgotten about the power of grace. Too often, a gospel of despair and capitulation to the powers of this world are preached from the pulpit.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
“I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
And who is great in the Kingdom of Heaven, according to Jesus Christ?
Matthew 5:17-20
Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Archbishop Chaput got it right (Oct. 2015).
Archbishop Chaput to Synod Fathers: We Need to Call People to Grace, Not Confirm Them in their Errors
We need to call people to perseverance in grace and to trust in the greatness God intended for them — not confirm them in their errors. (Exactly!) Marriage embodies Christian hope – hope made flesh and sealed permanently in the love of a man and a woman.
This synod needs to preach that truth more clearly with the radical passion of the Cross and Resurrection.
George Bernanos said that the virtue of hope is “despair, overcome.” We have no reason to despair. We have every reason to hope. Pope Francis saw this himself in Philadelphia. Nearly 900,000 people crowded the streets for the papal Mass that closed the World Meeting of Families.
They were there because they love the Pope, but also because they believe in marriage. They believe in the family. And they were hungry to be fed by real food from the Vicar of Jesus Christ. (Amen!)

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