Does the Pope make any distinction in his mind between something he thinks and something that is more or less a Papal pronouncement? Is it just war teaching that use of force can never be unilateral, or that it must always be kicked to the corrupt U.N.?

Will the shameless pope-worship out of the Catholic Press, the bishops, and token religious never stop?  How could meeting the Pope, make your life, or move you, give you strength, and give you energy “like a motor?” What is he, God?  I get worn out just looking at his picture.

Is ISIS Islam just a weird sex fiend cult?  How do you capture and circumcise grown men and pretend it’s virtuous?

Is it completely evil now to think of living and dying outside the Faith as renouncing Heaven? How can one pretend this isn’t Catholic teaching, unless of course you’re just trying to make doomed Protestants out of all of us? Misery loves company they say. The structure of the Faith collapses when you fail to proclaim union with the Church free of heresy or mortal sin.

Isn’t is nice that China likes the Pope and let’s him fly over it’s airspace?  I sense dialogue coming.

Doesn’t anyone care that Liberation Theologists are Communists, that the Pope shares their vision, and that he’s making saints that aren’t so saintly?

 

 

The Robin Williams suicide was so unsettling and the lack of perspective in the press so total that it’s terrifying.  It’s certainly a jolt that someone like Williams, whose business it was to bring hope and joy, and who was so gifted and accomplished; would brutally hang himself.  It’s not surprising that he had demons since he was brilliant at pushing the culture into the pit. Even if he had been unaware of the powerful negative effect of his work, the reality was still there and it would have weighed on his spirit.  He did not have the Faith and practice to save him.

There is a deep misunderstanding of suicide in the West, of despair, and of the gravity of sin.  There’s almost nothing about them in the Williams commentaries and that silence screams out death and Hell for the culture. Suicide is rampant and escalating.  Twenty U.S. veterans killed themselves on the same day as Robin Williams.  Calls to suicide hotlines skyrocketed last week.

There’s very little guidance for souls coming out of the American Church. In fact there’s misdirection. The USCCB’s Catholic News Service (a more official American Catholic source you won’t find) reports:

After 35 years of providing counseling and a Catholic outreach to families with a loved one who died by suicide, Father Charles Rubey has consulted on more than his share of the resulting funerals or wakes. A suicide priest. I didn’t know they had those.

The priest is the founder and director of a Chicago-based ministry called Compassionate Friends, which later evolved into Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide, or LOSS, an entity of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

He still bristles when he occasionally hears misinformation or outdated notions concerning suicide and church teaching. Why be hostile?

“The church’s official teaching in the catechism still lists suicide as a sin but they do add that in most instances there are extenuating circumstances that could severely impair culpability,” said Father Rubey told Catholic News Service in a phone interview.

Twice recently he heard of someone suggesting to surviving families members that their loved one would be automatically deprived of eternal life as a result of completing suicide. Here is a straw man.  How is God’s judgment an automatic thing? 

The incidents prompted the priest to draft an advisory memorandum for best practices in dealing with and discussing suicide situations in local parishes, and how best to minister to families already feeling the stigma of suicide and the mental illness that often attended the deceased. Make sure those parishes don’t teach that suicide is a grave sin at the moment of death, when you have the least chance of repentance, and it’s impossible to confess to a priest!

“The church’s standing is to be pastoral to the survivors:  They feel stigmatized anyway … and so we shouldn’t do anything more because it is a suicide, nor should we do anything less because it’s a suicide,” Father Rubey said. “We do the normal rites and burial, not treating the situation any differently.” Every time someone in the Church wants to be ‘pastoral’, it means looking the other way at sin so the faithful are well-scandalized and ready to imitate.  Williams’ older brother also killed himself by the way. 

The question remains, if it was common practice throughout Church history to deny funeral rites to suicides, was it not in order to refrain from scandalizing the family and community?  The self-deceased would be deprived of the graces of the Mass, but people could always pray for them in a way that would not give so much scandal. If loved ones grieved that there was no funeral, it wasn’t the Church’s fault. It was the fault of the person who took his own life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that suicide “is seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity. It is forbidden by the Fifth Commandment (and) contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. … Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.”

What the church no longer teaches is that suicide automatically condemns the deceased to damnation, while denying family members access to a Catholic funeral and burial privileges for their loved one.  Again, the Church never taught that suicide automatically condemns to damnation.  It always taught that if you die with an unrepentant unforgiven mortal sin on your soul you will go to Hell. This hasn’t changed.  It’s not a new Church.  I’ve heard so many people say the Church no longer teaches this or that lately!

The catechism notes that “grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide. We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives.” This quote from the Catechism may lead some to believe that salvation is likely for suicides especially if there are mitigating circumstances (as if that were not usually so), but the truth is to ‘not despair’ means to remain open to a possibility no matter how slight.

“By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The church prays for persons who have taken their own lives,” it states.  The commonly used tag line that, “God can do anything” doesn’t really help us learn and keep the Faith though. Of course God can do anything, but He gives us His teaching and His Church to guide is in what WE do, and to help us understand what we can expect from Him.

The Aug. 11 death of actor-comedian and Chicago native Robin Williams has reignited questions about suicide, now the 10th leading cause of death in America. It is thought to often be accompanied by factors such as mental or other illnesses, substance abuse, the pain of social disconnect and other underlying problems.

Father Rubey, whose LOSS program has counseled thousands of family members of the years, said he is saddened but understanding at hearing of William’s apparent suicide and that he hopes people don’t think less of the actor as a result.  The is the best suicide priest ever.

Williams, who was reportedly found dead by asphyxiation in his California home, was suffering from longtime bouts of depression and a history of substance abuse about which he spoke publicly and often with humor.

“Does it make sense to me? No, but I understand that he battled with this all his life and he got tired of the pain. [Depression is pain over something that doesn’t concretely exist.  Imagine how much more understanding we should be of suicides by people with actual physical pain!] I feel badly for the wife, and all of his fans,” Father Rubey said. “He died of an illness and that is the important part of it, just as a person might die from a car accident or from a cancer. But with mental illness they look like everyone else (on the outside) and it may not be apparent.” Way too much is made of mental illness.  These things are almost entirely spiritual, a consequence of vice and lack of Faith.  It’s a distracting lie.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bill Schmitz Jr., board president of the American Association of Suicidology, a Washington-based research and prevention nonprofit organization, said he grew up in Boulder, Colorado, not far from the house used in William’s “Mork & Mindy” TV sitcom, which aired in the late 1970s.

Fans were flocking to the house in the days following the actor’s death to pay their respects.

“My heart goes out to his family,” said Schmitz, a clinical psychologist with the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System. “This touches all of the entertainment industry, just as it can an entire church congregation (in other cases). I think Williams was really trying to find answers, and I would have loved the opportunity to sit with him.”

Schmitz told CNS that faith communities can and do play an important role in offering support groups and local networks for surviving family members. Churches can be part of the social cohesion that keeps people from completing suicide in the first place.  If they could have a support ministry for people who committed suicide they would.

“For a lot of people faith life is a buffer and protector against suicide — one of the key components I look at is a sense of belongingness and a sense of community, and church communities are a powerful buffer against suicide because they fill that need so well,” he said.

“Spiritual, physical and mental health are all interrelated and interdependent. [Make sure you slide that ‘mental’ in there and give it a good shake.] A sense of belonging is more than just saying, ‘I attend services.’ [Services? Does that mean Mass?] It is really about that connection.”

Where there has been a suicide, Father Rubey urged survivors not to make it “the family secret,” and instead talk about it rationally [Not like those outdated notions of the old irrational Church] just with any other tragedy — especially if there is a history of occurrence of suicide in a given family.

“Children have a right to know what is in their genes and it is part of the family history. It can be a very healthy learning experience: that this is not how you handle life’s problems,” the priest said.  It’s that suicide gene! I feel so healthy now that I know.

When loved ones ask him the inevitable question: is my loved one in heaven? “That’s a common question people have. My response is always: ‘Sure they are.'” But suicide priests can lie.

robin williams

In a thoughtful eulogy for Robin Williams, Tom Hoopes compares the troubled comic actor to a ‘fool-priest’ or a jester who ministers by making us laugh at the absurd and the painful.

That is what priests do also. The difference: the priest looks to the ultimate meaning of life, God, to help us see the purpose of suffering. The comedian looks at the ultimate absurdity of life to help us accept our lot in life.

Ultimately, Williams ministered to all of us. For that, we owe him thanks. Pray that he will find the rest for his soul that he sought to give to so many others.

This priestly comparison is unfortunate though because it suggests Faith, and Hoopes’ glowing praise for Williams’ gifts and efforts fails to address something very important; the tremendous scandal of the final example he left to the world. His is a loving example yes, but it’s also one of a lifetime of self-loathing and abuse, with a grave and self-absorbed exit that must never been imitated.

We can be grateful and pray that perhaps Williams will see Heaven someday, but if suicide was a ticket to get there, the whole world would be lining up.

isis sitting

Unam Sanctam Catholicam has said something today that I’ve longed to hear for quite some time.  It’s about pacifism.  Pacifism is not noble, honorable, or loving.  It’s only capitulation.  It takes the side of the aggressor.  Pacifism or simply put, ‘choosing to lose,’ is just the modern Western spirit applied to war.

The same spirit behind pacifism also drives cultural diversity, religious pluralism, ecumenism, family destruction, forced depravity, and the corrupt faux democracy we tolerate right now.

It is easy to sit in the comfort of modern society and cast harsh judgements on our forefathers that have come before us.  Not very long ago a somewhat popular priest in pop culture thought he had the right to cast judgement and declare that the holy St Bernard’s preaching of the crusades was wrong.  That is a crime. Bernard of Clairvaux should be the saint of our time.  I wish the example was only limited to that but, there are countless examples going back decades of the error of pacifism creeping its unwelcome tentacles into the Church.  Diabolic Utopian sentiments [how true!] are flung carelessly from our highest pulpits demanding a world without war, a world without violence. “Violence is never conquered by violence, but by peace!”  Is that Catholic or is it cowardice and negligence?

It was not always so though, there was a time where the Church defended her sheep with steel instead of empty platitudes and fuzzy feelings.  What do you think God is more pleased with? God gave Moses the Holy Land but Joshua had to fight for it.  No shirking or complaining was tolerated.  But that was before we evolved, you see.  God would never set us up like that today, yes? GOD IS DIFFERENT NOW.

Before you can offer the sacrifice at the Cathedral altar, you have to clear the land of enemies of God and make a Holy protected place.  Things have always been thus. Where are God’s enemies now?  EVERYWHERE.

Lets look at what happened during the preaching of the 2nd crusade by St Bernard:

“In every place on his journey and wrought the most astonishing and instantaneous cures : the blind recovered their sight ; to the deaf and dumb hearing and speech were restored ; the paralytic received the use of their limbs; the possessed, the lunatic, and the demoniac were delivered from the spirits which tormented them. But the greatest of his miracles was the conversion of hardened hearts and the penances to which public sinners submitted.” excerpt from St Bernard the Wonderworker – Free Catholic Audiobook

Every hear of a miracle during the preaching of pacifism? I didn’t think so, because there is not one.  I am almost sure of it, because if there was it surely would be shoved down our throat endlessly. Miracles reveal the mind of God. That must be why they don’t need them anymore when they canonize.

Yet, we know that the 2nd crusade did not end well.  Haha, our pop culture preacher might say, this is proof that it was not of God.  The facts say otherwise.

“On that on that very day, when the news came of the destruction of the Christian army, God wrought a miracle at the intercession of Saint Bernard. “It came to pass, however, that when the lamentable tidings of the destruction of the Crusaders resounded through France, a father brought his blind boy to the servant of God, to have sight restored to him, and, by many prayers, prevailed on the saint who declined. The saint, placing his hand on the child, prayed to our Lord that He would be pleased to make known, by restoring sight to the child, whether the preaching of the Crusade was from Him, and whether His spirit was with himself. While, after praying, he was waiting its effects, the child said, what am I to do? For I see! Then a great shout was raised by those who were present ; for many were present, not of the monks only, but of people living in the world, who, when they perceived that the boy saw, were greatly comforted, and gave thanks to God.” excerpt from St Bernard the Wonderworker – Free Catholic Audiobook

There is more in the Audiobook even about mystical visions confirming the validity of the crusade as well, be sure to check it out. Despite our forefathers courage in battle against our foe, they at least sent missionaries to convert the Mohammedans;  many of whom were martyred preaching Christ Crucified with bravery.

Yet, with the passing of time all falsehoods are revealed.  The absolute savage persecutions of the Christians in Iraq has once again shown us the true face of historical and authentic Mohammedanism, not some made up religion of peace which perverts Islam’s doctrines (how culturally insensitive!).   I hope Catholic intellectuals will find themselves blushing for shame for their past dismissals of Islamic terror as being  “a valid protest against pluralist secularization and materialism. ” There is a touch of this in the news today, and so welcome.

Intellectuals, and professors wearing fuzzy sweaters coming together will not stop war.  Slashing defense budgets and removing standing armies will not end wars.  It is a clear signal from those who reign over us in the world and in the Church that they tacitly condone aggression when they refuse to check it. We must understand that this is betrayal. We must ask ourselves, “Who is on our side?” Treaties, even good ones will never end war.  War is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, sent to afflict mankind when we reject the Gospel.

War will come, and war will go based on the decrees of our God.  It is absurd to believe that the God who has numbered every hair on our head is not the one actively choosing to send war as a punishment for sin, or to permit wars as a punishment for sin.

God made the Jews fight their enemies after they left Egypt!  Our sweet savior Jesus Christ ordered his apostles to own a sword, even if they had to sell their cloak!  Our God allowed the angels to fight a war in heaven! Our God is a God of War! There will always be war on earth, until the end of the world!  Viva Cristo Rey!!

Consequently, today (August 11) is the day to begin a Novena to St Bernard of Clairvaux (you can find one here) for his feast day.  He persuaded many nobles and Kings to embrace the crusade, perhaps we can pray that he does the same from heaven to our leaders, that they might bring some military relief for the Christians of Iraq. [and that there may be priests who can say a Holy Mass for those who fight, without being jailed or suspended by their faithless superiors.]

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, ora pro nobis!

Take my advise...

The prolific Fr. Longenecker has jumped to the defense of Pope Francis in the wake of the Boston Globe story about the relationship between the Pope and the late Protestant ‘Bishop’ Tony Palmer, who died in a motorcycle accident in England recently. According to the account, Mr. Palmer’s family was Catholic while he remained Protestant.

After years of working with the Cd. Bergoglio Palmer wanted to become Catholic too, but was urged to remain outside the Church by the Pope ‘for the sake of the mission.’ This is a discouraging but not ‘out of the blue’ story and Father’s response is distracting.

My comments in red:

Can you disagree with the Pope? Sure. Last week I posted about some traditionalist Catholics who do nothing but correct the Pope. These extremists correct Pope Francis, Pope Benedict, Pope St John Paul II, Pope Paul VI and Pope St John XXIII. When I said they resemble the liberal cafeteria Catholics they so dislike I also pointed out that there is nothing wrong with questioning or challenging a pope’s personal choices. Extremists? This borrows language from the enemies of the Church. Didn’t he just say that correcting a Pope was ok – Sure, but?

The underlying question is “Do you have a basic trust in the Holy Spirit working through the Body of Christ the Church? Do you have a rock solid belief that the Pope is working for the best of the church and the promulgation of the Catholic faith? Can you listen to him and obey him as your shepherd and as the Vicar of Christ?” Is this our Faith that everything every Pope says must be taken as the work of the Holy Spirit?

If “yes” then criticisms of the pope’s style, his personal choices, his taste and his decisions in pastoral matters are just talking points. It’s like having a good marriage but you can’t stand your wife’s new hairstyle. It’s like loving your husband but you wish he’d give up bringing fish home and gutting them on the kitchen table. It’s like loving your wife but cringing when her mother comes over. (Fr. Longenecker is a married priest. It’s good to remember, and to appreciate the tremendous gift of celibate priests.)

With this in mind, I read with consternation Austen Ivereigh’s article for the Boston Globe which gives more detail about Pope Francis’ relationship with freelance Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer. For those who don’t remember, Palmer met the Pope when he was working in Argentina as a Protestant missionary. Tony Palmer, a South African, was married to an Italian Catholic, and the question of his converting to the Catholic church arose in his conversations with the then Archbishop Bergoglio.

Palmer and Bergoglio had intense discussions about Christian separation, using the analogy of apartheid in South Africa. They found common ground in believing that institutional separation breeds fear and misunderstanding. Bergoglio, whom Palmer called “Father Mario,” acted as a spiritual father to the Protestant cleric, calming him (“he wanted to make me a reformer, not a rebel,” Palmer told me) and encouraging him in his mission to Christian unity. A reformer, rather than rebel is good. Christian unity is good if that means unity with the Church.

At one point, when Palmer was tired of living on the frontier and wanted to become Catholic, Bergoglio advised him against conversion for the sake of the mission.

“We need to have bridge-builders”, the cardinal told him. This is, on its face, not Catholic and not charity.

Should the then Cardinal Bergoglio have advised Tony Palmer to convert to Catholicism? In fact, the more we learn about Tony Palmer, the more interesting the question becomes. He was very involved in joint Catholic-Charismatic renewal and evangelization ministries.  Wouldn’t that ministry have been undermined if he became Catholic? Was Cardinal Bergoglio, in this instance, correct in advising him to stay put? This is where Father begins his rationalization.

The doctrinaire would say, “The Catholic Church is the one, true Church. Everyone outside it is going to hell and therefore it was wrong to tell Tony Palmer not to convert!” Unfortunately it’s not always that easy. Sometimes it is better, for all sorts of reasons, for a person to stay where they are. That is a terrible thing to say. ‘Doctrinaire’ means cruel and unbending. Someone who follows the doctrines of the Church is neither. They are called saints. Those of us who work with converts–especially clergy converts–(and I get about two or three emails a month from clergy thinking of converting) realize that for family, faith and financial reasons immediate conversion is not always the answer. If a person is moving towards the Catholic faith we meet the person where they are and walk with them on that journey. It took me twenty years to finally take the step to become a Catholic. Maybe someone should have told Father to wait even longer? Still, the circumstances, background, and timing of this story could certainly be different than the Globe’s account.

Therefore one can’t judge Cardinal Bergoglio’s call with Tony Palmer. This is the essence of Fr. Longenecker’s point. We don’t know the actual situation, so we should not be rash.

However, what about that bit about ‘the sake of the mission?’ It’s the stated reason for the Pope’s direction to Palmer. Is that a reason? Is there ever a reason to refrain from union with the Church of Christ, with the saving Sacraments, and with Heaven? No. There’s not.

Father goes on to make a strong faithful defense of his conversion and those of countless others who have helped the Church with their love, but these facts are not really relevant to the troubling story that appeared in the Boston Globe this weekend about Pope Francis and his late friend, Tony Palmer.

 

 

 

The Boston Globe’s, Austen Ivereigh is calling the friendship between the late, Protestant ‘bishop’ Tony Palmer and Pope Francis a, “catalyst of an extraordinary historic breakthrough in relations between the Catholic Church and the evangelical world.”

Palmer was a member of an Anglican offshoot based in Florida. Ivereigh writes,

Its leaders see themselves as part of a “convergence” movement, seeking to combine evangelical Christianity with the liturgy and sacraments typical of Catholicism. That convergence, Palmer told me, “is a precursor to full unity between the Protestant and Catholic Churches.”

Cardinal Bergoglio and Palmer met in 2006 and worked together closely finding ways to build unity between their faiths. Astoundingly,

At one point, when Palmer was tired of living on the frontier and wanted to become Catholic, Bergoglio advised him against conversion for the sake of the mission.

“We need to have bridge-builders”, the cardinal told him.

Plans, Strategies, and Big, Big Ideas

Plans, Strategies, and Big, Big Ideas

prayer

 

The now well-known Mary’s Gourmet Diner in Winston Salem has quickly been forced to end the discount the owners were happy to provide to customers who said their prayers before meals. That is of course, a flagrant violation of the rights of non-prayers and the owners were so instructed by some entities from out of town, who then threatened them with a lawsuit.

Mary’s was compelled to place a handwritten note encouraging patrons to ‘protect your freedom from religion on a public space,’ as well as make an apology for “any offense this discount has incurred.”

Mary’s Manager says that nevertheless, “We have things to be thankful for and we like to give thanks regardless of a discount or not.”

church3

 

In the small township of New Waterford, Nova Scotia six Catholic parishes have consolidated into one.

“The process is extremely difficult, as you might expect,” said Antigonish Bishop Brian Dunn. “It is extremely difficult because people are connected to their own buildings and their parishes.”

At least two of the town’s five other parishes have closed. St. Joseph’s and St. Alphonsus, affectionately referred to as the Stone Church by locals, are slotted for demolition.

Donald McGillivary, Director of Pastoral Planning for the diocese, says parishioners have been fighting to save their local churches:

“It is like a perfect storm,” added McGillivary. “We have less clergy to do the work, we have less of an ability to finance the infrastructure that we have, so that is what we have to deal with and that is what we are responding to. What we are trying to do is to keep or develop or maintain viable parish communities where there are enough resources to be able to do what a parish needs to do.”

I don’t enjoy watching the Ann Coulter television persona and it’s discouraging to see such a talented person line up with painfully dishonest establishment candidates at times, but Ann Coulter can be brave, and being critical of the Pope is not something American conservatives are comfortable doing openly.  Why?  I suppose it’s guilt and some ignorance of Church teaching, but they should start.  Conservative Americans, even Protestants, should criticize the Catholic hierarchy today because there is nothing good or Catholic about liberalism, and when they critique left-wing ideas in the Church they are not attacking the Church itself.

In this latest piece Coulter only mentions the Pope once. In fact the article isn’t even directed at Catholics, but it addresses a deficiency that is common to all denominations and is exploding in the new Church of Francis, namely a hollowed-out worldly focus on so-called good deeds which, since they are basically liberal interventions, are unjust and destructive in the end.

Coulter writes:

I wonder how the Ebola doctor feels now that his humanitarian trip has cost a Christian charity much more than any services he rendered.

What was the point?

Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan’s Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America’s premier hospitals. (This trip may be the first real-world demonstration of the economics of Obamacare.)

There’s little danger of an Ebola plague breaking loose from the treatment of these two Americans at the Emory University Hospital. But why do we have to deal with this at all?

Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”

Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?

No — because we’re doing just fine. America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth, is merely in a pitched battle for its soul.  the key word, ‘soul.’

About 15,000 people are murdered in the U.S. every year. More than 38,000 die of drug overdoses, half of them from prescription drugs. More than 40 percent of babies are born out of wedlock. Despite the runaway success of “midnight basketball,” a healthy chunk of those children go on to murder other children, rape grandmothers, bury little girls alive — and then eat a sandwich. A power-mad president has thrown approximately 10 percent of all Americans off their health insurance — the rest of you to come! All our elite cultural institutions laugh at virginity and celebrate promiscuity.

So no, there’s nothing for a Christian to do here. In what we call the third world, Catholic parishes are often much more faithful, despite the fact they are poor and their lives are often in danger.  Their Church attendance, attitudes toward homosexuality, abortion and contraception, are much more Christian than in the first world.  They may be more rural, but they are more civilized than the distracted and herded beings we’ve become in America.  Consider Ireland during the diaspora.  They had so little, but they were good Christian people and wise.  The most faithful and well-formed priests in the world come from Africa today.  I’m sure they shudder to think what may have happened to them if they grew up here. 

If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.  This is what’s so discouraging and frustrating about the Pope Francis papacy.  Where is it going? – always somewhere material, as if doing good was all that was needed for Heaven, as if Our Lord didn’t walk the earth looking for signs of Faith, and as if truth Faith would never bear material fruit.  

If he had provided health care for the uninsured editors, writers, videographers and pundits in Gotham and managed to open one set of eyes, he would have done more good than marinating himself in medieval diseases of the Third World.

Of course, if Brantly had evangelized in New York City or Los Angeles, The New York Times would get upset and accuse him of anti-Semitism, until he swore — as the pope did — that you don’t have to be a Christian to go to heaven. [This is much debated but I think we must take an honest look at the published text.] Evangelize in Liberia, and the Times’ Nicholas Kristof will be totally impressed.

Which explains why American Christians go on “mission trips” to disease-ridden cesspools. They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream.  This is so important.  Apostles went all around the world, but St. Peter went to Rome.  The American Soul, whatever you say about it, has been transmitted to the entire world and it is ongoing.

America is the most consequential nation on Earth, and in desperate need of God at the moment. If America falls, it will be a thousand years of darkness for the entire planet. People will see jingoism here, but the damnable collapse in Iraq is case-in-point.  We had a role in permitting or enabling that situation and our absence now is cruel. Perhaps if we had a more Christian soul, we’d move to defend our brothers.

Not only that, but it’s our country. Your country is like your family. We’re supposed to take care of our own first. The same Bible that commands us to “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel” also says: “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'” This is just patriotism. There’s no excuse for neglecting the Christian spiritual needs of your own people.

Right there in Texas, near where Dr. Brantly left his wife and children to fly to Liberia and get Ebola, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, Zavala County — where he wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.

But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.

Today’s Christians are aces at sacrifice, amazing at serving others, but strangely timid for people who have been given eternal life. They need to buck up, serve their own country, and remind themselves every day of Christ’s words: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.

Cowardice, negligence, self-promotion and self-interest.  Material missions that cost much more than they’re worth, serve the actor first, and put the object second are wrong, and such show-offy good deeds are a waste of Christian contributions.

Spreading the true Faith where it can help the most is what’s needed. What happened to the Spiritual Works of Mercy?  I guess there’s enough of that already – judging by the results??

We need to take the log out of our own eye first, American churches.  There’s something wrong with that message?

miami

Saying, “I’m no fan of bishops who bling for bling’s sake,” Patheos blogger JoAnne McPortland is urging CNN readers to take the American Bishops Lavish Living expose in context.  Bishops are really CEO’s of multimillion dollar corporations, McPortland explains. Their dioceses are different, their residences are different, the populations are different, and the bishops are different from Pope Francis too. He is extroverted. Some of them may be introverted, some belong to orders, etc.  The circumstances vary in every degree. After exploring them all, McPortland says:

Jesus told the rich young man that he must give up all that he had to serve God authentically. The rich man went away sad, because he was much attached to his possessions. But Jesus had very different answers for the wealthy followers whose generosity supplied his own ministry and gave him the forum to preach and heal. He had a very different answer for Judas, who chided the woman of Bethany for wasting precious ointment on Jesus’ comfort. In each circumstance, Jesus judges the heart and the intention of the individual, not the exterior circumstances.

So does Pope Francis. And so, my friends, should we.

The question is… if the government supports the Church with our taxes, and we have to take Central America into our towns and parishes, if New York and Boston are selling off our priceless Catholic patrimony and houses of God in order to invest in government projects and pay off abuse settlements, and the Pope orders priests to drive old cars; why is the Miami Archbishop living on key Biscayne, far from any office, in what appears to be a ten million dollar spread with a yacht?