Wednesday, August 2, 2017

"Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?"

On July 21, 2017, Anthony "the Mooch" Scaramucci was named as White House Communications Director, to take office on July 25. Tweets and headlines asked the question...

Anthony Scaramucci, Will you do the Fandango?

Which is a clever word play on a line from the song Bohemian Rhapsody, "Scaramouche, Scaramouche, you will you do the fandango?" I don't think anyone quite realized at the time how truly apropos that characterization would turn out to be. 

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.

Scaramuccia means "little skirmisher", brief fight or controversy of little importance. Scaramouche or Scaramouch, is a stock character of the Italian commedia dell'arte.  He was often beaten for his boasting and cowardice. Scaramouche entertains the audience with grimaces and affected language. Scaramouche can be clever or stupid—as the actor sees fit to portray him. A fandango is a lively Spanish dance typically accompanied by guitars, castanets, hand-clapping or tambourine. A fandango is also a foolish or useless act or thing. In the Urban Dictionary a fandango is described as trying hard to be cool, in an ostentatious overly obvious way, usually with style of dress but also can include mannerisms or behavior. Yep, that about sums it up.

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality

In a true blurring of the lines between life and art we had a summer fling with "the Mooch" that was over almost as soon as it began.  The summer lovin' had me a blast, summer lovin' happened so fast whirlwind of a fandango lasted only ten days and by July 31 Scaramlucci's stint as White House Communications Director had come to an end. 

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances...

Ok, so I'm mixing my Will Shakespeare with my Freddie Mercury. Even so, Anthony Scaramucci exits stage right having played a  fandangoing Scaramouche to the hilt as he saw fit to portray him and holding the record for the shortest stint as White House Communications Director. If indeed he actually was, having never been sworn in as White House staff. After a profanity laced rant, that he thought was off the record, Scaramucci was beaten for his arrogance and boasting.

I am not usually interested in political commentary and analysis. It's not really my forte. What I am interested in is the moral of the story. As a Catholic blogger I am also interested in applying that moral in my life as a Christian. The moral of this story, as I see it, is that you are always representing. There is no such thing as off the record. So the question is not WILL you do a fandango. There is going to be a dance not matter what. The real question is what kind of fandango do you want it to be? Will it be a little skirmish, a brief fight over a controversy of little importance? Or will it have substance and be of lasting value? Will it be a lively dance or a foolish, useless thing? Will it be obvious, ostentatious, self-serving, boasting and arrogant? Or will it humbly serve God and others?

23Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Lk 11:23

As we go about our daily lives, I don' t think we are always aware of the fact that no matter what, as Catholics, we are representing. We are representing the Church, we are representing other Catholics but most of all we are representing Jesus Christ. We don't always realize that in everything we do and say, whether publically or in private, we are either gathering with him or scattering against him. There really is no neutral ground, nothing that is off the record. It isn't a question of whether or not we will give a face to the Gospel but only a matter of what that face will be.

Many of us communicate, as Catholics, on the internet with blogs, in comments sections and on Facebook. We can sometimes hide behind a certain anonymity. We forget that because others can't see our face that we are still representing something, giving a face to something with our words. We forget to ask ourselves whether our affect is that of Jesus Christ. We don't stop to consider if  the language we are using is what he would use. We don't stop to realize that an encounter with us is someone else's encounter with Christ. Often we are representing our own bitterness, anger or fear. We are sometimes getting a kick out off our own cleverness. We belittle those who disagree with us. Our pride and a sense of superiority won't let us see someone else's side. We can often go to the mat to vindicate and justify ourselves. We don't think that we have to answer for our behavior to others.We forget to be cognizant of the fact that because we say we are Catholic there are only two options as to what others will see in that encounter. Either they will see a true representation of Christ or a misrepresentation of him and his gospel. There are really only two outcomes. Either we will gather for Christ or we will scatter against him.

No matter what we are always representing.

There really isn't any question that there will be a fandango. The only question before each of us today is what kind of a fandango will it be?

For what it's worth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Guest Blog Over At Patheos

I have written a guest blog for Steel Magnificat on Patheos

My Pro-Life Paradigm Shift

Talking a little about Fr. Pavone and talking about being pro-life

"My idea of the dignity of the person has become much broader because of this."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

May Baby Choice Finally Be Laid to Rest

I am often a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to stories like this. I like to see them unfold first. More often than not, there are details that emerge over time. The reactions to the story, as well, become part of a bigger picture. So, I wait, I watch, I read most of what has been written and I research related articles. Sometimes I end up writing about it. Sometimes I don’t because I think that others have pretty much said all that can be said. Often far better than I ever could have. In this case, there have been many blogs and articles written. I will be linking to a good many of them at the end of this post. However, I am thinking there is one point of view that may have gotten lost in the shuffle. One voice that still needs to be heard, a voice that cannot speak up for itself. After reading all the articles and connecting all the dots it has occurred to me that there is still one thing that is left to be done.

Many by now are probably aware of the controversy created by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. On Sunday, Father Pavone posted a video on Facebook of the remains of an aborted baby laying naked on an altar. In the video Father Pavone stands behind the altar voicing an appeal that we vote for Donald Trump for president. Which was almost immediately followed by an overwhelming reaction from Catholics denouncing the video as wrong on many levels.

Scott Eric Alt wrote a piece detailing how the action was a desecration of the altar. His article was picked by many outside news sources. Along with Alt, many writers from Patheos such as Mark Shea, Matthew Tyson and Keith Michael Estrada, to name but a few, denounced the video because of the desecration of the altar and the total lack of reverence for the dignity of the human person that should have been shown towards the remains of the baby. Some of them writing several articles each.

One writer, Mary Pezzulo also wrote more than one article on Patheos. A particular post, Has Father Pavone Kept Mummified Human Remains For More Than A Decade?, caught my attention.

In her article Mary writes: Alert reader and commentator Patricia Larson Guilfoyle recently posted the following, on my post about Father Pavone’s desecration of an infant and an altar earlier today:

A dead baby VERY SIMILAR to this one was put on public display in Charlotte before the 2012 Democratic National Convention. When asked what happened to the baby’s remains after the “event,” which featured the baby in an open casket on the sidewalk outside a Catholic church (which was closed at the time), Father Pavone would not say anything other than that he has a memorial to the unborn in New York that his ministry manages. The reason I note the similarity between the two sets of remains is that the bruising and discoloration are due to the effects of a saline abortion, a late-term abortion procedure no longer performed in the U.S. (Dilation & Curettage has been the preferred method since the mid-1990s). More than one person involved with the Charlotte “event” told me the baby’s remains are kept in a container with formaldehyde, and that Father Pavone had custody of the container.

Mary then adds "This is a very good point. When I looked at that photo of the deceased infant, and I don’t recommend you do, I was convinced I’d seen it before too."

It astounded me that there were Catholics that thought that keeping the remains of an aborted baby in formaldehyde, so thatit could be trotted out for various events would by any stretch of the imagination, in any dimension of reality, be deemed acceptable. It astounded me even more to think that Catholics did know this and ignored it for the sake of a cause.  Regardless of how good that cause may be.

One comment to a blog post does not, however, a reliable source make.  Although it can pique one's interest to investigate further. In my investigation I came across a couple of references from 2006 and 2007

Pavone in July 2006 traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, to brandish a fetus in a jar of formaldehyde, and ultimately bury it, in conjunction with Operation Save America protests of Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. Jackson police commander Lee Vance described Pavone’s possession of the fetus as “a legal issue.” Pavone in the end opted not to bury the fetus, which he said he had shown in protests in several other locations around the country, but vowed to bury it later in the year in Alabama.

And from 2007

Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, said the fetus, which is being preserved in a formaldehyde-like solution, will be buried in Alabama in a few months. Pavone said the fetus was aborted at about 18 weeks. It has been used in demonstrations in New York and Columbus, Ohio, he said, and will be in several more before being buried.

Eventually I discovered an archived article from the Catholic News Herald that details the event in 2012. The following are portions of that article. Emphasis in bold are mine.

Protestors said “Baby Choice” was a victim of a second-trimester saline abortion…The body of the intact Caucasian fetus, at 20-22 weeks gestation, was covered with black spots where the salt solution burned off the top layer of her skin.
The only information that Father Pavone disclosed about the baby, dubbed “Baby Choice,” was that he had acquired her from outside North Carolina and brought her to town so that her funeral could coincide with the demonstration.

“The baby whom we honored last week was entrusted to a colleague of mine, who came to me to ask if we could arrange for burial. When I told this colleague that there would be a memorial service held by Operation Save America, and that I would be speaking at it, she arranged to entrust the body to us for this service,” Father Pavone said in an email Tuesday, adding, “Many of the public events like Operation Save America holds involve memorial services. There may or may not be a baby to bury. Different babies, at different times, have been made available, and we have subsequently had burials for them.”
“Baby Choice” has been the name given to various fetal remains obtained and displayed by anti-abortion groups including Americans Against Abortion, Operation Rescue/Operation Save America and Priest for Life over the past three decades.

The first “Baby Choice” appeared in 1985, and is similar to the baby memorialized in Charlotte last week: a girl at the same gestational age, who died from the same abortion procedure, featuring similar black burn marks on the skin.

Father Pavone said the baby in Charlotte was not the original 1985 “Baby Choice.”

In a July 26 release from Priests for Life, he noted, “It is not often that we have the bodies of aborted babies. Unfortunately, the act by which their lives are dishonored and their bodies dismembered takes those bodies and discards the with the medical waste.

“But once in a while, we are able to retrieve these bodies. When we do so, we give them the honor that others have denied them. The act of violence that killed them is done in secret; we believe that the act of reparation that honors them should be done in public. The cold-hearted killing was done in darkness; the broken-hearted mourning should be done in the bright light of day.”
However, two Operation Rescue/Operation Save America members described the baby as not being recently deceased, saying they have used her in similar demonstrations elsewhere.

Organizers insisted that they treat the baby’s remains with dignity and respect as part of their fight to end abortion.
Dr. Patricia McEwen – whom the Priests for Life office referred inquiries to about “Baby Choice” and now serves with Operation Save America, Life Coalition International and Doctors for Life International – said she first met “Baby Choice” in 1991, and that the baby regularly travels around the country in anti-abortion demonstrations. The baby is the victim of “a very old saline abortion,” McEwen said, and is kept in formaldehyde when not being used in demonstrations.
“We’ve gotten attached to this little one. She’s the evidence of our sins, of our crimes against the little ones,” said evangelist Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, who said he once carried “Baby Choice” on a six-month walk across America in 2004. “It’s not like we want to exploit her or anything like that…”

The article goes on to say: Father Pavone said he buried “Baby Choice” on July 29 in Staten Island, N.Y., where Priests for Life is headquartered, in a plot that the organization has reserved…One of the Operation Rescue/Operation Save America protest organizers said he did not know beforehand of plans to lay the baby to rest and said that a symbol such as “Baby Choice” remains important to their cause,
Not all pro-life advocates felt this was appropriate. Later in the article it was noted that:

Maggi Nadol, director of the Diocese of Charlotte’s Respect Life Office, did not attend the demonstration, and there were no other local pro-life leaders visibly present. On Tuesday, Nadal said, “Respect for Life calls us to treat the human body with dignity.” Nadol said she could understand a situation where an open casket was used in a service for an unborn child once. But she expressed concern about it. “If the body is being used as a tool to bring people together, it is deceit.”

It seems that Patricia Larson Guilfoyle's comment on Mary Paluzzo's blog was correct in the fact that the remains of the baby from 2012 were preserved in formaldehyde and used for multiple demonstrations over a period of years. Is it, however, the same remains used in the most recent video?

Father Pavone has presided over many funerals for aborted babies. Often they are open casket public events that coincide with demonstrations. In 2006 or 2007 the baby was named Rebecca; in 2010 there was Abel; 2011 the baby was Esther; we read about baby Choice in 2012; in early 2013 there was Daniel and then Daniel Pavone later that year; Amos was the name of the baby in 2014. In all of these cases the baby is described as intact and from the second trimester. They are also described as heavily bruised and discolored due to a prostaglandin abortion. Were they all the same baby? In the long run it really doesn't matter if there was one baby or several. Either way, the remains of aborted babies, rather then actually being buried, find their final resting place by being preserved in a solution at a memorial and then are "disinterred" when deemed necessary to make a point. It seems this has been a common and ongoing practice. It also seems that it hasn't really been that big of a secret. The rest of us just haven't been paying attention or didn't connect the dots.

Many have speculated that the baby in Father Pavon's video was not actual remains but rather just an image. There are, in fact, two videos. One that was posted on Facebook and another much shorter video that was posted to YouTube. The baby is in a different position in each video so when comparing the two you can see that it is actual remains and not merely an image. Father Pavone says in each of the videos that it is a baby. That was the point after all. However, if there are still doubts, investigated the story and here is part of what they reported.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic clergy activist group, Priests for Life, confirmed that the fetus was real and was given to the organization by a pathologist under a strict agreement on confidentiality, although she was able to tell us that it was aborted in the second trimester of pregnancy. The group has dubbed the fetus "Baby Choice."
In the video, Fr. Pavone has the fetus on an altar, which the spokeswoman said is located in a room that is sometimes used for Mass at the organization's headquarters in Staten Island, New York. The Priests for Life group originally performed a funeral service for the body, which is preserved in formalin and normally kept in a memorial chapel. On the Sunday before the contentious 8 November 2016 presidential election, Fr. Pavone put it on wider display and urged the religious to vote against legal abortion by ousting Democratic lawmakers…

Is this "Baby Choice" the same "Baby Choice" from 2012? It doesn't really matter. It is the treatment of the babies regardless of if there has been one or several.

Father Pavone has said that it is not about his treatment of babies but rather how the abortionists have treated the babies. Respectfully, I beg to differ. It is ALL about the treatment of these babies be it the abortionist's or ours. Their wrong does not make ours right. The very point of pro-life advocacy is predicated on the dignity of every human life. Their dignity in life and their dignity in death. They are persons not symbols. They are not opportunities to advance a cause or to force people to recognize the horrors of abortion. When we receive their bodies we don't own them. We cannot arrogantly determine that they be used for a greater good. How dare we? When we receive their bodies we give them reverence and respect by performing the final work of mercy of burying the dead. Not a temporary burial so that we can take them out and use them for our own purposes. A permanent burial. We then allow them to rest in peace praying that the Lord grant them eternal rest and allow his perpetual light to shine upon them. Anything else is an assault on their person hood and dignity that mirrors in attitude those who assaulted them physically and took their lives.

We will never convince others of the dignity of children in the womb if we treat them as possessions whose bodies we may use according to our own determinations. We can show all of the images and videos we want to try to shock people into the reality of the desecration through abortion. But that is not what  people will see. Instead they will see the hypocrisy of our own disregard of those little bodies and our lack of recognition of that child as a unique, individual person and a child of God.

My purpose in writing this post is to shine a light on this situation in order to advocate for Baby Choice and his/her immediate, final and permanent burial. Cardinal Dolan of the archdiocese of New York does not have a connection to Priests for Life but he may have jurisdiction of the proper interment of this child's remains. Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo Texas is the bishop over Father Pavone. These two bishops may be able to jointly insist that Baby Choice be permanently laid to rest as well as future remains that Father Pavone may receive.

Church regulations state that fetal remains "must be respected just as the remains of other human beings." This would include a timely burial and treating the remains with reverence for the sake of the dignity of the child and that the risk of scandal may be avoided.

I am praying for Father Pavone that the Lord will give him a new understanding regarding this. 

The one thing left to be done is for Baby Choice to finally be laid to rest.

For what it's worth

The following are links to some of the blog posts and writers that have written their opinions on this controversy

Scott Eric Alt - To Give a Defense

Mary Peluzzo - Steel Magnificat

Mark Shea - Catholic and Enjoying It

Keith Michael Estrada - Proper Nomenclature

Matthew Tyson - Mackerel Snapper

Rebecca Bratten Weis - Suspended in Her Jar

Sam Rocha

Anthony Lane - The Impractical Catholic

Elizabeth Scalia

Friday, July 15, 2016

Scripture Alone?- Showing Up Catholic Episose 17

Here is a link to my latest episode of Showing Up Catholic for the Vericast Network

Showing Up Catholic Ep. 17
“Scripture Alone?”
July 14, 2016

Is scripture alone sufficient as a rule of faith? Protestants think so. Debates often pit scripture against tradition. The Catholic Church teaches the unity of scripture and tradition. In this episode we discuss how we can remain confident in the Churches teachings. Oral tradition, written tradition, and the authority of the Church assures us of the authenticity and correctness of a teaching far more precisely and reliably  than an individual interpretation of scripture alone

If you want to catch up on any past episodes of Showing Up Catholic that you may have missed.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Respecting Bishops...Even When They Play The Ukulele

Earlier this week Church Militant reported on a Confirmation Mass at Assumption Grotto in Detroit. According to the report, Auxiliary Bishop Donald Hanchon played the ukulele and sang during his homily. The parish organist, apparently feeling that the ukulele was inappropriate for the liturgy, began to play the organ at full volume in order to drown out the Bishop and continued to play even after the Bishop had stopped. Well, I guess they showed that Bishop what's what now didn't they? And Church Militant was on the scene.

Am I the only one wondering how serendipitous it was that Church Militant was on the scene, at the ready, to record and report on the public comeuppance of this Bishop? I have got to be honest here. What I am seeing is an adolescent prank with adolescent justifications. Another opportunity to publicly demonstrate and reinforce the narrative that our bishops are failing us. For how can we maintain a campaign of resistance to bishops without exposing the evidence of their failings? Failings that would appear to abdicate authority and therefore justify the taking of that authority into our own hands?

The Bishop's actions were described as a stunt and antics, as banal and irreverent. In the com-boxes descriptions included shenanigans and sacrilege. The parish of Assumption Grotto is described as reverent and the organist as playing more appropriate themed music. Many commenters applauded the organist for having the temerity to show the Bishop the error of his ways. Although some commenters expressed that this may have been somewhat of a disrespectful way to treat a Bishop, the consensus seemed to be that it was justified because the Bishop had committed a far greater error.

You might feel that ukuleles are inappropriate at Mass. That's ok. You might feel that someone should correct the Bishop regarding what might be perceived as irreverence during the liturgy. That's ok, too. You might even think that the Bishop should have at least been able to recognize that the ukulele might not go over so well at some parishes as it would in others thus adjusting his homily accordingly. That's ok as well. The issue isn't that we sometimes don't agree with the way a bishop is doing things. It isn't that we might at times criticize the behavior of a bishop. The faithful have a canonical right and duty to the let the bishop know when they think something might not be right. The issue is not that at times there may be the necessity to publicly criticize or correct a bishop. The problem is all in the manner in which we do so. Criticism should not demean the authority of the bishop, his office or create harmful divisions in the Body of Christ. We are to show bishops reverence and be attentive to the dignity of their person. (Code of Canon Law 212). In matters of opinion we are to avoid setting forth our own opinions as doctrines of the Church. (Code of Canon Law 227) We are also not supposed to incite animosity or hatred against a bishop or provoke others to disobey them. (Code of Canon Law 1373)

I can't help thinking how we could even consider it possible and reasonable to uphold the reverence of a Mass with something that was irreverent as well. Wouldn't it be irreverent to interrupt a homily and disrupt a Mass as a protest? Wouldn't it be disrespectful to mock a bishop as he stood liturgically and sacramentally in the person of Christ? Doesn't it demean the authority of a bishop not to acknowledge that his judgment, authority and discretion regarding the liturgical use of a homily out ranks that of an organist? Shouldn't we consider that the manner in which a story is reported might incite animosity or provoke disobedience? Or possibly that might be what is going on in the comment discussions?

Church Militant reports that Bishop Hanchon is well known for playing his ukulele during his homilies. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the Archbishop is aware of it, as well, and allows it. It isn't reported, however, that any parishioners of Assumption Grotto made any attempts to address this with the Bishop through proper channels before the Mass. It was also not reported that such requests had been to no avail, therefore forcing a protest as a last resort. As a matter of fact, one commenter related the following

"Bishop Hanchon celebrated Confirmations in the Extraordinary Form for the Oakland County Latin Mass Association at the Academy of the Sacred Heart Chapel a few months ago. We knew of his inclination to play his ukulele and politely but clearly requested that he not do so at our Mass. He gladly agreed."

It would appear that no attempt was made regarding a similar request to the Bishop before this particular Mass. He was not given the fair chance to gladly agree to their request or ignore it. It seems that knowing full well that the ukulele is a possibility, all you have to do is merely wait for that to occur. With media on standby you can then just pull a stunt of your own. When asked by Church Militant if he had made a deliberate attempt to silence the bishop's performance, the organist remarked with a smile, "I'm not going to confirm or deny anything."

So how did Bishop Hanchon react to the interruption of his homily? Graciously and with aplomb, he said, "Only at Grotto do you get that sort of accompaniment. Thank you very much."

Sticking it to the man is an expression that essentially means resistance to authority either passively, openly or via sabotage. We talk about reverence, we talk about admonishing the sinner and instructing the ignorant, we talk about orthodoxy but sometimes we are just sticking it to the man. We abandon reasonable attempts to solve a problem. Like recalcitrant children, we resort to public displays to humiliate, to mock and ridicule, to call attention to ourselves, to force others to do things our way. We forget about the Golden Rule, justifying our behavior with the fact that the other guy was worse. Now, my momma done told me that two wrongs don't make a right but that doesn't seem to matter much when what we want is to stick it to the man. This was the public sabotage of a bishop and a mass as a first resort rather than allowing the bishop the benefit of favorably responding to a respectful appeal. Of course, a bishop responding to a reasonable request makes for a far less sensational news item. This was sticking it to the man just for the sake of sticking it to the man because it was unnecessary. Or even worse, judging from some com-box responses and the coy response of the organist, sticking it to the man for kicks and giggles. I have to wonder about the Catholic mind that would think of such a thing as being appropriate and reverent during a mass merely because it employed an organ.

"But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent in regard to you, I have therefore taken upon me first to exhort you that you would all run together in accordance with the will of God. For even Jesus Christ, our inseparable life, is the manifested will of the Father; as also bishops, settled everywhere to the utmost bounds of the earth, are so by the will of Jesus Christ… Let us be careful, then, not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God."

"It is therefore fitting that you should, after no hypocritical fashion, obey in honour of Him who has willed us, since he that does not so deceives not the bishop that is visible, but seeks to mock Him that is invisible. And all such conduct has reference not to man, but to God, who knows all secrets.”

“It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not steadfastly gathered together according to the commandment.”

-St. Ignatius of Antioch

The Church has taught from it's earliest days that we should demonstrate the highest of respect for and harmony with our bishops whether they are deserving of it or not. The Church teaches reverence for the Mass. The Church also teaches the highest regard and respect for our bishops. We do not abandon one teaching in order to uphold another.

Bishop Hanchon, for the sake of his office, deserved better treatment than this. He deserved to be approached beforehand with a respectful request. Past behavior indicates that he would have been open and accommodating had such a request been made. He deserved better than to be hijacked during a Mass for the sake of attention seeking and a media presence. He deserved better than a bias that attempted to diminish his position. He deserved better than scathing com-box excoriation and mockery.  He deserved better than to be ridiculed in follow-up blogs. He deserved to be treated fairly because he is a bishop. We all deserved better because we are supposed to be better. Better than a giggling prank aimed at demeaning a bishop at the expense of the mass. Better than such a lowering of the bar of expectation regarding how Catholics live out exemplifying the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.

"...for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love" Ephesians 4:12-16

For what it's worth.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Heart's on Fire - Showing Up Catholic Episode 14

Here is the latest episode of Showing Up Catholic for the Vericast Network.

Showing Up Catholic Ep. 14
“Hearts On Fire”
April 28, 2016
This episode is all about heart. Do we have hearts that are on fire with the love of Christ? With some help from St. Ignatius and Pope Pius XII we talk about uniting our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. With hearts on fire we then go forth to set the world on fire for the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity.

Holding Out for a Hero

Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

Such has been the persona of Michael Voris. The Catholic media man and white knight who's mission it is to right the wrongs in the Church by trapping and exposing all the lies and falsehood. If you follow the more sensational aspects of Catholic media you will have heard of him. I have the feeling, however, that the majority of Catholics in the world might not really know who Michael Voris is. They are merely living their faith the best they can and trying to share it with the world around them. They are holding out, not for a hero, but for one who loved them so greatly that he died to give them life. They serve the God who so loved the world that he gave his only son to save it. They haven't been holding out for a hero, probably don't see the need for one. If they see heroes at all it is in the example of those who have gone before. Those of proven mettle through heroic virtue. Those who lived and died dedicated to passing on what was given to them. It was through those lives lived for the sake of others, far more than their ability to expose and right wrongs, that we are given the precious gift of our faith.

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be sure
And it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life

The trouble with heroes is that they gotta be larger than life. None of us really are. There are times, however, when we bestow upon someone that level of import and relevance. In the last week or so, whether you regard Michael Voris as a hero or an anti-hero, he has become larger than life. Countless articles, blogs and even odes have been written about him. He has been lauded and applauded for his courage, integrity and honesty. Com boxes have been buzzing hot and heavy about him. People have argued and divided over him. The outpouring of support for him was a proud day for the Catholic Church. He has been called the poster boy for mercy and by some, I would say, deemed the future St. Michael of the Vortex.

So what did Micheal Voris do that was so extraordinary and larger than life that we would be willing to extend to him such charity and mercy? A charity and mercy that we are almost obstinately unwilling to give to others? That, quite honestly, even he himself was often unwilling or incapable of giving to those he sought to expose? What did he do that was so worthy of praise, honor, glory and accolades?

He publicly admitted to the sins of his past and that those sins had included a homosexual lifestyle. That's it? Why, yes, yes it is. He owned up because he thought he was under the gun of a public disclosure if he didn't.

Let's just let that sink in for a minute. I've got time...

Don't all of us have to own up to and be accountable for our past? He is not the first under threat of exposure to choose to make public a sordid past nor will he be the last. What makes this so special and worthy of all the attention that has been given to it? Isn't Michael Voris, then, no better than the rest of us? Bingo.

Then why?

Because there were many who believed that his muck rucking constituted the fighting of the good fight. They need a hero and he was it. And if he isn't, if he is just like everybody else, sinners that we are, they are not sure what they can believe in anymore. And because we are afraid. We are afraid of the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. We are afraid that since men are in the Church that evil lurks there too. We are afraid of the evil that lurks in our own hearts and in the hearts of the person next to us.  That  mercy or forgiveness may not be available to us because of it. Essentially, we are afraid that evil might be winning. So we have set ourselves against each other and sometimes against the Church, exposing and pointing out the sins of others. We squabble amongst ourselves. We defend those who we consider our own and recriminate those who are not. We construct saviors and villains that oppose them. Michael Voris led that charge for many and without him where do they go? 

Most of all, it is because we are "oh ye of little faith".

Jesus Christ, though he certainly is larger than life, did not come to be larger than life. He came to be life itself and to give it to us abundantly. He told us not to be afraid. He told us that evil has already been defeated. It doesn't win, it isn't winning and it won't win. To believe otherwise gives it a power that it does not possess. Only a lack of faith makes it appear larger than the life of Christ. It makes us afraid and holding out for heroes.

As for Michael Voris? He only faced what is common to all of us. The consequences in this life of our choices both past and present. Did he do it well? Only God knows the sincerity of a man's heart. In charity we pray for him as we should always pray for each other. We might want to stop holding out for him to be our hero, though. We might want to stop making him larger than life. He doesn't have what it takes. None of us do.

4You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 Jn 4:4

For what it's worth.

Holding Out for a Hero - written by Jim Steinman and Dean Pitchford