Thursday, December 12, 2002

The web that is woven over all the nations
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, The web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. On that day it will be said: "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!" (Isaiah 25:6-9)
The image of the web of death that is woven over all the nations, from the funeral liturgy, is a haunting one. This is precisely how I feel much of the time when I think of the culture of death in which we often find ourselves immersed. I look forward to the day when the web of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment is lifted from our land and we can celebrate with "a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines."
Buchanan on Catholicism
Pat Buchanan is dissing Vatican II again. The problem is, Pat Buchanan is on record as rejecting Vatican II. Thus, he puts himself outside the pale of Catholicism. One cannot reject an ecumenical council and call oneself Catholic.

The statistics Buchanan cites are true, but how does one interpret them? Is the statistical decline because of faithful implementation of Vatican II or because of dissent and a hijacking in the United States of the reform by priests, religious, lay people and sometimes even bishops of the authentic meaning of the documents of the Second Vatican Council?

A counterexample of the U.S. case is the diocese of Krakow in Poland. When Karol Wojtila implemented the Council it led to a flowering of Church life in his diocese. Why? Because his implementation was faithful to the letter and spirit of the Council.

I read these documents every year with my seminarians, and I am nothing but inspired by them. The vision that the documents themselves promote of the Church in the 21st century is one of exploding evangelization in word and deed. What the Council wanted was for the light of Christ to shine forth more clearly from the Church before all nations.

Let me go on record as unabashedly and enthusiastic standing behind (in fact, under) the Second Vatican Council.

Read the documents!

See also TCR's comment.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Hey, loan rates dropped again!
If you were thinking of refinancing....Note: I am not licensed to give financial advice.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

And furthermore....
Kevin Miller adds in an e-mail:
As far as attempts at making this a matter of theological principle are concerned, though, I especially don't buy the "can't represent the bridegroom" thing, and I think you're right to say it's a form of Donatism (hadn't thought to put it that way, but makes sense). It's not like someone with ssa can't understand the meaning of nuptiality. We're talking an affective disorder, not an intellectual one (though it may have some intellectual consequences). Besides, does someone with heterosexual lusts really live nuptiality (yet)?
This kind of clear thinking is one of the reasons why his is ONE of my favorite blogs.
On ordaining men with same sex attraction

As someone who teaches at a seminary, I might be expected to have an opinion on this one. And those who are concerned with orthodoxy might expect me to take a certain position on it. Sorry to disappoint.....

From what I can figure out, there are a disproportionate number of seminarians who have significant same-sex attraction. I have no way of knowing just what percentage there are, but I'm sure it is much higher than the much less than 10% of the male population that have a chronic, engrained same-sex attraction. So, if an absolute prohibition were instituted, it would significantly affect seminaries.

I'm not so sure I agree that there should be an all-out ban on ordaining men with same sex attraction. First, I think it would be impossible to enforce. I agree with those who say that the only way for someone who has such a problem to deal with it is to address it squarely and honestly. A policy like this would probably result in a significant amount of duplicity, I think. There is already too much duplicity in seminaries (and in academia and in Church life in general) as it is.

Second, and more importantly, I don't think such a policy acknowledges the diversity that really exists in sexual attraction. Same sex attraction is a disordered desire, but there is not a monolithic type called "homosexual" or "gay." Some may have some same-sex attraction, but also have a significant amount of opposite-sex attraction. For some, it is a whole way of life (people who identify themselves as "gay," for instance.). For some, it is NOT their identity, but a very trying aspect of their overall humanity. Where does one draw the line? If you have ever in your life had a same-sex attraction or even an encounter, no matter what the circumstances, are you automatically excluded? I think the important points of discernment are a) homosexual attraction and the seminarian's attitude towards it, b) his enthusiastic acceptance of Church's teachings on sexuality and c) his demonstrated ability to live chastely ought to be a point of discernment, but I don't think there should be a comprehensive ban.

There are other questions people bring up, like whether there would be too much temptation in a seminary environment or the "boy's club" of the presbyterate and whether a seminarian that does not have a strong heterosexual attraction can represent the bridegroom. As for the first, well, isn't a parish setting quite a tempting environment for a lonely celibate heterosexual man? With all those women all over the place being involved in almost everything? As for the second, I think the Donatist controversy cleared that one up. Neither a priest's personal moral condition nor what disordered desires he experiences affect his ability to celebrate the sacraments validly. Remember, we all experience disordered desires. No one really knows for sure what causes them in us or in men with same-sex attractions (save that it is one of the effects of original sin). And even if we did know, would it really make a difference? I think not.

Oh, and for those who will think I'm "soft" on men with same-sex attraction because I've had these feelings myself, all I can say is, it ain't so. I don't remember ever having any same-sex attraction at any point in my life, even at my all-boy's boarding high school, where one might expect such a thing to happen to even a mostly heterosexual boy. I've always been attracted exclusively by women. You amateur Freudians out there can make of that what you will.
Mea culpa....
Did I say my favorite blog was Kevin Miller's? What I meant to say was that one of my favorites was Kevin's. The other, of course, is HMS Blog. There, Greg. Am I forgiven?
The Winter Sky
I find the winter sky to be much more beautiful than the summer one (although I really like the summer constellations a lot). Maybe it has something to do with the optical properties of cold air. Oh, I know, it really isn't winter yet, but when I was standing outside Sunday night looking at the clear sky, it was 11 degrees out. For a great site on stargazing, see Sky and Telescope web site. They have one of those nifty sky chart programs that lets you generate a map of the sky at any location at any time. It includes the planets.

Monday, December 09, 2002

A Kinder, Gentler Blog
In light of TCR's trenchant criticism of blogs, I'm hoping that my resurrected blog will avoid some of the worst offenses which Stephen Hand (?) enumerates. One thing for sure, though, is that blogs are often ego trips. (See the previously cited satire on Kairos). So is any publishing. And the young are especially susceptible to the lure of noteriety. My favorite blog, of course, is Kevin Miller's, which usually avoids the trap of trying to be simply clever.

Two things will be different about my new efforts. First, no comments boxes. You can e-mail me, though. This helps me avoid constantly trying to fish for comments. Second, I won't keep track of my stats via sitemeter. It is a waste of time. If you want to read, read! Otherwise, I'll just think of this as a kind of personal journal that I leave lying around.