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The Pope, relationships and the 21st century

Blesed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926)

Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926) – At the suggestion of Pope Leo XIII, Bartolo Longo and the Countess Mariana di Fusco were married on April 7, 1885. The couple remained continent (abstained from intercourse), and continued to do many charitable works and provided for orphaned children and the children of prisoners which for its time was revolutionary. (Text and photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Michael Clark (transcript, with a few edits, from dictation with the Dragon app)

I converted to Catholicism in 2001. I did so for spiritual not political or social reasons. I felt tremendous power and graces within the church, like I’d never felt before. Maybe once or twice I experienced something similar in Protestant churches but never had I encountered anything as powerful and complete as within the Catholic setting. There’s more to the story than that but it’s not really worth going into.

What I would like to talk about it is Pope Francis’ most recent statement that married people who do not have children are selfish. I think that is a ludicrous statement. I also think it will turn off my married friends – without children – who might have otherwise considered going to Mass to see what it’s like. When non-Catholics read statements like that, it’s not going to attract them to the Catholic faith.

Not that my raison d’être is to bring people to the Catholic faith. It’s not. Anyone who knows me knows that I accept and respect people where they’re at. I don’t think Catholicism is appropriate for everyone. And I only encourage people to come with me or check out Mass for themselves if I think they might gain some benefit from it.

Now, to return to the Popes’s latest statement… Several objections came to mind, actually so many that I felt almost overwhelmed. I realized I could spend hours critiquing the Pope’s statement. Luckily, however, I found this blog.

Etheldredasplace – Traditional Catholic Blog

I think the above post (and its comments) provide an excellent discussion on the issue. But there is one facet of the conversation that is not really included. And that is the element of money. Of making a living. Something, by the way, that functional priests and popes don’t really have to worry about.

As discussed at the above link, I agree that a couple could join in a holy relationship primarily for spiritual support, for companionship, to do good works, and to spread spirituality throughout the globe or in their neighborhoods. It is also far easier for two people to make a living and pay the bills than it is for a single person. The Catholic Church, the priests, the clergy—they only have a vicarious grasp of this. Sure, they must perform within a busy schedule (some might say a partially self-legitimizing one). But they also get what could be called “free money.” If the roof starts to leak, the furnace blows, the pipes burst or the walls start to crumble, they don’t really have to fret. The “free money” always seems to magically appear from somewhere. And the very best tradespersons always arrive, pronto.

Most of us don’t have that kind of luxurious financial backup. And anyone who gets “free money” like that and harshly judges others who don’t, well I really think they should ask themselves if they’re in touch with the reality of living, and of making a living, in the 21st century.


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The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 6 – Philosophical and historical reasons

Roman Catholic by digitalexander via Flickr

Roman Catholic by digitalexander via Flickr

Philosophical Reasons

Philosophy is an ancient pursuit that has branched out in different, sometimes conflicting directions. So it’s difficult to write just a few lines about why people dislike Catholicism from a philosophical perspective.

Having said that, a broad distinction can be made between two types of philosophers:

  • those who rely solely on conceptual thinking, or believe they do
  • those who believe that reason should follow divine revelation or that reason, itself, may be inspired by God

For convenience I’ll call the first type A philosophers. These thinkers often seem entangled in a web of concepts, perhaps never learning anything beyond the range of their own abstract thought processes. They take great pains to define certain concepts – e.g. love, meaning, being, knowing, caring, commitment – and then say why their definitions and elaborations are best.

Type A philosophers may address the importance of experience, but their experience is mostly gained from the five senses. Type A individuals may or may not believe in God. Any kind of unconventional experience informing their ideas tends to fall within a limited form of the numinous (say, through drug use).

The latter group, type B, believe that thought may be informed not just by the senses but also by religious or numinous experience. Type B believe in some notion of God, a higher power or a divinity within. Their beliefs may be pantheistic or theistic. Even so, their ideas and convictions are often colored by their interpretation of a particular numinous experience (or series of experiences).¹

Concerning the dislike of Catholicism, if neither A nor B had experienced the numinous within a Catholic setting, they’d have no direct way of understanding Catholic spirituality. On the other hand, many Catholics do consciously sense the Holy Spirit upon entering a Church and through the sacraments (such as the Eucharist), so they have reason to believe in Catholic spirituality.

Catholics may not agree with all aspects of Catholic teachings at this point in history, but they do believe in the core elements. After all, the true elements of Catholicism, if they really are true, must be holy and everlasting. And any spiritually sensitive person should pick up on that, provided they meet with the opportunity.

English: Catholic church in Tehran

Catholic church in Tehran (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Historical Reasons

Finally, there are historical factors contributing to the dislike of Catholicism.

Sometimes when I mention words like Mass, Church or Eucharist, those disliking Catholicism instantly point out the dark aspects of Catholic history. To outline a few:

  • the Crusades and the murders, robberies and rapes committed during them, crimes that had nothing to do with any supposed holy war
  • the Inquisitions and the cruel torture and murder of so-called witches, which some say had more to do with the Church seizing property for economic gain
  • greedy, reprobate Popes
  • the silly trial, condemnation and house arrest of Galileo when he saw four moons around Jupiter with his telescope and advocated a heliocentric cosmology

Clearly the Catholic Church has made more than a few dark blunders throughout history. While it’s important to acknowledge past atrocities of any social or religious institution, it’s also important to recognize how things have changed for the better.

Psychohistory

History deals mostly with recorded events. Another side of the coin is psychohistory. Psychohistory is an odd sounding discipline. Rest assured it has nothing to do with Norman Bates or disturbed individuals and their violent rampages. Instead, psychohistory combines psychology and history in suggesting that past generations influence contemporary individuals through a mix of genetic and socio-historical factors. In other words, psychohistory does not assume we are born into this world with a blank slate.

From the perspective of psychohistory, it’s noteworthy that many individuals come from non-Catholic families. And these families might go back for centuries. When family roots are deeply entrenched in a given tradition, it’s more difficult to adopt a new set of beliefs. Not impossible, of course. But difficult. So for psychohistorians, some individuals dislike Catholicism because they’re biased by their non-Catholic genealogy. They may see themselves as open-minded, but longstanding biases, stemming back generations, close them off from exploring Catholicism in the 21st century.

Church of Sándorháza (Sandra)

Church of Sándorháza (Sandra) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Final Word

Some self-perceived freethinkers maybe aren’t quite as hip, liberated and progressive as they seem to be. Many shut down when it comes to talking about Catholicism in a mature, adult way. They’ve got it all figured out. At least, they think so.

But to be truly open-minded, we have to consider things we don’t like. For me, converting to Catholicism was about coming full-circle and getting past my preconceived beliefs about intellectual and spiritual freedom.

I realize these articles only scratch the surface. People dislike Catholicism for many reasons. And this series only covers a handful of those reasons. I had little interest in covering many of the known objections to Catholicism. A quick web search will reveal several non-Catholic sites opposing Catholicism. Instead of regurgitating all the known objections, I wanted a fresh approach. One that came from my own personal involvement within this, at times, irritating but also magnificent spiritual tradition.

¹ For instance, some Christians in the first century believed that Jesus would return in their lifetimes. For them, the end of the world was near.

1 « 2 « 3 « 4 « 5 « 6

Copyright © Michael Clark, 2014


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Pope Francis could be from several names

St. Francis de Sales, the gentleman saint and ...

St. Francis de Sales, the gentleman saint and patron of St. Francis de Sales High School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CNN has mentioned St.  Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier, but there’s another one: St. Francis de Sales.

Francis de Sales, C.O., T.O.M., A.O.F.M. Cap., (French: François de Sales) (21 August 1567 – 28 December 1622) was a Bishop of Geneva and is honored as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_de_Sales

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New Pope will have to face same old Church

Image via Tumblr

A lot of people entirely dismiss the Catholic Church. But that’s not really fair. True, there are problems. And many of them will take a long time to repair. But there are about 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. And it seems unlikely that all of these people would attend Mass merely for aesthetic or sociological reasons.

If Catholicism were just a crazed cult like some folks say, it would have died out after its founder (Jesus Christ) died. Sociologists note that cults always dwindle away and die after their charismatic leader passes.

So what’s going on? Could it be that, as the Church claims, the Holy Spirit lives and breathes within the ancient liturgy? I, myself, believe that it does. But that doesn’t mean that there’s still not a whole host of very human problems in need of repair. – MC

Whoever he may be, the 266th pope will inherit a gerontocracy obsessed with turf and Italian politics, uninterested in basic management practices and hostile to reforms. (washingtonpost.com)

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Our Meeting With Blessed Pope John Paul II

English: First appearance of Pope John Paul II...

First appearance of Pope John Paul II in 1978 via Wikipedia

by: Bob and Penny Lord

In the Spring of 1994, the four of us from Holy Family Mission had just arrived in Rome for an audience with Blessed Pope John Paul II.

We had previously been traveling throughout Poland gathering information and taping the lives of the Polish Saints and Martyrs. Saints like Faustina Kowalska and Martyrs like Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko and the Nuns of Nowogrodek were part of the schedule. In addition we had traveled throughout Poland and Lithuania gathering information on Shrines like Our Lady of Czestochowa and Saint Maximilian Kolbe.

We even had the fortunate experience to go to Mass with President Lech Walesa in his private chapel during the trip.

While we were there we had an audience with Cardinal Glemp, the Primate of Poland and he told us a lot about the Polish people and his friend Pope John Paul II. We went to Wadowice the hometown of Pope John Paul II and gathered information and tape on his early years and childhood in Wadowice. Subsequently, we made a documentary on his life.

Cardinal Glemp explained how Blessed Pope John Paul understood the soul of the Polish people and also understood the workings and minds of the Soviet enforcers.

One particular account comes to mind to clearly point out the situation at that time. John Paul as the Cardinal of Kradow was kept up to date about the plans of the authorities in regards to his flock. On one occasion, he was informed that the authorities wanted to reduce the number of Catholic Churches in Poland by 50%. So John Paul devised a plan. He immediately asked for a meeting with the top level authorities to talk about the Catholic Churches in Poland. The authorities were jubilant – those in charge believed this would be their chance to accomplish the goal. At the start of the meeting John Paul immediately asked for an additional 1000 Catholic Churches to be built right away. The authorities were upset and proceeded to do what they always did compromise – compromise! They negotiated John Paul down to 500 additional Catholic Churches to be built! Blessed John Paul was a genius and the authorities thought they won that battle!

Let us now share one more account before returning to the account of the audience: This account will give you great incites into the Polish mindset. The Catholics in Czestochowa wanted to have a procession with the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa. The authorities did not want to permit the procession, but also knew they had to obey the laws. Next the Catholics petitioned the authorities for a permit to process the Image in the back of a truck. The authorities were jubilant again, and this time they issued the permit, then refused to permit a driver for the truck. The Catholics simply placed two large wooden poles under the truck and carried the truck with the Image of Our Lady of Czestochowa processing through the streets as planned.

Now back to the audience. We had arranged to be in the Polish group for the audience and were very excited with the Archbishop asked us to step out of the crowd and go to a special place where Pope John Paul II would greet each one of us individually.

Our most memorable moment is when he spoke to each one of us individually. He told the four of us to continue to make television programs for Mother Angelica and EWTN Eternal Word Global Television Network. He stated that television and media was very important.

He stated over and over how important television and media was and we responded that we would heed his advice. Since then we have produced over 200 television ready programs and to this day we continue with that commitment.

The meeting was literally out of this world! Wow!!

We have never lost the determination to produce more media for evangelization.

Copyright (c) 2011 Bob and Penny Lord’s Site

About The Author

Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors and television hosts on EWTN, Global Catholic television. They are prolific writers about the Catholic faith, especially the Saints for which they have been dubbed “experts on the Saints.” For more information about Saints in the Catholic Church like Blessed John Paul II go here http://www.bobandpennylord.com

The author invites you to visit: http://www.bobandpennylord.com


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Pope encourages joining digital “network of relationships”

Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the image ...

Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the image of Our Lady of Fatima in central Portugal, May 12, 2010 Image by Catholic Church (England and Wales), credit M.Mazur/www.thepapalvis via Flickr

Special to Earthpages.org

The Pope has invited young people “to make good use of their presence in the digital world”.

In a message for “45th World Communications Day” posted on Holy See website on January 24, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI said: “The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness”. He urged his followers “to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible”, adding that “this network is an integral part of human life.”

But the Pope also pointed out: “It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives……Direct human relations always remain fundamental for the transmission of the faith!”

The Pope listed the limits of digital communication as: “the one-sidedness of the interaction, the tendency to communicate only some parts of one’s interior world, the risk of constructing a false image of oneself, which can become a form of self-indulgence”. He listed dangers of entering cyberspace as: enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world.

Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, suggested other Hindus to realize the Self. He argued that digital networks were just tools, and the broader goal being self-realization, it really did not matter which tools one used.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, blamed Pope for indulging too much into materialism and consumerism in his promotion of “digital world”, “cyberspace”, etc.

Ancient Hindu scripture Katha Upanishad points out that when wise realize the Self, they go beyond sorrow. Self is supreme and those who meditate on Self are freed from the cycle of birth and death. When one realizes Self, there is nothing else to be known, quotes Rajan Zed.


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Hindus disappointed at Pope for not reaching out to minorities during Malta visit

Escorting the package

Escorting the package: Christian De'Bono

Special to Earthpages.org

Hindus find it a disappointment that there was reportedly no mention of any interfaith dialogue with non-Catholic religious leaders during Pope Benedict’s two-day “Apostolic Journey to Malta” which ended April 18.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it appeared that Catholic Church in Malta was not serious to share minority viewpoint and discuss issues of religious equality with minority religions/denominations, which was very sad. He had earlier urged Malta Archbishop to organize the meeting of leaders of various religions and denominations with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI during this visit.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that as a dominating majority in Malta, Catholics and Pope had a moral responsibility to take care of minority brothers/sisters from different faith/denomination backgrounds. Besides Catholic majority, Malta has minority communities of Protestants, Orthodox, other Christian denominations, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’is, Jews, Wiccans/Neo-Pagans, people with “no religion”, etc.

Rajan Zed urged Malta to treat all religions and denominations equally in front of the law. Malta Criminal Code reportedly makes one liable to imprisonment up to six months for publicly vilifying “Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion”, while committing such act against “any cult tolerated by law” makes one liable to imprisonment only up to three months.

Zed further said that under the subject of “religion”, Malta should come up with a “comparative religion” class teaching basics of all major world religions, including the viewpoint of non-believers, in its public primary and secondary schools. According to Constitution of Malta (Chapter I, Article 2, Item 3): “Religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Faith shall be provided in all State schools as part of compulsory education.”

Rajan Zed argued that Pope’s reported staying away from religious minorities during Malta trip was kind of “un-Christian” and added quoting from The Bible: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel (Psalm 147:2)” and  “…Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another (Gospel According to John 13: 34).” Pope needed to grow-up, he added.

“Apostolic Journey to Malta on the occasion of the 1950th Anniversary of St. Paul’s Shipwreck on the Island” (on his way to stand trial in Rome, which is said to have brought Christianity to the island) was the third visit of a Pope to the island, who was reportedly invited by Malta’s President George Abela and Archbishop Monsignor Paul Cremona.

Maltese islands were first settled reportedly in 5,200 BCE. Few European countries have such concentrated architecture, history, and beaches in so small an area as Malta. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion in the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

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