Elizabeth

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A trip to Holy Hill with my goddaughters and their brother

Brand new Christians! Isabel and Leslie after their baptism at Holy Redeemer Church in June.

Brand new Christians! Dear girls Isabel and Leslie after their baptism at Holy Redeemer Church in June. I was their godmother (madrina, en espanol). I promised them that they and I and their older brother Jose could go on the Cathedral Parish’s Spanish language bus pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians (Holy Hill) later in the summer.

We've arrived! Jose, Leslie and Isabel with the amazing basilica church in the background.

We’ve arrived! Jose, Leslie and Isabel with the amazing basilica church in the background.

The whole group went first to pray the Stations of the Cross. The sculptures for the 14 stations showing the suffering and death of Jesus for our salvation are carved from limestone and placed on a path that winds up the hill. Here Padre Jose Luis (on the right) is about to begin leading the prayers.

The whole group went first to pray the Stations of the Cross. The sculptures for the 14 stations showing the suffering and death of Jesus for our salvation are carved from limestone and placed on a path that winds up the hill. Here Padre Jose Luis (on the right) is about to begin leading the prayers at the first station.

"Porque por tu Santa Cruz redimiste al mundo y a mi pecador." After Padre Jose Luis read the prayers for each station we prayed a Padre Nuestro, Ave Maria, and Gloria al Padre.

“Porque por tu Santa Cruz redimiste al mundo y a mi pecador.” After Padre Jose Luis read the prayers for each station we prayed a Padre Nuestro, Ave Maria, and Gloria al Padre.

stations crowd

The path climbs more steeply as Jesus' Passion progresses, with many stairs.

The path climbs more steeply as Jesus’ Passion progresses, with many stairs.

kids stations Jesus dies on the Cross

The 12th station. Jesus dies on the cross. Jesus, my Lord and my God, You have given up your life for me, a sinner. It is right and just that I should spend the rest of my life for You.

So remember the tall towers on either side of the church in the picture of it? Here we've climbed the 178 steps into the tower! It's not easy. But the  view far out over the countryside and the sense of accomplishment is worth it!

So remember the tall towers on either side of the church in the picture of it? Here we’ve climbed the 178 steps into the tower! It’s not easy. But the view far out over the countryside and the sense of accomplishment is worth it!

You can see a long way! How very beautiful! The effort of virtue we make in the Christian life is important, but we're only little children and the holy perfection of the saints is a much higher climb than this tower. It's the grace of God our loving father that reaches out especially to the weakest of us if we call out to Him with trust and will lift us up to holiness even in this life, and to heaven like little children. That's the teaching of Santa Teresita, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (of Lisieux)--her "Little Way" in nutshell.

You can see a long way! How very beautiful! The effort of virtue we make in the Christian life is important, but we’re only little children and the holy perfection of the saints is a much higher climb than this tower. We try our very best, but it’s the grace of God our loving Father that reaches out especially to the weakest of us if we call out to Him with trust and will lift us up to holiness even in this life like little children, and to heaven some day if we die in His friendship, trusting in Him. That’s the teaching of Santa Teresita, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus (of Lisieux)–her “Little Way” in nutshell.

I actually took this picture on a different visit, but this is a view of the gorgeous  interior of the main church. When we visited on Saturday we saw hundreds of people adoring the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist during a very glorious time of Eucharistic Adoration!

I actually took this picture on a different visit, but this is a view of the gorgeous interior of the main church. When we visited on Saturday we saw hundreds of people adoring the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist during a very glorious time of Eucharistic Adoration!

The image of Mary and Jesus in the Shrine Chapel, where many people have come to pray for healing and had their prayers answered.

The image of Mary and Jesus in the Shrine Chapel, where many people have come to pray for healing and had their prayers answered.

sacristy painting 1

I’ve been to Holy Hill many times, but we got to see something new. Padre Celedonio showed us two large and gorgeous paintings in the sacristy of the downstairs chapel of Saint Therese of Lisieux, which he had commissioned from excellent artists in Peru. His explanation was in Spanish so I don’t know all the details. Prominent in this picture are Elijah on the left with the flaming sword, and Saint Teresa on the right! The Discalced Carmelites were founded in Spain in the 1500s by Santa Teresa de Jesus (de Avila) and San Juan de la Cruz. These Saints are the Church’s greatest teachers of prayer and the profound and tranforming experience of God’s love. Union with God in love, union con Dios en el amor is the purpose and goal of life. Santa Teresita (de Lisieux) whom I just mentioned was another Discalced Carmelite, in France in the late 19th century. These three are all Doctors of the Church.

Here is the other painting, just incredible. Both paintings show Our Lady's mantle spread over Saint Teresa, Saint John of the Cross and other Carmelites. She is their patroness. This painting is very recent, that's Pope Francis' crest to the left of the altar boy. And the artist included some Holy Hill Carmelites--the frist furthest to the right is Padre Celedonio himself, and over on the left is Father Jude the prior of the community! This delighted me.

Here is the other painting, just incredible. Both paintings show Our Lady’s mantle spread over Saint Teresa, Saint John of the Cross and other Carmelites. She is their patroness. This painting is very recent, that’s Pope Francis’ crest to the left of the altar boy. And the artist included some Holy Hill Carmelites–the friar furthest to the right is Padre Celedonio himself, and over on the left is Father Jude the prior of the community! This delighted me. Sorry for the fuzzy picture.

After Mass, everyone in the group who wanted to was clothed with the Brown Scapular (Scapular Marron), which is the small version of the brown habit of the Carmelites, worn by lay people to associate themselves spiritually with the Carmelite Order and with Mary's special protection and care for Carmelites. It also represents putting on Christ at baptism. When we become members of Christ's body, we become children of Mary just as we become children of God. Here Padre Celedonio lets Jose kiss the scapular before placing it around his neck.

After we prayed the Rosary and attended Mass, everyone in the group who wanted to was clothed with the Brown Scapular (Scapular Marron), which is the small version of the brown habit of the Carmelites, worn by lay people to associate themselves spiritually with the Carmelite Order and with Mary’s special protection and care for Carmelites. It also represents putting on Christ at baptism. When we become members of Christ’s body, we become children of Mary just as we become children of God. Here Padre Celedonio lets Jose kiss the scapular before placing it around his neck.

Isabel kisses the scapular before it is put on her neck. The Brown Scapular is worn all the time and should be thought of as a little garment (not a necklace and certainly not a "good luck charm"), under the clothing. Those clothed in the Brown Scapular should live a moral life of purity, and practice Carmelite spirituality, especially devotion to the Eucharist and to contemplative prayer, and should always be devoted to Mary the mother of God who is also our own mother.

Isabel kisses the scapular before it is put on her neck. The Brown Scapular is worn all the time and should be thought of as a little garment (not a necklace and certainly not a “good luck charm”), under the clothing. Those clothed in the Brown Scapular should live a moral life of purity, and practice Carmelite spirituality, especially devotion to the Eucharist and to contemplative prayer, and should always be devoted to Mary the mother of God who is also our own mother.

Leslie receives her Scapular too, una hija de la Virgen del Carmen!

Leslie receives her Scapular too, una hija de la Virgen del Carmen!

Here are the kids and myself, with our scapulars in front of the Saint John of the Cross bronze doors of the upper Basilica Church. I was clothed with the scapular by the Carmelites some years ago and wear it always with strong devotion to Carmelite spirituality and the love of Our Lady. We had a great day of spiritual learning and growing and climbing! Maria del Carmen, Mamacita, continue to be a help to us!

Here are the kids and myself, with our scapulars in front of the Saint John of the Cross bronze doors of the upper Basilica Church. I was clothed with the scapular by the Carmelites some years ago and wear it always with strong devotion to Carmelite spirituality and the love of Our Lady. We had a great day of spiritual learning and growing and climbing! Maria del Carmen, Mamacita, continue to help us to be like Jesus!

Immaculate Heart Homeschoolers Father Mazzuchelli Field Trip

Saint Augustine’s in New Diggings is a restored pioneer church in a former lead mining boom town. It was built by Father Samuel Mazzuchelli. This was the first stop on today’s field trip for the Immaculate Heart Homeschoolers, a local Madison, WI-area group. It was my pleasure to get to go with them.

GeorgeBurnstalk

George Burns is a Knight of Columbus of the Mazzuchelli Assembly. He was involved in the process of the church’s recent restoration and he gave a talk about Father Mazzuchelli, how he came to Wisconsin from Italy as a young Dominican friar and became an astonishingly energetic and productive missionary and builder of churches [click to read the story of Fr Mazzuchelli that I wrote for children–it’s also a useful introduction to him for adults]. The Knights of Columbus restored this precious building to original condition. They’ve done an amazing job; next they want to build a visitor center.

People in St Augustines

Mr. Burns told us the choir loft is very strong to this day because it is supported by ONE huge solid log that spans the whole width. You just cannot get logs like that now!

beginning of Mass back straightened600

Then something happened that hadn’t happened quite like this since 1925 at Saint Augustine’s Church… and that I’d been hoping for since the first time I’d visited there on a pilgrimage with my parish in 2012…

Confiteor

…a Traditional Latin Mass, very much like this altar was intended for when Father Mazzuchelli built it! Two homeschooled boys were servers. We also had a seminarian of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter with us, Jonathan Heinricy.

versus populum altar

Even though the historic altar that Father Mazzuchelli celebrated Mass on was lovingly restored, nowadays when a priest wants to say Mass he puts this wooden structure over the Communion rail in order to use it as a temporary altar for Mass facing the people.

preparation of gifts

bell

Before Mass Jonathan the seminarian realized Father Alex hadn’t brought any bells, but he had a good idea. The church itself has a bell! He asked George Burns, the good Knight of Columbus. George was happy to ring the old bell during the Consecration. George hadn’t been to the old Latin Mass since he was a boy.

group600

All of us…

George Burns600

And George, who was taking our picture in the other picture.

motherofsorrowschapel

Next we went to Saint Patrick Parish in Benton. This was another parish Father Mazzuchelli founded, and where he spent the last years of his life together with the first Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, whom he had founded and who ran a girls’ school in Benton called Saint Clara Academy. Two nice Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters spoke to us about their beloved founder. This is the Mother of Sorrows Chapel, where they have another one of Father Mazzuchelli’s original altars (yes there’s a little table altar in front of it that is the one they use for Mass… with some older Catholics there’s a huge taboo against having Mass with the priest and people facing the same way toward God while we worship Him together).

 

Father Mazzuchelli was very devoted to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Here is a little image that he kept in his room, which is now in the museum at Sinsinawa Mound.

Father Mazzuchelli was very devoted to the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Here is a little image that he kept in his room, which is now in the museum at Sinsinawa Mound.

And this statue is a very fine marble carving of Our Lady of Sorrows that was sent to Father Mazzuchelli by the famous French Dominican preacher Lacordaire, is in the reliquary chapel at Sinsinawa. (obviously, not a good photo. Sorry.)

And this statue is a very fine marble carving of Our Lady of Sorrows that was sent to Father Mazzuchelli by the famous French Dominican preacher Lacordaire, is in the reliquary chapel at Sinsinawa. (obviously, not a good photo. Sorry.)

Grave

Behind the Church is Father Mazzuchelli’s grave. Sister prayed the prayer for his beatification by heart, and we prayed with her. I like very much to visit this grave and would have liked to linger a bit, except that then it began to rain (briefly).

 

walkingfromcemetery1

We all hurried over to Father Mazzuchelli’s historic rectory, where there is a little museum to visit. But not everyone can easily hurry. Here is a small lesson in Christianity.

walking from cemetery 2

Rectory

It didn’t rain for long! Here’s the little rectory, where Father Mazzuchelli died.

Kids OL rosary chapel

Next stop, Sinsinawa Mound, the motherhouse of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, which had originally been the site of an attempt by Father Mazzuchelli to found a seminary. That’s the famous round chapel in the background (built by Mother Mary Benedicta Larkin in the early 60s–and I’ll have you know Mother Benedicta was a good sister). We visited the museum exhibit about Father Mazzuchelli here, which has the most remarkable artifacts of his life, and I think they have even kept making some refinements to the presentation. Something got mixed up about our appointment and unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to pray with Father Mazzuchelli’s penance chain, as I had done on a previous occasion. Certain of the numerous dear little children (these are large families) were getting tired by then and not minding. This was a long but fulfilling day. I got to have some Mound Bread (cinnamon bread to be exact) on the way home.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible and so lovely, especially Bobibeth and Father Alex Navarro, as well as those who gave us tours and assisted us at the locations–and thanks be to God.

Some may also be interested in my article that was in the Madison Catholic Herald about Father Mazzuchelli and the New Evangelization.

Professor Phyllis Zagano and whether Jesus conferred the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders on the Apostles at the Last Supper

Sad-little-girl-with-book

[Update: Phyllis Zagano has made some comments below the article in reply. Also, Father John Zuhlsdorf has posted about this on his blog, and his commenters, particularly Father Augustine Thompson, O.P. offer some useful input over there. Zagano has not replied to an email inquiry about whether Fr. Augustine’s interpretation is correct, of her meaning in denying Jesus conferred Holy Orders on the apostles at the last supper.]

So, I found out some time in mid May that there was going to be a free internet course on the topic of “Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future” led by Phyllis Zagano, a writer for the dissident publication National Catholic Reporter and a Religious Studies faculty member at Hofstra University, which has a Catholic Studies program.

I am very interested in this topic, though my firm and considered opinion is that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer sacramental diaconal ordination on women. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis taught this definitively in regards to priestly ordination (in other words infallibly, which Zagano and others wrongly deny–and yes she did insist to me OS is not infallible teaching) particularly on the basis that Christ chose men only to be his apostles. The Apostles were those on whom he first conferred the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, encompassing all the orders of deacon, priest and bishop, at the Last Supper. If Ordinatio Sacerdotalis is right that only men can be priests because that is Our Lord’s will and His Church is not authorized to do otherwise, then the same logic leads many of us to conclude that it also appears Our Lord desired to confer diaconal ordination on men only (the Apostles, first of all). The uncontested existence of a female role of deaconess in the early Church, similar to deacons but ministering to women, and commissioned by a similar but not necessarily identical ceremony, is not precisely evidence of the sacramentality of that role. Cardinal Muller, Prefect of the CDF, who clearly does not believe there have ever been or ever will be sacramentally ordained women deacons, said last year, “One would have to prove that a specific, non-sacramental ministry for women analogous to that of women deacons in the Early Church was necessary today.” He doesn’t think they are needed; I don’t either.

So I signed up for the course right away. In the first week of June Fr Zuhlsdorf came upon an announcement of the course and also promoted it on his blog. He and Zagano, while alphabetically close, have a long-running… antagonism.

The other faculty listed for the course include Deacon Bill Ditewig and Gary Macy; Ditewig (former USCCB permanent deacons staffer, banned from speaking on Catholic premises in the Diocese of Philadelphia due to his promotion of women deacons) stated in a comment on Father Z’s blog that he and Macy are not involved in the course but permitted Zagano to use their videos and writings. Besides their lectures, other audiovisual contributions include short statements in favor of “women’s diaconal ordination” including by Sister Sara Butler which sounds like it may be a cherry-picked excerpt from a longer talk (Zagano labels her Doctor Sarah Butler and uses a photo of her in lay clothes and congregation medallion) [Update: Phyllis Zagano states that her colleague Sara Butler gave permission to use the audio clip and supplied the photograph… but more about Sister Sara, who does not think exactly like Phyllis Zagano, at the end of the post] who thinks women deacons can be complementary to men deacons (she is the author of a book upholding the teaching that the Church cannot ordain women priests, and once gave a talk in the chancery auditorium of the Diocese of Madison on that topic which I attended. I remember she asked for a show of hands by the large audience the result of which seemed to surprise her: the clear majority felt that the main, strongest reason why only men can be priests is because a priest is an image of Christ who is the image of the Father and is the Bridegroom of the Church, whereas her opinion and that of a lesser number of the audience was that it was mainly because Jesus had simply opted for men only as apostles), and the rambling Dr Dennis Doyle of the University of Dayton who basically just endorses that it is “necessary”.

The teaching assistants listed for the online course seem to be mostly Hofstra University folks, though Professor Zagano stated to me that the course, which is announced on her faculty pages on the Hofstra website, is not part of the Hofstra Catholic Studies program. The actual management of the course on women deacons appears to be mainly by Phyllis Zagano and Anne Southwood, the Voice of the Faithful national Treasurer, also listed on the VOTF site as the contact person for “Universal Church Reform Initiatves”, whom Zagano cc’ed in email to me. [Update: Phyllis Zagano says Southwood, whose role in VOTF she does not contest, was the teaching assistant for one of the three discussion boards for the course, the one I was assigned to.] It is possible the Women Deacons course may have had its genesis in the milieu of the VOTF activist group, based on the minutes of this VOTF board of trustees meeting. [Update: although a program by Zagano with the same title has been promoted by VOTF and one of their national leaders is a teaching assistant for the online course, and Zagano used her Hofstra faculty web pages to promote this course, Phyllis Zagano states in a comment on this post that “the online seminar… has nothing to do with VOTF or the Hofstra Catholic Studies Program.”]

I have been far more busy for the last few weeks than I had anticipated (particularly due to participation in an evangelization effort of my parish), so although I logged into the course a few times and watched parts of some videos that I confess were kind of hard to get interested in, it was only almost 4 weeks into the course that I figured I would venture onto the discussion board. I posted some straightforwardly and not uncharitable expressions of what I believe as a Catholic.

This got a [fairly neutral] discussion board reply from Anne Southwood, and then an email note from Zagano objecting and complaining I hadn’t looked at the course materials and warning me it is not a blog (the only reason I could figure why she said this was that I had given my location as Madison, WI and that combined with my disbelief in women deacons made her think I might have some connection with Fr Z–indeed I do know and esteem him). And on the discussion board she leapt into debating everything I said, even, bafflingly, my belief that Jesus conferred the Sacrament of Orders on the Apostles when he said “do this in memory of me.” Professor Zagano really adamantly didn’t agree with that, and when I brought up the fact the Council of Trent said “If anyone says that by those words, ‘Do this for a commemoration of me,’ Christ did not institute the Apostles priests; or did not ordain that they and other priests should offer His own body and blood, let him be anathema” she insisted repeatedly that this refers to the institution of the Eucharist but not the Sacrament of Holy Orders, about which Phyllis Zagano says to me in her latest email, “No one is doubting Jesus’ institution of Eucharist; this is not the same as ordination.” And according to her the Sacrament of Holy Orders originated in the 13th c?! Yet when there is record of laying hands on women in the early Church they were sacramentally ordained deacons?! She also insists all people can receive all sacraments unless prevented by canon law or natural law (I tried to reply sacraments use signs and I am personally convinced a man is the necessary sign for Holy Orders, an image of Christ who is the image of the Father). I could not entirely get a handle on what it is she believes, she was like someone who could not be reasoned with, the conversation made me grateful not to be a “theologian” but just a normal Catholic with fairly simple logical beliefs.

Professor Zagano responded to my protestation that I did not buy the books for the course because I am poor by offering to send them to me. That’s kind of her honestly–I said she may do so and gave my address and I would look at them. And because she was protesting that John Cardinal O’Connor and Cardinal Ratzinger encouraged her in researching this topic, I also assured her that while I strongly believe the Church will sooner or later get more specific that there is no such thing as women deacons, until then there is leeway for theological discussion and one cannot call her a heretic about that even though I think it is not prudent to promote the idea considering the serious harms of the broader women’s ordination movement. I also offered to send her my book A Report on the Sinsinawa Dominicans Today which I described and said she herself was mentioned in it in passing, and that when I sent this book to Cardinal Muller he had his secretary write back to me that the Prefect had reviewed the materials I sent and thanked me for my love for the religious life in the Church. Once she read that she banned me from the discussion board–on the grounds that I didn’t view the copious course materials (as if that bothered her so much about other participants–and I did view some of the materials).

Before I got locked out of the discussion, the final week discussion topic just beginning was something like, what are the reasons why women deacons are necessary?

My last email to her is this (it is easy to skip past if you do not want to read the whole thing):

Dear Professor Zagano, I am content that I have tried to participate appropriately and I am sorry that you have not wanted discussion group participation of someone expressing a typical Catholic belief about these matters–what I have said is typical of the beliefs of all the ordinary local Catholics I know, and our priests, and is typical of what we teach the children (I mentioned I am a catechist). I have found your and other participants’ ideas surprising and there was not much opportunity to get to know anyone or talk about that. As I mentioned, time is a huge factor in viewing the substantial amount of seminar materials, I did indeed view some though not necessarily to the end of them!

Below find a reply to the discussion board which I tried to post only to find you have opted to ban me from. I will send you my book and look forward to looking through what you may care to send me.

Dear Professor Zagano, I don’t want to get you wrong, do you believe something different than what I believe as a Catholic that the Sacramental Priesthood of Jesus Christ was conferred on the Apostles at the Last Supper and handed on by them sacramentally in unbroken apostolic succession? It is obvious Catholics do not believe the Sacrament of Holy Orders was invented by scholastic theologians in the 13th century, who wrote about it and developed doctrine further. The Eastern Orthodox and the Catholics both alike have seven sacraments. And the definition I quote from the Council of Trent is quite clearly about Jesus ordaining the apostles as priests at the Last Supper when he said “do this in memory of me”, countering the protestant rejection of that belief and rejection of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Do you not believe the sacramental grace of Holy Orders was objectively received by the Apostles then and has continued to be passed on in unbroken succession since then? Assertions that at some time hands were laid on women are very different from evidence that women validly received the Sacrament of Orders–like evidence there was a wedding is  not always evidence that the Sacrament of Matrimony was validly received, which was my intent in mentioning marriage tribunals.

I am trying to pay attention to what you are saying to me, and your assertion that all people are able to receive all sacraments if not prevented by canon law or natural law helps me to see why we have different ideas about this. Beyond and related to the fact Jesus chose men only to be his 12 Apostles, I believe, like so many other ordinary Catholic believers, that a woman is not the sign necessary for Holy Orders. Let me explain.

Sacraments use signs and make present the grace which they signify. With baptism, water is a necessary sign, with the Eucharist, bread and wine which become the Body and Blood of Christ, with Matrimony there is a man and a woman. With Holy Orders the man himself being ordained is a sign, an image of Christ who is Himself the image of the Father (“he who sees me sees the Father”), and who is the Bridegroom of the Church and head of the body the Church. A woman cannot be an image of a father or a bridegroom, and that is not a defect! Indeed in the bride-Church-body she is lovingly united with Christ the head, not cut off at all from the flow of grace, and integrally participating in the worship offered to the Father by Christ. She is not lacking any grace needed by herself or the Church on account of not receiving the Sacrament of Orders! She humanly has a fine capacity for grace (Our Lady was perfectly “full of grace” unlike any other mere human ever, yet without having received the Sacrament of Orders!), but is not able to be the sign that the Sacrament of Orders requires–a man. And you will have to agree, it is not a defect that a woman is not a man! Nor does she have to do everything men do in order to have dignity or be holy! As a Christian she is a member of and as a woman an image of the Church which Vatican II calls the universal sacrament of salvation. It will serve God and our neighbor well if we are lovingly ecclesial women.

Rice cakes and pomegranate juice are not able to be the signs required for valid consecration of the Eucharist. Changes in canon law cannot change that. That is not to denigrate them or call them inedible or unsuitable for Christians. The point is, sacraments use particular signs. I really honestly disbelieve that a woman is the sign suitable to Holy Orders. I say this as a simple believing Catholic, a non theologian, this is my sense of the matter and I accept that you do not agree with me at this time.

Her email replying to this begins in a huff, “The event is not a free-for-all blog-fest…” responds to my comments on the institution of the priesthood “No one is doubting Jesus’ institution of Eucharist; this is not the same as ordination” and ends “I think you need a great deal of time to study the course materials and especially the 2014 ITC document on Sensus fidei. Good luck with your interests.” Free for all blog fest? Is that what my expressions of Catholic beliefs were? Although I have not been blogging much lately and quite honestly had no intentions related to blogging, since I have been ejected from the discussion board I now do take the idea from her to blog.

I had a strange “chaotic” impression of Phyllis Zagano‘s theological thinking. The Faith is orderly and beautifully rational… until you start to mess with it or feel like you have to make it up yourself. After 8am Saturday Mass we pray the Stations of the Cross each week, and I took the opportunity today to ask other Catholics present if they ever heard of a Catholic denying that Jesus conferred Holy Orders on the Apostles when he said “do this in memory of me.” They said no, and one woman said, “that doesn’t even make sense!” and added, “we should pray for her.” [Update: after Sunday Mass I also asked our permanent deacon at the Cathedral Parish, Ray Lukasec, about this. He was surprised by the question and he too said that no, he had never heard of any Catholics denying that Jesus conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders on the Apostles at the Last Supper when he said “do this in memory of me”,–since, he said firmly, that is what the Church teaches. He also agreed the high likelihood is that the same reasoning of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church lacks authority for sacramental ordination of women will eventually be explicitly extended to the question of women deacons.]

The sensus fidei–who has it? Does it belong to me or you or him or her? We need faith enlightening sound reason, and to think with the Church, “For the Church is, by the will of Christ, teacher of the truth” according to Vatican II. The ITC document concludes, “The sensus fidei is closely related to the ‘infallibilitas in credendo’ that the Church as a whole has as a believing ‘subject’ making its pilgrim way in history.”

Why do practically all believers in women’s ordination seem to have different basic beliefs about the Sacrament of Holy Orders than the rest of us? The one who believes in some form that women deacons might be possible and seems most soundly orthodox is one whom I mentioned is in fact featured in an audio clip in Phyllis Zagano’s Women Deacons online course SEEMING to endorse sacramental women deacons, Sister Sara Butler (they know each other and have discussed these things in person; Dr Gary Macy’s summary reveals “Butler concluded that the evidence did not support the revival of an ordained deaconate for women, but that there was no obstacle to an unordained ministry of women.”), who believes female deacons were never identical with male deacons, says women can’t simply be ordained into the current Permanent Diaconate, and isn’t an activist for female ordination. Sister Sara Butler further says, “Women want to have the right to exercise jurisdiction and make decisions, and that has always been tied for centuries to ordination. People like Phyllis Zagano want to be able to preach and be judges in the canonical tribunal. They want power, to put it boldly. They don’t think men alone should exercise this kind of office. It seems clear to me the Lord himself gave it to men, used a man as a model for it and it’s a male responsibility, not some elite privilege.”

A true and loving bride of Christ is not in competition with Him or His deacons, priests and bishops. The Church is the bride of Christ, and how could I believe the sensus fidei of the Church would assert the “necessity” of female deacons?

Oh why do I bother, Professor Zagano will never pass me in this course. I am no theologian.

FAIL

Strong new statement by CDF to LCWR, but the problem is deep (and close to home)

New Age figure Barbara Marx Hubbard was blessed and welcomed by the Sinsinawa Dominicans prior to giving her talk at the 2013 Community Days Celebration at Sinsinawa Mound. Via the Sinsinawa facebook page.

There’s been some very positive news for everyone who hopes for resolution of the serious problems in most communities of women religious whose leaders belong to the larger and far more troubled of the two US women’s religious superiors’ groups, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The news is unfortunately not that there’s been deep reform yet, but nevertheless good news: the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Mueller, made a very forthright address April 30th to the leaders of the LCWR about the need for them to work closely with Archbishop Sartain and the other two US bishops who have been appointed for their reform and approving conference speakers and honorees. Mueller spoke firmly against their poor decision of honoring problematic feminist theologian Sr Elizabeth Johnson:

“It saddens me to learn that you have decided to give the Outstanding Leadership Award during this year’s Assembly to a theologian criticized by the Bishops of the United States because of the gravity of the doctrinal errors in that theologian’s writings. This is a decision that will be seen as a rather open provocation against the Holy See and the Doctrinal Assessment. Not only that, but it further alienates the LCWR from the Bishops as well.”

Mueller addressed then a second objection, “namely that the findings of the Doctrinal Assessment are unsubstantiated. The phrase in the Doctrinal Assessment most often cited as overreaching or unsubstantiated is when it talks about religious moving beyond the Church or even beyond Jesus. Yes, this is hard language and I can imagine it sounded harsh in the ears of thousands of faithful religious. I regret that, because the last thing in the world the Congregation would want to do is call into question the eloquent, even prophetic witness of so many faithful religious women. And yet, the issues raised in the Assessment are so central and so foundational, there is no other way of discussing them except as constituting a movement away from the ecclesial center of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord.”

Mueller’s listeners were all aware it wasn’t some guy at the Vatican but rather Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink who originally said the words about religious moving beyond the Church or even beyond Jesus, in a talk at a LCWR Assembly. In my book A Report on the Sinsinawa Dominicans Today, I give some more context for Sister Laurie’s words, and I also quote a candid reaction of another Sinsinawa Dominican, Clare Wagner, after the CDF’s Doctrinal Assessment for the LCWR and its fallout:

The phrase “unsubstantiated accusations” gave me pause and cause me to wince. That is because for myself, many religious and LCWR members the “accusations” are not “unsubstantiated.”
We do support Network.
We talk about and look toward the choice of ordination for women.
We are at odds with some of the teachings on human sexuality.
We are radical feminists who oppose patriarchal domination.
We do at times challenge positions taken by bishops.
We do not agree to “submission of intellect and will.”
We differ with the magisterium on ecclesiology.
We accept the Systems Thinking Handbook.

So there you have it from a sister, in case you didn’t believe Cardinal Mueller. “The accusations ARE substantiated,” says Sister Clare. If you want to see quite a bit of further substantiation, read my book about her religious congregation. While it is a minor contribution, actually many of the key parties in the LCWR dialogues have reviewed it. I did send it to the CDF, and Cardinal Muller’s secretetary did reply not only that he received A Report on the Sinsinawa Dominicans Today, but that “The Prefect has looked through these materials, and thanks you both for your careful research as well as for you[r] obvious love for religious life in the Church.” Sister Janet Mock the executive director of LCWR also replied, saying “I really look forward to reading it” and congratulating me on “adding to the body of work written about women religious”. Archbishop Sartain also replied, saying that he had no role in regards to individual religious congregations but could tell I undertook the project out of love for the Church and religious life and the he would take a look at the book. Bishops Paprocki and Blair also replied with similar sentiments. Below, the message from the CDF:

CDF letter 600A friend commented to me yesterday about Cardinal Muller’s recent address to LCWR, “It is nice to see someone in authority speaking about specifics directly, though still quite diplomatically.  I think your report was quite timely.” While am grateful to be able to do any small service, precisely because I am motivated by love it really does make me sad that a book of this kind could even be needed or useful to the good of the Church and religious life.

Turning back to Cardinal Mueller’s recent talk to LCWR, he gives an example of the problem of religious moving beyond the Church or even beyond Jesus: a spiritual thinker even more problematic than Sister Elizabeth Johnson, the new age figure Barbara Marx Hubbard who was an LCWR keynote speaker last year and promotes an ideology called “Conscious Evolution”. This is similar to the Tielhardianism-gone-wild “new cosmology” or “universe story” ideas that have been “hot” among LCWR sisters for a number of years and mentioned in my Report.  Mueller said, “I am worried that the uncritical acceptance of things such as Conscious Evolution seemingly without any awareness that it offers a vision of God, the cosmos, and the human person divergent from or opposed to Revelation evidences that a de facto movement beyond the Church and sound Christian faith has already occurred.” He points out to the sisters who seem ever excited by novelty, “the futuristic ideas advanced by the proponents of Conscious Evolution are not actually new. The Gnostic tradition is filled with similar affirmations….”

Barbara Marx Hubbard at Sinsinawa Mound, 2013

So, sounds like something the Sinsinawa Dominicans would love, right? Yes, Barbara Marx Hubbard appeared at the Sinsinawa Community Days gathering last August (2013) before moving on to (of course) the formerly-Catholic Holy Wisdom Monastery where she led a retreat. Madison based Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Joan Duerst wrote of the event at her order’s motherhouse on the Sinsinawa vocations blog: “With inspiration from Barbara Marx Hubbard  www.bararamarxhubbard.com we saw  our personal and communal growth as part of the evolving universe. We are called to choose to be  part of evolution, that is  to a higher unity in love. We saw  American Dominicans as  one of evolution’s most potent forces.”

It is consoling for Catholics to remember there are some other American Dominicans, Sisters, nuns and friars who don’t aim to be forces for “evolution” but still are trying to be among the most potent preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Cardinal Muller’s address to the LCWR leadership concluded: “The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration.” In other words, LCWR cannot continue to be a canonical entity if they are gnostics promoting beliefs so much at odds with Catholicism… by extension this really logically goes for individual religious congregations too.

LCWR states briefly that, following Cardinal Muller’s bracing address, “The actual interaction with Cardinal Müller and his staff was an experience of dialogue that was respectful and engaging.” Archbishop Sartain commented generically to the National Catholic Register that this ensuing conversation was frank, open, and respectful. This does not tell much except there was not a fistfight. I don’t think the dialogue has broken down. I personally think there is at least a possibility that the LCWR may begin to adhere better to the requirement to consult with Archbishop Sartain on choosing speakers and so forth. I think we need to pray for those engaged in this dialogue.

Father Mazzuchelli and the New Evangelization article in the Catholic Herald

I’ve really neglected my blog, my energies are quite limited and I have been working and doing some other good things. I do want to get back to blogging. But for the record I have written an article which appears in this week’s Madison Catholic Herald. It also appears on the newspaper website at the link below.

Father Mazzuchelli and the New Evangelization: frontier missionary priest’s memoirs provide inspiration for us today

Guest column
Written by Elizabeth Durack  
Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014 — 12:00 AM

Anyone who has read with interest the recent articles in these pages on the life of Venerable Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P. would do no better than to read his fascinating and edifying Memoirs.

Several readers have met at the Cathedral Parish in Madison weekly to discuss what inspiration we find for the New Evangelization from Father Mazzuchelli’s writing. I share these gleanings.

A frontier adventure

This 1844 book is a frontier adventure with bears and wolves which, like every account of the life of a saint, is also high adventure in the Faith.

The Christian life is always a hero’s mission. Semper et ubique (always and everywhere) the odds seem wildly against our hero (Jesus, His priest, or any of His faithful disciples); something is wrong if parish life becomes simply routine.

From the time he arrived at his first assignment on Mackinac Island as a new priest, aged 22, the missionary Father Mazzuchelli countered anti-Catholic teaching by engaging in public disputation good-naturedly and with compelling presentation of truths of the Faith.

Winning converts

It won Catholics back and made converts. Kind, genuine, and ready to lend a hand, the priest also formed warm ecumenical friendships that lessened prejudices about Catholicism.

He had a Dominican confidence in the power of [the] Holy Preaching and was adamant about not dumbing down the Faith he proposed.

Writing in the third person, Father Mazzuchelli says: “[W]ithout reference to [the Indians’] ignorance or their knowledge he only announces the spotless, unalterable Faith in which he himself has been instructed and which all the Catholics of the world have believed from Apostolic times.”

He didn’t make it overly difficult to convert: “the Catholic method” required “only the giving up of vices and the will to believe in those doctrines which independently of mere reason, are learned without arguments or disputations, and even without books, but simply by hearing, as says Saint Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, X, 17, ‘the Faith cometh by hearing.’”

Father Mazzuchelli tells many moving stories of pioneer folk and Indian converts as edifying Christian examples and witnesses to the Mercy of God in the sacraments.

Sacrament of Confession

He writes, “Guided by the dictates of conscience, the Indians recognize Confession as the most natural effect of a true repentance.”

Back then it was universally understood that confession of all grave sins precedes reception of Holy Communion. The beneficial promotion of frequent Communion since 1903 couldn’t change the fact that we objectively need to be in a state of grace to benefit from the Sacrament of the Eucharist, but at some point people’s understanding and practice radically broke down and much has been lost as a result. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is key for saving souls, then and now.

Evangelizing among the poor

Evangelical poverty was essential to his personal credibility as well as his easily-contented adaptability to rough conditions among those to whom he ministered, who were almost all very poor.

“There is no doubt,” he wrote, “that the Christian religion was propagated primarily in the midst of poverty . . . rarely were the rich among the first to submit to the doctrine of a God-made-man for us, born in a lowly manger.”

My friendships with Madison’s homeless suggest this has not changed, but how well are we evangelizing the poor?

Prognosis for the future

The great Dominican’s diagnosis of the religious problems he witnessed included a sadly accurate prognosis for the future.

In the religiously pluralistic frontier environment, hostilities could only be avoided by “the indifferentism which is a culpable abandonment of every Christian truth.”

This increasing religious indifferentism was accompanied also by a rising skepticism which he saw as dangerous to religious freedom: “Woe to that country if the mass of its people shall ever become unbelievers! Then will it lose that protection which makes it now so free to act, and enslaved by general corruption, its ruin and disintegration, humanly speaking, will be irreparable.”

On the other hand, says the indomitable missionary, “where unbelief reigns, there assuredly has he a motive to extend the Kingdom of God.”

Memoirs re-published

Read for yourself: I re-published the 1915 translation of Father Mazzuchelli’s book last year under the title Memoirs of a Frontier Missionary Priest. My goal was to make it inexpensive (I don’t make a penny) and help it find new readers. It’s available on Amazon.com for around $6.50.

 


Elizabeth Durack is a member of the Cathedral Parish in Madison. She blogs at www.laetificatmadison.com

Announcement tomorrow

Please forgive me if you have been checking here and found nothing new for a long while! Laetificat blog has a low level of postings for the last few months, because I’ve been working on another project that has been taking all of my time and energy. The Madison Catholic Herald newspaper interviewed me and other Wisconsin bloggers for a recent article, “Catholic bloggers: a new kind of missionary” which you may be interested in if you have not seen it. The journalist did a fine job.

I intend to “go live” with the major New Evangelization project I have been working on, tomorrow, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi. The URL for the new project is FatherMazzuchelliSociety.org. As I post this, it is still hidden behind a password, and that will get removed tomorrow.

I ask prayers right now for mercy, charity, the unity of the Holy Catholic Church and the return of Catholics who have left the Faith to be the fruits of the Father Mazzuchelli Society and its initiatives. It is God Himself who can bring this about, and we His children need to respond with ever greater fidelity to His grace.

THANK YOU from the homeschooling family you helped!

The mother of the family you helped to purchase books for the upcoming school year, wants me to thank everyone “SO MUCH” on their behalf. Unfortunately I do not have contact information to contact everyone who helped individually to thank them. About two thirds of the books were purchased, and some people also purchased gift cards! This is particularly thanks to good Father Z who posted my plea for the generous readers of his blog.

She has asked me to take down the book list because now they are ordering the remainder of the books they need themselves, to be ready for school to start.

If you still want to help, it is still possible to purchase an Amazon gift card for the family, which will help them. “Every little bit helps,” this mom says. Go here to do so.

Dale Ahlquist lecture on GK Chesterton July 14 in Waunakee

gk-chesterton

Dale Ahlquist is well known as president of the American Chesterton Society and host of the EWTN television program The Apostle of Common Sense, which is about the great 20th century Catholic writer GK Chesterton. He’ll be visiting the area in mid July and Madison’s excellent “Classical education” Catholic school St Ambrose Academy will be sponsoring a talk by Ahlquist which a devoted Chesterton fan has asked me to inform you of.  This event is of course free and open to all. You can view a PDF poster advertising the event at this link. The following is the text from the poster:

“G.K. Chesterton on Education”

Sunday, July 14, 2013
2:00 p.m.
St. John the Baptist Parish
209 South Street
Waunakee, WI 53597

G.K. Chesterton is of the most quoted writers in the English language, yet one of the least studied. He foresaw and wrote about the issues we struggle with today: social injustice, the culture of death, the decline of the arts, assaults on religion, and attacks on the family and on the dignity of the human person. Chesterton was the greatest English writer of the 20th century was because he was also the greatest thinker of the 20th century. He is responsible for many conversions and was influential in the lives of many prominent Catholics in the 20th century. In this free public event, Dale Ahlquist will present “G.K. Chesterton on Education,” providing the wit and wisdom of Chesterton on how to educate and to avoid giving in to the fads and fashions that afflict modern education. For more information, contact Laura Karlen at (608) 445-2064 or [email protected]

St Ambrose Academy is a small and vibrant school which educates grades 6-12 with a classical curriculum, but also contributes amazingly much to the wider Catholic community. Their motto is “Teach ’em to think.” The proof is in their amazing graduates, many of whom I have met. St Ambrose actively hopes to be able to add the elementary grades in the future, and are in search of a larger and suitable building that would make that possible.

Obama’s Final Solution

The Obama administration had dragged its feet on providing the final version of HHS mandate regulations, a tactic that effectively prevented many groups suing for their religious freedom to be allowed to do so, on the basis that the government had not actually finalized the regulation they were objecting to.

They released it today, and it makes no serious accommodations of those whose conscience forbids cooperation with the moral evils of contraception, abortion and sterilization. Monstrous:

According to the regulation, when a religious non-profit insures its employees through an insurance company, the insurance company will be required to provide free sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to the religious non-profit’s employees free of charge. Theoretically, the particular health insurance plan that the religious non-profit buys from an insurance company will not itself buy these things. Instead, in theory, the insurance company providing the health insurance plan to the religious non-profit will use other money that is theoretically walled off from the premiums it received from the religious non-profit to buy the services that violate the non-profit’s religious beliefs.

Figuratively, the insurance company will take the money for the insurance premiums from the religious organization and put them in its right pocket. When the insurance company needs to pay for a sterilization procedure or an abortion-inducing drug for one of the religious organization’s workers, it will take the money to pay for that out of its left pocket.

When a religious non-profit self-insures, the third party administrator will either have to pay for the sterilizations, contraceptives or abortion-inducing drugs itself, or arrange for an insurance issuer to do so. In this scenario, the regulation says the government will compensate the third party administrator or insurance company by providing it with an accommodation in the fees it pays to the state insurance exchange.

The regulation does not address the right of insurance companies or third-party administrators not to be forced by the federal government to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Thus, people whose religious and moral beliefs hold that these things are immoral will be precluded from operating businesses in these industries.

For example: A Catholic university could not contract with an insurance company owned by a Catholic family to provide its insurance–because the Catholic family just like the Catholic university would be prevented by its faith from paying for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. Under the final regulation, the insurance company for a Catholic university will be forced to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

Catholic non-profits, under the final regulation, will be forced to patronize for-profit businesses that have no problem with killing unborn children.

The only people left in America who would be able to operate health insurance companies and third-party administrators would be those people ready and willing to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.

The regulation itself can be viewed on the government website here.

Profound shame on every Catholic organization that declined to state clearly their objection to these evils–and shame on the lay people and the clergy who could have spoken up but failed. Thanks to the so many who DID. There is more heroism that will be needed.

But you know what, this is not simply a “religious freedom” issue. Oh, our religion obliges us to follow the natural moral law, so in that sense we’re calling for our freedom to practice our religion. But too often we have stopped short of what we should have been all along stating before the world, in charity: that contraception and sterilization, as well as abortion are objectively grave moral evils, are bad for women, men, children, families and society. We shouldn’t cooperate with these evils, not simply because we are religious, but because they are wrong and ultimately harmful to everyone. And same for sodomy and all homosexual behavior. Same for fornication and concubinage. Same for masturbation and pornography. Same for greed and theft and financial exploitation. Same for drunkenness and drugs and violent ways.

Above all, we are about Yes to the good. But in a way, this must preceded by a No to what is bad or simply a distraction, in order to make room for the good, which is otherwise crowded out, marginalized, compartmentalized. This doesn’t happen in a day, and it doesn’t happen without the grace of God. (Come, Holy Spirit) Empty yourself absolutely of every evil, everything worthless, and say YES to Christ Crucified, and follow Him and may the goodness of your life, your humility, your piety be a light.

Have you avoided telling others that you believe contraception is morally wrong and harmful to everyone? How about homosexual behavior? We need to speak the truth in charity. Do you talk about marriage in a way that makes it more understandable, that shows its truth and beauty? How about chaste unmarried life? It’s not that life is all about these issues, but confusion about these things keep people separated from God and the Church, and the government is conspiring with satan to bring about their eternal suffering. There is a stark choice. Do people see your joy in God and your simple love for the Catholic Church?

Finally, please come to the weekly 7pm Thursday evening Rosary Rallies on the State Street Steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol!

Benedictine priest to give fundraiser concert at Holy Wisdom Monastery?

Fr Koopmann of St John's Abbey to star in an event at once-Catholic monastery that went horribly wrong

This shows Fr Koopmann at this past Christmas, at the once-Catholic monastery that went wrong. He’s going back again to fundraise for them, even after the Madison Diocese asked priests and religious not to go there.

The corrupt monks of Saint John’s Abbey have long been connected with the once-Benedictine Sisters near Madison who left the religious life and left the Church (see all of my extensive coverage of HWM at this link). In fact one of them, canon lawyer Dan Ward, actually facilitated the former Benedictine sisters leaving religious life and leaving the Church and taking their ecclesial real estate with them [update: Fr Ward apparently resigned in May from the organization he ran, RCRI, due to multiple credible accusations of sexual abuse against him). Another of the longtime St John’s Abbey friends is Father Robert Koopmann, a skilled pianist. He’s scheduled to do a concert at Holy Wisdom in July which is also a fundraiser for their split-away sect that is not actually ecumenical but actually militates against true ecumenism by hosting a priestless Sunday “eucharist” service for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and hosts activist anti-Catholic groups that favor homosexual behavior, “women priests,” etc.

Yes, he’s going to Holy Wisdom for an event again, in spite of the Diocese of Madison request this March 2013, to priests and religious to refrain from formal engagements there. This is the announcement from Holy Wisdom:

 Please join us for Celebrating Benedict: A Piano Concert with Father Bob Koopmann, OSB. Pieces by Sergei Rachmaninoff, W.A. Mozart, César Franck, Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel, and by Father Koopmann himself will be performed. Donations will be accepted at the door or online to support the mission of the Benedictine Women of Madison at Holy Wisdom Monastery. A light reception will follow the 70 minute concert.

Here is the diocesan statement from this March:

Given their former status, there is a natural sense of confusion among some as to Holy Wisdom’s standing with regard to the Catholic Church. In order to lessen confusion as much as possible, the leadership at Holy Wisdom agreed with Bishop Morlino’s request in 2006 that the Catholic Mass not be celebrated at the new center and that the Blessed Sacrament no longer be reserved there.

Nonetheless, in recent years and months priests and religious from both inside and outside the diocese have participated openly in Holy Wisdom events, offering talks and the like. The clear presence and occasional publicity of such participation by priests and religious has leant itself to continued confusion among Catholic faithful, as to whether Holy Wisdom has regained some sort of recognition from the Catholic Church. To be clear, it has not.

The diocesan chancery has thus been in communication with outside priests and religious communities asking them to assist us with reducing further confusion and avoiding scandal, by refraining from formal engagements at Holy Wisdom. The confidential letter which was shared with the Wisconsin State Journal, was an attempt at requiring the same from the priests in the diocese, so as to avoid scandal and avert further confusion and was not intended as any public slight to Holy Wisdom.

If YOU want to object (I already did):

Fr Robert Koopmann
Phone: (320) 363-3370
Fax: (320) 363-2504
E-mail: <[email protected]>

Abbot John Klassen OSB
Saint John’s Abbey
31802 County Road 159
Collegeville, MN 56321-2015
[email protected]