Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Golden Magic

Golden Magic
April 26, 1999 – October 24, 2011

Golden Magic, first greyhound of Mimi and Bob Jones, died peacefully on Monday, October 24, 2011, after a brief illness. Magic was 12 1/2 years old.

If there is one word that could describe Magic’s life, that word would be “charmed.” Magic was born, trained, raced and retired with her littermates, a somewhat rare occurrence in the greyhound world. Her brief racing career could be summarized by the words most frequently used to describe her track performance: “Never a factor.”  However, her kennel master saw something in her and her siblings and made sure that they were put in SEGA’s care.  Bob always said, “Magic only won one race in her life, and that was the one to our house.”

Magic was an incurable counter-surfer, resistant to every known method of breaking the habit. One could sit at the kitchen counter and count on seeing a black nose sticking above the counter like a shark fin, seeking food that had been left just a little too close to the edge.  Several memories spring to mind in this regard. Mimi lost a chicken salad sandwich to Magic when she turned her back on it in order to get a soda. Magic stole a New York strip from Bob when he stepped into the other room to answer his cell phone. She was a little stunned when he chased her down, wrestled the steak out of her mouth, and ate it while glaring at her. (She did get a couple of left over pieces, though.)

Perhaps her greatest theft was accomplished with Bravo (1997-2009), her adopted brother. One night, when we went to the pool for a swim, we took a rotisserie chicken from the refrigerator and placed it safely out of canine reach (so we thought) on the back of the stove. When we returned for dinner twenty minutes later, there was no chicken to be found. Mimi initiated a search and found aluminum foil in the living room. It was neatly unfolded with surgical precision and there was no sign of any chicken, bone, cartilage, or even a grease stain. Magic and Bravo looked somewhat sheepishly at us, but never did anything to acknowledge their crime.

Magic was lucky, too, very lucky. On one occasion, she stole a bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and devoured it before being discovered. She ate the steak, the bacon, and the 1 ½ inch long hard plastic screw that fixed the bacon around the steak. Bob got on the phone to the vet, “What do we do?” “There’s really not much to do,” the vet replied. “You’ll just have to pray that this screw doesn’t perforate her intestine.” For two days we watched Magic very carefully. Finally, on the third morning, along with her other business, out came the screw in pristine condition and Magic was none the worse for wear. If she had been a cat, she would have used up about four lives on that one.

It would be hard to find a dog as loyal as Magic. Every day for 10 years, she would race to the door whenever Bob came home from work, pushing the other dogs out of the way to claim her place as “Daddy’s favorite.”  In fact, if Mimi needed to get Magic in the house, a task that could be anything but easy, all she had to do was holler, “Magic, Daddy’s home.” Magic would tear across the yard to get to the door.

Magic was with us for almost 10 years. We will always remember these years with joy because of what this playful, joyful, loving greyhound brought to our home. Maybe, we were the ones that were “charmed” after all.

The picture above was taken in the spring of 2011 by Cindy Frezon. It has always been our favorite picture of Magic because we believe that Cindy captured the essence of our wonderful dog in this image. It is used here with her gracious permission.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chalk Up Another One for the Religion of Peace

As Cairo continues to erupt in violence that, as reported by Stratfor, has been provoked by Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood, I thought this article from the American Spectator might be enlightening.

Religious Persecution by Muslims? Perish the Thought!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Cheery Read for the New Year from the Barna Group

The Barna Group is a major polling and trends research firm that assesses the current state of evangelical Christianity. Their conclusions, though, are often applicable to all branches of the Christian faith. Hence, I'm attaching a link to their 2010 summary article of "Six Megathemes Emerge from 2010" for your reading. Here's the link:

Six Megathemes Emerge from 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Great Article from Virtueonline

Dr, Bruce Atkinson has written a fine article on the Stages of Moral Regression. Many people wonder how we have come to our current societal situation. Dr. Atkinson provides a good answer to this that is biblically well-founded.

Here's the link:

VirtueOnline - As Eye See It - STAGES OF MORAL REGRESSION - Bruce Atkinson

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Anne, We Hardly Knew Ye!

Anne Rice has quit Christianity. The lady who brought us such classics as Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat converted to Christianity in 2000. She followed her conversion with a couple of passably good books on Jesus.

However, the bloom is now off the rose and Ms. Rice states that she is "quitting Christianity but not Christ." Whatever that means.

Ms. Rice's particular objection with Christianity is that it is so contentious and, apparently, anti-everything-that's-modern. Ms. Rice states, "In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian."

Ms. Rice's position is most unfortunate and it denies several realities. The first is this: A simple perusal of Christian history will show that Christianity has always been contentious, with factions emerging and fading throughout its 2,000 years of history. In fact, it is through the struggles that Christianity has been able to more clearly define matters of faith and doctrine. Further, it is through the fire of contention that many people have tempered their faith, removing the dross and leaving the steel of a genuine faith.

Secondly, her description of Christianity as anti-fill-in-the-blank is specious. Christians are not (or shouldn't be) anti-anything. Rather than being anti-gay, Christians are or should be for a biblical standard of sexual morality because that is how God intended us to express the sexual faculty. Christians should not be anti-feminist but for a biblical view of the woman that recognizes her value in the divine economy, a value that was so important that it was a woman who was called out of all creation to bear Christ the Savior. As to being anti-artificial birth control, Christians recognize that the era of the pill has seen one of the most disastrous fruits of the modern era: The separation of sexual activity from holy Matrimony and the procreation of children. In fact, the contraceptive mentality has reached such a point in our society that children are seen as a burden by many, and - at times - as a "punishment" even by the President of the United States. As to secular humanism, I would hope that a Christian opposes that hideous philosophy that places man at the center of the universe and not God. I would hope that Christians will lead the way in pointing that secular humanism has its roots in atheism and that it can only lead a person into a black hole of despair. I could go on indefinitely with this, but you get the point.

What I think is going on here is this: Ms. Rice has finally reached that point where faith conflicts with the world. Perhaps she had hoped that in becoming a Christian, she could somehow retain all of her previous beliefs. After all, a change of belief might place her at odds with her circle of friends. A change of belief might mean that she has to change her whole life, submitting her life to Christ and acknowledging his total lordship over all creation. Instead, I fear that pride has reared its ugly head and left this quite talented woman saying, as many have before her, "I want Jesus, but only on my terms. I want a comfortable Christ who will not challenge my beliefs."

Maybe Ms. Rice has fallen into the tendency that all men and women struggle with, the tendency to want to create God in our image, instead of allowing Him to recreate us in His. Maybe Ms. Rice, like a particular woman before her who standing before a tree, listened to a voice that said, "[If you eat of the fruit of this tree]...Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

Let us pray that Ms. Rice will someday return to that other tree, that tree of a cross on the hillside of Jerusalem. Let us pray that she will return to that tree to stand witness to the faith of a God that was willing to die for her. Maybe Ms. Rice will come to see that following Christ demands that we be willing to change every attitude, every belief. Perhaps she will learn that the pleasures of this life are but illusion, that truth lies in the cross and empty tomb, that truth is found in the Church, the Body of Christ on earth. Let us pray for her soul.

Here's the link to the article.

In Good Faith: Anne Rice quits Christianity -- but not Christ - Religion: News and debate about Christianity, Islam and values -

Friday, July 30, 2010

We're All Crazy Now!

In early 2009, after the inauguration of President Obama, Newsweek magazine ran a cover showing two hands shaking, one red and one blue. The caption read, "We're All Socialists Now!" Not wanting to be left out of this inclusive is the American Psychiatric Association which is in the process of introducing a new diagnostic manual which, presumably, could leave the overwhelming majority of the population open to mental health diagnosis. Let's prepare to welcome the new DSM!

Anyone involved in the mental health field knows what the DSM is. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a publication of the American Psychiatric Association that was initially intended to be a set of guidelines for researchers who needed pure definitional criteria of mental disorders. For example, if one wants to study the effectiveness of a treatment for depression, then one needs to know as clearly as possible what the symptoms for depression are. Further, one needs to be able to distinguish those who do not have the condition, so that they are not inappropriately introduced into the study.

This attempt to operationally define mental disorder really took off in the early 1980s with the introduction of the Third Edition of the DSM. About the same time, health insurers started using DSM codes as a way to track expenditures. Later it became customary for insurers to use these same codes to eliminate whole categories of diagnoses from the lists of those for which they were willing to pay. (One insurance executive told me, "If we don't pay for them, they lose their jobs. If they lose their jobs, they lose their insurance. If they lose their insurance, they're not our problem." In a fateful twist of irony that proves that God really does have a sense of humor, that same executive lost his job within months of that statement.)

Now the mental health community awaits the release of the Fifth Edition of the DSM. The story linked below from Reuters suggests there are concerns that, with this new edition, almost everyone will have a diagnosable mental disorder. As I see it, this is the result of a couple of factors. Psychiatry is in grave danger as a profession, with fewer medical students each year showing any interest in the field and pressure mounting by psychologists to obtain prescription privileges (something I vigorously oppose, by the way). As a result, I suspect that this broadening of diagnoses to included many who would be otherwise considered "normal" may be driven by the desire to expand those items for which mental health professionals may gain reimbursement.

However, lurking amidst all of this is something that I think is very dangerous. I worry that we may be on the precipice of entering a "soviet-style" of psychiatry where the holding of politically-incorrect positions can be classified as mental disorders. If we are going to start including "Temper Dysregulation Syndrome" into our diagnostic nomenclature, what is to stop us from expanding our possible patient base to include people who suffer from a syndrome that is defined by "excessive rigidity of thought in that the individual holds inflexible exclusive beliefs in a deity"? Do you think that can't happen? Think again. I know several very intelligent people who would support such a position.

The point to all of this is pretty simple. When the mental health Brahmans decide that they want to include diagnoses that resist operational definition, then they open up our fields not only to ridicule from a public that understands that most of this is of little use, but also to exploitation from those who would use the mental health field for self-serving ends.

Here's the link.

Mental health experts ask: Will anyone be normal? | Reuters

Monday, July 26, 2010

Who's Watching Big Brother?

This is a great article from, although the title is somewhat misleading. It actually has far more to do with the trivialization of religion that has taken place in our modern culture and society's unwillingness to accept that there might be any eternal consequences for our behavior. It's worth a read.

American Thinker- Print Article

Saturday, July 24, 2010

$86,400 a day

A former parishioner of mine sent me this very thoughtful meditation.



Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:

Each morning your bank would deposit $ 86,400.00 in your private account for your use every day.

However, this prize had rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be:

1. Everything that you didn't spend during each day would be taken away from you.
2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.
3. You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another $86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules:

1. The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, "It's over, the game is over!"
2. It can close the account and you will not receive a new one. What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right?

Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?

Even for people you don't know, because you couldn't possibly spend it all on yourself, right?

You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right?


Each of us is in possession of such a "magical" bank.

We just can't seem to see it.


Each awakening morning we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we haven't lived up that day is forever lost.

Yesterday is forever gone.

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time.......WITHOUT WARNING.

WELL, what will you do with your 86,400 seconds?

Aren't they worth so much more than the same amount in dollars?

Think about that, and always think of this:

Enjoy every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.

So take care of yourself, and enjoy life!

Have a wonderfully beautiful day!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Priest Under Fire for Serving Communion to Dog - News

There are some things that are so ridiculous that one barely knows where to start. Here we have a story of an Anglican priestess giving "Communion" to a dog. Fortunately, since the priestess is ontologically incapable of consecrating Communion, it is more comedic than anything else. But it does highlight for any thinking person the problem that has occurred in the Anglican world by abandoning any semblance of loyalty either to the authority of Scripture or the authority of Apostolic tradition. Read it and weep if you are in the Anglican Communion. Read it and thank God Almighty if you are in the ACC or its churches that share full communion with her.

Priest Under Fire for Serving Communion to Dog - News

Monday, July 19, 2010

I don't know who he is...

After Quasimodo's death, the bishop of the Cathedral of Notre Dame sent word through the streets of Paris that a new bell ringer was needed. The bishop decided that he would conduct the interviews personally and went up into the belfry to begin the screening process. After observing several applicants demonstrate their skills, he had decided to call it a day. Just then, an armless man approached him and announced that he was there to apply for the bell ringer's job. The bishop was incredulous. "You have no arms!" "No matter," said the man. "Observe!" And he began striking the bells with his face, producing a beautiful melody on the carillon. The bishop listened in astonishment, convinced he had finally found a replacement for Quasimodo. But suddenly, rushing forward to strike a bell, the armless man tripped and plunged headlong out of the belfry window to his death in the street below. The stunned bishop rushed to his side. When he reached the street, a crowd had gathered around the fallen figure, drawn by the beautiful music they had heard only moments before. As they silently parted to let the bishop through, one of them asked, "Bishop, who was this man?"

"I don't know his name," the bishop sadly replied, "but his face rings a bell."

The following day, despite the sadness that weighed heavily on his heart due to the unfortunate death of the armless campanologist, the bishop continued his interviews for the bell ringer of Notre Dame. The first man to approach him said, "Your Excellency, I am the brother of the poor armless wretch that fell to his death from this very belfry yesterday. I pray that you honor his life by allowing me to replace him in this duty." The bishop agreed to give the man an audition, and as the armless man's brother stooped to pick up a mallet to strike the first bell, he groaned, clutched his chest, twirled around, and died on the spot. Two monks, hearing the bishop's cries of grief at this second tragedy, rushed up the stairs to his side. 'What has happened? Who is this man?" the first monk asked breathlessly.

"I don't know his name," sighed the distraught bishop, "but he's a dead ringer for his brother!"

Some Comments on "The Death of a Catholic Seminary"

Recently, my friend and brother priest Father John published a post on his website entitled "'Gay' Roman Catholic Seminaries". While I rarely trust Newsweek on anything (including sunrise and sunset), I read with interest a passage entitled, "The Death of a Catholic Seminary." It so resonated with my own experience in seminary in the 1980s that I felt compelled to publish it here along with my response to Father John.


The Death Of A Catholic Seminary


Due to the nature of the information contained in this article, it is necessary to protect the identity of the young author. The seminarian who wrote this story is known to the editor. The following is a truthful account of what has been going on in one of the major seminaries in the United States.


After spending four years in a Neo-Modernist Roman Catholic seminary, I have come to the firm belief that the source of the current crisis in the Church in the United States can be traced directly to the seminaries. The seminary is literally the seedbed of the faith.

Seminary education has traditionally been seen as one of the most important apostolates. Those charged with the formation in seminaries had upon their shoulders a very great responsibility: they were not simply forming a future priest, but the entire Church. Hence, the absolute necessity of quality spiritual and academic formation was clear.

One might argue that this sense has been lost in the torrent of the many erroneous interpretations of the "spirit" of the Second Vatican Council. It is not infrequent that one finds many aberrations in contemporary Catholicism, to the point where many of the faithful, even bishops, are unclear about what the Church really teaches.

Formation for the priesthood has changed drastically in most seminaries since Vatican II. In some seminaries, the changes were well implemented and orthodoxy was retained. In others, disaster followed, and has remained deeply rooted. Many embittered, frustrated priests and nuns continue to work in seminaries with an agenda for "reform" and "change" so that their corporate and personal ambitions and desires can be met. Many want to see priestesses, married clergy, allowance for dissent, and acceptance of homosexual and lesbian lifestyles, and believe the Spirit of the Council called for this kind of "openness" and change. Almost all of them are highly educated and experienced seminary educators.

The kind of formation one receives in seminary depends on the way the particular seminary leadership and faculty interpret the meaning of priesthood, and for that matter, ministry, worship, revelation, and even God himself. With the great political struggles going on deep within the fabric of the Church today, the essential meaning of our very religion is at stake. It is the same when one begins in seminary with the basic question of his vocation to the priesthood.

Because of this divisive crisis, there are now "correct" and "incorrect" ways to talk about priesthood.

Simply a "presider"

The "correct" version may involve a de-emphasis on the word "priest" because it is cultic and exclusive to some. It is more rightly referred to only as "ordained ministry," with an emphasis placed on the fact that some ministries are for regulating power. An "ordained minister" is commissioned in the name of the community to lead that community in worship. The "modernization" of the priest's role means that he is a social worker with religious politics, or a "community animator" with a dynamic personality and flair for drama and entertainment. He may also be simply "a leader of the community, " a "presider" who arranges worship and leads others as a conductor for an orchestra, and also runs the parish as another kind of business. He may also be the "counselor on call" who helps people feel better about themselves. In a time when pride causes us to so easily confuse personal ambition with vocation, it is becoming more and more common to find notions of priesthood that increasingly exclude rich sacramental definitions. Because of the inevitable and increasing envy and jealousy over the priest's unique ontological status and sacramental ministry, there is a mounting movement to demythologize the priesthood and remove its sacred and unique character, and have the priest be essentially no different than anyone else. If others cannot have what he has, then what he has must be removed. If it cannot be removed, it should be watered down.

In the seminary where I went, the more liberal and watered-down definitions of priesthood mentioned above would fall well within the acceptable parameters of a "correct" description of a priestly character. "Social Justice" was the key term to profess at all times. It was in an erroneous interpretation of this term that one could find considerable room within which to form his own notion of priesthood - as long as it maintained a prophetic witness against "unjust structures."

A man would inevitably find trouble, however, if he used language like "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass." He would have two strikes against him if he in turn stood in opposition to the concept of "priestesses" in the Roman Catholic Church. Such a position would not be respected or looked upon as being even remotely reasonable in light of the experience of "modernity." To think and hold such ideas privately was considered allowable. To hold these things with conviction would not.

The course of formation I experienced, sadly enough, depended heavily upon the guiding principles of political, and especially theological, correctness. These principles controlled the spiritual and academic climate of the seminary institution and its faculty. They were opposed to an adherence (in a spirit of conviction and fidelity) to the authentic teachings of the Church, exhibited through the Holy Father, Magisterium, and Sacred Tradition. The Church's Tradition and traditions were studied from a certain subtle but consistently biased perspective, so that the meaning of many events and personal contributions would be perverted or cast in a negative, offensive light. The spirit of "reform" became most attractive and was perhaps best inculcated after the student could be substantially convinced of the overwhelming "unattractiveness" of the Church's past.

For example, St. Thomas Aquinas was rarely if at all used for our instruction in philosophy or theology. Instead, certain select writings were chosen or referred to for the purpose of exemplifying the limitations of antiquated medieval thought. Particularly underscored were Aquinas's "sexist and demeaning attitudes toward women," and his "erroneous" understanding of human biology. From there it was no difficult task to argue his disqualification from serious contemporary theological discourse. He was consulted as an authority, however, when he was shown to "deny" the Immaculate Conception.

Latin, Greek and Hebrew were deemed irrelevant or useless for the needs of parish ministry, hence these were not part of our seminary training. Patristics were infrequently mentioned and not encouraged, and the lives of the Saints and Doctors of the Church were implicitly written off as antiquated piety. The Rosary was looked upon as being suitable for those without the capacity to approach God intellectually, and it was beneath one of theological sophistication.

Through various erroneous interpretations of the "Spirit of Vatican II," a certain spirit of "sophistication" paved the way for many different "ecclesiologies," not all of which are from Christ. Many are laden with ideologies foreign or contrary to the Gospel. Moral theologies have collapsed into versions of proportionalism anchored vaguely in the "fundamental option" - to the point that mortal sin is nearly impossible to commit, and one may have allowance to live any way he chooses - as long as he is fundamentally "oriented" in the direction of God. An authentic Catholic spirituality of moral discernment may easily collapse into values wedded to the world, naturally heading towards moral and spiritual relativism.

Theological "rigidity"

All of these elements found their way into the fabric of our seminary instruction, one way or another. Even if one did not directly espouse pure relativism, there was still a pervasive, insistent demand for "dialogue" with various perspectives with relativism as a subtle philosophical basis. Faith could venture too close to a seemingly innocent, though mortal, compromise. It didn't seem far from the curb to the gutter. But to hold to "official" teaching, i.e., magisterial documents, was perceived as theological rigidity, disagreeing with certain dubious or erroneous philosophical positions was considered intolerance.

Built upon this drive was the relentless emphasis on the "oppressive and sinful structures" in the world, but perhaps mostly in the Church. This eventually led to the "patriarchy" of Sacred Tradition and contemporary Catholic culture. This form of "oppression" was considered to be the source of many great evils, especially in the Church (not to mention throughout Salvation History). The fury of the radically feminist ego, its lust for power, and ambition for rule was considered justified because of the pain caused by this ancient form of male oppression - as if this form of "activism" was what Christ came to institute. If one were to question how this was supposed to be a vision of good formation for the Catholic Priesthood, that man might find himself cornered with accusations that he was "self-righteous."

In some seminaries, this would not be a problem. The man would be evaluated against certain criteria, some of the most important qualities being personal character, moral fibre, prayer life, and fidelity to Papal and Magisterial teaching. Faculty should be more interested in supporting the teachings of the Holy Father, not dissenting theologians.

In other seminaries however, like the one I attended, this was not so. An attempt to identify the components of the Catholic priest and his spirituality in light of Papal and Magisterial documents, or the Church's traditional Doctors, i.e., St. Alphonsus Liguori, no matter how well articulated, would be deemed "inadequate."

The difference in perspectives was well symbolized by our way of worship. To begin with, we were instructed upon entry to the seminary that we could not kneel at the consecration during Mass, nor could we kneel after receiving communion. This would "break community." We were told that standing was also a posture of reverence on par with kneeling, and that it was more in keeping with Vatican II's "call to mission" of Social Justice - hence standing to be ready to "go out" to enact this justice. Kneeling was considered a "privatistic" worship disconnected from others. It also reflected a repressed piety, a spirituality of "Ghetto Catholicism." This was said to be incompatible with the theology of the Council, and the spirit of the liturgical reforms.

I learned early on that everything done at the seminary had reasoning behind it, although not always good reasoning. The reality behind the theory was that our worship and training were being watered down. We were in practice living a protestantized version of worship. What had always been distinctively Catholic in our Tradition was circumvented, de-emphasized, omitted or excluded. The way we pray is the way we believe.

Inclusive language was the most powerful of all corrosive agents. Not only were the most vocal "justice-conscious" seminarians rewarded for their attacks in class against "insensitive" theological language and oppressive liturgy in the Church's worship, they were considered "courageous men" and commended for their concerns for justice. All through our community Masses, one could not keep from hearing the deliberate and loud references to God in repetitious neutral or even feminine pronouns. The result was the total disruption of the Mass, transforming it from worship to a battle of words.

Collar was sign of "clericalism"

At Mass, the priest was often simply referred to as the "presider." He was the one leading us in prayer, "animating" the community. Many "presiders" improvised upon the Mass, adding their own touch to the eucharistic prayers. Making sure the readings were inclusivized was the responsibility of the reader for the day. The chalice was normally done away with (unless a visiting bishop or dignitary were present), replaced with a standard wine glass. Some priests often would either not attend the daily community Mass, or would cantor instead of concelebrate. Others would just sit in the congregation to show their solidarity with the feminist nuns, typically with their collar undone. The feminist nuns used to give their "communion reflections" (homilies) after the communion song; these were nearly always filled with a spirit of resentment and a call for "reform."

We, as Roman Catholic seminarians, were not allowed to wear clerical clothing. This was because the collar was a sign of "clericalism." Though the rector had been known to tell bishops he did not want to "confuse ministry with the wearing of the collar," the reality behind abolishing the collar in our seminary was that it was a cause of great anxiety for the feminists. In many ways it was, for them, a great symbol of oppression - it was a form of ministry that "excluded" women, and therefore an excessive wearing of the collar was unjust and insensitive.

We were told from the beginning that seminarians were not to refer to any of the faculty as "Father" or "Sister." We were not to be caught up with "titles," as this was another form of clericalism. These things would also offend against the "ecumenical" mission that the seminary was committed to. In terms of a "confusion of ministries," one might question the very practice inculcated in the seminary.

Another divisive factor in the seminary was the reputation of a large homosexual culture. Having gone there for four years, I had seen much that was demoralizing. This was a volatile issue in the seminary, as there were sizeable numbers of men on both sides of the issue. During a class conference, the question that was raised was the unchecked effeminate, scandalous behavior of some seminarians, the negative reputation of the seminary gained by this recurring image, and the kinds of role models the seminary was tacitly approving in recommending these men for orders. The Vice Rector replied by saying the seminary admitted men of both orientations, but the policy was that all had to be celibate. The general split of the house policy was toleration. On the other hand, I did learn through experience that what was not condoned was "intolerance" and "homophobia."

As soon as it was learned that I was one who disliked and criticized such behavior, I was labeled "homophobic." I was even criticized by some seminarians and faculty as being "too masculine." I was concerned what my friends and family would think of the priesthood if I invited them to see where I lived and studied. Because I found these things embarrassing or shameful, many who were charged with evaluating me felt I was the one who had the problem.

Desensitizing occurs

The sad thing is that a man can go into the seminary and be shocked by what he sees, and yet by the time he graduates he may be so desensitized that he may no longer see these things as a problem. It becomes just another facet of "the reality of the Church today." But was everything included in this "reality" of the Church necessarily good and fostered by the Holy Spirit?

Most of the seminary faculty felt my observations and concerns about the seminary to be "judgmental." Therefore, I was dubbed "pastorally insensitive."

To accentuate and build upon these spiritual and moral collapses, the textbooks we used for coursework nurtured and enhanced the growth in our minds of doubt. This brought the seeds of "false doctrines" to complete maturity. It was a hand-in-hand dynamic: the formation would confirm the agenda in the texts, and the agenda in the texts would affirm, enhance, and further strength the sour spirit of formation.

For our entire first academic year, we had to study Richard P. McBrien's Catholicism. This book set the most fertile foundations for doubt and intellectual departure from the true Catholic Faith. It was through subtle and clever deception by veiled, ambiguous language, that McBrien's book was so effective. It became the basis for the reasonableness and goodness of dissent. Some of his more exemplary ideas, implied and cleverly suggested throughout the book, are that we don't have to believe in the virginity of Blessed Mother; that we don't have to believe or assent to follow Church teaching unless it explicitly states it has dogmatic status; and that we must admit to Jesus having been ignorant and in error. McBrien expertly employed his language so that he remained within a "legal" framework, and made outrageous suggestions which to some appear compelling. I recall seeing the firsthand results of this book's use in a discussion I had with another seminarian - he was firmly convinced that "It's totally naive to think that Mary didn't have sex." He was not an isolated case - he was among a common class of seminarian that absorbed the philosophy of McBrien's book. So this seminarian's "openness" and capacity for "dialogue" was lauded; he was considered a "model" seminarian. As far as the spirit of this seminary went, it was permissible to believe as this man did. It was also acceptable to believe that Mary was a virgin; but what was not acceptable was a conviction that our Blessed Mother was always a virgin. To adhere to any orthodox position with fidelity and conviction would be perceived as intolerant of "dialogue," and would reveal some kind of unhealthy "rigidity."

A parallel magisterium

I had an important discussion with the Vice Rector regarding my evaluation, where he criticized my sense of fidelity to the Holy Father's teachings, and my position on the impossibility of priestesses. He said that my position was "inadequate" because the Pope could change the teaching at any time - and since I was so convinced of the impossibility of the ordination of priestesses, he saw that as evidence for my rigidity and how I did not know anything about the levels of authority in the Church. "When the Pope changes tomorrow," he said "and decides to ordain women - then where will your 'fidelity' be? Will you change also, or will you be a source of division in the parish? This is our concern with you."

Although the seminary faculty believed they did "technically" teach what the Church teaches, the reality was that they taught a version - and most seminarians innocent or ignorant of authentic Church teaching would have no reason to believe otherwise. Church teaching would be mentioned, but it was always "nuanced" or muted, or given a relative status with other, liberal theologians. A parallel magisterium of popular liberal theologians was often presented and considered with equal authority. We often studied Protestant theologies right alongside Rahner, Schillebeeckx, Kung, Boff (even on occasion Matthew Fox) and so forth. Since there was no reliance upon the Magisterium for guidance or point of reference in most theological discussions, we seminarians would be adrift in a sea of opinion and interpretations, both Protestant and Catholic. To bring Magisterial positions into a "serious theological discussion" was somehow an offense to "academic freedom" and was thus perceived as an insult.

The study of moral theology was characterized by Charles Curran and the fundamental option, proportionalism and the subtle ridicule of traditional moral theologies. Papal encyclicals and theologians like Thomas Aquinas and Alphonsus Liguori were bumped because they were "old," and because of a few examples of apparent contradiction in their writings, chosen without appropriate and necessary contextualization. The impression was that the Pope was very fallible, traditional theologies were irrelevant or ridiculous in light of modern science and psychology, and the Magisterium was an agent of the Vatican for control over theological discussion. The components that were attacked were precisely those pillars preventing the various agendas of "the world" from entering and taking root in the mind and heart of the Church.

Confronted with a choice

In the area of spirituality, we had workshops on "women's spirituality," or something about "collaborative ministry" and "social justice," because this was perceived as "where the Spirit was" in today's world. Devotion to Mary as "Blessed Mother" was allowed, but generally not encouraged, as such a "servile" image and traditional feminine values were seen by many as not in keeping with feminist theology and the "contemporary experience of women." The Rosary, prayed in the main chapel by a group of seminarians, was tolerated for a time. But eventually the tension created in the seminary over this group brought it to an end. However, to please bishops, and as a kind of token gesture to the conservative element in the seminary, the Rosary was suddenly allowed again - with official seminary approval - but then only in a small hall chapel where there was no Blessed Sacrament, one day a week, between breakfast and classes. The reason behind not allowing the Rosary in the main chapel was that "the chapel is for liturgical celebrations - not devotions." And yet the chapel was used for a number of functions outside Catholic worship, including on occasion the rehearsals of a local symphony orchestra.

The greatest of spiritual tests came in my fourth year, in a course of so-called "Pastoral Counseling. " A laywoman with a very vocal agenda taught the course. Not only did she proudly inform us one day that she'd be taking off a class to attend the Call to Action seminars in Chicago (where everyone joined in the Eucharistic prayers as a woman in stole "presided"-and with a Catholic Bishop in the congregation), but she openly canvassed for gay and lesbian rights, radical feminism, and even abortion. Because I openly questioned this woman's arguments, I was penalized. To add to the irony, I was paid a visit by the Vice Rector, who wanted an explanation as to the reasons for my "making trouble" in her class.

My question to the faculty of the seminary involved whether it was formation we were receiving, or deformation. And, in turn, the question the faculty put to me was whether I was "open to where the Church is going today." But was doctrinal confusion, homosexuality, feminist anger and destruction of the priesthood where the Holy Spirit was truly leading us?

Through a discouraging dilemma, I knew that what was being taught directly contradicted what the Church taught, and I knew that the bishop in my home diocese supported me. He always expressed support of my orthodox values and beliefs, and told me on more than one occasion, "Remember I'm the one who ordains you, not they."

After four years in the seminary of standing up for what was right, I was finally punished with dismissal. I was asked to leave at the end of the academic year and to not return. Even though I was pointing out direct cases where the seminary stood contrary to Catholicism in its spiritual climate, members of the faculty protected themselves and the institution by making it appear I was the one who opposed the Church, her authority, and seminary formation.

I did not compromise what I believed and knew to be true. It was no longer a question of being prudently silent here and there when necessary. Rather, I was being directly confronted with a choice: either I had to admit to the problems being mine, which would in turn mean seeing a therapist, or hold fast to what I knew to be the truth. If I didn't answer "correctly," if I continued to maintain my position, I would certainly be voted down as a candidate for Holy Orders.

I was called into board meetings and forced to answer to charges of being "narrow," "rigid," "not open to dialogue," "having problems with women," "not trusting of the faculty," and "combative."

In order, these things were reactions to the truth - "narrow" was another way of saying I was too much the "papist" in my thinking, and that I couldn't appreciate other "ecclesiologies." "Rigid" meant that I would not compromise the teachings of the Church, or water them down to accommodate theological correctness. "Not open to dialogue" meant that I did not entertain dissent as an option in my faith. "Having problems with women" simply meant that I was critical of feminism and feminist theology, and the feminist agendas being forced on me. "Not trusting the faculty" referred to my wariness around the thick duplicity I encountered in my dealings with nearly all the faculty at the seminary. It was wise to maintain prudence in what one told a frustrated liberal faculty member who asks pointed and probing questions, because it somehow always became "incriminating evidence" during evaluations.

If I were to deny my faith -what I believed to be true about the Church, indeed what all orthodox Catholics and even the Pope himself believes and teaches - I would in effect be denying Christ, the Church's Author and Bridegroom.

Because of the ramifications of the rector's rage, and to my surprise, the bishop in turn also "released" me, as the matter had become quite political for him. The man who once told me in private not to compromise my beliefs compromised me, even after I had made him aware of everything I experienced at the seminary through letters. I was disappointed that he declined to intervene on my behalf, and that he could look the other way after all I had told him. He compromised because he did not want confrontations with a pandora's box.

I began to think long and hard about the substance of faith. I knew that the price to pay for faith in our Church's history was sometimes death. The early Christians arrested by the Romans faced such a situation: all they had to do was deny Christ and burn incense to the gods. They could then go free. They could have done this and continued to worship in the privacy of their hearts. But they knew that a faith existing in the heart must also be professed on the lips - it could not be compromised. The reality of what was at stake was all too clear for them, and therefore compromise was unthinkable. I wondered if, in seminaries like the one I attended, men are in a sense still being placed before the images of various gods and told to make a choice. After the first few compromises are made, the rest are easy.

Perhaps the burning of incense to the gods is more common now than in centuries past. The externals may have changed, so we are fooled into thinking such situations no longer occur. And so they happen all the more. Today, compromise is not only permitted, it is a way of life. We don't want to "offend" anyone, and we don't want confrontations.

Let the fruits speak for themselves as we look into the history of our Catholic conscience and find the incense of compromise now billowing in the halls of Christ's seminaries.

Published in the May 1995 issue of The Homiletic & Pastoral Review


Dear Father John,

I think the title "'Gay' Roman Catholic Seminaries" is inaccurate. I think a better, and less polemic, title would be, "The Problem and Influence of Homosexuality in Roman Catholic Seminaries."

Based on my experience in a Roman Catholic seminary in the early to mid-1980s, I would say that the description presented in the piece, "The Death of a Catholic Seminary" is apt. The experience of the former seminarian coincides almost exactly with my own. The only way that I was able to make it through was by a careful examination of the evaluation system employed by my seminary followed by an exploitation of that system to keep from having my own theological "rigidities" critiqued.

The sad part is that, after ordination, the same liberal cabal that controlled the seminary was also in power in my diocese and many others. Here's an example of how these modernists would operate: There was a priest in our diocese who was "notorious" for fidelity to the magisterial teaching of the Church. Another senior priest who was highly placed within the diocesan structure said to me, thinking that we were in agreement, "We really need to send Joe [pseudonym] away to get his thinking straight." The idea was to send "Joe" to a place called the House of Affirmation, a psychological treatment center, to help "Joe" with his rigidity. This smacked of Soviet psychiatric practice and I told the senior priest so, which didn't help my position any.

I agree that "Joe" was quite rigid. However, it seems to me that if you had to deal with all the opposition that "Joe" dealt with on a daily basis and your views were constantly under attack, you'd be pretty rigid too.

The authors description of the problem with his spineless bishop is, sadly, also common. The problem there is that most bishops in the Roman Catholic Church believe that the authority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops trumps there own authority even in their own dioceses. Like most people, they want to get along with their peers and so, when push comes to shove, they knuckle under to political pressure and go with the flow, sometimes for calculated reasons. (Parenthetically, it should be noted that the Roman Catholic Church does not hold exclusive title to spineless and calculating members of the episcopate.) If one doubts that the USCCB is a powerful organization that controls the local ordinaries, pay close attention to the treatment that Bishop Fabian Bruskevitz has received during his tenure as Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska. Bishop Bruskevitz has maintained a very faithful diocese that has been spared most of the damage that has been inflicted on the larger church by the abuse crisis brought about by the cruising behavior of gay clergy.

Do not get me wrong: There are very fine seminaries and there are very fine Roman Catholic bishops and priests. It is also true that Pope Benedict XVI has been appointing some very solid men to the episcopate during his pontificate. However, the damage that has been done to the Roman Catholic Church over the past several decades by modernists and a lavender mafia has been close to catastrophic. Further, it is foolishness to deny that these same people have established powerful networks that still insidiously function to advance their agenda in many dioceses within the United States and Europe.

To this I would say that, while the Anglican Catholic Church is not without its problems, it would be almost impossible to find a priest in the ACC who was not doctrinally solid, who did not hold have a deep respect for Sacred Scripture as the Word of God, and did not have proper Catholic understanding of the Sacraments. People who come to our church quickly discover this and are grateful that such a harbor as the ACC exists amidst the turbulent waters of the modern Christian world.

Fraternally yours in Christ,

The Shrinking Cleric+

Just a Dog...

My sister, Adele, sent me this today. It was so good, I figured that I would share it.


From time to time people tell me, “Lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “That’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, time spent, or costs involved for “Just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have passed with my only company being “Just a dog,” and not once have I felt slighted. Some of my saddest moments were brought about by “Just a dog.” In those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “Just a dog” provided comfort and purpose to overcome the day.

If you, too, think its “Just a dog”, you will probably understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of “Just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.

For me and folks like me, it’s not “Just a dog.” It’s an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what is good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday people can understand it’s not “Just a dog.” It’s the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “Just a man or woman.”

So the next time you hear the phrase “Just a dog,” smile, because they “Just don’t Understand.”

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Best of Friends

Sam Franks and Frank Sams were the best of friends since they met at school and found that their names were almost opposite. They were always playing together as kids, and grew up to be great friends. They both got married and kept friends with each other, going down to the pub at weekends, drinking and chatting about the usual hassles and fun of life. Sam Franks owned a disco which sometimes both of them would go to on Fridays for a good time and free drinks as Sam Franks owned it.

But one night when Frank Sams was driving home to his wife after having a great time at the disco a lorry was out of control on the roads and crashed into his car, killing him virtually instantly. Frank Sams then found himself in heaven and able to see his dead relatives and be happy, but he was still feeling lonely without his best friend, Sam Franks, so he went to the Angel Gabriel and asked what the possibility of saying a last farewell to Sam Franks. Sam Franks was also very lonely without his best friend since school, Frank Sams, and said a little prayer to ask to see him for one last time. Angel Gabriel was contemplating whether to let Frank Sams go back to earth and see his best friend since school, Sam Franks, and as he was contemplating, he heard the prayer of Sam Franks asking to see Frank Sams one last time.

Gabriel then realised the strong friendship between the two, so he said to Frank Sams that he could visit earth and his friend, Sam Franks for one last time, for one night only. So Frank Sams was overjoyed at this piece of news and decided to visit Sam Franks on a Friday, where he almost knew he would be at his disco with his wife. Gabriel said to Frank Sams, "The only provisory that I let you go back to earth for one last night, is that you must take your wings, your golden harp and your halo with you, and you must bring them back." Frank Sams agreed and was then sent down to earth just outside of the disco that Sam Franks owned. As this night was a fancy dress type night, he decided to leave on his halo and wings so that he would fit in as another party goer, so he went in and saw his best friend ever, Sam Franks. Sam Franks was in tears as he saw his best friend ever, Frank Sams, walk over to him, they hugged each other (in that manly way). Many drinks were ordered, old times talked about, then they went for a final jive on the dance floor as Frank Sams said that this was the last time they would see each other. It came to closing time for the night, and the end of Frank Sams last visit to earth, so he hugged goodbye, walked out the door and was whisked away back up to heaven.

As it was Gabriel who was to meet him back and check all went well, he thanked Gabriel for the last chance to see his best friend, and Gabriel said "That's fine, I just have to check if you've not left anything behind.", Frank Sams said, "Yep, I've got my wings, my halo.. OH NO! 

I've left my harp in Sam Franks' disco!!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Some Hope in Hard Times

In England, there was a town that had fallen on really hard times. Their primary industry had been their textile mills, but now the mills were all closed and unemployment was at an all-time high.

Desperate, the town's mayor looked frantically around for other industries to bring to his town. He found that there was a man in Germany who was looking for someone to take over his thriving hunting-dog breeding business. The man had made a fortune raising the animals, and was now willing to unload it for a fraction of its value, so that he could retire.

The mayor used his influence to have the mills converted to kennels and all of the dogs transported to his town. Employment skyrocketed and the town prospered. Everyone was happy, even though, sometimes--especially on the nights with a full moon--the animals got a little noisy, keeping some residents awake. But, even these unfortunate few learned to sigh and say,

"The mills are alive with the hounds of Munich!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Piano Tuner

A man moved to another state where he didn't know anyone. In the move, his old piano was jarred, and of course it needed to be tuned when the man arrived.

So he asked around, and was told that Earl Opporknockity was the best piano tuner in the area. The man called Earl and hired him to tune his piano.

Earl had a keen ear and a deft touch, and did a wonderful job tuning the old piano. The man was able to play beautiful music once again, and was very pleased.

After a year or so the old piano started producing sour notes again. So the man called Earl, and asked him to come work his magic on the old piano again.

To the man's surprise, Earl refused, saying "Sorry, I can't accept the job."

"Why not?" the man wanted to know. "I'll pay you twice as much as last time if you'll just come tune my piano."

"Haven't you heard?" Earl asked, "Opporknockity tunes but once."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mayonaisse Facts

Thanks to Rich Appleby for forwarding this interesting piece of history to me.

Most people don't know that back in 1912 Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery at Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York. This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico. But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.

The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise and eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as -

Sinko de Mayo.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's Just Too Much

In case you were longing for the joyful celebrations of the Olympics, don't be sad. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has provided some wonderful videos to help you remember those great times. Here's a link to the video of the pre-liturgical experience at this past weekends "consecration" of two "bishops". It's really worth the 40 minutes it takes to watch it. I believe that it is its own commentary.

LA_Webcast01.asx (video/x-ms-asf Object)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coming out of blog retirement to announce a new favorite blog!!

Yes, I know it's been a while since I have posted anything but this is too important to pass up. I come out of blog retirement to announce a new favorite blog site:

This site must be seen to be believed!!!