Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fr. Perrone discusses the moral decline and what we can do

This is Fr. Perrone's column from the January 25, Grotto News. He discusses the March for Life and today's moral decline.

Every year I run into people who attend the annual March for Life in Washington. Some of these are our own parishioners. I have long admired their selfless dedication in making personal sacrifices to be present for this remarkable national gesture of solidarity with those preborn infants who cannot insist on their right to be born and to live thereafter. I have never gone on these trips myself (though I have, in years past, participated in some local events on a smaller scale). One comes to learn that this yearly demonstration which takes place in the Capitol is an event of enormous proportion, the astounding size of which makes it unconscionable for the media to under-report the numbers of the participants and to underplay the significance of the march. It’s well known that this deceptive reporting by the media of such an important event is calculated to downplay the great swell of support of our people to protect life from the death-dealing clutches of abortionists and their powerful supporters–including politicians. This event is more than simply a rally for human life, it is a time for prayer for the conversion of minds and wills of people who are pro-death. 
This protest has been going on for a long time–since 1973. There have certainly been benefits from this annual declaration and protest in favor of life in many ways, encouraging the life-effort and invoking divine help to combat the horrendous crimes that have been legalized. Will this tremendous effort ever finally succeed in ending the massive destruction of elective abortion? The non-violent means, the convincing arguments, the stirring speeches, the fervent prayers–surely these must be to good effect. Yet one wonders whether success will ever attend this laudable work. It seems more probable that our country, at least in the short term, will continue to decline into turpitude, bent as it is now on the acceptance of homosexual practices, with euthanasia already being practiced legally in some places (and often by insidious and surreptitious “health-care” institutions), with fetal experimentation and manipulation of embryos being already practiced. Once the homosexual goal will have been fully achieved, the next stage of declination may be the legal use of children for the sexual pleasures of adults. Yet this cannot yet be the end. The final stages of debauchery will be the allowance of public nudity and–for a grand finale–cannibalism. There can be no stopping, it would seem, the relentless demand to be allowed to do whatever one may wish to do. Freedom has thus been so regarded. Some may find this trajectory of evils excessive, hyperbolic. Yet who of my generation would have thought it possible that the Land of the Free would ever be in such a deplorable state of immoral servitude as it now is? Over time we have tended to grow accustomed to iniquity, have made friends with perversity, while becoming tolerant of evil and evermore impatient with the imposition of moral strictures from any source–the Church included. 
My estimate–not wanting to be disheartening–is that we will not soon be getting better, but continue to slide down the way of debauchery. We simply do not have the muscle to halt this moral regression. By this I mean that our faith is too weak, our confidence in the efficacy of prayer, our trust in God diluted. Part of the reason for this may be that too many “good” people are themselves complicit in some of the great evils du jour through a soft acceptance of immorality in our music, TV, internet, films, etc. Another part of the reason is the decline in practicing what our Catholic faith demands in prayer, Mass attendance, Confession and self-imposed penance. And so, while the National Day of prayer and (polite) protest is ever uplifting, I find it hard to believe that there will be success in overturning the allowance of abortion. If we believe that some politicians will do this for us we need only reflect on the fact that they too as individuals may be plagued by the same moral weaknesses as others. This is an admission, often not willingly made today, that the sins of one adversely affect the welfare of all. We are all worse off because of abortionists, pedophiles, pornographers, lewd entertainers, no-fault divorcers, etc. Sin is never a private affair, no matter how secretly it may be done. 

I admit having a defeatist attitude at times. Why not just let the whole western world go to hell? (I speak here of literal, not rhetorical, hell). The answer has to do with our responsibility. No one can, before God, allow evil to triumph. There must be resistance. 
Moreover there are some things that can actually be done to save at least some people from moral death. The most important of these is to become saints ourselves–one by one–people who refuse to be mastered by their own tendencies to sin and who make up to God, by prayer and sacrifice, for the sins that are committed. 
Pagan society was once converted to faith and to goodness by the Catholic faith. There is no reason why it can’t be done again, except for the fact that many in the Church are too weak, and the conviction of their faith has been compromised. 
God bless the efforts of those who go annually to Washington to pray and give witness to the truth about human life’s intrinsic goodness. (To quibble: I don’t think the expression “sanctity of life” is accurate, though it’s compelling). Unless each individual person makes up his mind and changes his heart to conform according God’s moral laws, our country will never awaken from the moral nightmare of abortion-on-demand and so many other attending evils. 
For this reason we at the Grotto, doing our small part, continue to pray the holy rosary after every Mass. I hope you continue to do this together, recognizing the power of fervent, communal prayer with Holy Mary for the saving of many souls from eternal destruction. 
Fr. Perrone

Photo note:  Fr. Perrone meditating at the organ during readings at the Noon Mass on Easter Sunday, 2006.  He had conducted an orchestra Mass at 9:30 am, and assisted with singing at the Noon Mass, filling in at the organ. 


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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Continuing the discussion on Holy Communion at Masses with millions of people...

"Wherefore, brothers, kissing your feet and with the charity of which I am capable, I conjure you all to show all reverence and all honor possible to the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the things that are in heaven and the things that are on earth are pacified and reconciled to Almighty God." - St. Francis of Assisi, Letter to All Friars

I wanted to continue with some thoughts about Eucharistic reverence after my post the other day: Why not "Spiritual Communion" for most at large, outdoor papal Masses?  Many who visited that post came through New Advent, and I thank Kevin Knight for that link.  

Some feedback has been received through email and other means.  I would like to address some of the points raised, but I want to reflect more deeply on them first.  I'll offer a brief thought here, but I do not have the time for more right now, and you probably do not have the time to read another long post! So, let's just break this off into pieces and let it develop.  It needs to "soak" so I may post on other subjects in the meanwhile.

Two Branches: Eucharistic Nourishment and Eucharistic Reverence

From feedback I have gotten to that post in email and other ways, I am starting to see that there are two branches to this discussion about distributing Holy Communion at large Masses in which millions are assisting. There may actually be more, but I'm going to look at them as two main branches.   Along one branch is the need for people to be nourished by the Eucharist at every Mass in which they assist.  Down the other branch is the need to give Jesus in the Holy Eucharist reasonable protection from innocent accidents, imprudent handling, or outright profanation by people with malicious intent. For many of us, one of those is a more dominant concern than the other.  At least, this is what I am getting from what I read.

I need to reflect and pray on this a bit, and will write again soon to continue sharing my thoughts as they develop.

The "Un-Discussable:" Distribution of Holy Communion

As I pause momentarily on the above, my thoughts turn to our inability to discuss this.  In my last post, I called it an "un-discussible."  If you want to see Catholics in a thread descend into derision, just start a discussion on distribution of Holy Communion.  If you want to see some bishops and priests run the other way, try bringing it up.

I've been discussing Catholicism online for 10 years now and I can tell you that anything having to do with the reception of Holy Communion is a hot-button issue.  I've witnessed cruelty aimed at people on both sides from the other in the form of mockery, pompous ridicule, and the like (and I truly mean, from both sides of the big debate).  "Snark" is what people use when they do not have the knowledge, grace, patience, or ability to reason with others like sons and daughters of Christ who are mindful of 1 Corinthians 13.  What happens next is everyone goes their own way, complaining about the other side, with everyone absolving themselves of any fault in the communication break down. I also know from experience that manifest anger won't fix this; it only causes others to tune out the arguments. That's true in any debate.

Some seem to believe it should not be discussed at all, as if we faithful have no room to grow in our understanding of the spiritual benefits to be discovered.   It's also a topic that few want to discuss, perhaps because they want things to remain as they are; or, because they want to avoid the inevitable conflict, and any number of other reasons.

Learn to disagree like a Christian

There is something Archbishop Vigneron wrote during his years as rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary that is apropos.  When he became the bishop of Oakland, California, he shared it in a column.  I happened to find that column online when I was mining the web after he was appointed and stumbled upon it.  Sensing it might get lost when a new bishop takes over that diocese, I copied the entire thing into a blog entry.  It's a good thing I did. I get an error when I click the link.  It may have simply moved, but you'll find it in this old post of mine, below.

Go read Archbishop Vigneron's, "10 rules for handling disagreement like a Christian."


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Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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William Doino Jr. reviews Dawn Eden's latest book…

Many of you will remember Dawn Eden and her visit to Assumption Grotto for her wonderful book, My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints.

Here is a review of her latest work, The Thrill of the Chaste (Catholic Edition): Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. William Doino Jr. begins his review…

In 2006, Dawn Eden wrote The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. It was an account of how, as a new Christian convert—having led an exciting but spiritually unfulfilling life as a rock journalist—she learned to be joyfully chaste.

Eden’s book stood out. While many Christian writers were directing their messages toward teenagers tempted by pre-marital sex, she spoke empathetically to singles who had already been sexually active, and were wounded by their way of life.

The book resonated with many—Christians and non-Christians alike. The New York Times took note of it, (later profiling her) and a Village Voice sex columnist wrote in a back-cover blurb for the book: “As a single woman myself, Dawn’s given me a lot to think about.” To date, the book has sold over 20,000 copies worldwide, and been translated into Spanish, Polish, Slovak and Chinese.

Now, nearly a decade later, Eden has written a thoughtful revision...

Continue reading the review at First Things...


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Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why not "Spiritual Communion" for most at mega-Masses?

And the priest said to the boy: "Tarcisius, remember that a heavenly treasure has been entrusted to your weak hands. Avoid crowded streets and do not forget that holy things must never be thrown to dogs nor pearls to pigs. Will you guard the Sacred Mysteries faithfully and safely?". "I would die", Tarcisio answered with determination, "rather than let go of them". (Pope Benedict, re-telling the story of St. Tarcisius to 55,000 altar servers in Rome in August of 2010)

In the third century, St. Tarcisius - an acolyte of about 12, died a brutal death, by beating and stoning, protecting the Eucharist that hung in a small linen bag around his neck as he took Communion to prisoners. It was in the third century - a period of intense persecution of Christians and the pagan boys who beat him to death, his friends, discovered he was Christian.

Do we believe in Our Eucharistic Lord enough to die for Him like St. Tarcisius, rather than allow Him to fall into the wrong hands or to even be handled inappropriately by those whose intentions are more benign?

Even less, are we willing to abstain from Holy Communion, and make a spiritual communion, when the sheer number of people at a Mass increases the likelihood of accidents, irreverent handling out of ignorance, and intentional profanation? Abstaining in such a way would surely be painful, but it is not without graces, especially under such circumstances.  St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out one benefit of abstention.
If someone knows from experience that daily Communion increases fervor without lessening reverence, then let him go every day. But if someone finds that reverence is lessened and devotion not much increased, then let him sometimes abstain, so as to draw near afterwards with better dispositions.
Even if we do have the fervor Aquinas speaks of, I wonder if he would think it reasonable for a one-time abstention at an event so extraordinary, it makes distribution of Holy Communion difficult without risks to the Sacred Species already mentioned?

There have been outcries over distribution of Communion since these large Masses began, but with regards to authentic dialogue with our hierarchy, it is largely an "un-discussible." At least, that is how I feel about it. Many acknowledge it's a problem, but nothing ever happens to mitigate it. There are no shortage of stories of people finding the Eucharist on the ground after Mass ends, or of sources trying to sell the Consecrated Hosts online.  "Black Masses" are cropping up with increasing frequency, and in public ways.  Since it is a mockery of the Catholic Mass, it is not a "Black Mass" without the Body of Christ in the Host because they desecrate it as part of the ritual.

It's not just the Hosts we should be concerned with, but the fragments, each of which are no less the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ than the whole.  The Church still requires Communion-plates but this is largely ignored (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 93).  I've seen particles on the Communion-plates used during Masses at my own parish.  Just think, most priests carefully sweep any remaining fragments from their own paten into the Chalice, and then drink what is left; yet, they don't use the plates when distributing. There are fragments of the Body of Christ all over our parish floors.  How can we not expect that a lot of handling of the Sacred Species during large open air Masses won't do the same?

If you think this is trivial, read the saints on it. These teachings don't change because we are in the "modern world."  They are timeless; it is we who need to change our thinking about Eucharistic reverence.

Here is St. Ephrem:
One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it. 

And, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, after discussing just how delicately we would treat gold-dust:
How much more carefully, then, will you guard against losing as much as a crumb of that which is more precious than gold or precious stones?  

A video US Bishops should study ahead of papal visit in 2015

What prompts my reflection is a situation you may already have learned about through other blogs or in social media.  I wanted to pray and reflect on it before deciding to post on it. When Pope Francis was in the Philippines, someone recorded part of Holy Communion where a chaotic situation resulted in people passing along the Eucharist over the heads of other people who could not reach the priest distributing, sometimes seemingly in stacks.  These are not bad people; they are badly informed people who are trying to be helpful without realizing the dangers of what they are doing with the Holy Eucharist. I think by-and-large, many would agree, that the Filipinos are among the most devout and faithful Catholics. So, this is not about them. It's a bigger issue that has been bubbling for decades.

We have time to act, here in the US, and find better ways to handle extremely large crowds with regards to Holy Communion.

Here is the video, originally provided in a Facebook post by 100% KATOLIKONG PINOY! It was then subsequently uploaded by One Peter Five to YouTube.

There was also an eye-witness account by a young Filipino blogger who was otherwise very enthusiastic by the visit of Pope Francis.  He writes:

Some of the crowd — who were at least two meters away from the ministers — cried for Holy Communion. Two or three soon called out, “Pasa-pasa nalang! (Just pass Them [the Sacred Hosts] around!)”

At first the ministers did not hear them, or probably ignored it. But the people were beginning to be noisy. Some of crowd, fortunately, said, “Uy, hindi pwedeng pasa-pasa! Komunyon yan!”

But the ministers were rather oblivious to the “debate.” Soon they DID pass around — from one grubby hand to another — the Sacred Hosts to the people who were asking for Communion. I saw one broken Host being handed on. Did the minister break It, or was It broken as It was being passed around? Worse, even the ciborium containing the Hosts was soon passed around!

Too distressed to bear the sight, I looked away…..

Other reports I've read said Communion fell to the ground and was found in mud.

Can you imagine seeing the Infant Jesus laying in the mud? That is not bread; it is Jesus.   And how we treat the Eucharist is how we witness our belief in the Real Presence to others.  What kind of witness does this give to non-Catholics in attendance, and there always some.

Archbishop Villegas Responds

A major Filipino news outlet got a response from Archbishop Villegas on what is seen in the video. I'm going to quote from the One Peter Five post, which has a translation of what was partially in Tagalog.  He addresses the criticism saying:
“Under normal circumstances, this should not have happened, but the situation in the Luneta was extraordinary, six million people.” He added: “On this occasion, it was necessary to help each other receive communion.”
We read further:
Fr. Francis Lucas, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, echoed this, telling GMA News Online: “For pastoral reasons since people can’t move during communion, mass passing of the host is okay.”
I'd like to know if the Congregation for Divine Worship would agree to these special "pastoral" situations and allow "mass passing of the Host" in large, papal Masses.

On what Archbishop Villegas said, as was pointed out at One Peter Five, we have to stop and reflect on the word, "necessary." We would infer from this that receiving Holy Communion at all in a gathering of six to seven million is necessary. Maybe that is what we need to discuss.  Is it really necessary for everyone to receive Communion at an extraordinarily large gathering for Mass?  We learn from the CCC:
1389: The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.

At most we might be strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion at a Papal Mass, if we were properly disposed, but it is not a requirement.  I return back to my original question: Are we willing to protect the Body of Christ, unto forgoing Holy Communion, if it was the most practical way to prevent what is seen in that video? Or worse, in the case of someone carrying It off for some other purpose?

Spiritual Communion

What is "spiritual communion?" Simply put, it is an interior movement in which we unite ourselves to the Eucharistic Lord when we are unable to receive.  This is something that can be done at any time and any place, but can also be done during Mass when we cannot receive for one reason or another.  Perhaps the Eucharistic fast isn't up, or you didn't make it to Confession and are aware of grave sin.  You don't skip Mass; you hear the Word of God, and when others go to Holy Communion, you make a spiritual communion. There was an excellent article in the National Catholic Register back in 2011 called, Follow the Saints: Make a Spiritual Communion. Do read it to understand it better.

Spiritual communion is not the same as Holy Communion, but it can still bring us graces when circumstances do not allow us to receive Our Eucharistic Lord.  I would think the graces would be in abundance if people accepted this on the basis that the risk was too great for accidents or profanation to distribute to such a large crowd.

Some have been outright opposed to any kind of large outdoor papal Masses.  I don't think it's necessary to go that far.  All we need to do is limit Communion to those seated in certain areas (and ensure people of all classes have access, not just big donors and dignitaries); and, ask the rest to make a spiritual communion for that day.  If the Pope could hold Mass in a major Cathedral on a Sunday when traveling, and do any outdoor Masses on weekdays or Saturday mornings, it makes it all the more easier to ask people to make a spiritual communion since these Masses are not obligatory.

Offering up spiritual communion with the sacramentally famished

Until I read the book, Dominus Est – It Is the Lord! Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion, I had not given much thought to the plight of persecuted Christians who sometimes go for weeks, months, and even many years or decades without seeing a priest or having access to the Sacraments.  These are clandestine Catholics who risk life, liberty, and other things in order to continue practicing their faith under ground as Catholics did in the days of St. Tarcisius.  Bishop Athanasius Schneider, ORC, grew up in such a climate after his family was exiled to Kazakhstan from Germany. In the beginning of the book he explains how Catholics kept their faith during those long periods without a priest behind the Iron Curtain and the risks taken by priests and lay people alike.  This was the case for about two decades after World War II.  That gripped me at the beginning of his first book on the subject.  In the image here, we see the final moments of Blessed Miguel Pro of Mexico before he was shot for just being a priest, serving Catholics practicing clandestinely.  He is famous for shouting out before a hail of bullets hit him, "Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long Live Christ the King).

There are also people in prisons around the world without access to the sacraments, as well as in places like nursing homes.  I saw first hand when my mother was in one of those places in rehab.  Faithful Catholics whose children left the faith or became lukewarm don't always think to have a priest visit their loved ones. I saw some extraordinary faith in there, and even more suffering from this spiritual neglect.  If you think life is hard when you can go to Mass every Sunday, try being laid up in a nursing home for many months or years in the  midst of this priest shortage.

This had me thinking that the bishops, the Holy Father, and others could invite people to make a spiritual communion at these large Masses begging also for graces for these people who suffer in the  midst of a sacramental famine.  To go without Holy Communion for one Mass would certainly cause some suffering, but it would make us mindful of those around the world who suffer for long periods of time without the Eucharist, Confession, and other sacraments.  This too has graces.

In closing… 

I'll close with a quote from Bishop Schneider's latest book, Corpus Christi, which is published by Gracewing in the UK and sold through the Opus Angelorum site here in the US.  I've modified the English from UK to US and added white space.

Bishop Schneider makes the point earlier in the book how defenseless Jesus is in the Eucharist.  When you consider the Infant Jesus, who was also defenseless, He is even more defenseless under the appearance of the more lowly bread and wine. It is up to us to protect Him, and to come to his defense against mishandling and profanation.  We need to pray that our bishops will see the role they play in His defense.

A new Eucharistic star is indeed, urgently needed, for the Eucharistic Body of Christ is the weakest and most defenseless being in the midst of the life of the Church. Bravely defending this Divine Poor Body surely would not receive the eulogy and the applause of world, but undoubtedly it would be applauded by the Saints, and in particular th holy "Poverello" - or poor man of Assisi, attracting abundant Divine blessings. Indeed, the restoration of the visible honor due to the Eucharistic Body of Christ would be one of the most efficacious means for the renewal of His Mystical Body, the Church.  May God grant that the hearts and minds of the Shepherds of the Church in our days may be pierced by these words of Saint Francis of Assisi: 
"I conjure all of you, brethren, with all the love of which I am capable and kissing your feet: give as much as you can of all reverence and all honor to the most holy Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ!". 
Indeed, there is nothing else and no one else greater than the Sacred Host and each of even Its most minute fragments, for the Body of Christ is the Lord Himself: "Corpus Christi enim Dominus est!"

UPDATE 1: I see Kat at the Crescat just posted on this today too.  She writes:

And then you got some Catholics, who treat the reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist like… well, like this.

Lookit. The only person that has to receive the Eucharist during mass is the priest. And the only time we, as lay people, are required to receive the Eucharist is once a year at Easter.
There’s nothing in the GIRM or CCC or anywhere else that says, “Hey, lets distribute the Eucharist to thousands of people all at once. What could possibly go wrong?” 
Abuses, that’s what. 
We really need to get over this idea that we deserve to receive the Eucharist at every mass, whether it’s out of a sense of entitlement or belief that we aren’t “actively participating” if we don’t. 

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Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

St John of Kronstadt on sins of others...

A friend on Facebook had this up on her wall. There is so much to learn from the saints. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

About Fathers of Mercy Statement on Fr. Ssemakula's "Healing of Families"

On January 2, 2015, the Fathers of Mercy released an official statement on the "Healing of Families" by Fr. Yozefu-B Ssemakula.   If you follow that link you will see another link which opens a six-page synopsis of their concerns.  In the main link I provided, after reading the statement, you might want to read the dialogue taking place in the comment thread between readers and some of the priests.  While the statement released by the Fathers of Mercy is not magisterial, it carries considerable weight given the esteem these very solid priests have in Catholic circles.  Their members speak at all kinds of venues, they do parish missions, have been on Catholic television and radio, and in media.  Fr. William Casey and Fr. Wade Menezes of EWTN fame, are among their more notable members.

Back on August 26, 2014, Bishop Gregory Parkes released an official statement concerning the "Healing of Families." The request for an imprimatur by Fr. Ssemakula occurred while the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee was under the administration of Archbishop Thomas Wenski.  The Fathers of Mercy, in their statement, write (emphasis mine in bold):

  1. A theological and spiritual work, like The Healing of Families, written by a Catholic priest, should not be published without ecclesiastical approbation.
• Fr. Ssemakula's work was reviewed and rejected for Church approval. Bishop Parkes' official statement: Despite the rejection due to theological errors, he still published it. 
• Fr. Ssemakula told attendees at the ‘clergy only conference’ in February of 2014, that his bishop had told him “there was no need for an imprimatur,” and there were [other] bishops who have offered him an imprimatur on his book. This was a misrepresentation of the truth; no imprimatur can be granted while there are theological errors. His book and ministry is currently under review once more by the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

That is troubling.

In both the statement of Bishop Parkes, and the Fathers of Mercy, they point out that there are some good things in the book that people find helpful. They can't simply dismiss theological errors on the basis that other things are helpful.  Even mushrooms which have good taste and important nutrients, can be poisonous.  I'm not saying Fr. Ssemakula's book is a poisonous mushroom, but merely making a point that theological error can be found in a book that has other components which are otherwise good. Theological error in a book is not a benign thing and can have harmful effects. Those harms may be hidden to the casual observer.

I'm going to pepper in a few of the bullet points from the statement, but do read the whole thing.

Bullet 7:

Fr. Ssemakula's book makes the following statements: “Now, that suffering [of Jesus Christ] was willed by neither the Father nor the Son. What the Father willed was to save the world, not the death of His Son.” “He did not come to die, but to save, and ended up dying....” These statements are absolutely contrary to the Biblical prophesies of the Redemption being brought about through the suffering and death of the Messiah, and to the constant tradition of the Church and her saints.

Bullet 8:
This book presents a distorted picture of our chief enemy – Satan/Lucifer/The Devil – giving him powers and “rights” that he does not possess, and at the same time, presenting him as desiring only to wreck havoc, pain and sufferings upon us (in this life), when in fact, Satan's true goal is our spiritual destruction by sin and eternal damnation.

Bullet 9:

This book misrepresents the fact that God sometimes punishes us in this world, asserting rather that all evils/sufferings are “consequence[s] of sins.” This is clearly contrary to Scripture and Tradition, in which God uses sufferings to bring us back to Himself (our conversion), to correct our faults and free us from the effects of our sins (purification), and to unite us more closely to Himself in His Passion and Death (sanctification).

Bullet 11:

This book is replete with “proof-texting” – a serious misuse of Sacred Scripture in which passages are taken out of context in order to “prove” a point which is not supported by the clear meaning of the Scripture passages. There is also a severe lack of reference to the Catechism, Church Fathers, or the Saints.

In bullet 13, the statement explains how much of the "theology" in the book, "resemble ancient heresies": Manicheanism, Gnosticism, and Pelagianism (it explains those terms).

There are several bullets dealing with prayers made without faith, from praying a particular formula to saying the name of Jesus.  The explain that this is a form of superstition.  Faith has to be component.

In Bullet 20, it states:

In the appendix, Fr. Ssemakula states that a priest cannot use the imprecatory prayer of Leo XIII without permission from his bishop, but that it CAN be used by the lay faithful because they have authority in their families. This is in direct contradiction to Church teaching. In 1985, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, gave the Church’s official clarification on the matter: “… it is not even licit that the faithful use the formula of exorcism against Satan and the fallen angels, extracted from the one published by order of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII, and even less that they use the integral text of this exorcism.”

This is a clear example of how flawed Fr. Ssemakula’s teaching on authority is; his teaching on the individual’s authority to directly address the devil goes too far and potentially puts souls in serious harm’s way.

Later in the statement, the Fathers of Mercy discuss a list of reasons why they feel people find the program helpful and say these are not contrary to the faith.  After that list they explain:

In terms of why this program works, at a very superficial level, these principles listed above are in keeping with good Catholic thought and teaching. Fr. Ssemakula is not totally wrong in his presentation and there are elements of Truth with a capital “T” found here. These are some of the reasons why we feel this book and program has produced such notable results. 

Finally, they conclude:
While recognizing tremendous good that has resulted from the use of the Healing of Families book and program, the Fathers of Mercy have grave reservations regarding the tremendous theological errors, philosophical contradictions, and logical fallacies within the book and presented at the conferences. There has been much effort given to “working around” these errors and utilizing the program in its present form; however the errors are just too numerous and, in parts, dangerous to souls. For this reason we cannot recommend this book or program and in conscience must warn souls of the dangers it presents.

Among the  preparers undersigned, is Fr. Ken Geraci, listed as a (Attendee and Former instructor of "Healing of Families").  He is one of the priests responding in the comment thread here. Reading that comment thread you understand how involved they were and why, now, they feel the need to distance themselves.

In that comment thread, someone dropped in a comment with a link to an in depth review of the book he did this past summer.  See his comment with a link to the dropbox site where he has it stored online.

Please pray for Fr. Ssemakula and all of those struggling with this issue.  Hopefully, he can update his book and teachings to fix what is broke.  People can have mistaken understandings and hopefully, that is all that is happening here and it can be resolved.

"Generational Healing" and "Family-Tree Healing"?

On a similar note, I think this would be an opportune time to mention the subject of "generational healing." That was addressed soundly by the Korean bishops in 2007 (see news story here).  The only thing I can find is this report.  It would have been good to get the entire statement in English if that is available.  In part, the report reads:

According to the directive, proponents of this practice believe that people inherit their ancestors´ sins, which cause chronic family problems. 
The proponents of "family-tree healing," also called "generational healing, argue that if people do not pray for their ancestors´ souls and offer Masses for the removal of their sins, these problems cannot be solved. 
Bishop Choi explains that "family-tree healing is a mixture of traditional Church teaching" on the souls of the dead and Oriental religious worldviews. "The belief that people inherit their ancestors´ sins is not part of the Catholic faith," he stresses. 
He points out that sins belong solely to the individual and cannot be inherited. 
Furthermore, baptism frees all Catholics from their past sins, even original sin, he points out.

Yeah. This is superstition.

Related Reading:


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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Something to know about: "We Humble Ourselves!"

Recently, a fellow parishioner made known to me a special endeavor I hope you will look into and support through your involvement and/or presence.  It's called, "We Humble Ourselves - Turning a Nation Back to God."  She wrote to me in an email, in part (shared with permission).  I have highlighted one part so Grotto-goers will note Fr. Perrone's involvement (may not be visible in mobile view).  Note that this is not a Catholic event, but one that will include a number of Christian groups on something of mutual interest.

For those who may not have heard, a group of Christians are planning a patriotic, historical, musical event that will thank God for the gift of our Nation and ask for His healing grace at this time in history, when [we may all agree] it is most needed. The We Humble Ourselves event is based on 2 Chronicles 7:14, which states: If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 

It is an incredible offer from a Father who always keeps His promises.  
The event, then, is a patriotic celebration full of music and song and history. And because our Nation's history is replete with Judeo-Christian references, we will include hymns and Scripture verses as well. Our beloved Pastor at Assumption Grotto, Rev. Eduard Perrone, has graciously accepted our request to conduct our symphony, and we are currently assembling the 100 voice choral group which will delight us with their talent, and lead us in the sing-a-long sections of the program. We will have Pilgrims and Founding Fathers and famous Civil War characters on stage, reading their own words and reminding us about the sacrifices of those who went before us. 

This is our opportunity to reclaim the good heritage that was given to us, once upon a time. Already, we have Catholics and Lutherans, Presbyterians and Methodists working together to make this event the best it can be, for the glory of God and the good of our Nation. This is not a prayer service, because we must acknowledge that each Christian denomination has differences. But we can find common ground, and we have. We will call upon the Most Holy Name of Jesus and we will stand in the breech for our fellow citizens. God-willing, the graces that shower down on us that August day in Dearborn, Michigan, will run like a living stream to the rest of the Nation. 
We have been organizing since last May. We have a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, We Humble Ourselves, Inc., that has been created to see this project through. Here is our mission: The purpose of the organization is to reawaken in the citizens of the United States, the love of God and Country that led our Founding Fathers to pledge “[their] Lives, [their] Fortunes and [their] sacred Honor” in support of the Declaration of Independence.

She goes on to say near the end of the email:

We have a website at which has some additional information and a page to "get involved."  
We also have a Twitter account at We Humble Ourselves @TurningA_Nation
May the Lord bless our efforts! 
Please pass the word:  
We Humble Ourselves - Turning a Nation Back to God
Sunday    August 30, 2015    3-5 pm 
Free admission. Free parking. Food available at minimal cost.
We encourage attendees to dress in pilgrim, colonial or civil war era clothing!
The public is welcome to come and see how the soldiers lived during their respective eras.
Ford Field Park, 22051 Cherry Hill, Dearborn, Michigan 
Colonial and Civil War reenactors will set up camp on Saturday, August 29, 2015

The organization also has a Facebook page, which is a little behind yet, but you might want to use the Like button to keep up on news about the event.  Here is one post about an upcoming meeting.

For more info, you can contact:

Please use the social media share buttons to help spread the word.  While this event is taking place in metro-Detroit, the website encourages people in other cities to follow and can provide guidance.


For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

May God grant all of us many graces in 2015 to build the Body of Christ.

I just plucked this Venerable Fulton Sheen clip from YouTube to put on my listening list for tomorrow.  The subject line caught my eye as a way to start the New Year.


For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.