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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On the other hand...

...at least I seem to have pulled out of the spiritual power dive I was undergoing.

Once again, I'm receiving the sacraments of the Catholic Church and bumbling along as well as pontificating here and there.

The kids are good--Madeleine is going to Africa in two months for a mission trip to Tanzania, Dale is moving up a rank in Trail Life (though he's going to put it on hold for a while, at least), Rachel is enjoying theatre, Louis is a brown belt and Tae Kwon Do and Lizzie has her orange belt, and Tommy runs the world and we just pay him rent.

Heather remains what she always is--an astonishingly-great mother and a wife I do not remotely deserve. Oh, and the book collection continues to be catalogued.

I have discovered Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" and urge you to discover it, too. A brilliantly-detailed look at a nightmare world, albeit a very unlikely one. Still, the horror has enough notes of contact with ours to make it a gut punch with every viewing. The production values are amazing, with much less CGI than you'd imagine. And Rufus Sewell deserves all the Emmys for his work as Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith.

I hope my occasional readers are doing well.

Remember "Goodbye, Good Men"?

It was a 2002 book with a stupid subtitle which nevertheless illustrated the screening out of priestly candidates with orthodox tendencies at American seminaries back in the first generation of Vatican Too Renewal™. While a far-from-flawless book, it does illustrate that many men deemed "rigid" and "pious/overly-devotional" were subjected to Soviet-style psychology and booted or harassed out of American seminaries.

But that was the bad ol' days, right? Actually, maybe not. In fact, we appear to be at the beginning of a nostalgia trip back to the Days of Purge. I mean , when there's a prominent high up from the same era using similar rhetoric and screening terminology, brace for impact.

And it's not offhand rhetoric: the Congregation of Clergy is officially doing it's part, too, ensuring that "presumed theological and disciplinary certainty" and "veneers of virtuous habits" will be beaten out of the alleged vocation and instead be reformed into, among other things, a "man of dialogue." See pages 21 and 22 of the PDF for a glimpse at the future Officiant of your five-parish-cluster. Apparently, your local Catholic schools, colleges and universities are such hotbeds of theological rigidity careful supervision and correction is necessary. 

Whereas apparently there are no such concerns about theological dissent, confusion or much less progressive or modernist heresies to worry about these days. Thank Heaven?

Nope--"ecological conversion" is what we're looking for from our priests (pg. 70). That and giving mandatory imprimaturs to the civilly-remarried to come up for the wafer--or else.


So, interestingly enough, a new report just came out regarding the trajectory of seminary and religious life. And, mirabile dictu, the numbers are down and going down further.

Two things: first, the numbers were going down somewhat after 2012 and before the current pontiff. Second, the new Vocation-Killing Mechanism outlined by the Congregation hasn't been installed yet, so you can't blame that, at least not yet.

But what is clear is that the numbers world-wide are going down, and in the U.S. as well. 

I suspect what we're seeing is self-selection away from the seminaries, with those uninterested in being berated by progressives from the pontiff on down to his handpicked overseer deciding not to bother. But rest assured, once the official mechanism kicks in, the numbers will really plummet. 

After all, that's what happened to the seminary in Buenos Aires during the tenure of one Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio, S.J.

My fellow Americans: You want a look at your future priest (it will be very brief looks, given that the guy will be shuttling between five parishes)? He'll probably sound a lot like this fellow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

For those who are still keeping track at home.

My interest in Eastern Orthodoxy has cooled considerably as of late. I still think the pontifical "reform" of annulments and his wrecking ball of an exhortation (especially in his promotion of the Maltese and German defenestration of the three affected sacraments) have left minimal to no substantive difference between EO's divorce culture and the right-now practice endorsed by the Vatican.

HOWEVER, there is still some hope that Catholic marriage may survive in places where a bishop can pull the theological equivalent of Chopped and turn Tucho Fernandez's progressive processed school cafeteria turkey roll into something with Catholic spiritual nourishment.

Despite the pontiff's best and unceasing efforts to the contrary.

Ironically, it was the "Orthodox in Communion with Rome" wing of Eastern Catholicism which turned me away from Orthodoxy. I was left with the distinct impression that it was the Sacrament of Economia, not Marriage, and you know--shrug--shit happens. That, and the Romans are losers with their Tridentine insistence on indissolubility, and the East is always and everywhere right and...

It gets old, fast.

Now I recognize that such gents don't speak for Orthodoxy, but they do accurately reflect the laxism that besets some of Orthodoxy's jurisdictions. Not all of them--ROCOR seems fairly rigorous about the remarriage process, but others...well, let's just say there's some not-so approaches.

So when I saw an estimable and genuinely admirable Eastern Orthodox priest say that he really didn't think that the arguments for the Perpetual Virginity of Mary held up in the face of the Assured Results of Modern Biblical Scholarship, it wasn't so much the last straw as the recognition of something a wise Eastern Catholic friend told me when he learned of the beginning of my study:

"Eastern Orthodoxy will drive you nuts."

And so it seems. 

Not that there aren't treasures there, and something for Romans to learn--starting with the high Christology and emphasis on the Transfiguration, both of which are helpful correctives for the meek non-judgmental Palestinian life coach currently much in vogue. And that's just the beginning. I'm glad I've begun to take a look at Orthodoxy.

But I can't see it as the path for me. Never say never I guess, but I'm not seeing it.