What does it mean that “All are welcome!” in the Catholic Church

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a great piece in Patheos today about what a liberal progressive Catholic means when he or she says “All are welcome!” in the Catholic Church

Here’s an excerpt, but do go  on over and read the whole thing:

Are people welcome to the Catholic Church? What kind of Catholic Church? Why should anyone want to join the Catholic Church anyway? What would a liberal Catholic answer? Is it for their soul’s salvation? Is it to escape the fires of hell? Is it to worship and serve the Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe? Is it to learn how to love God and his Son Jesus Christ, to venerate and love his Blessed Mother and worship in the communion of all the saints and angels?

It’s funny, but I don’t hear that sort of thing coming from this sort of Catholic.

Instead all we hear is the mantra, “All Are Welcome”.

See, without a full blooded, historic Catholic faith which preaches the need for repentance and seeking the face of the Lord for eternal salvation what are you welcoming people to? A luncheon club where they sing hymns and carry banners with trite slogans? A soup kitchen and shower facility where they hold Bible studies? A rehab center where they find their inner goddess? People aren’t dumb. They’ll soon ask, “Why bother with all that religious-spiritual stuff? We can do soup kitchens, rehab centers and shower facilities without all those dreary hymns, bad Christian pop music and dull homilies delivered by a fat, middle class half educated minister.

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Pentecost at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

What a glorious celebration of Pentecost today at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa, where Fr. Doug Hayman welcomed three new adult members into the Catholic Church—Jonathan, Nancy and Daniel—and two children, Noa and Michael received their First Holy Communion.

Our tiny church was packed with visitors and well-wishers this morning, many from the Augustine College community, a good representation from Communion and Liberation as well, from the Eastern Catholic Church, from the Anglican Network in Canada.

Zachary our thurifer chanted the lesson for the first time and did a wonderful job.  Father Kipling Cooper delivered the homily, which was simple and beautiful.

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Ouch! George Weigel, why don’t you tell the German bishops what you really think?

Over at First Things, George Weigel diagnoses the problems facing the German episcopate and he doesn’t mince words.


When one tries to discuss this catastrophe with senior German churchmen, one rarely finds, these days, a sobered openness, born of the recognition that something has gone terribly wrong and that another approach to evangelization and catechesis must be found—an “All-In Catholicism” rooted in the joy of the Gospel preached and lived in its full integrity. Rather, what you often find is a stubborn doubling-down. “You don’t understand our situation” is the antiphon, typically spoken with some vehemence.

It gets better.  Or worse, depending on whether you want the German model to prevail at the synod next October.

To make a very long story short, they had often been speaking-about-speaking-about-God: that is, they’d been chasing their tails in trying to respond to the crisis of belief in late modernity. And in doing so, they’d gotten stuck inside what Polish philosopher Wojciech Chudy, an intellectual great-grandson of John Paul II, called the post-Kantian “trap of reflection:” thinking-about-thinking-about-thinking, rather than thinking about reality—in this case, the Gospel and its truths. Less elegantly, I’d describe Chudy’s “trap of reflection” as the quicksand pit of a subjectivism become self-absorption, from which it’s hard to extract oneself and answer the Master’s call, “Come, follow me.”

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Should we bring back the doors?

In all the debate about whether divorced and remarried Catholics and others in irregular unions should be allowed to receive the Eucharist, I have been pondering how routine it is for people who are for a range of reasons improperly disposed to receive Holy Communion line up because everyone else does as if the Blessed Sacrament is a token of belonging and not the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I have been slowly making my way through a book by Cardinal Jean Danielou on The Bible and the Liturgy where he explores what the early Church Fathers said about the sacraments.   Baptism, for example, was not merely a brief ceremony but a process that began with an examination by the bishop of a catechumen’s readiness, and a solemn writing of the candidate’s name in the register, akin to writing that person’s name in the Book of Life.   (When I read that I thought, wow, too bad that sense of why Catholics are such sticklers for records has been lost!).   Then there was a period of intense catechesis during Lent to prepare candidates to receive the Holy Mysteries.

In the early Church,  there was a lot of hostility and misunderstanding of Christianity so the Holy Mysteries were kept behind closed doors.  There was a process of initiation after people were evangelized before they could go behind those doors, fully prepared.

Now, however, after centuries of Christendom, those Holy Mysteries are right out in the open and everyone just seems to help themselves whether they truly believe the Catholic faith or not.  The forms of initiation still take place, but how deeply do they penetrate the souls of those who go through them?  If retention rates of Catholicism in the West are any indication, not very deeply, it would seem.

The other thing I have thought about is how God used a wonderful seeker-friendly Baptist Church to wean me from Gnosticism and a bizarre kind of cafeteria Christianity.  From there I went to the Traditional Anglican Communion’s  Anglican Catholic Church of Canada because I was hungry for Church history, and liturgy and intuitively attracted to Real Presence.   We had open Communion then, though with strong Scriptural exhortations.   I have often thought that had I been blocked from receiving Communion I would not have stuck around.   And how impoverished I would have been as a result!

Now, of course, Holy Communion is restricted to Catholics in good standing now that we are part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Which brings me to the doors.  How can Catholic Churches reach people like I was—people who are seeking, who have had an initial encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, but believe a lot of lies from the world and who do not understand sacraments?

Should we not start thinking about protecting believers from sacrilege and protecting the Holy Mysteries from being desecrated?  Should we not act as if there is something exceedingly precious that one must prepare one’s soul diligently to receive rather than hand it out like a token to everyone who comes forward?

Thus I found this beautifully written address by Martin Mosebach published at Rorate-Caeli intersting and thought provoking.  An excerpt:

When it became apparent in the early 1950s that television sets would soon be in many households, German bishops deliberated about whether it would be wise to allow or even promote television broadcasts of the Holy Mass. Indeed, people thought about such questions sixty years ago and they asked the great philosopher Josef Pieper for an expert opinion. In his opinion, Pieper rejected such television broadcasts on principle, saying they were irreconcilable with the nature of the Holy Mass. In its origins, the Holy Mass is a discipline of the arcane, a sacred celebration of mysteries by the christened. He mentioned the lowest level in the order of priests – done away with following the Second Vatican Council – the ostiary, or doorkeeper, who once had to ensure that the non-baptized and those temporarily excluded leave the church and move to the narthex following the liturgy of the Word. The Orthodox still do so in some places; the call of the deacon, “Guard the doors” is heard in every Orthodox liturgy before the Eucharist. While in Georgia I once experienced this demand, often merely a ceremony of a recollected past, being taken literally. A monk approached me, fell to his knees and apologetically asked me to leave the church since I, as a Roman Catholic, was not in full agreement with the Orthodox Church. I gladly acquiesced as I think not everyone has to be permitted everywhere all the time. Sacred places and holy acts are first declared quite plainly by the drawing of boundaries and such boundaries must somehow be visible and palpable.

Now that society is increasingly hostile to Christianity,and even many Catholics need to be re-evangelized, is it time to rethink the kind of openness to the world that was possible when societies were steeped in Christianity and the faith was communicated by osmosis?

Is it time for parishes to think about having prayer meetings and other outreaches for the newly evangelized that do not always and routinely offer the Eucharist for those who are not prepared?

Your thoughts?

Also, from Mosebach’s address, this beautiful, beautiful passage:

He Himself taught them to associate the Last Supper, which already stood in ritual context to the Passover meal, with His bloody sacrificial death the next day. The biblical words spoken by Moses to establish the offering on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and the words of the Eucharist, which proclaim the surrogate sacrifice of Christ’s blood, are nearly identical. Exodus 24:8 says, “Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.’” In Mark 14:23, Jesus “took a cup […] and said to them ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’”
This is the clue to the correct understanding of the events: the foundation of a sacrificial ceremony devised for repetition. A rite is an ever-renewed repetition of an act prescribed by an outside will. But the framework within which this foundation should be seen was also clear to the disciples. Paul articulated it when he called Christ the High Priest who, however, no longer absolves the people with the blood of a calf, but with his own blood.
This is a most incredible reinterpretation. For the apostles, however, it was purely an awareness of reality: the slave’s death as an outcast becomes the free sacrificial act of a High Priest. The passio of death on the cross becomes actio – and truly the part of the mass in which the sacrifice of Christ is visualized is called “actio” –, the suffering becomes a deed. The deed of a High Priest: with Christ we have a new way to see reality. Christ brings about knowledge of this reality by thinking in terms of opposites that will not be resolved until the end of human history. It is true that Jesus, bathed in sweat and blood, gasped out his life on the cross. It is just as true that He was the High Priest who sprinkled the world in his blood and with freely raised arms, “took everything on Himself.”
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Mark Lambert on the “deposit of faith”

Mark Lambert is a UK blogger who may even be an Ordinariate member, though I am not sure, that I now visit regularly.

Here he reflects on the “deposit of faith.”

I feel so sad that there can be people in the Church who are so determined to turn away from that faith, so closed to trying to understand and implement it, so determined to change what the Church holds and teaches to something else. This, in an environment where the faith in all its power and beauty is so rarely heard and taught and preached these days. A world where even within the Church, doctrine has given way to pastoral practice, and the answer to the resultant withering of the faith is more of the same. Yet has it not always been this way?

What is this deposit? St. Paul uses the Greek word παραθήκη “paratheke,” “deposit,” meaning something precious entrusted to a depositary for safekeeping. He does not mean some inert object like gold or diamonds or a sum placed in the trust department of a bank, but a living body of doctrine.

“O Timothy, guard the ‘paratheke,’ the deposit” (1 Tim. 6:20).

This urgent appeal of the Apostle to his Successor is not only thematic for the Acts of the Apostles and their Epistles but also for the Gospels. The reason is the fact that this deposit is the doctrine and the teaching program which Jesus entrusted to his Apostles when he taught them, and mandated them to take it out to all nations (see Matt. 28:16-20). He entrusted it therefore also to their Successors, including the men of Holy Orders as a whole until his Second Coming at the end of the world.

This concept of a priceless divine deposit entrusted to the teaching Church belongs to the New Testament as one of its principal themes. The origin of the deposit, then, is Jesus the Divine Teacher. It originated in his teaching of his Apostles, when he prepared them to carry his program forth to all nations. What is the value of the deposit? Unique and priceless. Jesus himself states it:

“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16).

Beautifully put.

The recent New Evangelization Summit here in Ottawa in late April did a great job of laying out not only the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ—which Scott Hahn likened to falling in love —but also the importance of getting to know one’s Spouse and finally making a commitment, which Hahn likened to marriage.

We need to know the divine promises and how they are all Yes! and Amen! in Jesus.  We need to believe what is true and good and beautiful so as to guide us in working out our salvation.  It is not pastoral to water the teachings down or say, well, those are teachings only for saints and ordinary people are not expected to live at that level of heroic virtue.

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The lies we believe that prevent us from experiencing the love of God the Father

Fr. Denis Lemieux has a blog series on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and today he examines piety.  The whole series is worth reading and his blog worth bookmarking for his insightful spiritual encouragement.

This jumped out at me from today’s post:

The core wound of our humanity, after all, is that we genuinely do not believe that God loves us, or that He is real at all, or that He is with us, or that He is good and desires our good. The wound of original sin at its very heart is a wound of mistrust, an alienation of affections, as that good old fashioned phrase puts it.
Out of that mistrust comes a terrible sense of isolation, of abandonment, and out of that comes all sorts of things—hardness of heart, bitterness of spirit, or a plunge into every worldly and sensory pleasure available to us. Piety, then, heals this in us.
God wants us to know Him. And to know Him is to love Him. The gift of the Spirit is that which gives us the knowledge of God, not on some intellectual level of theology and doctrine (these are not without value), but on the level of personal encounter and transformation.

And God meets us in our utter spiritual poverty—where His love is totally undeserved, totally a gift.   He has given us a new nature, seated in the heavenlies with Him through Jesus Christ.   Sadly, most of us live believing lies or out of the identity of our old man, or old fleshly nature which cannot be fixed, only taken to the Cross.

I wish there were more teaching or more focus in the Catholic Church on the promises of God and on the new nature He has given us—because it truly is by believing that we not only receive the Holy Spirit, but also by believing we are sanctified.   (Galatians 3).

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Monday Vatican always an interesting read

Andrea Gagliarducci’s weekly Monday Vatican column often has some interesting analysis and today’s is no exception.   This time he writes about the election of Cardinal Tagle as president of Caritas Internationalis and the seeming tension between charity and truth.

I believe there is should be no tension between Charity or Truth, because in Reality with a capital “R” they are One, a Person, Jesus Christ.   Charity with a small “c” that becomes uncoupled from Truth, or even “truth”  can foster dependency, and create all kinds of problems of the kind of good intentions that pave the road to hell.  By the same token, “truth” that is uncoupled from “Love” is likely not Truth at all, but a harsh human judgment that focuses on people as problems rather than as persons made in the image and likeness of God.

Here’s a salient excerpt of his post, but do go on over and read the whole piece.

In the end, the Pope claimed that Caritas needs to be in communion with the Church – the “holy mother hierarchical Church”, a common expression of Pope Francis. These words seems to counter what Michel Roy, CI General Secretary, said in a May 12 press conference. Roy underscored that the new CI statutes “enable us to tell bishops that they have to provide charity, but that catechesis comes first.”

In the end, the knot is always the same: charity in truth, or truth in charity? Is charity or truth in the lead? These are the two poles of the debate. It is worth reporting this discussion because it isalso going on in the universal Churchin these terms: shouldthe peripheries take the lead over Rome, or should Rome provide doctrinal directives while at the same time upholding the principle of subsidiarity in regard to local churches and to their charitable organizations?

Discussions over curial reform focus on this question. Those who were pushing for a revolutionary reform must take into account the reality of the facts, that is, that the “media papacy” whose narrative they fostered does not exist. Meanwhile, the hidden Vatican helped the Pope to understand that a central coordinating body in the Church is useful and needed. The institution provides freedom and also a unity that could not be experienced if all the power was devolved to local churches.

The Pope is becoming more aware of this, and this is the reason that the discussions in the Council of Cardinals are stalled, just as their curial reforms are stalled.

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Fr. Linus Clovis talk to international prolife leaders in Rome May 8

The day I met Pope Francis I went to a gathering of international pro-life leaders in Rome where I heard this talk by Fr. Linus Clovis that now is going viral.


You can find a transcript of the talk at the Facebook page Keeping it Catholic here


The Magisterium of the Church is the third leg in the stool. So, we have Scripture, we have Tradition, and we have the Magisterium, the teaching office. “The task of giving an authentic interpretation to the Word of God, whether in written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the bishop of Rome”—again, the Catechism, section 85.

This sounds like a loaded gun, but there is a caveat: “Yet, this Magisterium is not superior to the will of God, but its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith”—The Catechism again, Section 86.

So, when we have shepherds—bishops—who are deviating, we can go back to the Catechism and say, no, you are not there to give us new doctrine; what you’re there to do is to guard it, to expound on it, and to do so with dedication.

So we have to have this continuity, there cannot be a break, but we have seen for us there have been so many breaks. “The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.” (CCC 888.) Unfortunately, we’ve seen—yes, the documents come out, the beginning is okay, but just leaves it —it’s just hanging there. So the idea that we, as faithful, have to accept it is not stressed. It’s almost left to whether we feel like it or not.

“Obedience is owed to the Pope, but the Pope owes obedience to the Word and the apostolic Tradition.” We have to obey the Pope, but the Pope himself must obey the written Word; he must obey the Tradition. He must respond to these and the Holy Spirit.

“Obedience is owed to the Pope, but it is the duty of the Pope to give the character of possibility to this obedience.” The Pope has to facilitate our obeying him, by himself being obedient to the Word of God.

Also at the Facebook page, there is a lovely homily by Fr. Clovis on Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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” ….a total hassle, man” —Matt Walsh on why Christianity is dying in America

This is a great, must-read post, especially for those Catholics who think introducing the hippest praise music and parading around with a microphone during a homily and using lots of pop culture references are the way to get lost sheep to come to Church and stay there.   Matt Walsh over at the Blaze is writing about the plight of all Christian denominations in the United States.  (H/T  Rod Dreher at the American Conservative.)

Yet many of our fearless leaders, pastors, and pundits think this is, rather than the disease, the remedy. It’s the same remedy they’ve tried for half a century. As the problem gets worse, they don’t change the medication, they just keep upping the dosage. They tell us that in order to bring the sheep into the fold — especially the millennial sheep — Christianity must be as un-Christian as possible. It must be stripped it of its truth, of its sacredness, of its sacrifice, of its morality, of its tradition, of its history, of its hardships, of its joy, and whatever is left will be enough to, if not engage and excite people, at least not scare them away.

And that’s been the strategy of the American church for decades: just try not to scare people. They put on this milquetoast, tedious, effeminate charade, feigning hipness and relevance, aping secular culture in a manner about as cool and current as your science teacher retelling a Dane Cook joke from nine years ago, and then furrow their brows and shake their heads in bewilderment when everyone gets bored and walks away.

Christianity is fading because more and more of our leaders want to steal people from the true faith and deliver them to this convenient version. But that isn’t what actual Christians want, and the Christians who do, only want it because it doesn’t much resemble Christianity at all. Those folks eventually figure out that the only thing more secular than Christian secularism is secular secularism, and there’s really no reason to choose the former over the latter. The transition from Convenientism to agnosticism continues unabated.

There are still plenty of Christians who desire the true faith, but they are mostly ignored or scolded by the very people who should be leading them. And the Convenientists, of course, find no happiness in their secular Christianity, nor do they find it in secular secularism. Even if they don’t know it, they yearn in the pit of their souls for the true message of Christ, but they rarely hear it. And when they do hear it, there are a million competing voices, many from inside the church, warning them that if they go down this road it might involve changing their behavior and their lifestyle, which is a total hassle, man.

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Pope Francis-inspired Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Fr. John Hodgins asked me to post the wording of the Pope Francis-inspired Prayer to the Holy Spirit that I gave to Pope Francis last Friday.  Here it is:


Once more I invoke You, Holy Spirit

I implore You come and renew your Church

Open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm

And superficial spiritual existence.

Make us fearlessly open to your operations in us.

Anoint us with Divine Love in renewed experience

Of our Salvation in the Crucified, Risen, and

Eucharistic Lord Jesus Christ dwelling within us.

Fashion in us a life transformed by the encounter

With our God’s presence, and thus set our hearts

ON FIRE  with enthusiasm to go forth boldly to

Evangelize all peoples, full of your fervor, joy,

Generosity, courage, boundless love and great


Let us know experientially that Jesus walks with

Us, speaks to us, breathes with us, works with us,

And that He is really alive within us to cure the

Infinite sadness of the human race by the Infinite

Love of God the Father.

We ask You this through the intercession of

Mary, Mother of the living Gospel, Wellspring of

Happiness for God’s little ones, and in the

Name of Jesus Himself, our Lord and Savior.

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