Looking back at @ChicagoTOT 2017’s kick-off

Tonight, the Archdiocese of Chicago kicks off its summer “Theology on Tap” (TOT) series for young adults. In an archdiocese that plays host to Mundelein Seminary, Loyola University, DePaul University, and numerous other schools, one would expect the opportunity to hear and speak with well-educated, seasoned theologians about the Faith.

Not only won’t you be hearing any discussion of theology at tonight’s event, you won’t be hearing from any theologians, much less speakers from the archdiocese or even America for that matter. No, instead, Peter Wojcik of the Archdiocese says he chose the speakers.

And they are Thomas Rosica from Canada, and Rob Galea from Australia. One assumes the archdiocese is picking up the tab for their airfare, transportation, housing, and feeding. Good thing the cardinal archbishop sold the cathedral parking lot for $110 million.

Rosica’s known for his poor, errant theology; lying to the media; threats to ruin a blogger with a lawsuit;  and for declaring Fr Gregory Baum his “hero,” among Rosica’s other exploits.

Regarding Baum, as Church Militant noted, he “publicly rejected Church teaching on contraception, homosexuality, devotion to Our Lady, Church authority and the nature of the Catholic priesthood.” It’s telling that the archdiocese’s Theology on Tap marketing materials for tonight’s kick off refer to Rosica as CEO of Salt + Light, a television station he runs in Canada. His credentials are secular; as a “business leader.”

Galea’s a young priest from Australia who plays the guitar and sings and competed in the X Factor reality TV show. He has a website that promotes himself and his music, with one omnipresent feature everywhere you go: A cart icon in the top corner.

This is Rosica’s second year in a row kicking off the Chicago archdiocese’s TOT series. In 2017, he joined Michael O’Loughlin, who writes for the Jesuit’s Amerika magazine. Spokane Bishop Blaise Cupich was supposed to join them, but had to attend a funeral out of town.

Last year’s kick off could be summed up as, “Two Queens and a Microphone.” Rosica and O’Loughlin sat on stools on a stage, Rosica’s bulging gut hanging out (must be from all that fasting and abstinence) and O’Loughlin in his tailored clothes, limp wrists flailing, with his stylish little socks and coiffed hair and designer eyeglasses, fawning over Pope Francis, endless plugging their television network and book (respectively), and generally embarrassing themselves.

If you were a young person, coming here with questions about your Faith, you didn’t get any answers. If you were a young person, on the fence about this whole Catholic thing, hearing two brag about themselves and gush about another man would not have compelled you to stay within the Church.

If you were an atheist, coming here with an open mind favorable to reason and intellectual arguments, you’d have walked away thinking the only reason to be a Roman Catholic is because we have a “cool Pope who kisses babies” and we seem to place an inordinate emphasis as of late on temporal issues such as the environment and immigration.

Neither speaker made an argument for being Catholic, other than we have a “cool” Pope (Rosica could not stop describing Francis with that adjective) and we’re for the little guy. The meaning of life? Is there a God? Forget about answers there.

Given the 400 to 500 people in the bar –  and yes this was held in a bar in downtown Chicago on a Monday night when most young people in the archdiocese would never have been able to attend, much like tonight’s – this such a missed opportunity.

Think about all the issues young Catholics face today, in a radically secular world that says it’s all about you, the individual, you are the center and God is on the peripheries or not even there; none of this was addressed.

You’re called to live a holy chaste life, to date and find a spouse, to enter into a sacramental marriage that participates in the creation of an immortal body that will contain an immortal soul. You’re not getting any advice or encouragement from Rosica or O’Loughlin (who mentioned Pope Francis’ dreadful “Who am I to judge?” statement on sodomites and also referred to the homosexual lifestyle as “a different sort of life” rather than reinforcing the Church’s immutable teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and mortally sinful).

How do you strive for holiness in a culture that is hostile to your Faith? How can the sacraments of the Church sustain you and forge a saint out of you and aid you in achieving eternal salvation? Rosica, who we are told is an ordained priest, spoke nothing of these matters.

Some more essential topics for young Catholics that weren’t on the agenda:

  • Science and religion, reconciling them, proofs for God’s existence, defending the Faith’s connection to and importance to science;
  • With so many Millennials rejecting religion completely -the “Nones” – how do you defend the Faith and the Trinity’s existence against those who demand proof?
  • Fair and honest acknowledgement that some are critical of the pope;
  • Reclaiming a Catholic identity;
  • The Church Militant in the Middle East, its martyrs, praying for them;
  • How to interact with non-believers;
  • How to convert apostates and heretics;
  • How to deal with friends, family, coworkers who denigrate the Faith;
  • Being Catholic in the work place;
  • Anything Marian;
  • Prayer;
  • Sacraments;
  • The 10 commandments;
  • Defining and naming the various heresies rampant in the ordained & laity;
  • Vocations to the priesthood and religious;
  • Parish life – nothing about making your parish “vibrant;”
  • The seven deadly sins;
  • Virtue;
  • St Joseph as a model for men;
  • Our Lady as a model for women;
  • The reality of Hell;
  • Martyrdom, red or white (gay weddings and cakes; pharmacists and contraception prescriptions; Sisters of Charity forced to provide contraception; Charlie Good and euthanasia);
  • Dating;
  • Contraception;
  • Young Catholics and traditionalism – Chicago is an epicenter for the Extraordinary Form;
  • Suffering;
  • Dealing with friends who are sodomites;
  • The dignity of the worker;
  • Modesty and purity;
  • Raising Catholic children (young adult audience will be marrying, starting families) in a hostile secular culture;
  • Violence in society.

The papal idolatry demonstrated by Rosica and O’Loughlin was off the charts. They asked each other about their jobs, Rosica kept mentioning his “staff” at his business, trying to show how important he was. He’d ask O’Loughlin, “What was it like for you to meet Pope Francis and give him your book?” O’Loughlin asks Rosica about his role as a Vatican spokesman. It was all. about. them.

At one point, Rosica made a disgusting remark about Pope St John Paul II, describing him as “drooling because of the Parkinsons.”

Forty-five minutes in, we had heard nothing catechetical, nothing about holiness, nothing about the sacraments.

Verboten

Discussion of the Synod on Youth came up. A breathless Rosica let out, “Tell us who we are… what you would like us to be!” Remake the Church in your own image, kids.

The last portion of the event was a pseudo question and answer session. It was highly scripted and controlled. We had to write our questions down on a piece of paper and the organizers selected which questions were chosen. There was no open mic, no opportunity to directly address Rosica or O’Loughlin. No dialogue. Answers pandered to the audience, weaving in tripe like the “seamless garment” at one point. We suspected the organizers wrote the questions and rehearsed the answers with Rosica and O’Loughlin well in advance.

In their closing remarks, O’Loughlin talked up his career (again) and thanked the organizers and us for attending, but did not thank the Lord or invoke any person of the Trinity. Rosica blathered on about the pope and the Church as a field hospital (not as the means to salvation) and did not invoke or thank any person of the Trinity. Finally Sneaky Pete gave his closing remarks (while O’Loughlin ignored him and tapped on his smartphone), ending with “God bless and good night.”

There was no closing prayer.

 

 

 

 

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Pilsen’s Via Crucis

Mexicans in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood perform a living stations of the cross, or via crucis, every year on Good Friday. The television stations dutifully cover it.

The event starts out at Providence of God parish, then proceeds one and a half miles west down 18th Street to Harrison Park.

Providence of God front

Providence didn’t post any signs outside its church. The doors to the church itself were locked, so anyone wanting to visit the Blessed Sacrament in the altar of repose were out of luck. After seeing some other confused visitors wind their way into a side door, I discovered the stations start out in the basement hall underneath the church.

Those who got there early enough to find a seat contended with hard metal folding chairs. The performance began 30 minutes late. Everyone in the audience was casually dressed. Many held up their smartphones, often quite conspicuously, to record photos or videos. The performance was mostly in Spanish and was well done. Although, there were repeated audio issues – every time the actor playing Jesus turned his head to the right, his mic cut out.

At the point where our Lord takes up his cross, we filed outside to 18th Street to follow him. Following the procession was a van with loudspeakers blasting a campy song in Spanish accompanied by acoustic guitar. It distracted from attempts to focus on the passion of our Lord.

Every so often the procession would halt. An announcer would narrate the current station, first in Spanish and then in English. But this wasn’t consistent; he skipped the English for several stations, then at another he narrated entirely in English with no Spanish translation.

Via crucis procession

Many of the women among us wore tight jeans or tight leggings, surely a potential temptation to sins of lust for the men.

When we reached Harrison Park, where the crucifixion itself was re-enacted, our male narrator vanished and a woman, speaking only in Spanish, took over. She spoke in a monotone voice with no emotion, clearly reading off a script.

Crosses in Harrison Park

Roaming about the park were vendors hawking cotton candy and treats, on a day of fasting.

cotton candy

After the actor playing our crucified Lord was taken down from the cross, the procession turned north towards Pilsen’s cavernous, crumbling, beautiful, soon-to-be-closed St. Adalbert’s parish for a “reflection.”

St Adalbert aisle

Alas, the priest who spoke from the pulpit offered no Good Friday reflection, just some remarks thanking the volunteers. Meanwhile the church organ played in the background, in what struck me as a discordant violation of the prohibition on music from Holy Thursday to the Easter Vigil.

The priest concluded his remarks without even so much as a blessing or wishing of a Happy Easter. We all sat in our pews wondering what to do. After a few moments, we realized it was over and started to leave.

St Adalbert choir loft

I couldn’t locate the altar of repose. As I passed through the narthex, there were individuals handing out parish bulletins. I asked no less than three of them, “Where is the altar of repose?” Not one of them could tell me. One young man shrugged, said he didn’t know, and turned away from me.

Food vendors encamped the sidewalk, tempting the weak flesh.

sidewalk vendors

As I walked back to catch the CTA, I took note of all the Mexican restaurants open on 18th Street, the smell of cooked meat in the air.

Pilsen’s named after the Czech city of Plzen. For the first half of the 20th century, it was home to a large population of Central European immigrants – Czechs, Poles, Lithuanians. As they graduated up the economic ladder, Mexicans moved in and Pilsen became known as one of Chicago’s most Mexican of neighborhoods, if not a hotbed of gang violence and shootings.

In recent years, however, 10,000 of its Mexican residents have left, as the neighborhood’s close proximity to downtown attracts yuppies and gentrification, while its reasonable rents attract hipsters and artists. Its five or so Catholic parishes face closure, consolidation, and likely extinction. How long before Via Crucis is just a memory?

He will use Africa will chastise, purify the world

This morning’s front page of the Washington Post features a story on Africa’s incurable, often deadly monkeypox virus and how “scientists are racing to understand it before it goes global.”

Which got me thinking, God could be about to use Africa to purify the world and his Church.

The West is dying. It’s not having children. Its churches, convents, and monasteries are empty. It’s morally bankrupt, a new Sodom.

Africa is growing. Sub-Saharan African has some of the highest fertility rates on the planet. Holy Mother Church has gained tens of millions of new souls across the continent. The Church is in many ways going home. Holy men like Africa’s Robert Cardinal Sarah point us to the light of Truth amidst the fog of the West.

The West hasn’t seen a deadly epidemic since what, the Spanish Flu 100 years ago? Medical advances eradicated the threat of many deadly pathogens. But to paraphrase Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”

Perhaps it will be monkeypox. Perhaps another pathogen will evolve immunity to our antibiotics. But it would seem preeminently just that the Lord would choose his newest son to chastise and purify his oldest sons and daughters, wiping the slate clean as He’s done so many times throughout history.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Saint Joseph, Guardian of virgins and father, to whose faithful care Christ Jesus, innocence itself, and Mary, Virgin of virgins, were entrusted, I ask and beg of thee, through these two dearest pledges, Jesus and Mary, preserve me from all defilement, and make it always possible for me unsullied in mind, pure in heart, and chaste in body to give to Jesus and Mary my holiest service. Amen.

(I recently found this prayer in my missal and have been praying it after the Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays.)

A poor Church, for the poor

Quite soon after his election to the Petrine throne, his Holiness Pope Francis I said he wants “a poor Church, for the poor.” Through martyrdoms white and red, he shall have it, if perhaps some time following his pontificate.

As the world turns against Holy Mother Church and her children, those children shall suffer persecution, even the glorious crown of martyrdom. Primarily middle or upper class in social status (for the poor, in their pride and lust for earthly pleasures shall reject the Bride who would “deny” them their “freedoms”), faithful Catholics shall suffer the loss of status, employment, housing, civil rights, family, friendships, even their very lives. Catholics shall be cast to the periphery of society. They shall become the poor Church, for the poor.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Thus She and her children shall evangelize, living the Gospel, converting the pagans. Upward, upward shall she rise, until she has swept up the whole into her arms and shepherds them forth, one nation, under God.

Prayer to St Joseph for purity

Found this buried in the “Thanksgiving after Mass” section of my missal. What a prayer for men, all men, but especially those of us suffering from inherently disordered inclinations:

Saint Joseph, Guardian of virgins and father, to whose faithful care Christ Jesus, innocence itself, and Mary, Virgin of virgins, were entrusted, I ask and beg of thee, through these two dearest pledges, Jesus and Mary, preserve me from all defilement, and make it always possible for me unsullied in mind, pure in heart, and chaste in body to give to Jesus and Mary my holiest service. Amen.

Coming under spiritual attack

Maintaining purity of mind and body isn’t easy, and sometimes I fall off the wagon. But I get back up and go to confession.

What I’ve noticed lately, however, is that when I have managed to “sustain” that purity for a while, I start getting attacked with hateful thoughts. They come out of nowhere. I’ll be doing dishes and suddenly start thinking about people who rubbed me the wrong way, perhaps just once, perhaps even many years ago. Before I know it, I’m imagining things I could have said to them, or even physical violence I could have perpetrated against them. Then I snap out of it, embarrassed and horrified.

This never used to happen to me. Or perhaps it was, but I was too sullied with sin to realize it as wrong.

Is this the devil, inciting these thoughts? Knowing I’ve conquered temptations to impurity, he seeks out other weaknesses in my character?

Aside

My struggle to keep the Sabbath holy

This year, I’m more fully committing myself to keeping the Sabbath holy beyond merely fulfilling my obligation to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

But one of the challenges I’m facing is squeezing everything I previously split into Saturday and Sunday into just Saturday. I’m single; I’m not sure whether that should lighten the burden or not. For example, I don’t have a girlfriend or wife to split duties with; I also don’t have children to transport to weekend soccer games or whatever. I try to complete all my shopping, housework, and so forth on Saturday.

Some weekends, such as this one, involved family obligations on Saturday. That took several hours. So I had to finish some shopping today, Sunday.

Generally though, I’m striving to avoid unnecessary labor on the Sabbath, or purchasing anything not of necessity. That includes no restaurants, because then I’m forcing others to labor on the Sabbath. Imagine if ALL the Catholics in the United States refused to work, shop, or eat out on Sunday!

May we all strive to rest on the Sabbath and offer thanksgiving, praise, and honor to the Holy Trinity for creating and redeeming us.

The wasted potential of a water-obsessed nun

Exxon Mobil shareholders will vote on eight shareholder proposals at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2015. Two of those eight proposals come from religious orders.

The Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order in Milwaukee, it seems, have nothing better to do with their money, time, and energy than submit proposals that Exxon Mobil add a “climate expert” to its board of directors.

Meanwhile, the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell New Jersey drafted a highly-detailed eight paragraph proposal to establish greenhouse gas emissions goals. The earth will perish. The soul is eternal. But nowadays the Order of Preachers seemingly cares more about the salvation of the former than the latter.

As I noted on The Twitters, an order’s probably doomed when its vocation Web page photos show no one under age 70.

Once upon a time, perhaps, a zeal for serving and preaching the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost drew Suzanne Golas to discern a vocation to religious life in the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell.

Nowadays, Sr. Golas’ only zeal is for… water.

The Sisters’ webpage links to their YouTube channel, where I took a pass on viewing their 27 minute “Beatitudes, Christ and the Practice of Yoga” video (I’d just eaten) and instead sat through all 25 minutes and 44 seconds of Sr. Golas, “Water Spirit” video.

It had nine views since it was posted in November 2014.

Apparently Sr. Golas established a pro-water interest group some years ago, called Water Spirit. You can Google it. In her 25 minute YouTube discourse, replete with high definition video and professional lighting and editing, Sr. referred to water as “sacred” two or more times. I only heard her mention God twice. There were no mentions of Our Lady, the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, or his Sacred Heart that I picked up on. No attempts to link water conservation to divine creation.

Sr. is clearly very intelligent and a gifted presenter. She knows her water. She’s passionate about water and made a persuasive case about how precious it is, its value. I live in Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water on earth. As bad as our winters are, good luck convincing me to move to drought-addled California. I’ll take a pass on New Jersey and its hurricanes too.

To understand the mystery of life, to understand who we are in this magnificent creation, is to understand the importance and the fragility of this one water supply.

Can you imagine how much Sr. Golas could have accomplished for Christ had she applied her zeal towards the conversion and salvation of souls? Sister, it’s never too late for conversion. Christ, through the ministry of his priests, washes away the sins of the penitent in the sacrament of confession. May God be with you, Sister.

Heretic hairdresser priest lets dog chew on Bible

At the bottom of the Los Angeles Times on Friday, January 23, was a story on an aging hippie heretic priest who has left the One True Church to join a heretical ecclesial community called “Episcopalians.”

Let us pause for a moment and take note that Episcopalian Phillip Jenkins recently calculated that the last Episcopalian has been born. Basically, they’re SO loony left-wing that no one’s going to their services anymore and they’ll be extinct by the end of the century.

Perhaps a wave of septuagenarian conversions holds hope for them. LA Times reporter Kate Linthicum writes about how Father Richard Estrada just couldn’t take it anymore. The Catholic Church is just too mean and outdated and all that jibberjabber. She coos on and on about hwo Estrada is such an activist, such a man of the people, such a champion of immigrants and blah, blah, blah in vain attempt to whitewash Estrada’s heresy. He’s so concerned about everyone else, you see, such a model of self-denial. A paragon of absolute virtue.

But of course we all know that’s bullshit, and Estrada himself betrays the Potemkin Village with quotes like this:

“I saw a lot of people who were struggling,” he said. “I just felt like I don’t fit anymore. Maybe I’ve grown, or shrunk or whatever, but I just don’t fit. And I haven’t fit. So let’s be honest.”

It’s all about him!

And this:

“I should be retiring, not starting a new career,” he said, smiling as he puttered around the kitchen. “But I had to be true to myself. God is putting me places. He or She is in charge.”

He had to be true to himself, you catch that? Not conform oneself to Christ, or his Bride the Church, but himself. He is worshiping a false idol. Father Estrada worships himself.

One imagines Linthicum struggling to hold back laughter while typing this:

For all his bold activism, Estrada is a gentle presence, more comfortable listening to others than talking about himself.

Uh, yeah.

Thankfully the article doesn’t report any allegations of improprieties involving children, but there is this troubling revelation that calls into question Father’s sexuality:

Listening is a skill he acquired during his first career as a hairstylist in East L.A., where he would sometimes hear female clients recount stories of hardship and abuse.

Homosexuals have no business being in the priesthood. Pope Benedict XVI declared that, and I support it.

Pray for Father Estrada and for the conversion of all heretics, sinners (especially homosexuals), infidels, and non-believers.

Lastly, this gem of an observation was buried in the article, and I think it’s telling about how far Father’s fallen:

On a recent morning, his 2-year-old pit bull, Honey, was quietly gnawing on a Bible on the bed.