Jul 28, 2006

Sexual Sins in a Peasant Culture

A long time ago, I met Fr. Ivo Sivric, OFM, when he came to Kansas City to say Mass. Fr. Sivric is the author of the 1982 book, The Peasant Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovinia. The flyleaf describes the book as "a detailed recording of the passing way of life of a people" who lived in the rugged and isolated mountains of what was then Yugoslavia.

The peasant people that are described in this book are analyzed for their
minds and motivations...their conceptions of cognitive power and reality, their philosophy on the nature of man...their self-developed conceptions of the external nd spiritual world, their manner of coupling Christianity and the social world, their forms of crreativity, their politics; their plain but penetrating distinctions between male and man, "woman" and "female," their conception of manhood in women and the sadness of weak men, their concepts of guilt, their attitudes toward sex, courtship and marriage.
I've always wondered if the social environment and rich way of life in the U.S. did not have a lot to do with the sexual sins that we now see affecting family life. See my previous post on The State of our Unions. Do peasants in poor, rural, Christian cultures commit many sexual sins?

Fr. Sivric has a section on "Sexual Attitudes" in his book and notes that
Genital sexuality, sexual love, and eroticism are not taboos among the peasants. They are not prudish about matters of sex; rather their mentality leads them to be relaxed and explicit about sexual behavior.
He follows this comment with
Premarital sexual experiences among the peasants are of insignificant proportions. This, of course, varies from village to village. One fact does stand out; namely, that the closer a village is to a town or city, the greater the number of premarital sexual experiences.
Fr. Sivric adds
I have heard some priests, who preached eight-day retreats and heard a great number of confessions all over these provinces, say, that in certain regions ninety-five percent of the whole population (including both men and women) who reach the age of seventy or more, have never seriously offended God in their entire lives.
A section in his book tells of his hearing many confessions of young and unmarried men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four when he heard no confessions of of masturbation, even when he gave the young men a hint of a possible sin. Fr. Sivric continues,
I myself have wondered if it was possible that none of the peasant boys masturbated, so I consulted anothe priest on this issue. This priest preached many eight-day missions in various parishes and heard at least 50,000 confessions from different individuals during his priestly life. The reason I chose this particular priest was bcause the peasants during an eight-day mission usually opened their minds and souls unreservedly to a priest in confession and would mention the slightest moral offensve if it would disturb their conscience. He said practically no one ever mentioned masturbation.
Another section on homosexuality in the peasant culture states
Homosexuality among the Christian peasants is unheard of. But the sexual aberration is in practice to a certain extent among the Mohammedans, who live in small cities and towns. This is known by the Christian peasants, and they look upon it with great disgust and horror. They regard it as a kind of perversion which can be attributed to their mode of living.....The Mohammedans have lived in luxury and affluence for centuries....The peasants say..."they have lived highly." Now they are at the end of their rope and cannot find pleasure in normal sexual activity.
Rape is also treated by Fr. Sivric in his historical analysis.
The peasants believe that rape is the most gruesome crime that a person can commit. Their disgust for this moral offense has reached such proportions that they are unwilling to forgive the offender. Married and unmarried women who are slain while defending themselves are considered martyrs. The graves of such victims are found all over Bosnia.
An important book, but it may be out of print.

Jul 27, 2006

Pray for Dead Modernists

About a year ago, I thought again about a very unpleasant time in the 70s that occurred in our parish. The pastor had allowed sex education into the Catholic school, and we had fought it and lost. The religious education program was a scandal, too. Finally and most importantly, the liturgy was abysmal. With heavy hearts, we voted with our feet and our pocketbook. That decision made in the 1970s was the best decision we ever made, because all of our children remain practicing Catholics and two have brought their spouses into the one true Church.

Back to the point. The pastor of that parish in the 1970s died some years ago, and many of his friends are also gone from this world. It may be that they are in purgatory for a long time. So a year ago, I decided that it was time to pray regularly for the modernist priests in purgatory who will finally become saints in heaven.

Why should I pray for them? First of all, they forgave my sins. Second, they gave me the Body and Blood of Christ in communion. Third, they were usually very kind and loving. Fourth, they probably thought that what they were doing was right (But boy, were they ever wrong!). In justice, they deserve my frequent prayers to ask God to welcome them to heaven.

My Jesus, by that crown of sharpest thorns which pierced Thy sacred temple, have mercy on those souls of priests who are most neglected and least prayed for. Call and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise. Our Father, Hail Mary, Eternal rest, etc.

The Tangled Thread

My Grandma came from the old country across the ocean. Occasionally she would tell me stories of the Catholic village where she was born, like this story of the twisted thread.

Over a hundred years ago, a young man was looking for a wife. He met a young girl in a village located some distance away from his own. The girl was quite attractive, and the young man hoped to marry her. In that time, it was expected that the parents would meet and approve of the prospective spouse of one of their children before he/she became engaged. The parents' evaluation was an important part of courtship.

The girl arrived in a horse and buggy driven by one of her uncles. The nervous young man helped her out of the buggy and escorted her into the house where he introduced her to his parents. The mother asked the young girl to sit down, and the three men decided to go outside.

The mother tried to make the young girl feel at ease and complimented her on her promptness and pretty dress. As the mother talked, she picked up her basket of sewing and began to patch some clothes, a never-ending chore in that time period. The girl gradually felt comfortable enough to engage in a conversation with the mother.

The mother suddenly put down her needle and said to the girl, "I've so much sewing to do, but I've tangled this thread. Can you help me untangle it?"

[The story has two endings.]

First ending--The girl looked at the tangled thread and was distressed because the twisted knots looked like they could never be untangled. She then picked up the tangled thread and realized she had to do what the young man's mother asked her. But as she worked to untangle the wad, she found the work very tedious and she became more and more irritated. After twenty minutes, she blurted out in frustration that the thread was too tangled and should be thrown away. The conversation continued, but the girl was inwardly upset that the mother had asked her guest to perform such an unnecessary and difficult chore. Nevertheless, the goodbyes were cordial and the mother said she was pleased to have met the young girl.

Second Ending--The girl picked up the wad of tangled thread and asked if the mother had a crochet hook. The mother responded she had lent her hook to her sister so her sister could teach her daughter how to crochet. The girl commented that she had learned to crochet from her mother. The girl began to work at untangling the thread, but had made little progress after 20 mintes. It took almost two hours for the young girl to hand over the wound thread to the young man's mother. The mother was very appreciative, the goodbyes were cordial, and the mother said she was pleased to have met the young girl.

Have you guessed that the tangled thread was the mother's test of the virtue of patience? The mother wanted her son to marry a good young woman with much patience, someone who would gracefully endure the occasional deficiencies of her spouse.

Jul 25, 2006

Ordinations of "Catholic" Priestesses

On July 31, 2006, three bishopisses will "ordain" eight priestesses in Pittsburgh, PA. The ceremony will be conducted in a chartered boat on the Three Rivers, away from prying eyes and any opposition. Yet the women are reluctant to call themselves priestesses. Why?

Google the word "priestess" and observe that the search brings up historical priestesses that have included Sybil, the Vestal Virgins of Rome, the priestess at Delphi, the prostitutes in Roman temples, Egyptian priestesses in charge of the temple parties, Etruscan priestesses, etc. Today's priestesses prefer to use the term "woman priest" because it doesn't have a heathen/pagan connotation.

Bishop Romulo Braschi, founder of the schismatic Catholic-Apostolic Charismatic Church of Christ the King, ordained the first seven Catholic priestesses who were floating down the Danube River in 2002. Bishop Braschi was ordained a priest in Buenos Aires in 1966 and has been made a Bishop twice. He may have suspected his first consecration might have been faulty, so he has been twice through the Bishop-making system. The last time was through ex-Bishop Geronimo Podestá of Avellaneda (in the province of Buenos Aires) who was suspended in 2000.

Four Bishopisses and a lot of priestesses have been "ordained" in the past five years. Are they true priests? Of course not. That's why Rome is not too worried about them, except for their eternal destiny. Frankly the Vatican is much more worried about Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo who could form a schismatic group of male priests who are married. It might be worse than the Archbishop Thuc line of schismatic bishops. The irregular Thuc ordinations are considered valid but not licit. Any Milingo ordinations would be valid, but not licit. But in the case of Bishopisses and priestesses, the ordinations are invalid and illicit, and all the women have been excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

The chronology of the "ordinations" of women:
  • Seven Priestesses on June 21, 2002 on the Danube by Bishop Braschi
  • Two Bishopisses in Europe by "several male Catholic Bishops" in a secret ceremony on an unknown date
  • One Bishopiss in Germany by unknown male Catholic Bishops together with the two new Bishopisses during January, 2004
  • Six Deaconesses in Germany during June 2004
  • One Priestess in France in 2005
  • Nine Priestesses in the St. Lawrence Seaway on June 25, 2005
  • One Bishopiss in June 2006
  • Three Priestesses and one Deaconess on Lake Constance on June 24, 2006
  • Eight Priestesses on the Three Rivers: the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio on July 31, 2006
Cheryl Bristol is a sample of one of the 2006 ordinands. She really is extremely well suited to be a Priestess. Read her biography on a list of the "ordinands."
Lesbian by birth, Catholic by choice, [and] has felt called to ministry for 25 years. Born on an apple farm north of Detroit, worked as a Paralegal while raising her son, Richard. Living in Jerusalem from 1999-2002 deepened her interest in justice and interfaith relations. In 2005 Cheryl served as a delegate to the United Nations Non Governmental Organization Conference. She is currently a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, rights activist working with Catholics and other groups to end intolerance and religion abuse. Other ministries include chaplaincy, playing the harp, and performing Holy Unions.
The Bishopisses and Priestesses want "to reach out to those who... have been alienated, hurt, or rejected by the institutional Catholic Church. The(sic) are the legion of women who feel like second-class citizens in their own church, divorced and remarried Catholics, gays and lesbians and all those on the margins of church and society." See News Article.

When I started reading about all the Bishopisses and Priestesses, I was worried. After reading a lot more, I'm not worried at all. You see, they have all turned into fruitflys, and now have decided to fly willingly into the dark pit of excommunication. [The stench smells so sweet to them!]

BTW, one of the women being "ordained" on July 31 is Bridget Mary Meehan, the author of 15 books. At least four of Meehan's books are sold by Liguori Publications. The Liguori sidebar also shows Joan Chittister as a featured writer. Is Liguori Publications still in union with Rome? Does your parish still buy bulletins and other items from Liguori? Ooops!

The spring belongs to orthodoxy.

Marriage Trends Look Bleak

Trends are of great interest, especially religious and social. Trends represent the best predictions of the future that we have. The State of Our Unions by Barbara Dafoe Whitehead and David Popenoe documents marriage trends in the U.S. and the future looks very bleak. Even though other bloggers have commented widely, some of the most troubling observations of the authors are extracted from their report.

1. In 2004, almost one out of five women in their early forties was childless. In 1976, it was one out of ten. [Note that twice as many women are now childless.]

2. For the college-educated minority of the American population, marriage appears to have gotten stronger in recent years. For everyone else, marriage continues to get weaker. The percentage of spouses among the college educated group who rate their marriage as “very happy” has held fairly steady over recent decades, whereas for other parts of the population the percentage has dropped significantly. Yet, college-educated women aren’t having enough children to replace themselves.

3. For the non college-educated population, ... Marriage rates are continuing to decline, and the percentage of out-of-wedlock births is rising. Because of the many statistically well-documented benefits of marriage in such areas as income, health, and longevity,... America is becoming a nation divided not only by educational and income levels, but by unequal family structures.

4. In 1970, the median age of first marriage for women was not quite 21. Since then the age of first marriage has risen to just short of 26.

5. In 1960, 71 percent of married women had a first birth within the first three years of marriage. By 1990, the percentage had fallen to 37.

6. In 1970, 27.4 percent of women, ages 50-54, had at least one minor child of their own in the household. In 2000, that percentage had fallen to 15.4.

7. Women who hold four-year college degrees are more likely to be childless than women with lower levels of educational attainment.

8. In 1970, 57.3 percent of men, ages 25-29, lived with their own children in the household. In 2000, that share had fallen to 28.8 percent. Of men, ages 30-34, 74.7 percent lived with their own minor children in the household in 1970. In 2000, the share was 46.9 percent.

9. The sex lives of the young and old have been liberated [their words, not mine!] from the traditional association with marriage and children. Many of today’s parents are entering the empty nest years with subscriptions to Match.com, prescriptions for Viagra and hopes for hot new romances. What the two new life stages [before and after a minimum period of child-rearing] have in common is a focus on the self.

10. Victorian brides were shocked by their first experience of sex. Contemporary wives are shocked by their first experience of motherhood. For them, motherhood represents a radical change in the kind of life that they have led during their early adult life and have come to accept as the norm.

11. Television has long made fun of fathers. Now, in a dramatic departure from television tradition, it has turned to ridiculing mothers. The Unfit Mom has become a reality show staple.

12. Demographically, socially and culturally, the nation is shifting from a society of child-rearing families to a society of child-free adults. The percentage of households with children has declined from half of all households in 1960 to less than one-third today—the lowest percentage in the nation’s history.

13. Over half of all first marriages are now preceded by living together, compared to virtually none 50 years ago.

14. A substantial body of evidence indicates that those who live together before marriage are more likely to break up after marriage.

15. For the average couple marrying for the first time in recent years, the lifetime probability of divorce or separation remains between 40 and 50 percent.

16. Although the long-term trend in divorce has been upward since colonial times, the divorce rate was level for about two decades after World War II during the period of high fertility known as the baby boom. [Read that one again.]

17. Divorce is much less likely to occur "if you are a reasonably well-educated person with a decent income, come from an intact family and are religious, and marry after age twenty five without having a baby first."

18. In 2004, the American "total fertility rate" (TFR) stood at 2.049, slightly above two children per woman. This rate is below the “replacement level” of 2.1, the level at which the population would be replaced through births alone.

I'm going to stop quoting from the authors and recommend that you read the rest of the report for yourself. ESPECIALLY READ the section called "The Surprising Economic Benefits of Marriage." In it you will find why marriage is a wealth generating institution. Also read the section on "Fragile Families with Children" that discusses the negative life outcomes of fatherless families.

The Priest--A Loss of Identity

Someone just sent me the recent Letter to Friends and Benefactors of Bishop Bernard Fellay, the newly elected Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Bishop Fellay notes that a critical reason for the post-Vatican II crisis is that priesthood has been slighted. The priest has lost his identity because he was the forgotten man of Vatican II.

I was unaware of the lack of the infrequent mention of priests in Vatican II documents. Bishop Fellay notes that entire chapters of a key Vatican II document were dedicated to the bishops and especially to the laity, but only a few paragraphs refer to the priest. When the priest is mentioned, his role is diminished by being subordinated to the bishops or to the universal priesthood of the baptized. Bishop Fellay says the ministerial priesthood became blurred and denatured because the priest as preacher was seemingly ranked above his role as sacrificer.

The solution is to restore the priesthood where:
The priest is associated, immersed even, in the sacrificial act of Our Lord, Sovereign Priest, and he thus participates with his whole being, which he surrenders to Jesus, priest and victim, for the salvation of souls, for the redemptive act.
Our Church will not be restored until the priest's role as sacrificer is restored. "In persona Christi," his ordination ordains him for the offering of sacrifice.

Jul 23, 2006

Treasure Chest, the Catholic Comic Book

Treasure Chest was a Catholic comic book published by George A. Pflaum and provided to Catholic parochial school students between 1946 and 1972. I don't remember the cost, but it was probably comparable to subscriptions for Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse comic books that cost about $2 for 12 issues.

My siblings and I received an issue of Treasure Chest every two weeks while in grade school. I especially looked forward to reading about the adventures of a young student, Chuck White, that was featured in every issue. Each color comic book contained 35 pages of stories, games, puzzles, science, history, lives of saints, and the Pierre cartoons.

Guess what? The Catholic University of America has digitized almost all the comic books. Every page of each Treasure Chest is available in color on the web by searching the issue and clicking on the comic book cover. [Most of the issues were originally copyrighted but the copyright was not renewed.] Enjoy!