Dec 7, 2006

Friendly Chicken Fire

The chicken house was part of a co-op farm that had been established a long time ago. In the past few years, the farm had lost a significant number of chickens to the foxes that lived nearby. Fox hunting had been outlawed because of an aversion of management to guns, and so the foxes began to increase in numbers and ate well on the tender flock.

The fence around the chicken house had formerly been a sturdy steel wire mesh that kept the chickens in a safe enclosure, but management had failed to repair the fence and it offered little protection against the foxes. Some of the caretakers claimed that it was now better because the chickens were happier and had more room to roam without the tight fence.

Some of the chickens also died of a strange disease that settled in the small chicken brains--especially those of the hens and pullets. This disease caused the girlie birds to flap their wings a lot and pretend they were roosters. Many did not see this as a problem, claiming that more roosters were desirable because the new 'roosters' did not lay eggs and so could be used for labor. However, fewer baby chicks were seen in the chicken yard.

It wasn't until the foxes had eaten many of the chickens that several chickens with larger brains (who were unaffected by the strange brain disease) met in a corner of the chicken house. Hennety Hen cried that all her babies had been eaten by the foxes. Other chickens were afraid because some of the foxes had seduced some of their friends. Robby Rooster complained that the chicken house now looked very poorly in comparison with the old days when he was a young rooster. He could remember the days when he and the other roosters sang their beautiful songs every morning, but the songs had changed because the crowing interfered with management sleeping late.

Some of the chickens believed they had to leave their dilapidating chicken house and reoccupy the oldest chicken barn which had been abandoned a couple of years before. One old rooster, a well-respected leader, led some of the chickens to the tall barn that had been sturdily constucted many years before. They quickly discovered it still had a tight fence around it; moreover, the granary was full of food. Because the old barn was far enough away from management, the songs of the roosters once again welcomed the morning sun as the chickens ate heartily from the granary.

Management was very unhappy with the outlaw chickens that had settled in the old chicken barn, but then they decided to offer the outlaw chickens a deed to the old property. When the deed was examined closely by some lawyer chickens, there were a few who claimed the deed was not what it appeared to be. So the outlaw chickens decided not to accept the deed. Still, the outlaw chickens thrived and began to discuss how their good fortune could be shared with their relatives in the poorly maintained chicken house.

New young roosters quickly took the lead in the sturdy old chicken barn. They practiced every day throwing sharp, rotating disks which sailed through the air to penetrate deeply into the flesh of their adversaries. During forays into fox territory, the "Wirds" proved to be a most effective weapon.

Red was the most energetic and hardworking rooster. Rudy was diligent and resourceful, and he also had had many successful fights with foxes using "Wirds." The only problem was that Red and Rudy were both roosters (and hens know how that is).

The two roosters had had a few minor tiffs but nothing was serious until the company of roosters in the sturdy chicken house decided to write a new song. Naturally, the two roosters had slightly different opinions on how the song should be written. The story gets a little complex, but Red from his post high on the barn beam became agitated and accidentally began to drop "Wirds" on Rudy. Red didn't really mean to injure Rudy, and Rudy attempted to deflect the "Wirds" but to no use.

Rudy was cut by flying "Wirds" and all the chickens thought it was a minor injury. Unfortunately, the injury was very real, and left significant wounds. He no longer felt well enough to fight the foxes with the strength he had had before.

The moral of this story is: Don't use flying "Wirds" on your friends. Friendly fire in Desert Storm killed 17 percent of our troops, while in Vietnam, fratricide killed 10 percent of our own people.

Dec 5, 2006

Kansas City Latin Masses

Kansas City is blessed by a relatively large number of traditional Latin Masses that can be attended every week. Here is the schedule of six Latin Masses offered every Sunday in Kansas City.
  1. St. Vincent's on the Missouri side is a Catholic community of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. They purchased the beautiful old church in 1979 from the diocese and quickly renovated it. With multiple priests on site because of Kansas City being the U.S. headquarters of the SSPX, St. Vincent's has two traditional Latin Masses on Sunday morning--a high Mass at 8:00 am and a low Mass at 10:30 am.
  2. Old St. Patrick Oratory is also on the Missouri side, has Bishop Robert W. Finn as its new pastor, and is staffed by a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The historic old church in downtown Kansas City, MO is now being renovated. In the meantime, the indult Latin Mass that began in about 1990 is being offered at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church every Sunday at 9:15 am.
  3. St. Philippine Duchesne is an indult Latin Mass community of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, KS that began in 1989. It is now harbored at Blessed Sacrament church in Kansas City, KS. The community is served by two priests from the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and has grown substantially in the past few years. Every Sunday, the low Mass is offered at 6:30 am and the high Mass is offered at 11:00 am.
  4. St. Philomena's is a small Catholic community that has existed since the early 1980 using rented space in Kansas City. In 1988, two Catholic ladies of the community asked a retired priest to offer the traditional Latin Mass. The priest continues to offer the old Latin Mass every Sunday morning at 8:30 am in south Kansas City.
The three largest traditional Latin Mass communities described above also have daily Mass, making Kansas City the likely center of traditional Latin Mass centers in the U.S. In addition, three other large Latin Mass communities are within a one- to three-hour driving time of Kansas City:
  • Maple Hill, KS (west of Topeka)--St. John Vianney Latin Mass Community now has a beautiful new chapel and school and a flourishing Catholic community.
  • St. Mary, KS (west of Topeka)--St. Mary's College and Academy is a very large apostolate of the SSPX that occupies the old Jesuit St. Mary College and Seminary, where many, many families have moved to establish a large traditional Catholic community.
  • Denton, NB (southwest of Lincoln)--Our Lady of Guadalupe is a large new seminary of the FSSP that is attracting a good number of traditional Catholic families to the Lincoln area.

Dec 4, 2006

Did Jesus Know Who He Was?

Mrs. M in the nursing home was her usual ebullient self. Today she showed me a book by Anne Rice, Christ the Lord Out of Egypt. I listened as Mrs. M said that some of her friends had told her to avoid reading the book, but she was obviously ignoring their advice. Mrs. M told me that Jesus didn't know who He was when He was a child--the major premise of the story. I believe this is a form of the heresy, Kenosis, which states Jesus gave up some divine attributes while on earth.

Anne Rice is said by Newsweek to be the "chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters." Yet she is also described as returning to the Catholic church of her youth in 1998, and has said "I promised that from now on I would write only for the Lord." The problem is, which church did she return to? To the non-changing traditional Church of all time, or to a changing church that reflects beliefs of the present generation?

In the novel by Rice, a 7-year old Jesus is returning from exile in Egypt to the Holy Land. The boy Jesus is a miracle-maker who doesn't know who He is or where He gets His power to turn clay birds into living ones or to raise a playmate from the dead. When Mary and Joseph don't seem to know the answers, the story says He searches for His identity in legends, rumors, and dreams.

Was the boy Jesus aware of His identity? Did he need to search for Himself in the past and the present (but not the future)? Did the boy Jesus know what His role in salvation history would be? Rice seems to have gotten all those answers wrong.

The Church teaches that Jesus grew in human knowledge, but did not grow in Divine knowledge because the Divine is always complete and perfect. Moreover, Jesus is fully man and fully God. He has a human nature and a Divine nature--as defined in the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Divine nature of Jesus always knew He was God and possessed the Beatific Vision.

Unorthodox Christians sometimes state that Jesus "grew in awareness" or "gradually figured out" who He was, culminating in his 33rd year (Mt 16:21-23, Lk 9:21-22, and Mk 8:31-33) when Jesus finally knew His future. He told His disciples He must go to Jerusalem, suffer much, be put to death, and rise again on the third day.

If Jesus finally knew the future when he was 33 years old, then when did he develop this skill? Is it a human skill or a Divine power? If seeing the future is a Divine power, then his human nature and Divine nature worked together. The correct doctrine is the Hypostatic Union, that Jesus is both fully God and fully man (Col. 2:9) and did not give up any divine attributes while as a man on earth.

If Jesus didn't have the power to see the future at the age of 7 years (as implied in the story), then the ability to see the future was a skill to be learned and developed. Let's take the skill argument to its logical conclusion. If Jesus began to see the future little by little, then the skill required practice or growth to become better. That sounds like crude theology and has no basis in the writings of the New Testament or the early Church Fathers.

Logically Jesus would have had to know His entire future from the beginning and this supports the Church's teaching on infused knowledge. Moreover, Jesus would have known the will of God the Father all through Jesus' life.

Interestingly, Anne Rice conjectures that the 7-year old Jesus could raise a classmate from the dead and turn clay birds into living ones. However, she fails to note that if He had this power, it's reasonable to assume He also had the power to see the future. If Jesus knew His own future, then He knew who He was because His future contained His identity. Moreover, His knowledge of the future was Divinely complete because seeing the future is not a skill to be developed. Seeing the future is an all-present, all complete Divine power, not a human skill.

Dec 3, 2006

The Replacement of Bishop Leibrecht

For more than 21 years, Bishop John Leibrecht has been the leader of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, an area that covers the southern third of Missouri. This area is strongly fundamentalist Protestant, and I've seen many business signs in Joplin, Branson, and other small towns unabashedly proclaiming their allegiance to Christianity.

In the middle of this conservative Protestant environment, Bishop Leibrecht has followed a generally liberal path in ruling his diocese, to the extent that this writer personally knows several individuals who have 'flown the coop.' The Wanderer Newspaper in 2001 complained that even though many Catholics had petitioned for the indult Latin Mass in Springfield, MO, Bishop Leibrecht was "intransigent [in his] refusal to permit the indult Mass."

My friends wonder why a replacement has not yet been announced by Rome even though Bishop Leibrecht submitted his resignation almost a year and a half ago when he turned 75 years of age.

When a Bishop dies or resigns, the process of succession begins with a consultation carried out by the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi. He normally takes advice from bishops, some of the clergy and others--whomever he may choose to consult on the next Bishop. This highly confidential process is secret.

At the end of the consultation, Archbishop Sambi recommends three names to the Congregation of Bishops in Rome. The Cardinal Prefect then gives the Congregation's recommendations to the Holy Father, who decides who the next bishop will be. The bishop-elect is asked if he accepts and if he says yes, an announcement is made.

How long does it take for consultation, decision and appointment? From as little as four months to a year or more. However, I suspect Bishop Leibrecht has many friends in the upper echelons of the USCCB who do not want to see him replaced with a less liberal leader. Methinks there is a real fight going on with regard to Bishop Leibrecht's successor. So he remains an active Bishop, even though his resignation was submitted in August 2005.

Most importantly, Bishop Leibrecht is currently the Chairman of the Board for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. CARA is a key organization in the study of homosexual perversion in the Catholic Church.

In 2003, the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) launched a study of parish and diocesan ministries to gays. NACDLGM is a network of diocesan, parish, and campus-based ministries with lesbian and gay communities and their families. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University assisted with the study and prepared a report for NACDLGM.

The CARA report studied parish ministries to homosexuals, including how
Ministry leaders have worked hard to increase awareness of gay and lesbian issues among the parish community as whole. One way has been the annual celebration of Solidarity Sunday on the first weekend of October. Beginning in 1998, GLM members have passed out rainbow ribbons and prayer cards before and after each weekend Mass. Announcements are made on preceding weekends, reminding the community that Solidarity Sunday is a time to pray for an end to violence and discrimination, especially against those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.

Over the years, more and more parishioners have chosen to wear the rainbow ribbon. Some liturgical ministers wear the rainbow ribbon year-round at Mass to show support for those who have suffered discrimination.
There's lots more on NACDLGM and CARA, but you get the idea.