JC's blog


A long time ago and in a land far away,
Yet so near and seen afresh in faith each day,
Set first in the intersection of the great cultures,
Where civilizations meet and trade and merge,
In that rebellious backwater territory of old Rome,
Surrounded by crowds yet so abandoned and alone
There died a Man nailed upon a wooded board,
Mocked and torture by that ancient horde.
When Roman military power seemed near its peak,
And Greek philosophy had nothing left to seek,
When Old Law was not enough to prevent death,
An oppressed people waited with baited breath,

Libel, Damned Libel, and the Mainstream Media

The Setting

There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there’s the kind of thing reported by the mainstream media. I am referring here to three cases of sexual abuse, in neither of which is implicated the Holy Father, but both of which are constantly mentioning said Supreme Pontiff. The first is the case of the priest—Fr Peter Hullerman, sometimes referred to as “priest H.”—who sexually abused minors while serving in the Archdiocese of Munich. At the time, the archbishop of that diocese was Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). The second is the so-called Murphy Case, involving s priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, involving Fr Lawrence Murphy, who was accused (though never formally convicted) of molesting up to 200 children. The third and final case is a lawsuit one launched in Kentucky which “seeks to have the pope deposed over claims that the Holy See was negligent in failing to report abuse claims.”

It is of the utmost interest that justice be done in regards to all of the child abuse cases. People of good conscience can agree on that point in good faith, and can agree that the people who are directly involved can and should be prosecuted. The scandals themselves are widespread geographically (though everywhere involved only a very small number of the clergy—about 4% in the US by one account, and as small as 0.3% by another), and some occurred as recently as 20 years ago. Because of the sensitive nature of these cases, they ought to be dealt with both fairly and justly, being careful to separate those guilty of abuse from those not guilty, and those who actually harbored these molesters from those members of the hierarchy who were not involved in any cover-ups.

Unfortunately, this is not the approach taken by the mainstream media. These are much more interested in forming a witch-hunt, both against the Church writ large and against the Pope himself. Unfortunately, the negative effects of this media frenzy are already being felt here in the states, as people’s favorability of the Holy Father is dropping. The Holy Father, for his part, is scarcely implicated in these despicable deeds.


Marching orders are handed down,
Each troop is given a uniform--
Standard issue with an ID number--
Every name is replaced with a barcode.

Each is a soldier of an unusual sort,
They're no mean army of men,
They fight in a war without skirmishes,
Their weapons are not meant to kill.

Saint Patrick's Seasons

Winter's cold and frosty hand,
Long hast lingered on the land--
Ere a prophet comes at long last,
A prisoner was he to men, alas!
A prisoner to set them free
To follow the man upon a tree.

Soon would come the thaw of spring,
The land once bleak with cold's sting,
Would bloom and blossom and awake,
And old night would be slip away!
From sin's stain the land would be clean,
As colors changed from gray to green.

In the summer's heat and longer days,
Saint Patrick's teaching spreads and stays,
The Church's banner soon would stand,
Where pagan Roman feet never did land!

Reflection on the Spirit and Abba

Note: To participate in the "study" pillar of Dominican life, the St Martin de Pores chapter (Austin) of Lay Dominicans in the Southern (US) Province is currently reading Fr George Montague's Holy Spirit, Make your Home in Me one chapter at a time, with one member presenting a reflection of the chapter during the meeting. This last meeting was my turn to present, and the chapter was titled Abba. Here then is my reflection.

We are studying a book about the Holy Spirit, yet this reflection is about Abba, the Father. The two are distinct Persons of the Trinity, so the first questions which I asked myself before beginning this meditation is this: why, in a book about the Holy Spirit, are we reading a chapter by the title of Abba? Seeing that the next chapter is given the title Jesus, my curiosity was piqued further.

Montanism and the Dangers of Pride

Note: This is the second of a set of Lenten reflections on the heresies which have fought against and been fought by the Church. The first one can be read here

For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no wonder: for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers be transformed as the ministers of justice, whose end shall be according to their works” ( 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

Saint Paul warned the early Christian community in Corinth to be on guard against the wiles of the devil. Though many signs and miracles would be performed in the name of Christ, so too would there be signs performed which were not in His name. Such signs could seem to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to point those who saw them to God; yet the Devil himself was once an angel of light, and so he can disguise himself as such. Similarly can he work some types of miracle through those who follow him, in order to dupe the faithful and lure them away from the Faith.

The Gymnast

A leap and a double back-flip,
Then a handstand and a shake of the hip--
With grace and poise the gymnast performed
Her balance-beam routine.

She lowers to the narrow beam,
And as she moves it does not seem
To casual observers and weekend spectators,
That she must exert much effort.

The beam appears suddenly much wider,
And she seems to shrink and become lighter,
Sch is the illusion presented to onlookers
Who are awed b her great skill.

Yet the balance beam itself is no less
Narrow, though she will confess,
That it seems easier only because of training:

Gnosticism--The First Heresy

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it....And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-5, 14).

If Pride is the first sin, then Gnosticism was the first rebellion. We have little record of that fateful spiritual battle waged in the heavens in the dawn before time; we know nothing more than what has been revealed, and that is itself scarce. We know that one of the greatest amongst the angels--Lucifer, the bearer of light--was a proud creature who rebelled against his Creator. We know that the immediate result of this rebellion is that he and the other traitorous angels were cast out of heaven, out of the presence of God. Lucifer could not rule heaven, but would be made instead to govern hell.

Crisis in Vocations--Or Identity?

There are several publications which I don't tend to read unless either I'm very bored or I've been sent a link. There's the ostensibly Catholic paper The Tablet (Britain's "Bitter Pill" as it's known around the orthodox Catholic regions of the Blogosphere), the ecumenical Sojourners' magazine, the Jesuit-run America magazine, and, of course, there is the National Catholic Reporter (excluding Mr John Allen, whose articles are often quite enlightening, to say the least). Yet, on occasion I find myself reading a linked article here, a facebook-shared article there. Occasionally, I am delightfully surprised, but more often I am reminded as to why I tend not to read these publications in the first place.

Thus, when a friend posted a link on facebook to an article about the "vocation crisis" in the National Catholic Reporter, I didn't hold my breath. I was expecting the article to be the amalgamation of several groups with perceived grievances against the Church, and I wasn't disappointed. That the article was written by Miss Jamie Manson, who happens to be a member of the national board of the Women's Ordination Conference is par for the course.


Allow me to sit but for a while longer,
Yes, to rest in this place for now,
Perhaps I’ll sleep the afternoon away,
For I have grown tired of my task.
Why labor now if the work can wait,
Or strive to finish today’s job
It I can do it on some later day—
It matters not if I do it tomorrow instead.
Help me to finish my chores today,
That’s a kind thing for you to do:
Oh, but tomorrow I will be gone,
I won’t be here to help you.
I don’t mind your working to help me,
So long as it remains only a favor,
Pleas don’t expect help from me,
For I won’t lift a finger for your sake.

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