May 2004 Archives

A Stiff-Necked People

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As you may know, I live in the diocese of Colorado Springs and the bishop here, Rev. Michael Sheridan, was in the news lately. There was a great deal of national interest in his pronouncement, it was interpreted as being stronger than anything previously issued by any of the U.S. bishops.

There are some interesting aspects of the local reaction to Bishop Sheridan’s Pastoral Letter that I’d like to share with you.

First, the letter was issued at least a week before news of it hit the national headlines, possibly as much as 10 days prior to the time it received national attention. In that time, there was no notice of it in the local newspaper and I heard no comments on it from any Catholics I know. It seems to me that there are two possibilities for this local somnolence, either no one, anywhere around here, read the letter, or two, it was thought to be unremarkable. It was only after the story hit CNN and the wire services that the local news media picked up on it and people began talking about it. I find that fascinating. I’m not sure I can explain it, but it is fascinating.

Second, it seems to me the reaction to the Pastoral Letter among Catholics here has been largely unfavorable. The pastor of my parish, Fr. Steve (a great priest) noted in his homily last week that he had received considerable negative comment. I have heard a few folks speak out in support of the bishop, but the news coverage, and the general content of the letters to the editor in the paper has been negative. (I should note, I watch little TV and almost no local TV news, so I can’t comment on any local TV coverage on the issue.) The objections mostly fall into two camps, 1) the bishop should observe the separation of Church and state, and 2) “the bishop has no right to tell me what to do, he should mind his own business.” We are, indeed, a stiff-necked people.

I find this interesting, and perplexing, because Colorado Springs is hardly a community of left-wing, pinko, communists. We have a huge evangelical presence in the city – it is not at all unusual to walk into a Starbucks and see a small group enjoying lattes with their Bible study. It is not at all unusual, to see small groups praying in a Starbuck’s outlet. I don’t imagine you see that too often in Seattle. We also have a large military presence, a large retired-military community, and a number of large defense contractors in the area. So why is it that the Catholics in the area seem so “liberal?” Why does it seem there are so few Catholics who are willing to publicly support the bishop of the diocese when he simply restates Church teaching on a matter of faith and morals?

Third, one media outlet that I have heard that has reported positively on the bishop’s letter is the local, evangelical Light Praise radio station. How in the world does that make sense?

I don’t know how to put all this together so that it does make sense. One idea I have is that certain chickens are coming home to roost. For one thing, the Church, and the diocese of Colorado Springs, is beginning to reap the fruits of decades of poor, or non-existent catechesis of its members. There are too many Catholics here who are virtually, if not totally, ignorant of the Truth of their faith. This is how one liberal Democrat lawyer who lives in the northern part of the diocese, near Denver, can demand that the bishop recant his statement or else lose the $100,000.00 donation the lawyer pledged towards construction of a new parish church. The temerity of this demand is mind-boggling, as is the ignorance of the faith it evidences. This is how there are people who claim to be “good Catholics” can say that the bishop has “no right to tell me what to do, he should keep his opinions to himself.” This is how an evangelical radio station can broadcast favorable stories about Bishop Sheridan – those people understand the issues involved.

This poor catechesis has lead to a large number of Catholics present in the Church who do not understand that their faith must affect how they live their lives. Either what is preached on Sunday is true on every day including Election Day, or else it is false and should be abandoned altogether. There are apparently innumerable Catholics today to whom the faith is meaningless, only a matter of going through certain motions on Sunday morning. They have no idea of what it is that the Church teaches, and don’t care. They only care about the things of this world, not the next. Again, this has to be the result of poor or non-existent catechesis over the last 20-30 years. This is a serious failing on the part of the Church, and, to be honest, I don’t see it being rectified any time soon.

I was happy when I first read Bishop Sheridan’s letter, although I thought it did not go far enough. The conduct of certain politicians who claim to be Catholic but who support such things as the homosexual lifestyle and agenda, the “right” to abortion and illicit stem-cell research should be excommunicated, not just encouraged not to take communion. Their conduct is a scandal, and the ultimate in hypocrisy. I say they should be excommunicated, not a punishment, but as a wake up call. The problem with these people is that, not only are they putting their own souls in danger but through their popularity and influence they are leading countless thousands of misinformed Catholics to perdition. They are overruling the legitimate authority of the bishops on matters of faith and morals and they must be reminded of the price that is to be demanded of those who do such things but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6 (ESV)

Puerto Rico Redux


The trip to Puerto Rico was postponed unexpectedly, an airline computer glitch lost the reservations for the first leg of the trip! I am now leaving on Sunday and will be gone next week.

I seem to be in blog overload, I have many things that I hope to get some comment posted about, the first being the stand taken by Bishop Sheridan, my bishop in Colorado Springs, and, most importantly, local reaction to it. I have found this reaction to be shocking, a least a little.

More to follow (I hope).

Off Again

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Posting here has been sparse. Just when I was ready to get started again, our external auditors came in for two weeks. Then our board from Anchorage came down for a fiscal year end meeting last week. It's been hectic. Now, I'm off to Puerto Rico for a week to ten days. Not sure if I'll be able to post while I'm gone or not.

I'd like to thank all of you who recently commented on my absence and return. I'm sorry I haven't properly responded, if I get a chance to during this coming week I will.

Paz y bien

The Return of the 7 Habitus

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I’d like to thank Smockmamma for inquiring after me since I dropped off the face of the earth. All is well. I have not been posting here because I have been mulling over completely ending the 7 Habitus. Let me explain.

In February, I was on extended travel in Puerto Rico. This trips had a profound effect on me; I learned a great deal, some of which I may share in future posts. Anyway, it was time away from the blog.

Then, in mid-March I came down with a severe cold which ultimately turned into pneumonia. I was sick for nearly a month, although not completely debilitated. During this time I did not feel at all like keeping up with the blog. Then the idea occurred to me that perhaps it was time to let the blog pass into history. I even had begun composing a swan song post for the blog, explaining why it should go to blog heaven. There were several things that made me think this way.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this was to get into the habit of writing on a regular basis. I wanted to start the blog because I believe there is great truth in the old adage, “practice makes perfect.” I thought it might force me to sit down and do the writing I might not otherwise do. I did learn a lot about writing from doing this blog, however it was not what I expected. My swan song blog post would have explained that the blog taught me not only about writing, it taught me about the power of words. There’s any number of things I have written here, put down in the heat of the moment that should never have seen the light of day. I don’t know how many people I may have offended, if not hurt, but I am sorry for it. After this, if I do continue here I will do my best to write a post and then wait a day or two before “publication”, just to be sure that what I have written is done with charity and to God’s glory.

I also hoped to devote time to writing things that might be published in a real publication. In the last two or three weeks I have got two articles written that I hope to submit to one or two real magazines. Egoistic perhaps, but there it is. My focus in the future will, even if I continue here, be on more serious writing.

Finally, I was beginning to enjoy the quiet. The thought crossed my mind that there is enough noise in the world and my contribution was hardly vital. I could not think of any real positive contribution I could make to all the talk going on in the world.

Now, you may be asking yourself what changed my mind. Well, it was Mark’s excellent post over at Vociferous Yappings regarding a surplus of anger surfacing within St. Blogs. I don’t know why, but the thought immediately came to me that perhaps I should continue here. If I continue I will try earnestly to focus on being charitable at all times and, as stated above, doing all to God’s glory. There is enough anger in the world, and it certainly has no place here at St. Blog’s. I expect, I think we all should expect, that comments from those who may not share our love of God and the Church might manifest anger or coarseness, but I hope all of us who are St. Blogs members can refrain from such things. As I said, I don’t know where this idea came from. I am not trying to say that whether I continue here or not makes a difference to the over all tenor of discussion around our “virtual parish.” My point is, that perhaps not continuing here just leaves more of the “floor” to those inclined not to be civil. I would also say that I have personally not seen much evidence of totally inappropriate behavior around St. Blogs and I hope it does not become widespread.

Like Mark, I really don’t know what the point of the blog will be from here on. I will give that some thought. I will try to avoid politics, other than that; I really don’t know which direction to head in. Suggestions are welcome.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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