Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The true Jesuit ideals

Regarding the recent decision of the Boston College administration to cancel a homosexual dance on campus, it's fairly clear that this is not an indication of any rediscovered love or respect of authentic Catholic teaching at that benighted "Catholic" university. Rather, it is more likely an attempt at putting on a good face at a time when the Vatican-sponsored apostolic visitation of American seminaries is underway. The BC administration is no doubt afraid of drawing any undue attention to itself during this time when the Vatican is attempting to rip out the homosexual influence from Catholic institutions root and branch. Where love and respect are lacking, fear is an acceptable substitute.

But back to the subject at hand, the above-linked editorial from the BC campus newspaper deserves a heavy dose of refutation. They wrote:

"The question at this point is whether BC is willing to sacrifice its Jesuit ideals of compassion and understanding in order to stay in the good graces of the Vatican."

From this statement, it is clear to me that no one is bothering to teach the Catechism of the Catholic Church at BC these days. Nor, obviously, is anyone teaching the life of St. Ignatius or a history of the Jesuit order in general.

If the editors had taken any of these courses, they would know that there are supposed to be no points of contradiction between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the "ideals" of the Jesuit order. Where such points of conflict exist, the latter is supposed to give way to the former, as lies give way to Truth. If certain Jesuits insist on holding fast to "ideals" which contradict those teachings of the Church deemed to be infallible, then those individuals have separated themselves from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

And where, exactly, do the editors get their definition of the "ideals" of the Jesuits? Here's a quote from the original Jesuit, St. Ignatius Loyola. I would encourage BC students to read it and then tell me where, exactly, Ignatius is making "compassion and understanding" of heresy an "ideal" of the Jesuits:

"The heretics have made their false theology popular and presented it in a way that is within the capacity of the common people. They preach it to the people and teach it in the schools, and scatter pamphlets that can be bought and understood by many; they influence people by their writings when they cannot reach them by preaching. Their success is largely due to the negligence of those who should have shown some interest, and the bad example and the ignorance of Catholics, especially the clergy, have made such ravages in the vineyard of the Lord. Hence it would seem that our Society should use the following means to end and cure the evils which the Church has suffered through these heretics."

Ignatius then gives suggestions for his Jesuits to fight the heresies then raging in 16th century Spain. Students at BC might be surprised (given the dreadful amount of anti-Catholic propaganda that masquerades as history filtering into classrooms at ostensibly Catholic universities) that Ignatius didn't suggest violence, censorship, or any form of legal coersion. Instead, Ignatius argued that heresy was best fought by learned men and clergy teaching solid catechesis in universities which were unwaveringly loyal to Catholic doctrine.

The letter, in its entirety, may be read here:

That is the TRUE Jesuit ideal from the primary Jesuit. "Compassion and understanding" are to be used to help the erring heretic see the light of Truth, not to confirm him in his error or enable her to imagine herself as righteous in the eyes of Almighty God while continuing to wallow in grotesquely sinful behavior. There is absolutely no compassion in enabling sin, nor is there understanding in condoning the propagation of vile behaviors.

Therefore, I applaud the BC administration for their cancellation of this supremely unCatholic event. I pray that the administration will continue to be similarly courageous in the future, and I ask St. Isaac Jogues to pray for them as they attempt to withstand the furious outcry which will no doubt be soon forthcoming from the usual suspects.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

"Sometimes we must do the ridiculous so that God can do the miraculous."

Anyone who still believes that the Catholic Church holds women down and doesn't allow them to reach their full potential needs to read this book.

Most Catholics have at least heard of Mother Angelica, the feisty cloistered nun who founded EWTN, the global Catholic television network. What most people don't know is the incredible litany of trials, difficulties, near financial ruin, and near-death experiences she overcame, through the grace of God, in order to do what most considered impossible. In her own words, "Sometimes we must do the ridiculous so that God can do the miraculous."

And indeed, what Mother has accomplished in her lifetime would be, according to convention wisdom, ridiculous. The child of a broken home, who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Canton, OH, Mother Angelica heard the call of Almighty God after receiving a miraculous cure of a chronic stomach ailment through the prayers of a mystic named Rhoda Wise. From such humble beginnings, Mother joined the Poor Clares of the Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative order, and by a combination of inspiration, pluck, and tenacity, became the foundress of a new monastery in Birmingham, AL. While building her monastery, Mother became aware of the awesome power of television to bring the word of Christ to large numbers of people. When shown a television studio in Chicago in the late 1970s, Mother reportedly said, "I've got to have one of these." Twenty years later, she was running a Catholic cable network that reached millions upon millions of households across the globe-as well as a short-wave radio network. At the same time, Mother was also the hostess of one of the most popular programs on her TV network.

Though she started out as a thoroughly "progressive" nun, fully engaged in the deep changes brought about by Vatican II, Mother soon became disillusioned with the "Spirit of Vatican II" which went far beyond the original intent of the Council. What seemed to finally drive her over the edge was the faddish mania for "gender inclusive" translation in prayers, liturgy, and even sacred scripture. When, as part of the Pope's visit to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993, EWTN was duped into airing a Way of the Cross procession-done in mime with a woman playing the part of Jesus-Mother had finally had enough. On her live program the next night, she issued a passionate denunciation of the event, saying, "I'm so tired of you, liberal church in America....You don't have vocations and you don't even care-your whole purpose is to destroy."

This event was not Mother Angelica's first tussle with Catholic hierarchy in America, but it made her a marked woman. From that point on, Mother was in the sights of certain American bishops who were keen to either drive her off the air, or take over the network she had built outright. However, she had powerful allies on her side, both in Rome, and in America. Her salvoes against the liberal dominated National Council of Catholic Bishops made her an instant heroine to the most devout Catholic laity. Meanwhile, she received encouragement from none other than Pope John Paul II himself.

The truth of the matter, as is plain to see, is that EWTN has survived and thrived despite the actions of some of the most liberal American bishops. Roger Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles comes out looking particularly petty and vindictive in this book during his incessant attempts to extract an on-air apology from Mother for basically calling one of his teaching documents heretical and encouraging her viewers not to listen to him. While Mother's offense may have stepped over the line in terms of the obedience Catholics owe to their bishops, many felt that her criticism was valid and a long-time coming.

Written by Raymond Arroyo, host of EWTN's news magazine program, The World Over, Live, "Mother Angelica" pulls few punches and is an inspiring and loving examination of the life, warts and all, of one of the truly great women in Catholic history. It is highly recommended to anyone who truly believes that through faith in God, men and women can move mountains.