Thoughts on clerical celibacy

22 01 2020

Clerical celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church has been a contested topic in the last year or so, but I haven’t really stepped into the fray as my position is quite nuanced. I became Eastern rite as a young man for personal reasons that are no longer relevant, so married or not, I could become a priest if the need or opportunity should ever arise. (Full disclosure: I am never going to pursue it, just putting it out there). There have been discussions as to whether celibacy, or a total abstention from sex, is an ontological characteristic that is essential to the priesthood as understood by the Apostolic Tradition. In that case, the Eastern Churches deviated from the norm due to unwarranted concessions to human weakness. I don’t find this line of reasoning very convincing, and that’s not just because I am now a member of the Eastern Church on the books, which has a history of married parochial clergy. Read the rest of this entry »





Luminous shadows

20 01 2020

As indicated previously, Thomism and I started off on the wrong foot when I was a teenager, when I tried to study it with the aim of getting a jump start on ecclesiastical studies. Instead I became enamored with modern philosophies that were more in sync with the times. I will admit, my inability to adequately engage with Scholastic philosophy was due to my intellectual isolation. I was in a small town, the local clergy didn’t particularly care for my piety (looking back, I can’t blame them), and Catholic conservatism looked substantially different back then than it did today. This was the time of John Paul II, and as much as modern Thomists try to reclaim him as one of their own, you would be hard pressed to try to jam that phenomenological square peg into the round Aristotelian hole. I am sure many graduate papers are being written trying to do just that, but I’m not going to bother here.

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Why I didn’t become Orthodox

18 01 2020

I want to keep this one short because there’s really not much to say about it.

As background, there was a time in my youth when I spent more time in Orthodox churches than I did in Catholic ones, and made friends and acquaintances of a few Orthodox priests. Orthodox theology and Patristics was all I read, and so on and so fort

For me, Orthodoxy isn’t the answer for the same reason Catholic traditionalism isn’t the answer. It’s because quantity counts. That is to say, especially in approaching the inherent logic of the Christian faith, universality isn’t a minor detail, but its essence. Whether Orthodoxy didn’t spread because of legitimate and unfortunate historical reasons is beside the point. The fact that it hasn’t really achieved universality beyond certain ethnic and national manifestations means that it is not the Faith preached in the Gospels. Read the rest of this entry »





Vatican II was a failure

15 01 2020

When I say, “Vatican II was a failure,” I mean that it was a failure on its own terms. Not that it failed to pass on “Apostolic Tradition,” or it didn’t go far enough in its reforms. In my opinion, Vatican II was about holiness, particularly holiness of the laity. It was an attempted democratization of holiness. I will not elaborate too much on this to keep this short, but all of the current problems with the Catholic Church stem from this failure. Read the rest of this entry »





My grandfather

9 01 2020

Sweat and dirt: I remember my grandfather from that smell. One memory that jumps out at me must have taken place when I was eight years old. My grandfather had to stop by the vineyard where he picked, or had picked… I am not sure if he was even retired at that point. Maybe he had been working because I remember the distinct smell of sweaty clothes caked in dirt. Oddly enough, it is not an unpleasant smell. When I think of my grandfather who lived more than 90 years, one of the first things that I think of is that he was a good worker. Quiet, always looking for something to do, but when he relaxed, he liked the quiet of his own house. That is Lesson no. 1 from my grandfather: Don’t be lazy. Lazy is the worst thing you could be. That’s not because he sought wealth. Though he lived a comfortable retirement due to the support of his many children, he wasn’t prosperous by any stretch of the imagination. Really, work is about love. If you do not go to bed tired only to get up early to go back at it, you haven’t lived a full day. At least that is what I try to live by now. Read the rest of this entry »





Noche Buena

25 12 2019

http://nebula.wsimg.com/d1ccdce71e651d836841744ada206f0f?AccessKeyId=A895B0DD8A75E6F0DC43&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

My last memory of my grandmother took place on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t the last time I saw her by any means, but it is what I remember most about her now. It wasn’t all the times she dragged me to the charismatic prayer meetings, or told us to go play outside because we were making too much noise. It wasn’t her rubbing a tomato on her feet for some weird reason, or her watching telenovelas (though watching them with her was fun). I don’t think about how she would make me my own little hard cakes of sweet dough because I didn’t like the pumpkin filling of her empanadas though I liked the dough. It wasn’t even the last Thanksgiving I spent with her when she told us about how when she was growing up she didn’t have shoes, just huaraches made of wood that would leave her feet bloody from splinters at the end of the day. The last memory I have of her is from the last Christmas I spent with her. She began the rosary on the night of Christmas Eve, we muddled through some villancicos, and at the end of it, she picked up her little Niño Dios, maybe no more than four inches long, and began rocking Him like a real baby. She had dressed Him in new clothes, and placed Him in the crib decorated with lights. Of all the memories I have of my grandmother, that’s the one that sticks. That’s the one that stays with me. Read the rest of this entry »





My so-called Neo-Scholastic life

22 12 2019

In spite of philosophy having been an obsession for me since I was a teenager, I have only taken three philosophy classes in my life. In college, it was a Chicano Studies class that I needed to take for another reason, which was just awful. The other two classes were my first year of philosophy in seminary, and I failed both miserably. This was due to my ongoing distraction concerning my actual vocation, and also due to the structure of instruction itself. Lectures were often dry and just reading from notes, on the one hand, and tests were literally just “fill in these twelve lines” format. In other words, it was all about rote learning. There was no real deep explanation concerning what any of it meant: they just wanted to see if you “knew the answer”. Read the rest of this entry »





The fall down

16 12 2019

Fr. B. was sitting in the dark, head down. I hadn’t meant to stumble upon this scene. I was often the first one in the chapel before Prime. It must have been around 5:30 am. Seeing Fr. B. there, I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea what the scope of it was. That whole day afterwards, he was nowhere to be seen. From what I could surmise, he had left sometime in the afternoon. Only later did I find out where he went: Europe. Of course, I have not seen him since, but I heard of his unfortunate fate… Read the rest of this entry »





Dying

10 12 2019

One of the most convincing challenges to Western monotheist theodicy that I can think of is one I will term the “finitude of the good.” That is, how can people we love end up doing evil things, or on the “wrong side” of morality? This question poses itself starkly when a loved one dies “outside the faith”, or if they were not a particularly pleasant person, but may have been dear to us. This person did some good, they were not an absolute waste of humanity (people seldom are). The cliché of the serial killer’s mother protesting that he was a “good boy” once rings hollow to both his victims and decent people alike. Where did that good innocent smiling boy in the photograph go? What of any of the good acts he did? Do they merely magnify the turpitude of his later actions, as Catholic theology claims when the mystery of the world is laid bare at the Last Judgment? Are they the result of karma which keeps the spirit-soul in the cycle of birth and death as the Vedas and Puranas of India indicate? Or are love and kindness just a temporary illusion of synapses flashing in the brain as the atheists proclaim? Just chemicals sloshing around in the skull… Read the rest of this entry »





Chasing shadows

9 12 2019

I must have went to my first traditional Latin Mass when I was a teenager in 1993 or 1994. The Mass took place at a Marian shrine about an hour away from our house. As I remember, the Mass was done only once a month, at 7 pm on the first Saturday. At that time, only five or six years removed from Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, the document liberalizing the use of the old Latin Mass, this dearth of celebration of the Latin Mass was quite common. Mind you, this was also pre-Internet (or widespread use of the Internet). How my old friend, blind and 80 years old, found out about it is also a mystery to me to this day. The celebrant was an old Irish-American monsignor who no doubt missed the old liturgy but had gone along with the changes anyway. The venue was the one parish where liberal bishops like to send the conservative trouble makers and rabble-rousers, the folks who write the bishop every month complaining about this or that. These people tend to now “tweet @” or message their prelates on social media. Back then, it was “snail mail” only. Read the rest of this entry »