Pope Alexander VI

Did some research and our current papal/cardinal scandals are truly bad but, in some respects, the grand prize for having been a really awful pope goes to Rodrigo Borgia. Just the Borgia name clues one into the thought that all might not have been well with this person in charge of anything.

Ridrigo Borgia had a ‘leg up’ on climbing the papal ladder as his uncle was Pope Calixtus III. Most likely, given his papal connection, getting through the various church ranks to his highest title in the church was made easier with the nepotism involved. As he made his way through the ranks, he managed to accumulate a great deal of wealth, too. No tithing for him! In 1492 whilst Columbus was sailing the ocean blue, he greased a few palms, called in some favors and purchased his place in the papacy. Bribery came in handy for getting the better of two other ‘claims’ to the throne.

The crowned Pope Alexander was pretty rotten to the core. He provided the world with seven illegitimate children by way of his mistresses. The church paid for their expenses and he endowed them with funding at the church’s expense. Living a rather plush life at the expense of the Church was, well expensive. When he needed to replenish the cash flow, he established new cardinals in return for money. Another ‘successful’ ploy was to arrest and jail rich people on imagined charges or murder them and abscond with their wealth.

It seems that Alexander VI was never considered godly (Go figure, right?) or in line with the Church and all things lawful. The only ‘virtues’ that can be said about him was his greedy ambition and lust for money and power. The orderly government of the City of Rome he bribed his way into, was left in complete shambles and disrepair.

“Now we are in the power of a wolf, the most rapacious perhaps that this world has ever seen. And if we do not flee, he will inevitably devour us all.” By Giovanni de Medici (Pope Leo X)

My Ongoing Peeve of the Day!

Many churches now distribute both the Body of Christ and the Precious Blood of Christ at Communion time. Many prefer both thinking that one without the other ‘won’t work’ and will, somehow, be lacking in full graces. I’ve been reprimanded on this topic after Mass.

Being of the more conservative mindset, we find our grace, solace, and mercy in receiving the Host and then going quietly back to our pew to offer our prayers and thanksgiving . . .

It doesn’t quite work that way these days. We receive Communion and five feet away a line forms for those who wish to receive under both Species. Okay, fine, right? Uh, not quite. Since we don’t get in line for the reception of the Precious Blood of Christ, we can’t kneel down in our pew because other people sharing our pew are still in line waiting for the Blood of Christ so we stand up against the wall and wait and wait for them to return. By the time we kneel down in our pew, it is almost time to sing the processional and out we go.

Today, there were more than usual waiting against the wall for the other pew dwellers to come back from the second line. Now a another procedure seems in place. Our pew is now completed and we try to get in to kneel BUT the second-line receivers take away our right of way and won’t pause long enough to let us return to our pew and prayers. After several pushed past, I finally stepped in front of the next one and with much surprise, she stopped and said, “Oh, you go on ahead!” like she had bestowed a favor on us.

Another interesting aspect is that while we are waiting against the wall (I was standing over the air vent and don’t want to talk about it!), people we know stop to say ‘good morning’, grin at us, or even try to chat a bit. I guess they are still in a good mood from their excessive peace signing earlier.

Not sure what can be done about this except pray for a Latin Mass to open up closer to home but I bet we aren’t the only one with most of our after-Communion thanksgiving being, “Whew, finally back in our pew!”

God vs. Gold

When we plan a budget, money seems to be the center of our planning! We make extensive calculations as to where, when and why our money will be spent. We have today to work with, tomorrow to think about and the distant future to consider. We sometimes deal with money needs and disbursement first in our life with everything else coming in second or as an after thought. The world tells us we need gold or it’s equivalent to survive.

If it is to be God’s Will, many of us will have a long life here on this earth. And if we acknowledge God’s Will in our lives, we will realize that without God, we are nothing and can do nothing. Why then do people spend so much of their lives seeking the gold first and giving secondary importance to the spiritual gold needed to attain eternal life?

Although, as modern day Catholics, we do not worship pagan gods, do we ever stop to consider that some of our pursuits are in the nature of idol worship? As responsible parents, we see to the care of our families. The greater of this burden, naturally, falls on the husband and father who needs to earn the living in order to provide for the family. Sometimes it seems that people get caught up in attaining money and material comforts and forget to work on the necessary requirements of the soul. A father’s burden is difficult as he has to balance the material care of his family’s needs with the spiritual nourishment of their souls. The mother has the job of maintaining the home life and reinforcing the nonphysical aspects of preparing their children’s souls for their final judgment day.

Needs is the divisive word here. What one person determines to be a need, may be unimportant to another. Do we judge others by what we want or by what brings them happiness and the hope of heaven? Are the needs we think important required for a successful life here on earth?

Financial situations go up and down. Life has struggles every day, some exceedingly trying, others annoying. What do we use to face this day-to-day crisis of being human beings? Look around and see what people hold most dear. And I will bet it is not usually a prayer and an hour in church!

Life is a search for the gold. We need to decide which gold will improve our life’s situation. Money can certainly ease us through our earthly life but could distract us from our ultimate purpose in life and slide us right past heaven. The road to heaven is not an easy climb whereas downward descents usually go rather quickly and without thought. It is very sad when you hear people say that God doesn’t really want us to struggle. Christ’s life on earth was certainly contrary to that thought!

Pastoral Styling of the Catholic Mass

Since all the interesting changes have come down the line in the Catholic Church since the 1960’s, many of us stiff-necked aka conservative Catholics are always trying to find a Mass where we can enjoy the spirituality of the Mass and sacraments without the entertainment factor. Sad to say, many people remain a Catholic by attending Sunday Mass and living the rest of the week on their own terms. Some priests seem to think that in order to keep these Catholics coming to Church, they have to come down to their level of entertainment value. God is in heaven and we are on earth so I always felt it was up to each of us to reach up to Him and not drag Him down into our human interpretation of what is holy and what keeps our interest.

A good friend of mine has been trying to find a parish with a Mass where she can, well, pray with dignity and reverence. She thought she might have found it this past Sunday. Well, I will let her tell the story here!

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In other news…as happy as we have been back at our “home” parish for the past (almost) 3 years, this morning blew everything right out of the water. Before even praying the Opening Prayer, Father walked to the front of the altar and explained to the congregation that he holds his hands out in the Orans position but he should not be the only one doing it. He said that if we hold our hands closed in front of us, we are closing ourselves off to the Holy Spirit being able to work in our hearts. He insisted that everyone open their arms in the Orans position before praying… My daughter and I did NOT do it and he stared me down several times during Mass because of it. He also “invited” everyone to open their hands in prayer at least 3 other times and both my daughter and I refused…mind you, we sit in the 2nd row with no one in front of us so we were easily seen by all. He tried to make eye contact with me multiple times while our Deacon was looking at me, my face turning red in anger and disgust… I would have loved for him to confront me after Mass but we bolted out the door as soon as humanly possible (the minute they walked past us…and normally, I am there until the final chord of the closing song!).

This was not all… his entire homily was in praise of the Baptist minister who preached at the royal wedding. Then he started to roam around in front of the altar when, all of a sudden, after mentioning the Gospel choir at the wedding, he started singing “This Little Light of Mine” and it went around three times while everyone in the church joined in, hands clapping, music ministry playing guitars and the piano, etc., before ending in people shouting “Amen!” or “Alleluia” or “Praise Jesus!” as if we were at a Baptist revival and not a Catholic Mass. I checked the front of the church to make sure the Tabernacle was still there and It was…so I was more than a little confused!

Every time he talked about “opening hands” in prayer, I wanted to grab my child and run out the door. I held myself there with the help of my Guardian Angel as I kept reminding myself that it is Holy Mass no matter if the priest is wrong and that it is Jesus Who will feed and bless me/us, not this mere mortal who was preaching heresy. I toyed with leaving immediately after receiving Communion but decided that was not the right way to go either so we were going to stick it out until the final blessing. Imagine my disgust when, right after the Deacon sat down after Communion and clearing the altar, Father again started singing “This Little Light of Mine” and, this time, a couple of women near the front stood up while they were clapping which then had everyone around us standing up. We were the last 2 people to stand up in the entire church … but all those around us were clapping, hands waving in the air, singing at the top of their lungs, while Father interjected, “Come, Holy Spirit!” and “Praise You, Jesus” and “Amen, Lord!” and things like that. I could not get out of their fast enough!

Only in videos have I seen more horrifying things happen at Masses…this was the most mind bending, stressful and disgusting display I have ever been a witness to and I am now back at square one of what to do next weekend. I can tell you that my plan to attend a couple of daily Masses there this week went right down the toilet. My mind is still totally confused by what all happened today!

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My friend said she was going to attend the same church next week and see if this was an aberration or if this parish should be put off her list until further notice. She does, however, plan on sitting near the back of the church for a quick escape and search for another parish for Mass if necessary.

Where Have All the Vocations Gone . . .

Every year on Mother’s Day, our parish gives a small bouquet of roses to the oldest mother in the congregation, the youngest one, the mother with the most children and the mother with the youngest child. When we got to asking the mother with the youngest child to stand up, it was asked that any pregnant woman stand – no pregnant women at Mass. Then, the question went from all the months of babyhood with no response and finally ended up with a ten year old. Many at Mass thought this was pretty amusing. I thought it was sad. Where have all the children gone?

I think that Archbishop Naumann of Kansas stated in 2014 what every Catholic pastor and bishop should put to their dioceses and congregations early and often: The question for Catholic couples should not be: How many children do we want to have?” According to the Church, Catholic couples should be open to having the children God gifts them. Too many, today, decide their ‘perfect’ family on the basis of providing them with all the pluses in life rather than the faith, sacrifice, and love of a family with more than one sibling.

In view of this, Archbishop Naumann has offered to take the time to baptize the third (fourth, fifth, etc.) child of any family in his diocese. He said, “My purpose in doing this is to demonstrate my personal support for those couples who take seriously the call to be generous in cooperating with God’s grace in giving life.”

Just about every bishop is bemoaning the lack of vocations and we do seriously have a shortage of priest and nuns. Why? Because parents want the perfect family and think that replicating themselves with a son and daughter, in many cases, fulfills the “go forth and multiple” BUT when it comes to vocations, they often feel that surely God wouldn’t take away their chance to have grandchildren so leave the vocations to some other family. These days, too many Catholics are relying on vocations coming from ‘some other family’.

I had a friend in school who had six brothers and the family lived in a three bedroom home but no one felt deprived and there was always a team to play ball. Another family in our parish in the olden days had thirteen children in a tract home but they were always dressed, clean, and happy. I learned later that all the children had gone on to be productive, well-educated people in the world. I don’t know if they had any vocations but I wouldn’t be surprised.

My husband and I married later in life having waited for the perfect person! Everyone was so pleased that we had the ‘standard’ boy and then a girl to complete our family. When we had our third, the world ‘forgave’ us for the ‘mishap’ but when we were expecting number four . . . The obstetrician for number four was so rude and antagonistic about me daring to have a baby outside of his view of when you should have a baby, we had to find another doctor weeks before the baby’s birth. You could say that with an agnostic doctor, you could expect that but I got similar remarks from other Catholics!

Well, God has given his mortal men freedom of choice but often our mortal choices are not in line with what God knows is best for us. Many proclaim the ‘Let Go and Let God’ but not when it comes to what they consider TOO many children. Life is an adventure and allowing God to work with and in our lives could bring about some joyous and learning events that may never have happened without our submission to God’s Will. When you deliberately limit your family, you may be limiting a multitude of blessings in your lives.