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Tuesday Novena thread


Today is the last day of our novena to Our Lady of Good Remedy for friends and family stuck in LC/RC. To find out more on Our Lady of Good Remedy, and how this novena began, please click here. Basically, it was under the title Our Lady of Good Remedy that the Blessed Mother miraculously helped St. John of Matha free thousands of Christians enslaved to Muslim overlords. Here is the daily Novena prayer, which I invite you to join me in praying for Catholics enslaved by Maciel's movement and methodology:

A word from the Curé of Ars

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I thank God for having had such a good heart for sinners and for having given one so good to his Mother.

Let us turn to her with a great confidence, and we are sure that, however miserable we may be, she will obtain for us the grace of our conversion.

The most holy Virgin places herself between her Son and us.

The more we are sinners, the more she has tenderness and compassion for us.

The child who costs his mother the most in tears is the one dearest to her heart. Does a mother not always run to the weakest and most endangered one?

Mary is so good that she never ceases to cast a gaze of compassion on the sinner, and is always attentive for when he calls on her.

If a sinner calls upon this good Mother, she brings him in through the window, so to speak.

In the heart of the most holy Virgin, there is nothing but mercy!

(Translated from the July issue of the Montreal lay Catholic newspaper Jésus Marie et notre temps)

In his first interview since the Legion announced its apostolic visitation , Archbishop O'Brien of Baltimore speaks the truth in charity. Basically, this visitation is a chance for the Legion to gets its act together, but they need to cooperate fully with the Holy See.

Are you confident the Legionaries are ready to cooperate?

I hope so. I'll put it that way: I really do hope so. It depends on so many individuals being open, because it just takes a few to try to block it and to mislead. I hope that the Legionaries will realize that in the long run, this is going to help them.

You're recently had talks in Rome with Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the superior of the Legionaries. Are you confident he's ready to cooperate?

I can't say. I'm quite sure he would want to see this thing cleared up, and I hope he'll realize that the best way is to encourage everyone to cooperate.

What are the issues that the visitation should consider?

In the first place, they have to look at Maciel himself. What are the facts, who knew them, when did they know them, and why did it take so long for them to become public? They should look at the financial dimension. They also need to examine who the victims are, and what's being done to meet the needs of those victims.

Then, they need to look at the structure that Maciel created. There was a good deal of secrecy in his own life, and there's secrecy in the structures he created. It would be helpful to know why there is such secrecy. For example, why is there such an effort with their seminarians to limit their exposure to the real world out there? What are their recruiting strategies for vocations to the priesthood? How above board are they? What are the numbers involved, how many priests have been ordained and how many are still active in the priesthood with the Legionaries?

The whole interview is worth reading by clicking here.

Ed Peters has put together another response to the Legionaries of Christ / Regnum Christi (LC/RC) crisis, which is well worth reading. You can check it out here. Since I'm likely to be asked for a response, here's a line-by-line:

I think that Fr. Alvaro Corcuera's apparent claim that he knows nothing about Maciel's behavior, except that Maciel sired a daughter, is utterly unbelievable. I have nothing else to say about this kind of stone-walling. I will simply re-endorse Dr. Germain Grisez's and Mr. George Weigel's proposals for direct intervention by the Holy See.

Out of Christian charity I will assume Fr. Alvaro is telling the truth. The Holy See should intervene anyway. Directly.

The situation is so muddled that I cannot see how the LC/RC can fix it without outside help and expertise. Of course I'm just one canonist out of thousands in the Church. But given how the LC/RC have maintained Fr. Maciel's innocence for years, the severity of the allegations against him - both proven and unproven, and other structural problems within the movement, how the initial response has been bungled, it will be difficult for the LC/RC to regain the trust of orthodox Catholics without assurances that Rome has performed a thorough housecleaning of the movement.

Apologists for the LC/RC are already stating that Fr. Alvaro and the LC/RC are following Rome's instructions. And Rome has stated it has no immediate plans to step in, but would do so if requested by the Legion. So it might be best is the Legion simply go through the official step of asking Rome to step in directly.

Moving on Peters's rebuttal of the "reform-from-within" assertion and the "carry-on-the-charism" assertion:

Assertion 1. Because the Legion and Regnum Christi have within their ranks many obviously good and faithful Catholics, they should be allowed to try a reform from within. Response: the presence of good and faithful Catholics within an organization, particularly when the organization (in terms of Church history, if nothing else) is so young, says almost nothing about whether the organization itself is sound and/or salvageable.

Here is where I think Peters needs to make a distinction. Those making the "reform from within" suggestion (like myself) are not a unified camp. Some maintain the LC/RC should be permitted to reform from within, without any direct outside intervention. Very unlikely to work, as proven by the fact Fr. Maciel got away with his misdeeds for so long. And even if it were possible, there's still the problem of restoring the RC/LC's credibility.

Like Peters, I believe the LC/RC's current structure is deeply flawed, and have for some time, according to criteria developed with Fr. Frank Morrisey - one of the Church's foremost canonical experts on religious law and structures of institutes of consecrated life - and cult expert Michael Langone. You can read a summary of the criteria here. (Please note: I am not claiming that all of these criteria apply to the LC/RC, but those that do need to be rooted out if the LC/RC is to reform.)

Having said that, given that the majority of LC/RC members are orthodox Catholics faithful to Rome, I believe a "reform from within" is possible if the Holy See intervenes directly and appoints someone credible from outside the LC/RC to do a thorough investigation of LC/RC practices, and oversee their reform. It needs to be someone known for prayer and orthodoxy, experienced in religious life, and highly respected within the Church. For example, Cardinal Francis George from Chicago or Archbishop Seán O'Malley from Boston. Of course this assumes LC/RC members cooperate - not only in letter, but in spirit - with the reform.

Such a reform must begin with a sincere apology to Fr. Maciel's victims, followed by restitution. Also, no more excuses suggesting Fr. Maciel's innocence, or trying to dampen the severity of his sins. Of course the structural weaknesses that allowed Fr. Maciel to get away with his double-life for so long must also be fixed. Good faith only gets one so far. Peters identifies the question many canonists are asking, namely whether there are structural problems to the Legion, expressing them as only he can, when he states in response to the second assertion:

There is, I think, at least as much reason to wonder whether Maciel set up an institute in order to assure himself of ample access to sexual targets and unaccountable funds, or whether he suffered from some warped psycho-emotional condition that enabled him to compartmentalize pious devotional practices and sexual predation for decades on end...

Here is where I take a somewhat harder line than Peters. I don't wonder. In fact, I'm pretty sure Fr. Maciel set up the LC/RC to, as I put it in the following interview, acquire, maintain and protect his access to victims.

I won't comment on funds, except to say well-placed sources within and outside the LC/RC told me that Fr. Maciel was frequently given thousands of dollars in cash without any questions being asked. I haven't looked into the issue deeply enough to give it much thought; it's entirely possible the financial irregularities came after, as a by-product of the sexual irregularities. Of course, none of the above excludes the possibility Fr. Maciel also had a serious psychological condition.

But I've skipped ahead a bit. Here's how Peters begins his response to the second assertion:

Assertion 2. Maciel's canonical crime spree was a grave personal failing, but it does not negate the L/RC 'charism', and they should be allowed to continue their work. Response: This argument misses the key question, namely, whether in fact Maciel ever bequeathed an authentic charism to the L/RC...

This, then, is what separates our positions at the moment. If one believes the LC/RC lack a true charism, then Peters is right in suggesting Rome may have to shut down the movement completely and reconstitute it. (Without a true charism, there is nothing to reform.)

On the other hand, if one believes the LC/RC possess a true charism from Christ, but that it has become seriously clouded by Fr. Maciel's sexual vice, then it may still be possible to rescue the charism. Of course it will still require delicate surgery on Rome's part. It's possible the movement is so far gone that the necessary reform is no longer possible. The LC/RC will have to show they are capable of true reform.

Peters then says (skipping over the part I had quoted earlier, out-of-sequence):

I do not know whether the L/RC can (following a complete leadership replacement!) reform itself from within, although I am almost certain that they cannot;

A complete leadership change may be the only thing that can save the LC/RC at this point. Certainly this is how I feel, humanly speaking, although the Holy Spirit could intervene in a way that canonists haven't imagined. But, assuming most of the current leadership was honestly in dark about Fr. Maciel's double-life, this speaks to a weakness in LC/RC formation that so many clergy suspected so little for so long. This is not to say they were bad people or terrible priests - only that they appear to lack a certain skill-set needed to exercise prudent governance over a large religious institute.

This is not uncommon among young institutes of consecrated life where one is dealing with leadership known for its holiness (let alone living a double-life). I've experienced this at least twice in my career as a canon lawyer. A young institute and its young superior come up with some grandiose ideas, or overlook the obvious. An older priest, with several years of priestly experience before joining the institute, jumps in points out what's being overlooked, or otherwise brings some common sense to the discussion. Older priests can help guide a young superior of a young institute through sensitive pastoral issues, temper and focus the zeal of younger newly-ordained priests, and put bishops as ease knowing there is someone with experience keeping an eye on the new institute.

The problem with the current LC/RC superiors is that none of them kept an eye on Fr. Maciel. This is not surprising. Abusers cannot bear close scrutiny, which would threaten their access to victims. Fr. Maciel reportedly handpicked his superiors. Not surprisingly, he often named young priests who lacked practical pastoral experience. Which is why most Catholics would feel more confident about a reform of the LC/RC if Rome stepped in directly.

and I do not know whether Maciel developed an authentic charism for clerical, religious, and lay life, but I have serious doubts that he did.

And now the question of charism. The reason orthodox Catholics have struggled so deeply with the crisis, in fact the reason there are such strong feelings of anger and betrayal, is that the LC/RC's good works have been visible to us for so long. But looking back in retrospect, so too have the institutional signs of Fr. Maciel's double-life. How does one reconcile such a stark contrast?

Normally, an institute's charism is tied to its founder and its good works. However, the two don't match in this case. Some argue that the LC/RC's founding charism was fraudulent from the start. Others argue that God used Fr. Maciel as His imperfect human instrument. In reflecting upon this dilemma, attempting to reconcile these questions in my own mind, I stumbled across the biography of Saint Rafael Guízar Valencia.

Saint Rafael was Fr. Maciel's uncle and the bishop who oversaw most of Fr. Maciel's seminary formation prior to dismissing his nephew from the seminary. Saint Rafael exemplified many of the Christian virtues LC/RC attempt to emulate as members of their movement. In fact, his life story reads like a blueprint for the LC/RC's good works, and LC/RC members in past have recognized his influence in the founding of their movement.

Perhaps - and this is highly speculative on my part - Saint Rafael is the true spiritual founder of the LC/RC movement, and the instrument used by God to transmit its charism. It's something for LC/RC members to pray about.

Philosopher Ronda Chervin has some notes on her web site about the institution of consecrated widowhood. In some countries the Church has established it as a recognized form of spiritual life in the Church, parallel in some ways to the existing forms for consecrated virgins.

So far these forms seem to be defined as for women only. What's with that?

Incidentally -- also at Dr. Chervin's site -- Juli Loesch Wiley's novel, Emma's Journey, is out. Since it runs parallel to Juli's own life story in some ways -- the progress of a Catholic feminist pro-lifer/peace activist -- I dare say it sounds autobiographical.

Golfing for God

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Golf pro Tim Kilcoyne is also an M.Ed. in Religious Education, but don't hold it against him: he's a committed Catholic anyway. He's an active catechist and apologist, and his Golf School Retreat combines instruction on the game's technique with coaching on biblical spirituality.

Lord, heart full of mystery

Since your love surpasses all knowledge, lift up our too weak understanding to the sublime height of your heart!

Since we are tempted to not believe in your love, give us new eyes to see the incredible, to recognize the endless immensity of your goodness.

Since our gaze remains attached to material and visible realities, may your heart illumine our view of the world, make us understand the deep meaning of creation, open to us the secret of the destiny of all things, called to meet again in your love.

Since we acknowledge in humanity and its history so many faults and wrong turns, which could incline us to pessimism, lift up again our optimism by showing us how your love manages to use evil for the sake of good, to transform human dispositions, to supernaturally direct the march of events in the direction of your heart!

Since we ourselves experience the force of evil, make us know by experience the greater power of your love, and make us discern how your heart is at the center of our life and at the center of the world, where the triumph of charity is established more and more!
--by Jean Galot, SJ

(The second prayer in this series is already on the blog, in an entry from March 25.)

Prayers to the Sacred Heart (1)

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Lord, whose heart is open

Toward your heart make me walk
In an ardent pilgrimage.
To your heart make me cling
From all the thirst of my being.
Into your heart make me penetrate
Even to its infinite depth.
By your heart make me breathe
Sharing your sigh of love.
For your heart make me work
without ever sparing my effort.
On your heart make me rest
and taste your intimacy.
From your heart make me radiate
goodness and apostolic zeal.
In your heart make me dwell
transformed into your charity.

--by Jean Galot, SJ
(translation by RC)

"Forgive us... as we forgive"


My pal Mike Humphrey got a question at his web site CPATS:

In the "Our Father" it says: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

When we sin against a perfect God it takes that perfection to forgive that sin; so why would I ask God to forgive as I forgive, when as an imperfect creature the best I could do is forgive imperfectly?

Sincerely yours,
--Someone who has way too much time on his hands

The questioner has a real point. This prayer has a hook to it, a condition that perhaps we can't fulfill.

I could quibble with the idea that as imperfect creatures, we could *only* forgive imperfectly. After all, we aren't operating on our own unaided strength, but do have divine assistance. Our Lord wouldn't give us an assignment that's beyond the strength He gives.

When we're friends of God, friends of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed, and this redemption is not just an external imputation of righteousness (as in Luther's somewhat exaggerated expression about snow on a dunghill), but also a change that sanctifies us interiorly. Our Lord lives in us: He makes us "sharers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4) and strengthens our good acts with the supernatural virtues He places in us. He enables us to perform acts that are truly virtuous and whole. He empowers us to forgive fully with the help of His mercy.

We're called to do that, and occasionally we do; but alas, we often don't. We often don't cooperate fully with divine grace; we don't live up to the condition in that prayer, and yet we're stuck praying it, because that's what Jesus gave us to pray! He's revealing to us what the Father is like: he is holy, mighty, immortal, and merciful. We can live that mercy too toward others, precisely because He is holy, mighty, and immortal.

Sometime in the next two weeks, I'm going to start riding my bike to work again. That gives me two hours a day to listen to music or a book. I would love to listen to The Book by ripping some MP3s and putting them on my old yet servicable HP Jornada. About ten years ago, I got the Gospels of Matthew and Luke on tape, and listened to them over and over again until I knew them from the inside out.

I would love to do that with the Pentateuch, but although our library has three different versions of the Old Testament, I cannot abide any of them. On one version, the reader is good, but the translation is "contemporary" and I just can't get past the leaden, politically-correct language. The other two have decent texts, but the voices aren't ones that I want to hear for hours on end. The Zondervan Old Testament has a musical soundtrack (yes!) complete with sound effects (so when in Genesis it refers to birds, you hear them tweeting in the background.) It sounds like an introductory segment for a video game.

Can anyone recommend a non-annoying, non-PC recording of the Old Testament, or at least the first five books? I'd be willing to part with up to $40 to get one. Thanks for the help!

New post


Nobody has posted anything for days. So I'm posting this. Anyone have anything substantive to say?

Happy Feast Day to Me!


Today is the Feast Day of St. Raymond de Penafort. He is the Patron Saint of canon lawyers. Most of younger canonists in the area will be gathering for Mass at the university before visiting this nice Irish pub for a dinner party.

St. Blog Prayer Network

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Dave Pawlak has just put together a new blog that gathers people's prayer requests. I urge you to all check it out. It's called St. Blog Prayer Network.

From "A Short Road to Perfection"

September 27, 1856

If you ask me what you are to do in order to be perfect, I say, first-Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thought to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God's glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect.

Reflecting on the beautiful quote I posted below and what I've read of and by St. Josemaria Escriva, I'm convinced that the spirituality of Opus Dei is the antidote for the pathologies of modernity: atheism, secularism, hedonism, spiritualism, and whatever other "isms" I've neglected to mention. The tendency in the West to remove any mention of the Christian God or religion from public discourse is countered by the Opus Dei, which seeks to sanctify everyday life in a practical manner, thus giving its members a means to answer the universal call to holiness of Lumen Gentium and providing the world with an authentic witness of Christ.

Prayer is the most commonly used "alternative medicine," according to a survey of more than 31,000 adults released by the National Institutes of Health yesterday...

Psalm 57

This psalm tells of our Lord's Passion (Saint Augustine)

Have mercy of me, God, have mercy
for in you my soul has taken refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge
till the storms of destruction pass by.

I call to God the Most High,
to God who has always been my help.
May he send from heaven and save me
and shame those who assail me.

May God send his truth and his love.

My soul lies down among lions,
who would devour the sons of men.
Their teeth are spears and arrows,
their tongue a sharpened sword.

O God, rise above the heavens;
may your glory shine on earth!

They laid a snare for my steps,
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my path
but fell in it themselves.

My heart is ready, O God,
my heart is ready.

I will sing, I will sing your praise.
Awake, my soul,
awake, lyre and harp,
I will awake the dawn.

I will thank you, Lord, among the peoples,
among the nation I will praise you
for your love reaches to the heavens
and your truth to the skies.

O God, arise above the heavens;
may your glory shine on earth.

Friendship with God, and where it leads

Loving God leads us to love others for His sake: everyone who belongs to Him; which is to say, everyone. Here's St. Thomas on friendship:

When a man has friendship for a certain person, for his sake he loves all belonging to him, be they children, servants, or connected with him in any way. Indeed, so much do we love our friends, that for their sake we love all who belong to them, even if they hurt or hate us; so that, in this way, the friendship of charity extends even to our enemies, whom we love out of charity in relation with God, to whom the friendship of charity is chiefly directed.
Fr. Victor Brezik, CSB, in an article on Friendship with God, takes it a little further:
By this principle of loving not only a friend but also whatever pertains to him, we understand why charity obliges us to be disposed in our hearts to love all human beings, if not even other animate and inanimate beings comprising the environment, not that the latter can be loved as friends, since they lack rationality, but that as creatures they belong to God Whom we love as a friend....
(Thanks to Fr. Brezik for permission to post his article.)

The Syro-Malankara diocese of Trivandrum is reporting a unusual Eucharistic manifestation in May 2001: markings appeared on a consecrated Host in the form of a face. The bishop writes:

...if we cannot find any human means active in the event, it would be reasonable and wise to believe that Our Lord has given us a special sacramental sign through a special intervention.

For us believers what we have seen is something, which we always believed. Our real attention should now be focused on the question why Our Lord gives us this unique and extraordinary sign. We must prayerfully reflect on the meaning of this sacred symbol. If Our Lord is speaking to us by giving us a sign, it certainly needs a response from us.

Abort the Retarded?!?


I read something on a Catholic message board the other that chilled my blood. The mother of one of a cognitively challenged brother in Christ had posted my piece "Special Love for Special Children" to the board, letting others know about the work of the Order of Alhambra does among God's special children. Nothing unusual about that.

Nevertheless, one of the homosexual activists (at least it appears that way) on the list replied: "If I had Down's Syndrome, I would hope that my parents would have the good sense to abort me because I could not lead a productive life." This made me sick. Not only can we not reduce God's creation to mere utility, but we Alhambrans know from our service to God's special children that there would be much less Christ-like love in the world if we aborted all our special brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet such is the way of the culture of death.

That being said, John Pacheco a good friend of mine (and future Godfather to the daughter Sonya and I are expecting in November) in Ottawa is trying to organize a Eucharist Procession on Parliament Hill in order to assert the Culture of Life against the continuous on-slaught from the culture of death. Of course, John is hoping our American brethren (including my fellow Catholic Light blogmates) will support us as well. He's got a number of local priests backing him, but still needs signatures to bring the Archbishop when he asks for permission. You can check out the petition here:


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"I will abandon myself fully to the Holy Spirit, allowing myself to be led wherever and whenever the Spirit wants, accompanying the Spirit, for my part, with effective and strong resolutions and serious discernment... The Holy Spirit descends upon us with great gentleness, never with a racket."--MotherCabrini

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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