“The ‘ART’ of Accompaniment”?
“Hello. You are my project and I am your artist. You are the “medium” of my art, much as paint is to some artists and clay to others, and I will fashion you into something of my liking. Is that okay with you? You will admire my finesse and I’ve had lots of practice. Did I tell you that I went to school for this? No kidding; I got a BA in Art with a specialty in “accompaniment.” Never heard of it? It’s new. Very fashionable in Rome. I will follow you around and teach you some things to make you appear to be Catholic and okay with God; kinda smooth out the rough edges of the “sin”-thing so that you will be comfortable with it now and do what other Catholics do who, unlike you, at the moment are not in a state of mortal sin Of course they are sinners, too, but at the moment they are not sinning. No big deal. Like Francis said, who are we to judge anyway? What is more, the pope has recently concluded that we cannot really be sure about sin in any event because of what he calls the “Internal Forum” — your conscience really. It may be telling you that something is not a sin for you, even if the 10 Commandments say it is before God and for everyone else, unless, of course, their “internal Forum” tells them it’s okay for them, too. Got it?
“In life, shades of gray predominate”, Francis told us, so nothing is clear and there is no need to beat yourself up for something that may, in fact, be “good” and “wholesome” and “positive” according to Francis— despite appearances and connotations to the contrary. Clear on that? The thing is, I’ve got to accompany you and show you that what you may think is wrong really isn’t any more, especially if it’s making you uncomfortable or feel guilty.
Of course as an ARTIST of ACCOMPANIMENT, in order to have the “stuff” of my art to work with, you will have to tell me some, well, deeply private things, possibly salacious things, but hey, that’s art. I am NOT a voyeur. I am anARTIST! As one Dominican journal gushes,
“Pope Francis describes
the bedside manner needed in the art of accompaniment as “steady
and reassuring, reflecting our closeness,” and as having a “compassionate
gaze” (EG, 169). Some refer to this bedside manner, practiced
within welcoming and loving communities” 1
With a Sigh …
Conservative Catholics do not understand this. They are into the manly work of evangelization and conversion; not accompaniment, compassionate gazes, and certainly not “‘this art of accompaniment’ “which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.” They simply do not anticipate that they, like Moses, will have to veil their faces because they will radiate the lumen gloriae of the adulterous and the sacrilegious subsequent to “accompanying” them … after, of course, removing their sandals before these demigods in accordance with non-existent canons of the Art of Accompaniment that we can find in no college curriculum (see Exodus 3.5 which Francis invokes and 34.33-35 that we invoke).
The … shall we say, delicate … language of “art” leaves them — conservative and traditional Catholics — understandably uncomfortable, especially in the wake of the last 30 years of pervasive pederasty in the Church. And who, we wonder, will teach us to learn to make “compassionate gazes” and how will we be graded on our performance? Will such “gazes” be accompanied with a sigh? Is that also in Performance 101?
If they hope to gain any traction in the “modern” Church they need to be slick like us, saying things no one really grasps and using ambiguous words which have no substance.
Francis and Kasper are
“Artists” to be sure … Conservatives just don’t have the “stuff” to be artists.
Too few theta waves. Indeed, does the Church need more “Artists” as
Francis insists? :
For every Catholic an Artist
She already has an abundance of “Ministries” (EXTRAORDINARY Eucharistic Ministers, Music Ministers, Youth Ministers, Hospitality Ministers, Community Service Ministers — Shawl-Making, Greeting, Lectors, Prayer, — virtually every activity at church anoints one a Minister).
And now a superabundance of “Artists”?
After all, according to Francis, each of us will have to be “initiated”, not into a Sacrament, but into an Art. We will practice art, and therefore be practitioners.
Every Catholic an “Artist” and a Practitioner of the Art? (yet a new, but universal Ministry)
Is this our new vocation? If we are all Practitioners chasing the lost, who are the remaining sheep? Are they not Practitioners, too?
Did you just think “circular”? Did you just visualize a dog chasing its own tail?
The Church needs more sanctity — not artists. More priests and fewer ministers. More Catholics and fewer Practitioners.
“Ecce enim regnum Dei intra vos est!”(Saint Luke 17.21)
We must mightily strive to forever preserve intact and to protect the Sacred Deposit of Faith, and the indefectibly Authentic Teachings and Magisterium entrusted by Almighty God to the Holy Catholic Church
which no man — or group of men — can change, alter, cancel, abrogate, diminish or attenuate!
“And the devil led Him into a high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time; and he said to Him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them.” (Saint Luke 4.5-6)
yourself soberly: whence your prosperity,
your power, your wealth? From whom,
and to what end? And at the cost of whose dignity
and through the poverty of how many did you acquire
it? Prosperity, many Protestants hold, is a sign of God's favor,
a token of His predilection: if you are “just” and “Godly",
God will prosper you.
Misfortune and suffering, then, are — much in line with the reasoning of Job’s “consolers” — afflictions from God. They are the penalty — meted out by God — for “injustice” and “ungodliness”. Material prosperity, on the other hand, together with wealth and power — these are God's blessings for the “just”. It is, in a word, their “reward” ... their “due” in all justice.
it was not Saint Paul’s ... nor the “reward” due
in “justice” to
the other Apostles:
“Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no fixed abode; And we labor, working with our own hands: we are reviled, and we bless; we are persecuted, and we suffer it. We are blasphemed, and we entreat; we are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all even until now” (1 Cor. 4.10-13)
This was the insidious trap set for Job by the devil through his “consolers” ... and by our own self-recrimination in the face of misfortune. We are confronted with misfortune. Who is to blame? With incredible subtlety, the devils suggests that Either we are guilty — or God is! If we are not guilty for this misfortune, then God is. If God is not, then we are. But neither is the case!
In other words, Job brought it unknowingly upon himself — and God (not the devil, mind you ...) was perfectly willing to be complicit in this injustice —by punishing Job for what he did not do! What is more, He punished Job by “unjustly” taking away “what was his”. It was a masterpiece of illusion! Diabolically brilliant! Job was tempted by the devil to despair in having “unjustly” lost all that was “not his in justice” to begin with!
supreme irony, Christ was tempted by the same devil
to idolatry through an empty promise to give Him
what was already His to begin with.
Remember, who precisely was it who had said that wealth, material prosperity, and power was his to give? And who was it that took it away from Job – that was his to give and his to take?
Misfortunes are not from God. Nor are they the penalty of your sins, for you would then have nothing (given your countless sins and the justice that would be exacted for each.)
Misfortunes, suffering, want, pain, destitution, illness, are not lofty, if cruel, tributes to justice! They are evils! Evils out of which God ever brings good ... as He did with Job who, “in all these things ... sinned not.”
Misfortune is not of your own making — still less is
it from God. Saint Paul understood this. You must
“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.” (Ephesians 6.12)
Let us see misfortune for what it is — and not for what the “father of lies” would entice us to believe. Evil is from the “evil one”, endlessly contending with the ever redemptive love of God lifting us up from the squalor of misery through the arduous path to holiness, calling us from that relentless malice that would pull us down to despair.
Boston Catholic Journal
There are many “hard sayings” in Holy Scripture.
In other words, there are many parables and other verses that are uncomfortable to listen to … they are likely to make us fidget in our seats because we know that they well may apply to us.
You will recognize them at once:
· They do not assure us of our salvation
· They do not canonize us before we are dead
“Third Rail verses” in Holy Scripture are verses to be avoided at all costs: they are fatal to the one touching upon them much as the third rail in an American subway system exceeds 1000 volts and will electrocute you instantly. Such verses, of course, precede Third-Rail Homilies — to be avoided for the same reasons..
A “third-rail” homily would begin with, let us say, Saint Paul’s address to the Philippians: “With fear and trembling work out your salvation” 1 — to mention nothing of the numerous admonitions from our Blessed Lord that do not merely “suggest”, but clearly warn us in no uncertain terms of eschatological realities that we may find both appalling and unacceptable — while being undeniably true.
They, too, are in the category of the “third rail”: touch upon them and you are dead. Speak of them and you may receive a call from your bishop to “tone down the rhetoric” and subsequently restore the cash flow.
Death, Judgment, and Hell
( … but not Heaven). Few wish to hear of the first
three. Your pastor knows this. To preach about or
to dwell upon such verses is likely to cause “discomfort”
— perhaps even “outrage” — and consequently diminish
the congregation. They will go elsewhere, and find
another parish and another priest
who will assure them of their salvation
(despite what Christ says), their invincible
goodness, and their being “The lights of the world”
and “The salt of the earth”. Such parishes and priests
Any hint that Heaven may be closed to some, if not many, is mocked as “pre-Vatican II nonsense” — in spite of Christ’s telling us so:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (Saint Matthew 7.13).
Likewise, the notion that:
“The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Saint Matthew 7.14)
These are but two of many, many, third-rail verses found in all four Gospels and many of the Epistles (Letters). “But surely”, we console ourselves, “a good, merciful, and forgiving God would not allow such things to happen!”
We do not seek God, but a heaven with a god to our liking and made in our image. This is another way of saying “We ourselves will be our own gods — for we are more merciful, more loving, more forgiving, more just, than the God we find in Sacred Scripture. We will not bend our knee before that God, but our own god. Ourselves! We will find or make priests and churches that “affirm us”, comfort us, and tells us that our illusions are realities or that reality is just an illusion.
This is further to say that we will continue to maintain the illusions and fabrications that comfort us, but cannot possibly save us — rather than defer to “hard sayings” which are enunciated to the end of saving us and bringing us to genuine happiness (Heaven).
Other factors enter into this obstinate refusal to accept the “hard sayings”, and we point to them with the deepest sorrow: these “hard sayings” do not simply involve us — they involve those we have loved — who have died.
Some of them, perhaps most of them did not accept these “hard sayings” either. Some of them led extraordinarily sinful lives, heedless of God and man. Some were little more than evil. Many simply did not believe, or would not relinquish what they perceived to be their freedom to do as they wish, or simply scorned religion altogether. But we loved them — and love always invests us in the being of another. Hence our pain.
Nevertheless a choice was placed before them, as it is placed before us now: to accept the “hard sayings” as earnestly as we accept the more comforting ones. We cannot choose which teachings of Christ we will accept any more than we can choose what we wish to be real or true. We must accept all of them or none of them. God does not tamper with our freedom, nor interfere with our choices. We are free to accept or reject, but in either case our choice is total. We cannot accept or reject the part without accepting or rejecting the whole, for the parts are integral constituents of the whole.
Much more to the point, the terms are not of our own making — they have been divinely instituted. Salvation is not a referendum any more than Heaven is a democracy. The means of attaining it have been clearly defined by Christ — as well as the means of losing it. The choice is yours alone.
To return to the discussion of those we love and who have died, here we encounter the most painful legacy imaginable: our realization that the road they chose was the one that was“broad and easy” … To imagine them in torment everlasting is beyond our ability to comprehend without verging on despair.
“How wicked of you”, you tell me, “to compound the grief of those in bereavement! Have they not suffered enough by the loss of one loved?”
No. It is not wicked. It is painful beyond words.It is sorrowful beyond description. None of us may presume salvation, for to do so is to presume upon God’s mercy, itself a mortal sin! Indeed, I identify more with the departed than the surviving. I have no assurance of salvation for I refuse to presume on God’s mercy and may yet myself be accounted among the lost — even as Saint Paul himself feared. (1 Corinthians 9.26) Should I fear less?
There are indeed those who go to Hell — and likely many (or Christ is a liar). We must allow this realization to motivate us with all the more urgency to bring those still with us to Christ, lest they, too, choose “the road that is broad and easy” and add to our sorrow greater sorrow still.
This was the whole point of the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man: the rich man in Hell implores Abraham“send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torments.” (Saint Luke 16. 27-28)
We call our children out of a burning house — suffer burns and torment to save them — but when they verge on a lake of fire that is the second death 1 from which there is no return ... we say nothing.
We do not call them back. We do not rush in horror to bring them back! Our love for them slumbers before the frowning face of society ... that no longer has any room for our God ... or His children.
And when you chose your “comfort zone”, you would do well to consider its “duration”.
Boston Catholic Journal
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the Salvation of Souls
is unlikely that the vast,
indeed, the overwhelming majority of today’s Catholics
have not so much as heard of this phrase as old as the
Church itself; certainty, not in English — and with
greater certainty still, not from the pulpit. The very
concept of “the salvation of the soul” appears
to be non grata in homiletics for quite nearly
50 years (corresponding, unsurprisingly, to the implementation
of Vatican II) — despite the fact that the imperative
itself is clearly and unambiguously codified as the
supremus lex (the supreme law) in Canon Law (1752):
It is nothing less than the sole reason for the Incarnation … the Suffering, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection … of Christ: the salvation of souls!
Christ as Savior; Christ as Redeemer, cannot be understood apart from this most fundamental and utterly simple concept: He came to save souls — not to heal bodies (although He did), not to rectify injustices, not to rehabilitate politics, not to instruct us on economics, and certainly not save the environment.
He came with only two purposes that are really one:
To do the will of the Father
And the will of the Father is this: to save souls for all eternity in Heaven (and in so doing, to deliver them from Hell).
It is really that simple; in fact, so simple that it eludes us in our pretensions to sophistication, and our preferences for sophistry.
For 2000 years the mission of the Church (and its
raison d’etre , the very reason for its being) could
be summed up in two words instantiating that same beautiful
simplicity: “Salus animarum — the Salvation
of souls”. Through Christ in the Sacraments
this is its sole mission.
No other Mandate
The Church has no other mandate from Christ. Even healing the sick, raising the dead, delivering men from demonic possession, and all that He taught in the Sermon on the Mount were means only to the principle end: the salvation of the soul. Christ Himself emphatically asks:
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (St. Matthew 16.26).
The purpose of all that He said and did was always eschatological, that is to say, pertaining to the Four Last Things:
Everything else pales in significance. Two come once only, and two are at once everlasting.
To pretend that we really do not fully understand what Christ was talking about, and which He proclaimed in the clearest terms, is just that: pretension. We know very well what Christ said and did — but to our own devious and often deviant ends, we assume an air of erudite perplexity concerning them:
“Despite what He appears to say; indeed actually says — this is what He really means …” What follows seldom has anything to do with what He means. And we recognize it.
Our own interpretation merely accords with what we wish He had said, for this would provide us with excuses for our sins or alternatives for His extremely unsettling pronouncements. We go from the reality of: “If only He had said …” to the fiction: “This is what He really means … because I am much more comfortable with this interpretation — which, rather coincidentally, allows me to continue in sin.” In short, it is nothing more than wishful thinking, because they cannot both be true.
However contradictory to what Jesus and His Apostles really said and taught, we choose to believe another narrative, however factitious; a simulacrum that borrows the vocabulary of the real but with connotations utterly incongruous with it. It is disingenuous, a sham. There is a pathos of similitude but the depiction is counterfeit. We have not entered the mythical: we have fabricated it. Shamelessly. It pleases us … and this is the first clue that it is deceptive. We have both an aversion and an affinity for the truth. It is the patrimony of our broken heritage from the beginning. We ineluctably desire the true, but when it indicts us we demur from it; unable to accommodate both we resort to dissimilation, to a semblance of the real that is, despite our collusion with pretensions, a defection from it. Hence our penchant for comfortable and spurious “interpretations”.
For all our carefully fabricated allusions to what Christ really said and meant, we know the truth — because He is the Truth Who does not deceive nor can be deceived. We are not pleased with all He said, especially concerning things that frighten us because they describe us … and convict us — and we know it!
Despite this, we insist that so many vitally important things that Jesus clearly uttered are nevertheless not true — because they are not “inclusive” and do not accord with our delicate post-modern sensitivities that any real deity would surely ascribe to. That some, perhaps many, are left in “outer darkness", excluded from Heaven because of their depravity and perversion, their penchant for sin and their obstinate predilection for evil, is unacceptable to our presently enlightened humanity. The list of our objections would be too long to enumerate and ultimately too tedious. Let us be satisfied with a few:
Not everyone goes to Heaven (St. Matthew 7:14)
People — indeed, many people — go to Hell (St. Matthew 7:14)
Hell is a real place of punishment, torment, and eternal suffering beyond our comprehension. It is the abode of the devil and demons. It is eternal and eternally devoid of any hope. (St. Matthew 5.29-10; Luke 16:19-31, 13.42; 25.41; St. Mark 9:42-44 etc.)
No one “goes to the Father” — enters Heaven — except though Christ (St. John 14:6)
If you deny Him before men on earth, He will deny you before His Father in Heaven (Matthew 10:33)
Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (St. Matthew 7:21)
Not any and every religion will bring you to Heaven (St. John 6.26-70)
Being a “nice person” does not suffice to bring you to Heaven or exempt you from Hell (St. Matthew 5.20; St. Mark 16.15-16)
Such pernicious nonsense has no place in our mythologized concept of God. We will have Heaven … “dammit" ... but on our terms — despite what Jesus Christ says … much to our consternation, and quite likely to our damnation. We prefer other interpretations; more comfortable and convenient exegeses ... and sadly they abound.
For my part, fool that I am, I will take Christ at His word. In fact, I stake my life on it.
Boston Catholic Journal
Comments? Write us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday March 29th In the Year of Grace 2017
Season of Lent
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors,
and holy virgins.
Omnes sancti Mártyres, oráte pro nobis. ("All ye Holy Martyrs, pray for us", from the Litaniae Sanctorum, the Litany of the Saints)
Response: Thanks be to God.
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Pope Saint Pius X
“I shall spare myself
neither care nor labor nor vigils for the salvation of souls”