We dropped off our oldest child at college last weekend, and, as heartbreaking as it was (I guess I didn’t get the memo about what a gut-punch that milestone is), one of the things that gives us comfort is the Catholic student organization at Auburn University.  It is a beehive of authentically Catholic activity, with frequent access to the sacraments via their close partnership with nearby St. Michael the Archangel parish, hours for adoration, numerous speakers on a variety of topics, and plenty of opportunities for fellowship with other Catholic students.  There is also an energetic FOCUS missionary on campus we met through a family connection.  Here’s the postcard from the campus ministry team that arrived with today’s mail:

Auburn+Catholic

Our second child has his eye on Georgia Tech, so we visited its sprawling campus in downtown Atlanta on the way home.  GT’s Catholic Center is very impressive, offering daily Mass and almost daily Confession at the Center’s chapel.  And like Auburn, they sponsor numerous catechetical programs and opportunities for fellowship.  Interestingly, the campus hosts one of the few Knights of Columbus college councils.  If my kids are intent on heading south for school, at least they’ll have opportunities to grow in the Faith.

Rochester’s Cleansing Fire blog reports that Bishop Salvatore Matano has launched a new home for Rochester’s Traditional Latin Mass community at the long-suffering St. Thomas the Apostle parish/worship site. As DOR observers may recall, former (Deo Gratias) ordinary Matthew Clark effectively shuttered STA as part of a purge of tradition-friendly pastors and parishes during the waning days of his hellish episcopate, which sparked an appeal by STA parishioners to the Vatican. Bishop Matano is doing what a shepherd does: responding to a genuine need and providing comfort and support to wounded members of his flock. STA is in the city’s Irondequoit neighborhood and is literally around the corner from my mother’s and sisters’ homes, so the Leonardi family will certainly pay it a visit during trips home. Here’s a snippet from Cleansing Fire:

Fr. Bonsignore went on to state that the Bishop is concerned “not only for us” but for those STA parishioners who have drifted away from their former parish. STA is described as a “semi-closed” worship site which now belongs to St. Kateri Tekawitha parish. Fr. Bonsignore noted how the STA parishioners have been praying for a long time and petitioning for the reopening of STA. What Bishop Matano is said to be proposing is two Sunday (only) Masses — the Novus Ordo at 9:00 AM and the Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) at 11:15 AM. In the current proposal is no provision for any weekday Masses. Fr. Bonsignore described the STA community as orthodox, having a reverent sense of the sacred. The implication is a compatibility between the two communities. These are not separate rites; these are two forms of the Roman rite. The possibility for Holydays of Obligations, Feast Days and even the Triduum are not yet discussed. Catechetical plans need to be established too. We were told that baptisms, weddings and funerals would be done under either (both) of the forms. There are obviously many details to be worked out, including reported repairs needed to STA, which has been effectively closed for several years. There will be a role for volunteers (and some even volunteered before they left today.) Fr. Bonsignore noted the importance of “Charity in Everything” as we approach these matters.

As the Moslem “militants” of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) rampage their way through the Middle East, burning churches and beheading or crucifying Christians, Fr. Clifford Steven’s entry today for Pope St. Sixtus II in his The One Year Book of Saints, wherein he quotes St. Cyprian, drives home the point that martyrdom (the real kind, not the blow-up-a-school-bus-full-of-children-kind) will always be the potential obligation of a Christian:

You are to understand that Sixtus suffered in a cemetery upon the 6th of August, and with him four deacons. The officers of Rome are very keen on this persecution. … Pray that we may think or immortality rather than death. … We know that soldiers of Christ are properly not killed, but crowned.

St. Sixtus II was beheaded by the emperor Valerian on 6 August 257; St. Lawrence was roasted to death — crowned — four days later.

Poor simple you. Most of your catechized life, you’ve probably thought that a parable is, in the words used by the late Fr. John Hardon in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, “a short story based on a familiar life experience used to teach a spiritual lesson” by Jesus. Little did you know that “it took a village” of later believers to … turn its meaning so that it “stands for something within the community.” From the most recent homily of Fr. Ken Overberg, S.J., at Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel:

As the parables were remembered and handed on orally and finally written down, the original point may have been lost or at least obscured. The later communities often turned the parable with its one insight into an allegory in which each element stands for something within the community. For example, last week’s gospel of the sower of seeds explained the path, rocks, and thorns. Today’s first parable also gets interpreted (if you read the rest of the passage), using specific points to express Matthew’s concerns for judgment and justice (see pp. 54-58 in Arthur Dewey’s The Word in Time, revised edition).

How helpful of him to cite Art Dewey, a former XU theologian who, as a member of the Jesus Seminar, spent the 90s casting doubt on the divinity of Christ. FWIW, Overberg frequently circulates this “later communities” meme to leave room for his community, a cabal of discredited, dwindling, and dissenting theologians and exegetes, to project their own agendas onto Scripture. From his point of view, if the early Christians could turn a parable, why can’t he?

In a comment-box rebuttal to a letter in Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle warning that new Bishop Salvatore Matano’s “rigidity” will lead the diocese to “dwindle,” my friend Michael Shea, a contributor to the fine Cleansing Fire blog, sets the record straight on the true causes of diocesan decline:

From 2000 to 2012 both Bishop Matthew Clark and many of our parishes were fully open to the “broad perspectives and thinking” of many of the more liberal Catholics of this diocese and they were quick to implement the “creative spirit” these Catholics brought to the table. Among other forward-looking advancements we witnessed priests adlibbing the prayers of the Mass (as those proposed by Rome were deemed too restrictive), pastors openly challenging Church teaching in their parish bulletins, two prominent members of the Womens’ Ordination Conference being given their own parishes to run, and a significant uptick in the number of lay homilists at Mass. The Diocese of Rochester was fast becoming a progressive Catholic Utopia.

But there was just one problem: Catholics were abandoning their faith in droves.

During those same 12 years the number of Catholic weddings fell 54%, infant baptisms were down 47%, and weekend Mass attendance dropped some 32%. We closed 62 parishes and 34 Catholic elementary and high schools. 56% of our Catholic school students disappeared, as did 60% of our religious education students. (All this data is right out of the Official Catholic Directory.)

We spent those 12 years shedding as many of the “conservative”, “legalistic” and “regressive” dictates of Rome as we dared and the result has been an unmitigated disaster.

Progressive Catholicism has been exposed as a failure. It is time for a return to orthodoxy and orthopraxis.

At a time when dissenting Catholics around the country are trying to co-opt Pope Francis to their failed agenda, we should heed the warning of Clark’s disastrous “progressive” experiment in my home diocese.

The head of the local group “Women Writing for (a) Change” has a guest column in the Cincinnati Enquirer about washers, dryers, and women’s ordination. Or something. Here’s a snippet:

By pure coincidence I am witnessing the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Washers and the Dryers at Lydia’s House while reading “The Expected One” by Kathleen McGowan.

The Jesus of this novel teaches The Way with his mother, Mary, as his great teacher, and with his wife, Mary Magdalene, as priestly heir and nominal leader of the new religion. Jesus, this story makes clear ( at least to my eyes) is crucified because his ministry is relational and not institutional, because The Way inspires people to trust their own moral authority and not be subject to temple politicians.

In her July 18 interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, the new head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who describes herself as a “Northern Kentucky girl” due to her local roots, claims,

That’s one of things that I’ve heard criticisms of the Muslim community in general, that we’re not outspoken when things like [Moslem terrorist atrocities] occur. CAIR is always at the forefront in terms of issuing press releases condemning any type of inappropriate actions that are harmful to people regardless of the reason why that occurred and even more so when somebody tries to do so in the name of our faith.

Since the interview, the Moslem terrorist group the Islamic State has cleansed the ancient city of Mosul of all Christians, after giving them the choice between conversion or death. And yet a quick Google search of “CAIR,” “Mosul,” and “Christians” reveals nothing but silence from the preferred dialogue partner of the USCCB and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. (They appear to be preoccupied with bashing Israel over its war with Hamas, which is unsurprising given that CAIR operates as the terrorist organization’s U.S. branch office.) For a primer on CAIR, read my 2007 piece for Catholic Exchange.

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