Tuesday, January 23, 2018

DECLINING ATTENDANCE IN OUR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

One nun with 50 kids and no one else assisting her was quite common yesteryear, since they commanded respect and instilled discipline:



We had a discussion today in our deanery priests' meeting about the declining enrollment in our Catholic elementary schools. In fact in the last few years, the Savannah Deanery (not diocese) has closed/closing two elementary schools. But all our elementary schools throughout the diocese have declining enrollment.

My last parish assignment had this occurring over the last 12 years.

But the other thing that is mentioned is that Catholics now use Catholic education not for handing on the Catholic Faith primarily, but for a good education coupled with the prestige associated with sending their child to a private school. If a private school, that isn't Catholic, has a better education reputation and is more prestigious, they'll send their kids there even if more expensive.

In days gone by, the most active Catholic families in a parish were the ones who use the Catholic parish's school. This is no longer the case. Often parents who send their children to Catholic school do not bring their kids to Sunday Mass.

With the loss of religious sisters and brothers teaching in our school, the Catholic identity of schools has lost something very important and which motivated parents of yesteryear to send their kids to Catholic schools and that was the authoritative teachings and spiritual identity that religious orders brought to Catholic institutions, be our schools or hospitals.

Without them, Catholics seem to see our schools and hospitals just as businesses and so they bring a consumer mentality to these institutions, but also to their parishes. It is very sad and depressing to say the least.

Press this sentence for Catholic schools' memories in photos! That era is gone with the wind!

SOME IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT CON-VALIDATIONS THAT SO MANY TRADITIONAL CATHOLICS SEEM NOT TO KNOW, PERHAPS COLORING BOOK CATHOLICS?


When a deacon, priest or bishop, even the Bishop of Rome, convalidates a marriage, the convalidation could be a more elaborate "Nuptial Liturgy" with all the bells and whistles, although moderation should be counseled.

Or it can be quite simple and minimalist. For example most convalidations that I witness take place with just the couple and two witnesses. I do not use the full nuptial liturgy outside of Mass, but rather truncate it to a Greeting, Opening Prayer, short Scripture and the Consent with a nuptial blessing. Usually it takes 10 minutes if that much. There isn't anything very formal about it.

A convalidation could take place in my office, the person's home or almost anywhere, like a jetliner. Consummation of the marriage is to take place afterward not excluding an appropriate private area in a jetliner which would make them members of the "Mile High Club", an additional perk. 

Thus Crux has a further article on Pope Francis' Convalidtation that is important for all Catholics to understand and for us all to know that the Pope is the Pope and His Holiness can dispense from this, that or the other (unless it is Divine Law).

Your can read the full Crux article HERE, but the following are excerpts that are true:

The pope said:

“I judged they were prepared, they knew what they were doing,” the pope told reporters Jan. 21 on his flight back to Rome. “Both of them had prepared before God - with the sacrament of penance - and I married them.”

 “I questioned them a bit and their answers were clear, it was for life, and they told me they had done the pre-marriage course,” the pope told reporters. Also, he said, “they were aware that they were in an irregular situation.”

Others in the curia have chimed in:

But the pope was not celebrating a wedding on the plane, he was convalidating a marriage, and like most priests who have done that in a variety of settings, including hospital rooms. “He did what any good pastor will do.”

“It is the task of the priest who officiates to take responsibility and be morally certain that couples who ask to be married are prepared and ready for the sacrament,” he said. That certainty is something that outside observers cannot presume to have.

Besides, he said, “as supreme legislator, the Holy Father has the authority to dispense from and even change merely ecclesiastical laws, if he judges it appropriate,” including canon law’s expectation that weddings take place in a church. Still, the pope’s officiating at a convalidation in midflight is “not meant to be replicated,” Pham added.

But, he also said he hoped the pope’s outreach to the couple would encourage priests to be more solicitous toward other Catholic couples who have been married only civilly, finding ways to facilitate the convalidation of their unions as well.

AT LEAST THE CATHOLIC WAS HAVING A CATHOLIC FUNERAL, BUT A RANT NONETHELESS




I read obituaries and it is interesting to read them. Some are minimalistic just stating the necessary. Others are biographies of the person's many accomplishments.

More and more I am seeing that cremation is the preferred method of "disposing" of the remains and that there is no Christian burial. In fact, there seems to be a lot of simple "disposing" across the religious and non religious spectrum. In the south, the Bible Belt, this is a tsunami of a wave to say the least washing away the belt line altogether.

Funerals now are all about the deceased. This was always true in Protestantism that is non-sacramental. Since there is no Requiem Mass, the funeral was always simply a eulogy of the greatness of the person and prayers for comfort. Although I once attended a Protestant funeral as a priest sitting in the congregation and the preacher asked us to close our eyes and reflect if we were saved and if we died tonight would we go to heaven. Then he said, keep your eyes closed and raise your hand if you are saved. I didn't raise my hand!!!!

But now for my rant. In the good old days prior to the revision of the funeral rites of the Catholic Church, most obituaries stated that a "Requiem Mass would be celebrated for the happy repose of the soul of..."

But now I am seeing all kinds of descriptions for the so-called "Mass of Christian Burial" even when there is no burial, such as "Funeral Mass celebrating the life of so and so". Please note it dosen't say Funeral Mass celebrating the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ." 

I prefer in my obituary, "Requiem Mass for the happy repose of the soul of Father Allan J. McDonald, a sinner. "

This is what one owner of a cemetary teaches his customers. What is interesting is that some insurance companies won't cover some "celebration of life" celebrations, which I didn't know:


How Does a Celebration of Life Differ from a Funeral?

By: John W. Moles
For many people, the passing of a loved one is marked in just one way; a funeral service. But in recent years, there have been additions of alternatives to the traditional funeral that have helped people to better accept and memorialize those that made a difference in their lives. One of these newer forms of memorializing is called a “celebration of life.” But what is it? Is it any different than funeral?
The Traditional Funeral
The funeral itself has been with humanity for as long as civilization itself. Some archaeological evidence suggests that humans undertook some kind of funeral ritual as far back as 50,000 years ago. The specifics of funeral details have changed over the centuries according to technology and culture. Cremation, for example, is much more widespread in western cultures than it was 100 years ago. Environmental concerns have now also made concepts such as “green burials” a more popular alternative in recent years.
The basic funeral concept, however, remains the same. A funeral is a way for the bereaved to give a last farewell to a loved one, usually in the form of a ceremony at which a body is present and committed to a final state. In America, this usually means either a burial of the body, or a cremation where the ashes are then kept in an urn permanently, or scattered in some location meaningful to the deceased or bereaved. Funerals, in other words, are ways to mark the actual death and commitment of a body.
The Celebration of Life
As the name implies, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a somber event. A celebration of life is a way to for people to commemorate and enjoy all that was good about the life of the deceased. In most cases, a celebration of life will occur without the body present. And while a funeral will usually take place within a small timeframe after someone has passed on, a celebration of life can occur weeks, months or even years after a body has been buried or cremated.
The celebration of life is also far less structured and formal. Funeral services will usually occur in a religious building or funeral home. A celebration of life can occur anywhere, in a home, a favorite vacation spot, or a destination the deceased wanted to visit. It doesn’t have to include a formal eulogy, and there’s no requirement for people to dress in black.
The Choice Is Yours
Some people choose to hold a funeral and then conduct their own celebration of life at a later date. Others try to combine the two, especially if there’s a preference for a less traditional, conventional funeral. However, it’s important to keep in mind for insurance payment purposes that the less traditional nature of a celebration of life may exclude it from coverage by some insurance companies. Compared to the more well-established costs of a traditional funeral, a celebration of life has many extra cost factors.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you or the wishes specifically laid out in advanced by the one that has passed on. If you live in Bellingham, WA, and want to get some professional, experienced advice on funerals and celebrations of life, contact us at Moles Farewell Tributes and let us see how we can help you today.

Monday, January 22, 2018

FULL PAPAL INTERVIEW

PRESS TITLE:

Full Text of Pope Francis’ In-Flight News Conference From Peru
The Holy Father discussed the people of Peru and Chile, clerical sexual abuse, his recent in-flight marriage celebration and the Amazon region.

ANOTHER DEFENSE IN THE AIR BY THE POPE

This is truly surreal and just another hit at a papacy becoming a caricature of its former self:

Pope defends airborne wedding, insisting the couple was ready

Pope defends airborne wedding, insisting the couple was ready
Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile’s flagship airline during the flight. The couple had been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn’t follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (Credit: L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP.)
ON BOARD THE PAPAL PLANE  - Pope Francis has defended his decision to perform an airborne wedding while flying over Chile, saying the two flight attendants were properly prepared for the sacrament and that refusing them might have meant they would never get around to being married in the Church.
“One of you said I was crazy to do this thing,” Francis told reporters. “But it was simple. The man was on the flight before, she was not there. We spoke, and  later I realized he was checking me out. We spoke of life, of how I felt about life and the family. In truth it was a nice conversation.”
“The next day they were both there and when we took photos, they told me they were going to get married in the church, that they were married civilly. The day before [they were to be wed in the Catholic rite], the church … collapsed in an earthquake, so there was no marriage. This was years ago,” the pope said, referring to a 2010 earthquake that struck Chile.
“They said we will do it, and then tomorrow, life goes on … there was one child and then another, but we always had this desire in our hearts to marry,” Francis said, describing the attitude of the couple.
“I questioned them a bit and their answers were clear, [they knew the marriage] was for all their lives, and they told me they had done the pre-matrimony course. They were prepared, and if the priest said they are prepared and I decided that they were prepared, the sacraments are for the people, all the conditions [were met], that is clear.”
“Why not do it today?” the pope said. “Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
“I judged they were prepared, they knew what they were doing both of them had prepared before god, with the sacrament of penance, and I married them,” Francis said.
The pontiff said he has no idea if reports that the couple actually planned to be married by the pope, or at least hoped for it, well before the flight took place, were true. But he asked journalists to tell the priest who had worked with them in Chile “that the pope questioned them well, they told me they had done the course, and they were aware that they were in an irregular situation.”

COULD YOU IMAGINE THIS HAPPENING AT AN EXTRAORDINARY FORM MASS YESTERDAY IN PHILADELPHIA?

Giving paws: Philadelphia deacon dons ‘underdog’ mask to support Eagles


HIS HOLINESS HUMBLY APOLOGIZES MORE OR LESS

PRESS TITLE FOR APOLOGY:

Contrite pope apologises for sexual abuse comments that 'wounded many'

And The National Catholic Reporter of all "Catholic" papers puts it much more negatively, so I don't think damage controlled has worked but damage increased: (press ncr title)

Francis again cries 'calumny' defending bishop accused of abuse cover-up



THE POLARIZATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BY THE MOST POLARIZING POPE IN CENTURIES IS UNIFYING THE DIFFERENT FACTIONS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE MOST UNHEALTHY WAY: COMMON ANGER!


Excerpt from Crux:

Luis Badilla, writing in the well-known Italian blog “Il Sismografo”, often labeled as close to the Vatican, published a piece Sunday calling for Barros’s resignation and for the pope to “promptly” accept it, saying that it’s not only the Chilean church that is suffering from the “Bishop Barros War” but the whole Church.

Joelle Casteix, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in the United States, told Crux that with his comments, Francis had made a “fatal error,” because he “let people know how he truly feels about survivors of abuse and the scandal in general.”

Crux has a stunning article on Pope Francis' unmitigated disaster concerning sex abuse victims which you can press the headline below to read. The anger this has generated in one part of the Church is just a symptom of the anger that the Holy Father in generating in many parts of the Church. Anger isn't healthy for the Church no matter which faction has it and expresses it. It's not the right way to unify the Church, to say the least!

This horrible polarization of anger in the Church began day one when Pope Francis' portrayed His Holiness as the anti-Pope Benedict undoing almost everything Pope Benedict tried valiantly to bring about, especially "renewal of the Church in continuity with the Pre-Vatican II Church not in rupture with it." The "reform of the reform" was spot on and it still is even though Pope Francis has turned the clock back to the 1960's worst intuitions about how to bring about a "new springtime" for the Church, a term itself fraught with wrongheaded triumphalism.

The only plan of God I can see in all of this mess that we are experiencing is that a completely new generation of Catholics is experiencing first hand what the early post-Vatican II Church experienced in the 1960's and it wasn't pretty. That experience led to the decline of the Church today and yes, there is a cause and effect. What is happening now, so similar to the 1960's, will lead to tomorrow's (the next two generations) demise of the Catholic Church, a clear cause and effect. For current Catholics exposed now to the Old Rite of the Mass and the corruption of renewal in discontinuity that is occurring at the same time, may well be the path that will be Catholicism's hope to embrace Pope Benedict's form of renewal in the not too distant future.

The Church has been waiting a year or more for the Cardinals who issued the dubia to issue a correction of the Holy Roman Pontiff if His Holiness did not clarify the ambiguities of His Holiness' teachings concerning the Sacrament of Marriage and who is elibible to receive Holy Communion.

There has been no clarification that these dubia cardinals would find satisfactory nor have they issued a "correction of the Holy Roman Pontiff."

However, Cardinal O"Mally and the nation of Chile issued a correction to the Holy Roman Pontiff with lightening speed as the Associated Press reports:

 The pope’s comments sparked such an outcry that both (Cardinal) O’Malley, Francis’ own top adviser on abuse, and the Chilean government made the highly rare decision to publicly rebuke him – an extraordinary correction of a pontiff from both church and state. The criticisms were all the more remarkable given that they came on the Argentina-born pontiff’s home turf in Latin America.

Read the Crux article here as what is described is symptomatic of so much afflicting the Church of Pope Francis today:

O’Malley’s ‘rebuke’ of pope on sex abuse stirs wide reaction

O’Malley’s ‘rebuke’ of pope on sex abuse stirs wide reaction
Members of the movement Laicos de Osorno sing while holding up images showing Fernando Karadima, and his protege Juan Barros, bishop of Osorno, with a message that reads in Spanish: "A bishop who covers up cannot be a priest," during a vigil in front of the Cathedral of Santiago, Chile, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2018. (Credit: AP Photo/Esteban Felix.)

THE SECULAR PRESS' TAKE ON POPE FRANCIS' PILGRIMAGES TO CHILE AND PERU



My comments first: Pope Francis' pilgrimage to Chile was an unmitigated disaster with His Holiness making two major missteps both of which are contributing to the worldwide Church's free fall in Catholics leaving the Church usually becoming "nones." These are the sex abuse scandal, first and foremost and the trivialization of the Liturgy.

Pope Francis accused victims of calumny and performed a wedding ceremony in the most banal and illicit way which appeared to be a self-serving stunt at best and a way to deflect press attention away from Pope Francis' angry outburst towards sex abuse victims.

The trivialization of the liturgy actually preceded the pilgrimage with a 1960's type Folk Mass in St. Peter's last Sunday.

In addition, the controversies surrounding the footnote on the possibility of some adulterers having a way to "licitly" receive Holy Communion while remaining in a public, adulterous relationship, without living as "brother and sister" has opened the door to the complete collapse of Catholic Moral Theology and Doctrine on sexuality in general. The pope, in an ecumenical way, has chosen to follow the path of liberal Protestantism in this regard. And of course liberal Protestantism is on the verge of collapse too because of its liberal leanings on all things.

The Holy Father's fortunes changed in Peru and his pilgrimage ended on a more positive note. Although His Holiness' spoke about secular government's corruption, the Holy Father should also point fingers towards the corruption His Holiness is fomenting in not answering the concerns of the Dubia Cardinals in an orthodox way. This creates anger among the cardinals and the bishops in union with him.

Over a million were expected for Pope Francis' closing Mass in Chile but only 50,000 showed up in the photo above.

Peru's pilgrimage was triumphal for the most part with His Holiness' final Mass having nearly 1.3 million attending.

Here's a good secular media's wrap-up:

Droves fill pope’s final Mass in restive Latin America trip

Sunday, January 21, 2018

THE CYNICS SAY IT WAS A PAPAL STUNT TO DEFLECT THE NEWS FROM RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION OVER POPE FRANCIS' ANGRY OUTBURST TOWARDS VICTIMS OF CLERGY SEX ABUSE WHO ACCUSE A BISHOP POPE FRANCIS APPOINTED WHO WITNESSED A NOTORIOUS ABUSER ABUSING,AND POPE FRANCIS BLAMING SURVIVORS OFSEX ABUSE FOR NOT PROVIDING PROOF; BUT ARE CONSERVATIVES THE ONLY ONES CONCERNED ABOUT A POPE OF ALL PERSONS, USING AN ILL CONCEIVED WEDDING IN AN ILL CONCEIVED PLACE, A CRAMPED JETLINER, TO PERFORM SACRED NUPTIALS LITERALLY ON THE FLY, BETWEEN TAKE OFF AND LANDING? AND DOES THIS GIVE NEW MEANING TO THE "MILE HIGH CLUB?"





Pope Francis officiated at the weddings of 20 couples at St. Peter’s Basilica in September 2014. Religion News Service photo by Cathleen Falsani
This is from Crux reprinting an Associated Press article. What do you think? Should only conservative Catholics be concerned or should there be more widespread alarm from the entire Church?

Conservatives criticize pope’s impromptu airborne wedding (and apparently the honeymoon is over)

Conservatives criticize pope’s impromptu airborne wedding
Pope Francis marries flight attendants Carlos Ciuffardi, left, and Paola Podest, center, during a flight from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. Pope Francis celebrated the first-ever airborne papal wedding, marrying these two flight attendants from Chile’s flagship airline during the flight. The couple had 
been married civilly in 2010, however, they said they couldn’t follow-up with a church ceremony because of the 2010 earthquake that hit Chile. (Credit: L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Media/Pool Photo via AP.) 

LIMA, Peru -
A day after Pope Francis grabbed headlines by pronouncing two flight attendants man and wife while flying 36,000 feet over Chile, the conservative Catholic commentariat on Friday questioned the legitimacy of the impromptu sacrament and warned it could cheapen the church’s marriage preparation down the line.
“Do you know what’s a ‘marriage’ ripe for annulment?” tweeted the traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli. “One celebrated apparently on a whim in an airplane whose celebrant cannot even be sure if parties are validly baptized.”
For those who missed the news, Francis on Thursday presided over what the Vatican said was the doctrinally and canonically legitimate wedding of Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, two flight attendants from LATAM flight 1250 that brought the pope, his delegation and travelling press from Santiago to the northern city of Iquique.
As the happy couple told journalists after the fact - and after serving breakfast - they had hoped to just get a blessing from the pope. They told him that they had been married civilly in 2010, but that their plans for a church wedding fell through when an earthquake hit.
As Ciuffardi told it, the pope proposed that he marry the couple right there, in part to motivate other couples to contract a church wedding at a time when more and more couples are merely cohabitating.
“He told me it’s historic, that there has never before been a pope who married someone aboard a plane,” Ciuffardi told reporters from the back galley.
The surreal scene had the effect - at least temporarily - of giving Francis a bit of a reprieve after his visit to Chile was dominated by a church sex abuse scandal.
Canon lawyer Ed Peters, a consultor on the Vatican high court but a frequent critic of Francis, questioned whether a host of church laws were followed, including the requirement that the couple undergo pastoral counseling and that the church have evidence that there were no obstacles to the marriage.
In a follow-up blog post Friday, Peters noted a Chilean media report from December saying the couple was hoping for an airborne wedding presided over by Francis, suggesting the portrayal of the surprise ceremony was anything but. Ciuffardi said Chilean reporters had suggested it before the fact, but he insisted he and Podest were only looking for a papal blessing, and that nothing was confirmed until they were airborne.
Conservative blogger Phil Lawler mused that priests might have a harder time trying to properly prepare Catholic couples for marriage, now that Francis had set the papal precedent of completing the process between takeoff and landing.
“Does he ask them to reflect seriously on their commitment? Nope,” Lawler wrote at Catholic Culture. “Does he question them about their years of cohabitation? Evidently not. Does he hear their confessions? Not likely. Plan a dignified ceremony? Not at all.”
To be sure, the naysayers all hail from the Anglo-Saxon blogosphere, which is among the most vocal in criticizing Francis, especially on issues of marriage.
Francis has caused controversy over his cautious opening to allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, so any issue related to marriage is particularly sensitive.
At The Tablet, a more liberal leaning British weekly, Vatican correspondent Christopher Lamb suggested that the airborne nuptials were part of the “paradigm shift” that Francis is trying to press in the Church.
“It’s not that the pope is doing away with the need for rules, for canon law or for paperwork, but rather ensuring it is correctly prioritized,” Lamb wrote. “For the pope, these things must support the spread of the Gospel, and not become like the thorns that grow up and strangle the seeds in the parable of the sower.”

DAMAGE CONTROL AND FAKE NEWS, BUT FROM WHICH SOURCE?

A continuing problem for Pope Francis, expecting more at a papal Mass in Chile and getting this!


— ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cardinal rebukes pope over sex abuse comments

Pope Francis’ top adviser on clerical sex abuse implicitly rebuked the pontiff over his accusations of slander against Chilean abuse victims, saying Saturday that his words were “a source of great pain for survivors.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, said such expressions had the effect of relegating victims to “discredited exile.”

Francis set off an uproar Thursday when he accused victims of Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest of having slandered Bishop Juan Barros. The victims say Barros knew of the abuse by Rev. Fernando Karadima but did nothing to stop it.

From Vatican News webpage:

Cardinal O'Malley reaffirms Pope's commitment to abuse victims

In a statement, Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, says "Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the Church and it’s clergy who abused children".
Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, reaffirmed Pope Francis' commitment to victims of clerical sexual abuse in a statement published on the Boston Catholic website on Saturday.
In the statement, the Cardinal confirms how Pope Francis "fully recognizes the egregious failures of the Church and it’s clergy who abused children".
Please find below the full text of Cardinal O'Malley's statement:
"It is understandable that Pope Francis’ statements yesterday in Santiago, Chile were a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy or any other perpetrator. Words that convey the message “if you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed” abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile. 
Not having been personally involved in the cases that were the subject of yesterday’s interview I cannot address why the Holy Father chose the particular words he used at that time. What I do know, however, is that Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the Church and it’s clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones. 
Accompanying the Holy Father at numerous meetings with survivors I have witnessed his pain of knowing the depth and breadth of the wounds inflicted on those who were abused and that the process of recovery can take a lifetime. The Pope’s statements that there is no place in the life of the Church for those who would abuse children and that we must adhere to zero tolerance for these crimes are genuine and they are his commitment. 
My prayers and concern will always be with the survivors and their loved ones. We can never undo the suffering they experienced or fully heal their pain. In some cases we must accept that even our efforts to offer assistance can be a source of distress for survivors and that we must quietly pray for them while providing support in fulfillment of our moral obligation. I remain dedicated to work for the healing of all who have been so harmed and for vigilance in doing all that is possible to ensure the safety of children in the community of the Church so that these crimes never happen again."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

WOW AND YIKES! THE BOSTON GLOBE THAT BROKE THE NEWS OF THE SEVERITY OF THE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL IN BOSTON BUT MORE IMPORANTLY HOW BISHOPS INADEQUATELY HANDLED IT AND THUS BETRAYED THE CHURCH HAS A SCATHING ARTICLE ON POPE FRANCIS AND HIS RECENT MIS-STEP IN CHILE!

This is from the Boston Globe, owned or once owned by The New York Times. Pope Francis has enjoyed immense popularity with the secular news media and the media and world in general, but I think it is safe to assume that Pope Francis has been knocked off that pedestal. Stunningly so, actually. If the wedding stunt was a ploy to deflect, it doesn't seem to have worked.

Pope Francis, company man

BostonGlobe.com 21 hours ago

IS IT A WSE IDEA TO USE PIZZA AND PRIZES TO GET PEOPLE TO COME TO MASS? DO GIMMICKS WORK OR IN THE LONGRUN TRIVIALIZE HOLY MOTHER CHURCH AND HER SACRAMENTS, ESPECIALLY THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS



In the post below this one, I jested, tongue in cheek of course, that I would start using pot incense to fill my church to 100% of parishioners attending Mass.

But in a midwestern parish, they do use gimmicks and they have seen increases in Mass attendance.

I can see using gimmicks to get kids to come to youth programs and CCD. And we know that kids themselves can be a gimmick to get their parents to come to Mass and go to Confession when we do family sorts of things and tell the kids that they are the ones to help their parents to put behind them their mortal sins of not participating in the Mass each Sunday and compounding their mortal sin when they don't bring their children to Mass.

I am into have many "ministries" or activities in the parish to keep people engaged and to show outreach to those in need. I love the idea of small groups in homes for faith formation and programs geared to every age group.

But I am sad we have to resort to these things when the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is what should get Catholics and keep them coming. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we experience in an unbloody and eternal way the One Sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary. And then, we are are encouraged to receive the Most Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion if we are in a state of grace. And the gift of being returned to the state of grace is the Sacrament of Confession.

If only the glory and majesty of our Lord and the magnificence, transcendence, awe and wonder of our Liturgies would keep them coming week after week, day after day, we wouldn't have to resort to flimsy gimmicks like the ones below at Christ the King parish in a midwestern diocese:

This is what they do:

  • Sent weekly e-mails to all of our parishioners inviting them to celebrate the Eucharist.
  • Put a flyer in everyone’s mailbox.
  • Each week, at one of the Masses, we had a well-known parishioner give a short presentation on “What CK Means to Me.”
  • Sports Mass and pizza party.
  • One of the organizations sponsored Saturday night Mass and pizza separate from the Sports Mass.
  • Debut of our new student choir.
  • Each week offered anyone in the school a special prize if they had a picture taken with one of the priests at Sunday Mass: out-of-uniform pass or homework pass.
  • On the last Sunday of October, if 75% of a particular classroom came to Mass, the classroom was given a treat and game time with Fr. Matt or me. If 90% of the class came to Mass, then the whole classroom got a pizza party. It was great to see the kids encouraging each other to go to Mass.
A number of families told me that after 4–5 weeks of going to Mass, that future attendance was moving from a “hope to” to a priority.

THIS IS REALLY HIP AND NIFFTY AND WILL BRING BACK HUUUGE NUMBERS FOR MASS ATTENDANCE, LIKE MAYBE 100%! POT AS A SACRAMENT! AS TRADITIONAL AS I AM I WON'T USE IT AS A SACRAMENT, BUT A SACRAMENTAL! POT INCENSE! CAN YOU IMAGINE THE EUPHORIA AT MASS? HOW GROOVY WOULD THAT BE?

High praise

Pot churches proliferate as states ease access to marijuana


The Coachella Valley Church in San Jose, Calif., which offers marijuana as a “sacrament,” is among a growing number of similar churches nationwide. The churches are vexing local officials, who contend they’re simply marijuana dispensaries in disguise, operating outside of the regulations that govern other providers. (Barbara Feder Ostrov/Kaiser Health News/TNS)

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Services at the Coachella Valley Church begin and end with the Lord’s Prayer.
In between, there is the sacrament.

“Breathe deep and blow harder,” intoned Pastor Grant Atwell after distributing small marijuana joints to 20 worshippers on a recent Sunday afternoon. “Nail the insight down, whether you get it from marijuana or prayer. Consider what in your own life you are thankful for.”

A middle-aged man wearing a “Jesus Loves You” baseball cap piped up. “Thank you, God, for the weed,” he called out. “I’m thankful for the spirit of cannabis,” a woman echoed from the back. “I am grateful to be alive,” said another young woman.

The small room, painted black and gold and decorated with crosses and Rastafarian symbols, filled with pungent smoke after an hour-long service of Christian prayers, self-help slogans and inspirational quotes led by Atwell, a Campbell, Calif., massage therapist and photographer.

Despite its mainstream Christian trappings, the Coachella Valley Church describes itself as a Rastafarian church, something that’s tough to define. Rastafari is a political and religious movement that originated in Jamaica. Combining elements of Christianity, pan-Africanism and mysticism, the movement has no central authority. Adherents use marijuana in their rituals.

The church’s leaders say they believe that religious freedom laws give them the right to offer marijuana to visitors without a doctor’s recommendation – and without having to abide by any other regulations. Some courts and local authorities beg to differ.

As more states ease access to marijuana, churches that offer pot as a sacrament are proliferating, competing with medical marijuana dispensaries and even pot shops in the few states that have legalized recreational weed. While some of them claim Rastafari affiliation, others link themselves to Native American religious traditions.
The churches are vexing local officials, who say that they’re simply dispensaries in disguise, skirting the rules that govern other marijuana providers, such as requirements to pay taxes.

In California, which legalized medical marijuana in 1996 and, as of New Year’s Day, now allows sales of recreational marijuana, churches tied to marijuana use have recently popped up in Oakland, Roseville, Modesto, San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County and the Southern California desert city of Coachella (no connection to the San Jose church). A few have been shut down by law enforcement.

“I’m not going to say they’re not churches, but to the extent that they’re distributing marijuana, they’re an illegal dispensary, in my view,” said San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle. Doyle has requested a permanent legal injunction to stop the Coachella Valley Church from providing marijuana, and a court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22. He recently got a court order to shut down operations of a similar church, the Oklevueha Native American Church of South Bay, he said.

Nationally, such churches have opened in Indiana, where marijuana remains illegal, and Michigan, where medical marijuana is allowed. Even in Colorado, which legalized pot in 2012, the “International Church of Cannabis” is testing the limits of state and city rules on consuming marijuana in public.

Marijuana churches typically require people to purchase a membership, then give or sell them marijuana and related products. They may ask for ID such as a driver’s license but don’t require a doctor’s recommendation or medical marijuana identification card. They’re relying on court rulings that made it possible for some groups, including Native Americans, to use federally banned drugs like peyote in their religious ceremonies. (A coalition of Native American churches has disavowed Oklevueha churches that claim marijuana as their sacrament.)

Despite these rulings, courts have thus far rejected religious groups’ right to use marijuana, which is still illegal at the federal level, according to Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia Law School professor specializing in religious liberty issues.

“Marijuana churches have brought religious liberty claims for years, and they have always lost,” Laycock said. “Marijuana is a huge recreational drug, and a religious exception … would make enforcement nearly impossible. So the courts have always found a compelling government interest in marijuana enforcement.”

Yet, Laycock said, as more states legalize marijuana, courts may regard marijuana churches’ rights more favorably.

“Legalization changes everything,” he said. “Religious use may not violate state law in some of these states. And if it does, legalizing recreational use but not religious use clearly discriminates against religion.”