In today's editorial, we relive the indelible memories of last week's historic Papal Pilgrimage as the Holy Father fulfilled his lifelong dream of retracing Salvation History and walking in the footsteps of Christ as the Vicar of Christ. While national coverage was spotty, only Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network - EWTN - provided full coverage of practically every nuance of John Paul II's "Jubilee Journey." If you don't have EWTN 24 hours a day on your cable, then there is the chance you missed this spiritual journey that means so much this first Lent of the millennium. We delve into some of the reasons EWTN is not available in some dioceses and call for all to petition their bishops to get EWTN in their neighborhood. For today's editorial The Sojourn of a Saint on Sacred Soil! , click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT
EWTN provided full live coverage and then repeated it during the day and for those blessed to be able to receive the network they got the full flavor of this historic "Jubilee Journey" which major media missed. So why would we stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch it live instead of catching the reruns a few hours later during the normal business hours of the day? Simply because we can only get EWTN between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. That's it! We live in a county where over 25% of the population of San Diego is Catholic and where we readily have cable companies that carry over 100 stations, departmentalizing to include minorities with as few as ten thousand people getting their own channel 24 hours a day and countless other channels devoted to specific interests. But for Catholics they cannot get EWTN 24 hours a day on either Cox Cable, the biggest supplier of cable in San Diego, or Southwest, the second largest, or Daniels Cable in North County. Why is this? We have sent numerous requests and been met with no replies. We also blame the dioceses where EWTN cannot be accessed 24 hours for they have clout and can convince cable companies to carry Mother's programming. But few do. What are they afraid of? Are they fearful Catholics will see how reverent the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can be compared to the circus atmosphere in many parishes in many sees across the country? Are they fearful that Catholics might start comparing notes? Are they afraid that what Catholics hear on EWTN, which is solid Roman Catholic doctrine the way it should be taught, is quite a bit different from some of the pablum and heresy they're hearing in their pulpits in their own parishes? Are they afraid Catholics will cut back tithing to their parish and earmark some of that to Mother because there they are getting solid doctrine? It goes hand in hand with the axiom, "No doctrine, no dollars!" Those can be the only summations if the bishops don't promote the only full-time Roman Catholic network available. In San Diego it's doubly frustrating because the new Catholic Radio Network cannot be accessed either, which is compounded even moreso by the fact headquarters for the network are in La Jolla!
We would hope and pray that it is merely an oversight on the part of our shepherd Bishop Robert Brom and not adherence to an unspoken policy promoted by some bishops to silence Mother. The Bishop of San Diego's proximity to Cardinal Roger Mahony, who had his tete a tete with Mother, is a concern. In that respect, if you'll notice, all's been quiet on the western front. The threats the Los Angeles cardinal fired at Mother have died down to a whisper because the Hollywood-born prelate realizes Mother is in total obedience and accord with Rome and he can't fight city hall...in this case - the Holy See. And it is Mother who is the only one giving Catholics full television coverage of what is happening at the Vatican on a regular basis. Sadly the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops could add so much by endorsing EWTN and complementing it with even more and making it available to every Catholic home in America as well as non-Catholic home. After all, that is how conversions begin, by being exposed to the Faith. Yet, stubbornly they resist. Led by Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB of Milwaukee, there is a contingent of prelates who coil at the mention of this feisty, Franciscan Italian-descent nun who has built a broadcasting empire on prayer and faith. The conference, which used to be called NCCB, has its number of staunch supporters for what Mother is doing; men like Cardinal John J. O'Connor, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop John J. Myers, and Archbishop Theodore McCarrick to name a few better known prelates among a growing list of converts to the wisdom of providing EWTN to their flocks. But there are still those who stubbornly persist in opposing this logical union of two great sources - the Diocese and EWTN.
Why? It's called control! Why is that they insist on controlling what is programmed when everything that can be found on EWTN is in full compliance with the Dogmas, Doctrines, and Traditions of Holy Mother Church? Again, the syllogism comes down to: Ergo, they must be teaching a different doctrine! If not, why would they oppose such an excellent vehicle that complements the Faith and Vatican-approved Diocesan programs? Could it also be because Mother and her well-qualified board of theological advisers do not promote the RCIA program as it is today? Could that be because the true Faith gets so watered down in many Diocesan-sponsored RCIA programs and sentiments of tolerance are translated into acceptance of dissidents like Call to Action or We are church or even 'catholics' for a free choice through the infiltration of such agendas as Renew 2000? Could it be that dioceses have rubberstamped workbooks for CCD and Confirmation classes that add to the confusion and accept political correctness to the detriment of what it truly means to be Catholic? No wonder so many Catholics are confused.
Catholics can be more confused if they watch or read the secular Scribes and Pharisees' account of the Pope's trip to the Holy Land. They couch everything with negatives and constantly harp on the Pope's frailty. Wouldn't you like to see the spoiled media try stay in step with this "slow-moving" Pontiff considering his rugged, demanding itinerary? Wouldn't it be nice if the bishops and pastors informed their flocks more of what this "Jubilee Journey" really means? A Spiritual Search of Salvation History.
Considering what he accomplished in the Holy Land in just one week, maybe the Holy Father needs to plan a "Jubilee Journey" to the U.S. to reeducate many bishops that they need to be responsive to the needs of the people as God wills it, not as extraneous fractured groups demand. He's echoed these things in his ad limina addresses to every American bishop. Have some of his words fallen on deaf ears? Maybe he needs to remind many that they cannot administer to their flocks if they persist in remaining in their ivory towers and continue to procrastinate in cleaning up problems with dissidents. Maybe he needs to be more forceful in convincing the bishops to be more acceptable to those who advocate a return to a more traditional Post-Vatican II mentality in the liturgy and strict translation of the Council Fathers' directives. Notice we didn't say "Pre-Vatican II" which the Pope has promoted for those who desire it through his document Ecclesia Dei. While we would love to see a return to the Tridentine Mass, we strongly support the next best thing: a return to the "old New Mass" - the Novus Ordo as the Council Fathers directed, with both Latin and English incorporated into the body of the Mass - the readings and various prayers in English - Psalms, Our Father, etc.; the important prayers such as responses, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc. in Latin along with the Greek Kyrie Eleison. Oh, and bring back the wonderful bells, too! If anyone can sway the bishops of America, it is the Bishop of Rome who all the world admires and trusts.
As we all know, he has just completed a historic Papal Pilgrimage in a land torn with strife where mistrust, fear and resentments run deep. Into this atmosphere the Vicar of Christ ventured fearlessly and soothed the savage beast, being available for kings and paupers and everyone in between. He didn't flinch when speaking forthrightly on behalf of establishing a homeland for the displaced Palestinians; he didn't back down when confronting the stark memories echoing hauntingly in the stark Yad Veshem Memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem; he didn't mince words when calling for Israel to honor the human dignity of Palestinians and Lebonese; he was not afraid to meet with ultra-right Orthodox rabbis - most notably Israel Meir Lau who has been one of the Pope's and Pius XII's strongest critics - and win them over; he didn't hesitate in meeting with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Islam's highest ranking religious leader in the Holy Land; he boldly offered the olive branch to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Diodoros I. While the modern Scribes and Pharisees tried to equate his trip as political, much as the Scribes and Pharisees attempted with Christ, so also this holy Pontiff avoided the traps laid and emerged unscathed from the political quagmire he encountered, winning over all sides...even the most skeptic secular media, who, as soon as he was on the plane back to Rome, chalked it off as old news and turned their attention to the Oscars, Russian president Putin and Clinton's return from his junket to India and Pakistan where, in true analysis, he met with failure. But the secular Scribes and Pharisees won't tell you that.
And your news programs, newspapers and cablecasts will tell you little of the impact this man of God had in the holiest of lands where, despite the naysayers, John Paul II truly did make it a spiritual journey. Who could not feel his joy, his ecstasy as he knelt in silent prayer at the spot where the Archangel Gabriel first appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, where Christ was born in Bethlehem, where He was baptized by John the Baptist? Here the Holy Father again avoided controversy and criticism by honoring both claimed sites on both sides of the Jordan - assuring there would be no animosity from Jordan or Palestine. Who could not wonder in awe as he spoke of the Beatitudes to over 100,000 on the same spot above the Sea of Galilee where nearly 2,000 years earlier a much smaller multitude gathered to hear Jesus' words? Who could not experience the trauma of this aging Pontiff humbly climbing the stairs to the spot within the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre where the stone of Golgotha could be found and venerating this sacred spot? Then there was the sight of him ducking his stooped-over shoulders even lower to navigate the narrow, low overhead tomb where Our Lord's sacred body was lain on the slab. This was a piece of rock that the Supreme Pontiff seemingly could not take his palms off for he was so engulfed in meditation and one with the Savior. Who will ever forget His Holiness stoking the embers of the furnace-like modern memorial to the Holocaust in the Yad Veshem Memorial, then shuttling slowly across the stone black floor, embedded with the names of victims and concentration camps, to humbly meet survivors on the other side of the room representing each Nazi death camp? Protocol would have called for the survivors to walk over to him, but in humility, as the servant of servants, no matter the physical pain, he waved that off and made the slow journey across the cold floor on his own. Who will forget the emotions that gushed forth when he embraced long-lost Jewish friends from his days as a young teen in Poland, or his encounter with the Jewish woman whom he saved from certain death while he was a young priest? And finally, think of the sentiments he must have felt as he stood alone before the huge, rough-hewn "Wailing Wall" in Western Jerusalem. Dwarfed by these stones that can be traced back to the time of Solomon, he took the weight of the world on his shoulders and placed the apology he had first uttered on March 12th into a crevice in the wall. Truly a promise etched into stone! And through it all, a time to truly celebrate our Faith and be even more proud to be Catholic! That is, if you had EWTN!
Wherever the Sovereign Pontiff went, he exemplified Christ in every way and the Pope's meek and prudent New Testament theme of faith, hope, love and reconciliation contrasted greatly with the Old Covenant manner of many rabbis and the get-tough eye-for-an-eye attitude of many Jews and Muslims. But, unless you have EWTN full time, no doubt you didn't have those chance-of-a-lifetime experiences to share with the Holy Father in this special "Jubilee Journey." It was an excellent chance to show the authenticity of the Church, to portray the spiritual roots of our Faith, to mine the depths of tradition. Representing tens of thousands of loyal, Orthodox Catholics we call on the bishops of America to comply with Our Lord's command in John 21, "Feed My sheep."...please! It's a shame more of God's lambs didn't have EWTN for it was truly the only opportunity to be nourished and see first hand the sojourn of a saint on sacred soil!
Today Michael Vincent Boyer, a well-respected Catholic insider expert on what's happening in the entertainment industry, exposes the Oscar-winning movie "American Beauty" and the rest of the lot eligible for this year's voting have not only left much to be desired, but shown a trend in insidiously trying to make the abnormal normal, the sin sinless. We can't agree and neither can Michael as he breaks through the glitter to reveal a tarnished Oscar which is definitely not golden but spun with the fibers of the deceit of satan. Beware! For his column, Why Oscar is no longer golden! see HOW HOLY WOULD HELP HOLLYWOOD
What Hollywood doesn't want you to know
What Hollywood doesn't want you to know
Such is the case with the dark and forbidding "comedy" darling of the Academy. It speaks volumes as to where Hollywood is today in regards to morals and ethics for "American Beauty" embodies all that is wrong with America and here is nothing beautiful to behold. It is the tale a dysfunctional family with its double plot of repressed homosexuality and adult fantasies. That's entertainment? The story revolves around the sexual fantasies of the central character Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, a married father in his early forties who is having a mid-life crisis and "riding out" a troubled marriage with his wife. He begins to fantasize about his daughter's cheerleader friend, Angela, who sparks a renewal in Lester's life.
But, the most damaging message from the film involves Lester's neighbor, Ricky, the handsome high school drug dealer who begins selling drugs to Lester so that he can "expand" his "spiritual side." The constant dope-smoking has him falling deeper into his fantasies as his wife's screaming intensifies. The whole family is dysfunctional in the midst of tranquil suburbia. Bashing suburban peace is a favorite theme of Hollywood filmmakers who disdain the life of tidy houses and manicured lawns. Other recent examples of "suburban bashing" was evidenced in "Happiness," "Pleasantville," and "The Ice Storm."
However, the disturbing portrait of the drug dealer neighbor in "American Beauty" as a "sensitive and caring" individual attempts to elevate him to the movie's only "sympathetic" character. Ricky is constantly video-taping everything around him for the "hidden beauty" life beholds, such as taping a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Now, that's beauty, isn't it?
But, in the end, Ricky corrupts Lester's daughter into his hazy lifestyle as they develop their own "sensitive" relationship. The message of the film is that drug use is just fine, since Lester undergoes a change for the "better" as he acquires "peace, wisdom, and serenity." How about poor judgment, lack of father figure, and even greater dysfunction?
Even though Steven Spielberg bankrolled this movie, critics are quick to point out that it's not fair to say this is a Spielberg film, per say, because it is actually produced by Don Jinks and Bruce Cohen, written by Alan Ball, and directed by Sam Mendes. SKG Dream Works just "happens" to be the film's distributor. But, without a distribution agreement by Spielberg's company, the film would have never been made, since all the other studios in Hollywood had the good sense to turn the project down. Spielberg's involvement was more than passive according to director Mendes. The October 4, 1999 issue of USA Today says, "a script was handed to [Mendes] by DreamWorks honcho Steven Spielberg over lunch." That's not "passive" - that's about as actively direct as it gets. The article continues, "Mendes was blown away by sitcom writer Alan Ball's story, with its horrific and dysfunctional family, the spooky boy next door who sells dope and constantly follows Lester's daughter with his camcorder." That's entertainment?!
Writer Alan Ball's own words show how personal agendas and value manipulation are often a reflection of their own "dysfunctional" past, which they are eager to foist on the public. In a screenwriter's magazine, Ball says a lot of the story comes from personal experience, "I grew up in a household with a somewhat troubled father figure and a somewhat shut-down mother figure, so Ricky's household certainly resembles mine in ways." Does that mean Alan Ball used to sell drugs from his house? Does Steven Spielberg find that good movie material for a bleak comedy? Ball is also producer of the faltering TV sitcom "Oh Grow Up!" about two roommates who take in a third suitor who says he left his wife because he realized he was gay. No wonder the networks are losing almost one million viewers annually.
As America's drug czar back in 1990, William Bennett made the strong argument to the movie industry that glamorizing drug use on screen was harmful. The effects of his convictions were immediately noticeable when the film industry began to lessen its depiction of drug use, and when it did depict substance abuse at all, it was shown as destructive, addictive, and criminal. But, with the now widely publicized friendship between Spielberg and President Clinton, there's obviously no argument coming from the White House, especially with Clinton's past history of drug abuse and adultery. This silence may be due to Clinton's seduction by the film business and perhaps the chance to work for DreamWorks or even replace Jack Valenti as President of the Motion Picture Association of America as we shall see in future installments. The thought of that alone would surely spread greater mayhem on the screen.
But what came to the screen this year is shattering all taboos in following the siren of satan by exonerating and extolling homosexuality, illicit sex, transvestites and killing unborn children. These were the themes of movies up for the majority of the Oscars Sunday night. "The Cider House Rules" prided itself on openly promoting the "virtues of abortion" and the awarding of a Best Supporting Actor Oscar to Michael Caine for his portrayal of an abortion doctor by the Academy further verifies Hollywood's downward spiral. Caine further exasperated pro-lifers when he said he had great empathy for the abortionist obstetrician Dr. Larch he portrayed. In this role he adopted children of unwed mothers, and then turned around and did abortions on young unwed mothers in order to save them from the "coat-hangers quacks in the back alleys." Did he or Caine ever hear of the word "abstinence?" Yet, Caine qualified it by saying it was "the most compassionate creature I've ever played." Some compassion, killing babies! But if that wasn't bad enough, Cider House's John Irving, Oscar winner for the Best Adapted Screenplay from another medium, had to really stir things up with his comments in his acceptance speech in which he openly thanked the National Abortion Rights League and Planned Parenthood.
Hillary Swank, the twenty-five year-old actress who won for her portrayal of a boy in "Boys Don't Cry," stated boldly that she "prays for the day that we can celebrate our diversity." What she was really saying was "celebrate our perversions." That is the Hollywood agenda today and its choice of winners brings that home crystal clear. The entire Awards show was dysfunctional, honoring drugs, insanity, homosexuality, abortion and non-fidelity. What does that tell you about Hollywood values? Remember, you don't vote for the Golden Globe winners and you don't vote for Oscar nominations; that's for the industry to decide. They have and their decision doesn't speak well for Hollywood. Nor does it speak well for America, especially for the poor movie goers who plunk down hard-earned cash to see these hyped films, totally naive to the subliminal messages Hollywood is sending.