The summer of 2001 is fast waning. In a matter of days we will be back with a regular rotation of issues. Though we have been on summer hiatus, we have not been lying around doing nothing. Far from it, as you'll see when you tune in on the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord to our all new revised format. We've been previewing a few of the new series we will be carrying which should peak the interest of many, many more. We intend to offer some features you'll find at no other site - Catholic or non-Catholic - as you'll see on August 6th. It has indeed been a relaxing, but very productive and blessed summer.
One of the many books I had the opportunity to read during this time was Michael J. Matt's revealing, insightful and well-researched book on the 50-year history of Rock and Roll - Gods of Wasteland. It is a moral barometer every parent should have in their repertoire in fending off the rationalization for the obscenities that pass as music today, subliminal and not so subliminal. As I read it nostalgia undulated through my memories, taking me back to a hit song from the summer of 1963 that, in summation, captures the loss of innocence - the loss of "Summer" - the loss of the Faith.
The tune that flooded my senses was Nat King Cole's catchy, melodic "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer" The lyrics by Charles Tobias and Hans Carste symbolized the times. Indeed, the song itself was prophetic. "Those days of soda and pretzels and beer." It was the advent of the sugarization of society, of fast food and of the elixir that would consume consumers through sex appeal casting them into a drunken stupor that would normalize the abnormal, revile the good.
"Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies, Then lock the house up, now you're set." Reading between the lines one can see the transformation from the family meal to eating on the run, the arrival of untold anxieties and a transient society that discarded roots. "And on the beach you'll see the girls in their bikinis, As cute as ever but they never get 'em wet." Innocent enough in the song, but in actuality a weakening of the conscience. What used to correctly be considered scandalous was soon to become the norm as the envelope would be pushed from bare midriff to skimpy to thong to anything goes. The intimacy of the boudoir was soon to be out in the open for all to see and copy.
"Don't hafta tell a girl and fella about a drive-in, Or some romantic moon it seems." Don't have to tell anyone with an acute Catholic conscience, weaned by the absolutes of right and wrong and reinforced by parent and teacher - usually a dedicated nun loyal to her vows, that if one plays with fire they will get burned. "You'll see more kissin' in the cars than on the screen." I refer to the previous sentence and the observation that it would be nice to see just "kissin'" on the screen compared to the pornography and utter disdain for human dignity that permeates our visual and audio senses today. Scenes from the bedroom, bathroom and notorious, perverted bathhouses are brought into our living rooms, into our children's psyches in every kind of way...and that's just the commercials!
"You'll wish that summer could always be here." Oh, yes, we wish the summer of '63 was still here, especially when looking back at the naivete of the times. In so many ways that "Summer" represents the Church as it was before Vatican II decimated it. How many times have we heard, "if only I knew then what I know now."? Yet how few are doing anything about it?
Thanks to a solid foundation of the Faith, and several good, loyal and dedicated priests, I do not intend to sit back and watch things deteriorate further. Two of those priests that laid the seeds for this determination helped mold me into the God-fearing Catholic I am today. They were the Spiritual Director who guided me through six years of minor seminary formation with the Missionary Order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Spiritual Director who, as Vocations Director for the Oblates, first led me in that direction in 1956. The former was the pun-loving, inspiring, down-to-earth holy history professor Father Francis Zachman, O.M.I. who, since 1984, has hopefully been reaping his Heavenly rewards; the latter is Father Aloysius Svobodny, O.M.I. - more affectionately known as Fr. Al, who we were reunited with in 1989 and has remained our Spiritual Director ever since. He is semi-retired, suffering from macular degeneration that has rendered him practically blind, yet he forges onward in his daily priestly duties, faithful always to his calling. Please keep him in your prayers that God will keep him with us a while longer.
Due to the inspiration of both these priests, I was blessed to be sheltered with the protective shell of sanctifying grace - thanks to frequent Confession and Holy Mass - to resist the temptations that came with idleness and sensual curiosity. This was especially important as the lazy-hazy-crazy days of the summer of '63 coursed on. Temptations tried to lure me at every opportunity. I can remember that summer so vividly. I especially remember the night before our graduated class was to enter Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Alton, Illinois on the Solemnity of the Assumption. In one last binge several of us barnstormed the now defunct Gaslight District of St. Louis, barhopping and chain-smoking like there was no tomorrow. The rationale we'd spout to no one in particular: "Make hay while the sun shines."
Little did any of us realize the sun was going down. The advance of technology and industry would not only impair the sun, but the hazy-crazy days of change would eventually diminish the Son as well. Vocations would dwindle drastically. Defections from the Faith would increase alarmingly. Abuse would abound in the ensuing years. Back in the summer of '63 the world was still living its false Camelot. That dark day in Dallas was still three months away. Most were unaware that the beast of hell was lurking beneath the surface, stirring up tension and dissent in the one institution that, like it or not, civilization always turned to for moral direction.
We are speaking, of course, of the Roman Catholic Church and the ever-mysterious, ever-trusting Holy See in Vatican City. The Second Vatican Council was less than a year old. Questions and speculation abounded for this summer of '63 had seen the death of a popular Pontiff, whose everyman humanity and huge heart had endeared him to a changing world, and the election of another from Milan - Pope Paul VI who few knew anything about. The Council - begun by Pope John XXIII - would be opened by the Brescian-born Pope on September 29th of 1963. Just a little over a year later the truth would come out - a truth that to this day has been suppressed.
My summer of 1964 and ensuing fall would be spent knowing my vocation was not to the priesthood, but as a committed lay Catholic. Through intense prayer and the astute spiritual direction of my novice master Father Leo Figge, O.M.I. we had discovered jointly that my intense seven-year training in the minor seminary and novitiate was in preparation for the work I have been blessed to be able to do today. What foresight these priests had through the gift of the Holy Spirit. They might have had second guesses a few times were they to track me during those turbulent years during college and the Air Force. Though I wandered off track for several years, through the grace of God He veered me back to the straight and narrow beginning with the arrival in my life of my bride and soul-mate Cyndi in 1981. By then the Church was merely an empty casing of what it was that summer of '63. Indeed, the local Episcopal Church was more Catholic than the Diocese of San Diego 18 summers later. How insidiously during those years before my union with Cyndi - and 20 years since - has the Church transmogrified into a shell of what it once was.
One tangible consequence was brought home all the clearer in a recent notice in our local paper. The first sentence said it all: "For the first time in more than 88 years, Mission San Luis Rey Parish will be without a nun." That last religious woman - Sister Mary Louise Ante (Sister Helena during her pre-Vatican II days) - is retiring because she is reaching her 80th birthday. She is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. San Luis Rey is known as the "king of the missions" that comprise the undying dedication to the Faith manifested in the Spanish adobe testaments erected from San Francisco to San Diego. They became reality and stand today through the unrelenting efforts of Blessed Junipero Serra and the Franciscans in the 1700's. The largest one is in Oceanside, and it is here where Sr. Helena's Order came in 1912. In ensuing years they built a school that overflowed with students and teemed with dedicated nuns. It paralleled the growth of the Catholic School system, which produced so many vocations throughout the United States, that reached its peak in the mid-century. After Vatican II that peak gave way to the slippery slope into secularism. In 1977 the school was closed. It also corresponded with the trend away from absolutes, away from the religious teaching of our Catholic youth, away from even teaching Catholicism.
As we know, today one can count on their fingers the number of schools that remain truly Catholic.
One can count even fewer those institutions staffed by holy nuns. Can you imagine the mystical turmoil such luminaries as Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint Katherine Drexel, or Bishop John Carroll are going through realizing all they had planted has been uprooted and cast to the winds? How could this happen? It happened through the deliberate calculations of the bishops of the United States that came to the surface in 1964 when American prelates Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston, Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York, Albert Cardinal Meyer of Chicago, and Joseph Cardinal Ritter of St. Louis, along with the mouthpiece of the American bishops Archbishop Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore (who would be rewarded for his betrayal with the cardinalate in 1965) all sold out the religious orders and religious education for the sake of "freedom of conscience and religious liberty." It was all done for the purpose of ecumenism plain and simple.
On the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in 1964, trying desperately to head off the inevitable, a valiant group of the Roman Union, composed of concerned general superiors from the Benedictines, Carmelites, Dominicans, Eudists, Franciscans, Marists and Oblates of Mary Immaculate, met at the Oblate General House on Via Aurelia. (You'll note the Jesuits were not among the loyal group who met at the General House of the Order I had been blessed to study with for 7 years.) The magnificent villa-like General House was the same structure where young Eugenio Pacelli - aka Pope Pius XII had been born 88 years before in the shadow of the Vatican. Despite the links to this traditional Pontiff and remembrances of Our Lady's victory at Lepanto 393 years earlier, their efforts would fall short. Those not in attendance at this meeting - the Turks of modernism - would win this round and plummet Holy Mother Church into a vortex of ambiguity and auto-demolition that has sucked her further into the black hole of confusion and compromise.
Folks, we have traded our principles and values, our very beliefs in order to be more appealing and acceptable to those who refused to obey Jesus Christ Himself! Since the summit in Assisi in the mid-eighties, conciliar Rome has been on a collision course with schism and apostasy.
Today's American prelates are no better than the batch in the mid-sixties. The names have changed but the intent and deviousness remain. The quest for sanctity and projecting the example of holiness is sadly missing in most. In addition, they have mastered the fine art of spin and cover-up to allay the fears of those who would challenge their motives or tweak their consciences into living up to the holy office they hold and the august responsibility of being a successor of the Apostles. I might add that does not include a successor of Saint Peter. That exclusively belongs to the legal heir of the keys - the Roman Pontiff who alone is responsible as the Keeper of the Keys. That cannot and should not be shared - ever!
As such, His Holiness Pope John Paul II is responsible for those he has selected as apostolic successors. He has apologized to many for many and, rather than clearing the air and bringing reconciliation, it has only brought more ridicule and demands which have weakened the Papacy and the Pope's own stature rather than strengthening it. If there is one apology he has yet to make it is this: Apologize to the American faithful for the rotten bunch he has appointed - from the modernist prince of the Church in Los Angeles to the apathetic red-robe in Boston to begin with. Then the Pope might add in a sincere apology for men like retired Archbishop John Quinn of San Francisco who, aside from being at the forefront of dismantling the Petrine Primacy, demolished numerous sacred churches in the City by the Bay and helped enoble a modern day Sodom by his fear of offending the growing sodomite contingency, and Milwaukee's Archbishop Rembert Weakland, O.S.B. who defies Rome as we write this despite a direct order to cease and desist from moving the main altar in the venerable St. John the Evangelist Cathedral. Such pride these prelates possess.
We all know of the atrocities committed by Roger Cardinal Mahony. His tenure has been a disgrace from the shady dealings with Democratic Party interests and the pardon-gate problems to his enabling of the gay agenda and funding of the monstrosity that he will try to pass off as a cathedral of the Catholic Church. Many know of the foibles of defrocked bishops for pedophilia, corruption, money-scandals and cover-up. Is this anyway to run a Church? We all know of them, and yet so many neo-Catholics fail to realize the buck stops at the top. The question everyone should be asking is what is the Holy Father going to do about it!!!
The Colombian Bishops have come out unified in stating that any official who votes or legislates for abortion will be excommunicated. Colombia, that cesspool of corruption where drug-lords rule, is setting the example. Do you think the American Bishops, now known as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will follow suit? As much as we would like to hope and pray, don't count on it. We will have to wait a while until men the caliber of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap., Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, and Bishop John J. Myers are elevated to the cardinalate. The latter has just been promoted to head the Archdiocese of Newark in succeeding Theodore Cardinal McCarrick who had held out such promise until he started playing politics and pushed the abortion issue to the back burner, choosing instead to compromise for expedience sake as the Archbishop of Washington D.C. Others who the faithful held out such hope for were Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. of Chicago, who is still haunted by the goblins left by Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, and Edward Cardinal Egan of New York. John Cardinal O'Connor's successor has publicly stated more than once that "the public forum is no place to discuss abortion." So much for the crusade for the Sanctity of Life.
On that note, I noticed that Bernard Cardinal Law continues to be stone silent about speaking out strongly against avowed and powerful pro-abort and pro-sodomy nazis Ted Kennedy and John Kerry in the Senate and House Dems Michael Capuano, William Delahunt, James McGovern, Edward Markey and Marty Meehan and the rest of that ilk who claim to be Catholic. Yet, with enough media pressure, the cardinal has defended himself quite noticeably against a potential devastating scandal - protecting a known pedophile priest. He denies the accusations and we don't know the details so we will not pass judgment on that issue. However, we do know he knows about the sinful, anti-Catholic action and rhetoric of the above politicians and yet he remains strangely quiet. By his silence he gives consent. We won't accuse him of covering up on the pedophile issue, but we will accuse him of covering up Democratic interests and greatly scandalizing the people of Boston, Massachusetts, the United States and the world by his refusal to censor those who seek to diminish all the Son of God died for. We challenge his Eminence to respond. We won't hold our breath in waiting for him to worm his way out of this one. He, like so many of his colleagues of the cloth, will merely send in their lackeys who will only parrot the same refrain we've heard for nearly 40 years.
In the haunting words of the late actor Peter Finch as the beleaguered newsanchor Howard Beale in Paddy Chayefsky's Oscar-winning screenplay "Network", "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" That must be the refrain echoed in every parish as we mount a crusade to win back the Roman Catholic Church Christ intended it to be. Oh, what has become of our shepherds? Where are the holy ones?
Yes, the summer of '63 is a distant memory. Thirty-eight years ago. I never thought I'd see the day when I openly challenged a prince of the Church; never thought I'd be criticizing prelates for their failure to uphold the teachings of the one true Church. But then those were times when I, along with millions of other Catholics, trusted. We trusted that our shepherds were looking out for our best interest and were faithful to their calling. How could we have been so naive?
"Summer" back in '63 was the Church - the Church of the Latin Mass where the unbloody Sacrifice of the Immolated Lamb was offered to God by the alter Christus on behalf of the many - not all. The people were not 'partakers in the Eucharistic meal' nor members of the priesthood then but rather an integral part of the Mystical Body of Christ as the committed Church Militant giving all adoration and thanksgiving to God and asking His help and forgiveness through the celebrant's absolution following our confiteors. It was a Church where reverence, the sense of the sacred Mystery and devotions were everything. It was a Church where nuns glided in their full-length habits, where respect oozed from children for authority, when priests proudly wore their cassocks and birettas and went out of their way to hear confessions, when pastors spoke from the pulpit on salvation and damnation.
We had a choice back then. Many, without realizing, have chosen the siren of the world with its temporary shrill tones, tolerance of sin and empty promises over the soft, but difficult flute of faithfulness which Christ has promised is the narrow, but sure way. If only they would wake up and realize the lazy, hazy and crazy direction the consiliar Church has taken is headed down that wide path that leads to perdition. If only they would realize the answers to the problems can only be found by returning to the absolutes and disciplines of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - the Church that existed prior to the events that followed the summer of '63. I unabashedly make no apologies for seeking to return to the good old days and echo Cole's closing refrain, "You'll wish that Summer could always be here."