Remembering My Mother

Mom and Dad Duffy

Today would have been my mother’s 95th birthday has she still been alive. Virginia Christesen Duffy was smart as a whip, yet only received a high school education. She’s the only person I know that would dare to complete the New York Times Sunday Puzzle in ink! I fondly remember the time my parents took me to Europe for a vacation. I was 19 years old. I took French for three years in high school, and I was ready and anxious to use it! We were in a French café, one day, looking at… Read More…

Visiting the Sick Makes You Better!

visiting_hours

As promised, each month this year, I will cover an act, or acts of mercy. This month we will focus on visiting the sick as part of the Year of Mercy series, where we explore the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Have you ever had to stay in the hospital for an extended period of time? Or, have you ever been homebound while convalescing to better health? I have, and I can attest to the fact that it gets very lonely and scary, while lying in a hospital bed. Because of my clubbed feet, I spent almost half of my childhood either in the hospital, or recuperating at home. The nights in the hospital were the worst. Especially for a child, it gets scary being in a strange place at night. I just wanted to be at home, surrounded by my family, in my own bed. Therefore, anyone who would come to visit me, especially at night, made my day!

Visits help… Read more…

Brief Thoughts on Papal Gaffes and Non-Magisterial Statements

One thing to always keep in mind is the extent of Papal authority. By this I mean we neither downplay an actual authoritative statement of the Pope or elevate something which is merely a private opinion of the Pope. Popes can speak about the issues of the world where they are not theologically binding and were never intended to be seen as a teaching in the first place. There are many examples of this in recent times. For example, St. John Paul II and his Crossing the Threshold of Hope, or the unfortunate kissing of the Qur’an. Or Benedict XVI and his Jesus of Nazareth, the (unfortunate) comment about the “male Prostitute with AIDS” in Light of the World and his misunderstood Regensburg Lecture. And yes, Pope Francis and his brilliant The Name of God is Mercy, and his controversial news conferences and interviews. I could go back further and discuss the laws of the old Papal States or the Vatican policies with different nations through history. Some of those laws and policies are embarrassing when viewed today. But they weren’t magisterial teaching and an error there does not make the Pope a fraud or heretic.

I say again, whether these things are properly understood or misunderstood, they are not any part of the teaching authority of the Church, and must not be used to judge a Pope’s fidelity to the Catholic faith, even if a he should commit a gaffe or carry out an unwise policy.

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When a Little Knowledge is Dangerous

hem as old teachings and point out how some teachings have changed from the past. People argue that If the Church changed teaching X, she can also change her teachings on contraception or divorce/remarriage. On the other side of the coin, when it comes to actions of the Church that people wanted to remain as they were, the common tactic is to appeal to the old writings and argue that they are irreformable and attempts to make changes are heretical.

These two attitudes demonstrate the truth of the adage, “A little knowledge is dangerous.” In both cases, the proponents cite a portion of a Church document with the intent to demonstrate that the Church has changed with the purpose of undermining the authority of the Church. The only difference between the two is that one cites it with the intention to alter other teachings (claiming that the Church’s refusal to change is unjustified) while the other cites it with the intention to reject changes they dislike.

I believe both groups display a lack of understanding about the Church and how she teaches. The fact is, when the Church teaches something is to be done or not done, we need to discern the moral absolutes that the Church holds always and the elements of what the Church mandates as how to follow the Church teaching when facing certain evils of a particular time.

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Our Lenten Journey: Check-in Time!

Our Lenten Journey

Can you believe it! We are already three weeks into Lent – half way through the Lenten season. I thought this would be a good time to check in with everyone to see how we are all doing with our Lenten sacrifices/growth in virtue.

Pope Francis gave us a challenge to give up “indifference” this Lent. As soon as I read this article I said, “Good idea, but this means that we will really need to strap on some virtue to accomplish this task.”

My Lenten Journey

As you may recall, my Lenten promise was to practice patience, and not lose my temper so quickly. I knew that much prayer would be needed. Knowing that the root cause for losing my patience happens to be pride, Read more…

On Considering the Good and Evil Consequences

The thing that troubles me during this election season is seeing how many of us seem to be willing to set aside aside the obligation to discern the right and wrong of an issue. Instead our discernment involves stopping at the point where we find a justification for something we planned to do anyway or else we give only a superficial analysis and ends up overlooking things of importance that might have led us to a different conclusion. In writing this, I don’t intend to make myself the judge of how a specific individual formed their conscience. I only ask that people avoid being careless or otherwise flippant about their moral responsibilities when it comes to voting.

St. Thomas Aquinas once described the purpose of law this way:

Hence this is the first precept of law, that good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided. All other precepts of the natural law are based upon this: so that whatever the practical reason naturally apprehends as man’s good (or evil) belongs to the precepts of the natural law as something to be done or avoided.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II q.94 a.2 resp).

The determination of good and evil is not a moral calculus where you decide to give a certain weight to some issues and a lesser weight to other issues. That kind of thinking usually ends up going in the direction the individual tends wants it to go in the first place. That’s rationalization used as a smoke screen because we tend to weigh issues according to our preferences, and not as they stand in God’s eyes.

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Quick Quips: “Parvus error in initio magnus erit in fine” Edition

Introduction

It seems like it is once again time for Catholics and other detractors of the Pope to bear witness through example to the old Latin saying:  Parvus error in initio magnus erit in fine (Small error in beginning, large error in the end). When people begin with a faulty assumption, and use that faulty assumption as the basis of their entire argument, you wind up with an unsupported claim. That’s just logic here. If the premises are false or the structure of the argument is unsound, then the conclusion cannot be proven. If it’s true, it’s true solely by coincidence, not reasoning.

And We Should Accept Your View Because…?

With every press conference we have, we can be sure that a subset of the Catholic laity will stretch the meaning of the word “faithful” beyond recognition by condemning the Pope. Certain individuals and groups have taken it upon themselves to go over the words of the Pope, comparing their interpretation of his words with their interpretations of what the Church said in the past and making a conclusion that the Pope is a heretic. Of course the ones who are judging him are also the ones making the accusation. What’s left unasked by these people is this: Why should we accept their assessment of the Pope or prior Church teaching as correct?

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Love Endures All Things

Love Endures

Love endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

 

I have to admit that this well known passage on Love from 1 Corinthians is one of my favorites. At our wedding ceremony, my husband and I included this passage at our Wedding Mass some 36+ years ago. Little did I know then what this passage would mean over time. When you are young, you think you know everything as you enter the early years of adulthood. Yet, some 36+ years later, this passage continues to teach me what Love is all about.

I am married to a wonderful man. We have endured times of financial stress together,… Read more…

An Enclosed Carmelite Missionary

800px-Padre_Pio_portretIt was my mother who first taught me something so profound that I could never forget it. She said even though I may make my Morning Offering alone by the side of my bed or in bed I was not alone. Nor would I be alone even if I became a hermit and lived in the middle of some distant desert or a prisoner locked up in solitary confinement.  My prayer would always be made in with and through Jesus and so with all other living Christians wherever they were. She quoted the Our Father to press her point home. When we petition the Father we do not petition him for ourselves alone as the prayer makes abundantly clear – it is – ‘Give US this day our daily bread and forgive US our trespasses as WE forgive those who trespass against US and lead Us not into temptation, but deliver Us from evil Amen.’  She taught me further that praying to the Father in Jesus also means praying with all those who have died and who are now alive again in him. That means with Mary and Joseph, with St Peter and St Paul, St Dominic and St Francis, with St Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila and St Thérèse of Lisieux, and all the other great saints and mystics too.  read on…….

The Problem With the Church is not the Pope. It’s Us

19 You give your mouth free rein for evil;
you yoke your tongue to deceit.

20 You sit and speak against your brother,
slandering your mother’s son.

21 When you do these things should I be silent?
Do you think that I am like you?
I accuse you, I lay out the matter before your eyes. (Psalm 50:19-21)

So I started to see some Catholic blogs publish articles that take a different slant about the Pope. Now, instead of accusing the Pope of being heterodox, this tactic takes the truth that not everything the Pope says is an authoritative teaching and uses it to attack people defending the Pope as if they argued everything authoritative. They say that it’s OK to be upset by certain comments the Pope makes, and apologists shouldn’t be defending the Pope in those circumstances.

However, that is not the problem. The problem is that some authors use controversial phrases from press conferences to imply (or state outright) that the Pope is heterodox. Some do it subtly. Others come right out and say they think the Pope is not Catholic. But either way, they argue that the Church is worse off because Pope Francis is Pope. That’s different from saying “I like St. John Paul II better.” We’re not talking about a person who prefers the style of one Pope over another. We’re talking about a person who thinks Pope Francis is a menace and needs to be opposed.

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