Reader recommendation: “Authenticity” by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M.

 authenticity

A couple of Amazon reviews of a book recently recommended by one of our readers:

4.0 out of 5 stars Fr. Dubay exposes the dangers of self-deception, November 12, 1999
By  Mark A. Osborne (Montgomery Village, MD USA) – See all my reviews

I was interested in this book because of the topic and the author. The topic, because of my 15 years in a charismatic community which professed to be able to discern the movements of the Holy Spirit and his counterfeits. The author because I respect him after reading Fire Within.

Thomas Dubay argues that the gift of discernment of spirits is real, but it is reserved for the mature, well-trained, obedient person. It is not a gift that should be claimed rashly for oneself. Fr. Dubay emphasizes the role of Church authority in determining the validity of private revelations. He mentions how St. John of the Cross warned readers to beware of private locutions, even legitimate ones. We are not to run after extraordinary phenomena for their own sake, but should be content with an ordinary life of prayer and sacrament. Even when St. John believed he had personally heard from God, he consulted a priest. If the priest disagreed with John’s revelation, John would always obey the confessor.

Thomas Dubay systematically discusses the pitfalls in discernment. For example, he discusses how even a valid “word” from God may be misinterpreted by even the sincere, mature Christian.

He uses the scriptures and the Spanish mystics to describe the qualities of a prophet. He describes the importance of conversion to Christ in being able to discern his will. Other elements are important too: obedience to authority in the larger Church. Unity of a community is an essential sign that it is being guided by the Holy Spirit. An appreciation for sound doctrine. The living of a moral life.

The author’s musings on the selectivity of our minds in rationalizing our positions, particularly in dissent against the magisterium, made me examine my conscience. There was a passage that jived perfectly with The Seven Storey Mountain, which I had just finished.

 

 
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Gourmet Chicken Soup for the Soul, April 14, 2002
By  Zachary Flummerfelt (Wichita, Kansas USA) – See all my reviews

Seldom is a work on prayer and discernment so clear, comforting, and intellectually stimulating. This work is excellent for Catholics looking for an orthodox, contemporary work on discernment. Fr. Dubay, a widely renowned spirtitual director and expert on Sts. Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross, dispels the myths surrounding authentic mysticism.Many are suprised when they hear that St. John of the Cross was extremely skeptical of all private revelations and illuminism. He submitted all of his discernment thoughts to the test of offical Church teachings and the opinion of his confessor. Sound reasoning and many Scriptural references demonstrate that authentic discerment derives from steady prayer, spiritual reading and obediance.

I also highly recommend this work to Protestants. Fr. Dubay has soaked this work with Scripture. He clarifies the often misunderstood Catholic concept of genuine mysticism which is often mistaken for gnosticism or superstition.

Sufficed to say Fr. Dubay’s clear yet gentle way of caring for souls is rare. Few are able to write such a practical work that is free from the campy, “how-to” shallowness of modern spiritual writing.

See it or buy it at Amazon

Book suggestion by:  lindsayraemyers

Fr. Oprah (Alberto Cutié) calls it quits and jumps ship. Bishop responds.

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Archbishop John Favalora of Miami released the following statement on Alberto Cutié’s “separation from the church”:

“I am genuinely disappointed by the announcement made earlier this afternoon by Father Alberto Cutié that he is joining the Episcopal Church.According to our canon law, with this very act Father Cutié is separating himself from the communion of the Roman Catholic Church (c. 1364, §1) by professing erroneous faith and morals, and refusing submission to the Holy Father (canon 751). He also is irregular for the exercise of sacred orders as a priest (canons 1041 and 1044, §1) and no longer has the faculties of the Archdiocese of Miami to celebrate the sacraments; nor may he preach or teach on Catholic faith and morals (cannon 1336, §1). His actions could lead to his dismissal from the clerical state.

This means that Father Cutié is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric. Roman Catholics should not request the sacraments from Father Cuité. Any sacramental actions he attempts to perform would be illicit. Any Mass he says would be valid but illicit, meaning it does not meet a Catholic’s obligation. Father Cutié cannot validly officiate at marriages of Roman Catholics in the Archdiocese of Miami or anywhere.

Father Cutié is still bound by his promise to live a celibate life, which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from that obligation.

To the Catholic faithful of Saint Francis de Sales Parish, Radio Paz and the entire Archdiocese of Miami, I again say that Father Cutié’s actions cannot be justified, despite his good works as a priest (statement of May 5, 2009). This is all the more true in light of today’s announcement. Father Cutié may have abandoned the Catholic Church; he may have abandoned you. But I tell you that the Catholic Church will never abandon you; the Archdiocese of Miami is here for you.

Father Cutié’s actions have caused grave scandal within the Catholic Church, harmed the Archdiocese of Miami − especially our priests – and led to division within the ecumenical community and the community at large. Today’s announcement only deepens those wounds.

When Father Cutié met with me on May 5th, he requested and I granted a leave of absence from the exercise of the priesthood. Because of this, he could no longer be the administrator of St Francis de Sales Parish or the General Director of Radio Paz. For the good of the Church and to avoid the media frenzy, I chose not to impose publicly an ecclesiastical penalty, although his admitted actions clearly warranted it. Since that meeting, I have not heard from Father Cutié nor has he requested to meet with me. He has never told me that he was considering joining the Episcopal Church.

I must also express my sincere disappointment with how Bishop Leo Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida has handled this situation. Bishop Frade has never spoken to me about his position on this delicate matter or what actions he was contemplating. I have only heard from him through the local media. This truly is a serious setback for ecumenical relations and cooperation between us. The Archdiocese of Miami has never made a public display when for doctrinal reasons Episcopal priests have joined the Catholic Church and sought ordination. In fact, to do so would violate the principles of the Catholic Church governing ecumenical relations. I regret that Bishop Frade has not afforded me or the Catholic community the same courtesy and respect.

In my nearly 50 years as a priest, I have often preached on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son – which really should be called the parable of the Forgiving Father (Luke 15, 11-32). Perhaps the story told by the Lord so long ago is applicable to our discussions this afternoon.

A father had two sons. One of them took his inheritance early and left home, spending his money wantonly. The father waited patiently for the return of his prodigal son, who after he had seen the error of his ways, repented and returned home. Upon his return, the father lovingly embraced him and called him his son. I pray that Father Cutié will “come to his senses” (Luke 15, 17) and return home. The Catholic Church seeks the conversion and salvation of sinners, not their condemnation. The same is my attitude toward Father Cutié.

We must not forget, however, that there were two sons in the Lord’s story. The other son, who never left home, was angry that his erring brother was welcomed home by the father. To all faithful Catholics, I say what the father said to this second son: “You are with me always and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice. This brother of yours was dead and has come back to life. He was lost, and is found” (Luke 15, 31-32).

In this beautiful parable Jesus teaches us that God is a loving and forgiving Father. Each of us has experienced that love, each of us needs that forgiveness; for we are all sinners. If our brother comes home, let us celebrate with the Father.

In conclusion, I commend and salute the priests of the Archdiocese of Miami and all priests who faithfully live and fulfill their promise of celibacy. By their fidelity to their promise they reflect more clearly to the world the Christ whose total gift of himself to the Father was pure and chaste love for his brothers and sisters. In our times so pre-occupied with sex, the gift of celibacy is all the more a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven where, as scripture says, there will be “no marrying or giving in marriage” (Matthew 22, 30). I encourage all Catholics to pray for and support our dedicated priests.”

Bishop Roger Kaffer Died Today

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May 28, 2009

With faith and hope in Eternal Life  and with gratitude for a beautiful Christian life, I wish to inform you  that Bishop Roger Kaffer died this afternoon at approximately 3:45 p.m. 

His brother, Bob, and I had the privilege of being with him, and we gratefully commended him into the arms of the Lord he loved so much.

Since his death occurred just a short while ago, no arrangements have been made as of yet. However, as soon as we know more, we will let everyone know.   In the meantime, please keep Bob and Liz, and the entire Kaffer family in your prayers as their grieve the loss of their beloved brother.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

-Bishop Peter Sartain

(Editor’s note: Bishop Kaffer was a wonderful man, a great priest and bishop, and a tireless worker for the Church. His accomplishments are too numerous to list. I’ m sure that everyone who knew him, loved him. He will be sorely missed.)  

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Submitted by Doria2

Another true Rosary story … and more

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Last week a much-loved priest, Mgr William Kerr, collapsed with a stroke while delivering a sermon in Tallahassee, Florida; he died in hospital. Matthew at the Holy Whapping, who was baptised by him, carries a transcription of his unfinished address (see below). It would have been deeply moving even if it had not been cut short in such sad circumstances.

Mgr Kerr had been speaking about his very first hospital assignment, ministering to a young burn victim dying from his injuries. Later, he was called on to perform an even more ghastly duty: in 1978, he was called out to the sorority house in Tallahassee where the young female victims of the serial killer Ted Bundy were lying dead or dying. Bettnet has the details:

Kerr got the call from the police in the middle of the night to rush out to the sorority house. When he arrived he was told that all but one of the girls in the house were dead or near death, killed by a serial killer who was later to be known to the world as Ted Bundy. After giving those last rites to the dying college girl, then-Fr Kerr was asked by the police on the scene to talk to the girl who survived unscathed. They wanted to know how she survived the brutal attacks, because Bundy had stopped right inside the door to her room, dropped his weapon, and left without touching her. But the girl would talk to no one but a priest.

When Fr Kerr approached the near-catatonic girl, she told him that her mother had made her promise before going off to college for the first time that she would pray the Rosary every night before bed for protection; even if she fell asleep praying the Rosary, which she had that night so that when Bundy came into her room with murder on his mind, the beads were still clutched in her hands.

Later, Bundy would tell Monsignor that when he entered the girl’s room, he just couldn’t go on, he dropped his weapon, and he fled. Such is the power of our Mother’s protective mantle.

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Submitted by Doria2, with thanks to Marie in Oklahoma

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California Reflections on a Boston Book

faithful departed

What Ought the Bishops Do?

(Editor: the following email arrived on May 26 from California woman who has followed and interacted with the California bishops regularly.)

Forgive the length of this e-mail, but I just got through reading The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture by Philip Lawler, and I have to unload on someone.

The book is very insightful. Although the exact subject matter (e.g. Boston’s loss of Catholicity, the sex abuse scandal) is now water under the bridge, nonetheless, IMHO, it contains considerable food for thought for bishops. In fact, I started making notes as I was reading it of the areas where the same problems and patterns of episcopal behavior keep cropping up.

1) Protecting church institutions, not church faithful. Lawler gives the example in his book of the American bishops responding to the push for taxpayer-funded birth control programs simply by seeking exemptions for hospitals and doctors operating under the auspices of the Church. This had several bad results. Most importantly, by so limiting their arguments, they confirmed the popular idea that the Church’s opposition to contraception is just a narrow sectarian doctrine, rather than a universal moral principle. Secondly, they left the Catholic laity hanging out to dry. We saw the same thing here in California with regard to the Women’s Contraceptive Equity Act, in which, rather than presenting a principled opposition to requiring employers to fund contraceptives in their health coverage, the Church just whined about getting (and failed to get) an exemption for church-run organizations.

2) Opting for face-saving compromises that embolden the opposition. Lawler gives several examples in his book, reminding me of similar cases here in California. For example, there was Abp. Levada and the domestic partners debacle, where he got around explicitly providing health coverage for domestic partners of employees by saying that every employee could designate some other person who would get coverage. And again, the contraceptive equity act. I asked Ned Dolesji what happened after they lost the challenge to that law, and he indicated that Catholic Charities had managed some work-around. Probably many Catholic entities have just given up and are complying, but even if they have come up with some work-around which allows them to ostensibly comply with the law while somehow not really doing so, they have in fact emboldened the Legislature to move on to the next steps. If they stood up and said, “Sorry, then we won’t provide prescription drug coverage,” they would have shown that there were lines they were not going to cross.

3) The perennial problem of pro-abort politicians. The lesson from Lawler’s book is not to wait till election time to take them on. But they must be taken on. Issuing periodic general statements condemning abortion is meaningless if at the same time, those responsible for protecting and promoting it – indeed, those actually providing abortions – incur no penalties, or even disapprobation, from church leaders. (Ever since I heard of Ted Kennedy’s terminal condition, I have been thinking about this. Presuming that he does not repent, if he were to be denied a Catholic funeral and burial, or at least a public one, it would be the single most pro-life action the relevant bishops could take in this decade. Contrariwise, if he is sent out with full Catholic honors, these same bishops might as well not even bother saying anything about abortion ever again.)

4) Shooting the messenger. Yes, there are cranks and malcontents in every diocese, but that is not an excuse for circling the wagons and shooting at anyone who comes forward with relevant information concerning the questionable behavior (or orthodoxy) of a priest.

5) Lying. I find it so disturbing that spokesmen for church officials seem to have adopted, and are only held to, the very lax standards of honesty that apply to politicians and their spokesmen. Thus, as long as one is not absolutely covering up scandalous or criminal activity, it is acceptable to tell a better story rather than the true one. If it happens to come out later that Mr. Smith was actually golfing rather than attending a briefing when he got the news about such-and-such, that is accepted merely as a “clarification.” Two examples: 1) there was a Catholic World Report article about JPII, ca. 2003, in which it said that everyone knew that the Pope had Parkinson’s, though of course Joaquin Navarro-Valls denied it. It was simply taken for granted the Navarro-Valls would lie about it. (That prompted me to write a letter to CWR, in which I pointed out that we used to call that “lying.”) 2) Around the time of the bishops’ meeting in Dallas in 2002, the head of the USCCB flew off to Rome to consult about some matters, and then flew back. While he was gone, reporters were asking if he had gone to Rome, and his press people denied it. When he got back, they said, yes, he had been in Rome. Nobody made a big deal about the lying, but all I could think is that the new era of honesty and accountability was not getting off to a good start. (I have to confess that my recollection of the details of this second example are sketchy. What sticks in my mind is the apparent unconcern with which the bishop’s representatives told a lie of convenience – and no one called them on it. It was simply to be expected that spokespeople say whatever is helpful. Truth is a secondary consideration.)

6) The rush to forgiveness. Lawler’s book is replete with examples of bishops giving wonderful send-offs to despicable people, thanking them for their years of devoted service, the gifts they brought to their ministry, etc. I can think of similar cases here in California, for example, Bishop Ziemann in Santa Rosa. Again, my recollection of the exact details is a little sketchy, but I recall an article in Catholic San Francisco in which we were basically called on to admire Ziemann because he drew the line at paying millions of dollars in hush money for his peccadilloes. A few hundred thou were doable, but he decided eight million was too much (from the diocese he had spent into a $16 million deficit). What a guy! Then there was the priest who was arrested for possession of child pornography after his rooms at the seminary were raided. (Was he the rector, or just the dean? I forget.) As quick as the next issue of Catholic SF could get out, as he was being held without bail after entering a not guilty plea, we were being reminded about the need to forgive, we’re all human, years of service, etc. My reaction was, “Hey, he’s pled not guilty. Can we at least wait till he pleads guilty before we forgive him?” Is it really necessary to give everyone, no matter what they have done, a glowing commendation? Aren’t there times where at least silence would be more appropriate?

Again, sorry for the length of this, but I feel better having put this all down. Believe it or not, I also have some positive thoughts about bishops, but I won’t try your patience any further.

Article courtesy of the California Catholic Daily

Pope Leo XIII explains how and why things have gotten so messed up in the world

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HUMANUM GENUS

ENCYCLICAL OF
POPE LEO XIII
ON FREEMASONRY

… the naturalists go much further; for, having, in the highest things, entered upon a wholly erroneous course, they are carried headlong to extremes, either by reason of the weakness of human nature, or because God inflicts upon them the just punishment of their pride. Hence it happens that they no longer consider as certain and permanent those things which are fully understood by the natural light of reason, such as certainly are – the existence of God, the immaterial nature of the human soul, and its immortality. The sect of the Freemasons, by a similar course of error, is exposed to these same dangers; for, although in a general way they may profess the existence of God, they themselves are witnesses that they do not all maintain this truth with the full assent of the mind or with a firm conviction. Neither do they conceal that this question about God is the greatest source and cause of discords among them; in fact, it is certain that a considerable contention about this same subject has existed among them very lately. But, indeed, the sect allows great liberty to its votaries, so that to each side is given the right to defend its own opinion, either that there is a God, or that there is none; and those who obstinately contend that there is no God are as easily initiated as those who contend that God exists, though, like the pantheists, they have false notions concerning Him: all which is nothing else than taking away the reality, while retaining some absurd representation of the divine nature.

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