Friday, January 17, 2003

Two MORE Mature Moments

The first time I saw this video, I had to giggle. It's so maudlin — then, when it became clear that it was a commercial for an airplane engine, I just dissolved. =D
But, you know, it's pretty mature in flavor. People weeping out of love — for a jet engine. Ya gotta love it, don't you?

And then there's this one:
Coupling responsibility and automobiles. Who woulda thunk?

OK, I laugh, but still—maybe there's hope for our planet after all?

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Repost 5

I'm posting this at intervals throughout the blog in hopes that those of you who log in where you left off last time will see it - even if you don't often visit the top page these days.

Just so you know, Blogger booted me off - A SECOND TIME.
At least that finally got me off the dime and I've finished transferring everything I want to keep over to WordPress.
So - again - here's the link:
Please drop by.
Hopefully, that site will be more stable and you can continue without further interruption.

For the Skeptics

In case you need proof of the move from the Young Soul mindset [materialistic--more is better] to the Mature Soul viewpoint [relationships are where its at and let's save the planet] may I introduce you to Dave at
This website is hitting a nerve and lots of folks are jumping on board. Including me.
I'm not aiming for a '100 Thing List' as Dave has. But I do plan a dramatic draw-down of my possessions [beyond the ones I'd already unloaded during and after my move last year.]
I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
First order of business: set up lists on a spread sheet of things I'm keeping, things I can easily let go of and the things I'll go 'nnnnnnnnhhhhh' about.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Welcome, Mary Ellen!

Tonight I asked Mary Ellen of The Divine Democrat to join me here for a spot of spiritual mayhem and carnage and she has graciously accepted. This ought to be interesting--and fun!

I've pondered other changes and seriously considered renaming the site, 'The Catholic and the Heretic'.
Then I decided to put it to you So, what do you all think? Do YOU think a name change is in order or shall we stick with the name we've got?

Tuesday, January 14, 2003


Hi! Let me introduce myself to all of you who haven't had the,I mean the misfortune of running into me on the blogosphere. My name is Mary Ellen, and I'm the author of the blog, The Divine Democrat and I've recently been asked by Two Crows if I would co-write with her on this blog. At first I wasn't sure if anything I had to say about the Catholic Church or the Christian religion, in general, would be all that interesting to those who prefer to stay clear of religion. I want to assure you, I'm not participating on this blog to evangelize or coerce you into joining the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter. I'm doing this purely to enlighten those who still believe the Catholic Church is the same Catholic Church of the 1950's or earlier. Well, some of it is, but a lot has changed and it seems the word hasn't gotten out. I'm still reading on other blogs that the Catholic Church makes you pay cash to have your sins forgiven or that we "worship" Mary, the Blessed Mother as a goddess.

Those who have come to know me from my visits to their blogs have come to call me, "Nunly" or "Sister". Of course, I'm not really a nun, and if I were I don't think the Pope would approve of my Avatar of a nun smoking a joint. The reason I have chosen to use the nun persona on my other blog, "The Divine Democrat" is two-fold. I started that blog to point out that you can be a Catholic AND a Democrat. During the Kerry campaign, I was getting slammed quite often when I would defend my faith and told that I must be a troll on the blogs because no Catholic would be supporting John Kerry. At that time, because of guys like Falwell and Dobson, all Christians were being slammed. The other reason I used the nun avatar is because I came darn close to wearing that habit for real.

When I was younger, 'so much younger than today'(Beatles, I love 'em), I was sure that I was being called to be a nun. It wasn't just one of those fleeting ideas that many young girls went to Catholic schools had, this was something I had in my head for a long time. I think I must have been about ten years old when I decided that this is what I wanted. By the time I had reached high school I had researched which Order I would join (Dominican) and what I wanted to do (teach). It wasn't until my Senior year in high school that I began to have doubts if going into a convent was a good idea. You see, that's when I started dating the man who eventually became my husband. It's not like I just saw him and tossed the idea of being a nun out of my head, it was the most difficult decision I've ever made. In fact I could say that after four children and 35 years of marriage, I still have moments when I look back and wonder, "What if...".

On the day that I was to marry my husband, I woke up early and instead of being excited that the big day had finally arrived, I felt panic stricken. All those former dreams of being a Dominican nun started to take over my thoughts. I started pacing back and forth in my bedroom, mumbling under my breath, "God, am I doing the right thing? Should I marry him or am I making a mistake?" I couldn't understand why I suddenly started having second thoughts about getting married instead of becoming a nun. After all, it's not like I hadn't been planning this wedding for a year and I was sure that I had made the right decision when I said yes to my future husband's proposal. He knew when we met that I was planning to join a religious order, he gave me all the time I needed to make the decision on whether to be with him or stick with my former plans to go into the convent. I don't know...I think I was expecting some big booming voice to tell me what to do, but it didn't happen. It's the first time in my life that I could remember wishing I didn't have free will. I wanted HIM to make this call. Looking back on it now, I was experiencing a major case of 'cold feet'.

A few hours later, dressed in my wedding gown with bridesmaids fluttering around the room, messing with my hair, veil, and talking a blue streak, I could only hear muffled sounds above the pounding in my heart...I wanted to bolt. After a few more pictures from the photographer while I posed under the apple tree in my front yard, hoping that a bird wasn't going to take a dump on my veil, my dad came out of the house looking as handsome as ever, and said, "C'mon Mary Ellen, we have to get to the church." I a deer in the headlights, my feet wouldn't move. I knew that once I made a step toward that car, there was no turning back, I was going to be "Mrs."-- not "Sister". I don't know what it was that made me finally start heading for the car, but my feet started moving and before I know it, I was on my way. Once I arrived at the church and stood with my dad's arm tucked around mine ready to walk up the aisle, I felt a sudden calm come over me and that sick feeling I had just disappeared. I saw my husband to be, waiting at the altar, smiling, and I knew then...being a nun was not my calling.

The reason I decided to share that story with you is to give you an idea of who I am and how much I have always depended on God's guidance in my life. He never forced Himself upon me, but patiently waited for me to come to Him. He made sure on that day I stood ready to march down the aisle to get married, that His peace was with me. That's the calm I felt at that moment...God's peace and love. I felt as if it wasn't just my dad walking me down that aisle, but the Father was right there with me. Anyone who has seen some of the things I've written in my past will see that I tend to be a bit irreverent at times (ok, that's an understatement), but deep in my heart my faith in God is unfailing.

So, what will I be writing about? Church doctrine (sounds boring, but it doesn't have to be), current issues within the Church, Satan, miracles, visions, saints, and a lot more. My posting may be slow in the beginning, until I get the hang of this and juggle my schedule a bit. Don't worry, there will be plenty of posts that aren't "deep", that's just not my style. I welcome all comments, whether you want to discuss further what I've written or disagree with my positions. Disagreeing is fine, as long as you are respectful, especially to any other bloggers who may stop by.

Oh, and before I forget! Thank you Two Crows for inviting me to be a co-writer on this blog!


Monday, January 13, 2003


When I peruse around the blogosphere, there seems to be one common theme among many bloggers, Christian and Atheists alike-- they seem to despise Pope Benedict XVI. I've seen criticism about his views on womens roles in the Church, his strict authoritarian manner, and what seems to be a disconnect from the people, especially American members within the Roman Catholic Church. It's not just the average practicing Catholic who don't connect to Pope Benedict, some of his priests and Bishops aren't all that keen on him either.

When it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI was coming to the United States and would be celebrating the Mass in Washington, The Reverend Gerald Fogarty decided not to go because he was busy teaching that day at the University of Virginia. The Reverend John Dufell thought of joining him at Yankee Stadium, but...he just happened to have a couple of weddings to do, so he took a pass. Paul Kane, a retired lawyer who goes to church in Georgetown, laughed at the idea of seeing the Pope.

The Pope seems to have the most difficulty with the chancery bureaucrats within the RCC (Roman Catholic Church). The day that the Pope was elected after the death of John Paul II, it is said that there were two reactions when the cardinal intoned, "Josephum"...there was great love and intense hate. Some chancery officials looked dumbstruck, their faces filled with shock and revulsion. "It's time for another nine days of mourning." The assistant director of the Archdioceses of Galveston-Houston said, "We can pray for another thirty day pontificate," (alluding to the short reign of Pope John Paul I who died 30 days after he was elected Pope). Another said, "The Episcopal church is looking better all the time."

My own personal experience of that day was when I was teaching 6th grade religion classes at my parish. I walked into the office to see the secretaries and the directors looking tense and sad. They moaned that they had lost all hope that women could ever play a strong roll within the Catholic church, nothing will change now.

I must admit, I knew little about Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Looking at his physical appearance on TV as they were flashing pictures of him on CNN, he looked a little mean, not much of a Shepherd. I just shook that off because I knew it would be difficult for anyone to fill the shoes of the much respected and beloved Pope John Paul II. Pope John Paul II could connect with any age group, and especially seem to enamor the youth. Teens loved him and would try to reach out and touch him when he walked by, as if he was a rock star. He loved his flock and most of them loved him. He didn't score many points with some women, especially those thought that hoped they would see the RCC allow women an equal role as men in the ministry. They want to be priests, they want celibacy to finally be abandoned, and Pope John Paul II said emphatically, "No." The announcement of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new Pontiff squashed any signs of hope for women's future as leaders within the Catholic Church as far as some woman were concerned.

On the other hand, when Pope Benedict arrived in the United States, he drew huge crowds of cheering people wherever he went. Youth groups arrived in buses in order to attend his Masses. To make it clear, it is not mandatory for Catholic teens to attend these events, parishes will often offer a trip to an event like this and the teens will pay the costs for transportation, food, and lodging if they are spending the night. Volunteers from the parish go along as chaperons (all chaperons for the RCC now are given background checks and not allowed to teach or travel with any child or teen unless the background check is completed).

This post isn't going to be a Pope B-16 bash fest, though. I want to explore all sides of the Pope---the good, the bad, and the ugly (no I'm not talking about his hats and shoes). Are there any redeeming quality in this man who is hated by so many?

Looking at Pope Benedict's recent whirlwind visit of the United States, he made a speech to the UN and emphasized the need for the world community to protect human rights everywhere and for religious leaders to appeal to the common sense of truth rather than dogma as a basis for cooperation. Ok...what part of that is offensive to Americans, Catholic or otherwise?

Pope Benedict called for immigration reform. He renounced emphatically the war in Iraq and Afghanistan should end. He gave a speech to the presidents of Catholic colleges and universities and reaffirmed the primacy of free intellectual inquiry and academic freedom as protected by the faith. What part of that is controversial? Isn't this what academia have been crying for?

The issue of the clerical sexual abuse cases, of course, is the prime target for many and Pope Benedict was also blamed for that. I heard many say that they would bet that the Pope wouldn't touch that subject with a ten foot pole when he comes to the U.S. While driving my son to school in the morning, I heard two radio personalities, Don and Roma, talking about how they "hadn't heard" anything about the Pope apologizing for that travesty and how "out of touch" with humanity he was. However, the reality is that Pope Benedict did discuss this more than once, and in very clear terms while he was here. On the Papal plane he met with reporters and said, "We are deeply ashamed, and we will do all that is possible that this cannot happen in the future." He repeatedly engaged the sexual abuse crisis during his trip here.

Benedict said that efforts to address this crisis would have to unfold on three levels: The legal and judicial, the pastoral, and programs of prevention to ensure that the future priests are "sound". He added that "it's more important to have good priests than to have many."

The pope also admitted that the crisis was handled very badly. In his address to the American bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, he again addressed this issue. He devoted five full paragraphs to sexual abuse of children, referring to it as 'evil' and 'sin".

But that's not all...he also addressed this during his Mass at Washington's National Park. He said, "I acknowledge the pain which the church in America has experienced as a result of the sexual abuse of minors," "No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse." This doesn't sound to me like a man who is hiding or ignoring the problems of clerical sexual abuse within the Church.

I'm always confused by those who call for the Pope...or anyone to apologize, and when they do with all sincerity, they are told "it's not good enough". If no apology is enough, why call for one?

Regarding women's roles within the church, I agree, I think they should be able to have more of a role. I do think, that women who are crying out for this change, should remember that the RCC moves at a snails pace. I think many who jumped up with excitement with the installation of Vatican II were getting a bit ahead of themselves. They thought that once there was a crack in the virtual dam which held women back, was going to crack wide open and there would be a gush of changes for women within the Church. It didn't happen. There were big changes in how we received the Eucharist and who could give out the Eucharist. Now, any man or woman can be a Eucharistic Minister (one who distributes the Holy Eucharist to those in hospitals, nursing homes, homebound, or at Mass).

Just to give you an idea of how this Pope is put under the microscope even within the Catholic community, I remember a flurry of angst and anger coming from Catholics when there was an announcement that the Pope was going to allow the comeback of the Latin Mass. There were cries that he was bringing us back to 18th century. When I heard this, I too became a little worried. But then, I did what I always do, I researched what this was all about. I found that Pope Benedict wasn't forcing anyone to go to a Latin Mass, what he did was lift the restrictions on celebrating the old form of the Latin Mass. In a decree titled "Summorum Pontificum", he helped to cut the red tape that was put in place during Vatican II, which said that in order for a parish to have a Latin Mass, they had to seek permission by the Bishop to do so. Now a group of Catholic parishioners can ask their local priest to celebrate Mass in Latin and even get baptized or married according to the old Latin rite. This will not require the approval of a bishop. Mass will also continue to be celebrated in local languages, as it is now. The reason he did this is because the Latin Mass was considered sacred in earlier generations and remains sacred and great for us, too. See? He was only trying to give traditional catholics the freedom to attend a Mass where they feel comfortable. Many traditional catholics don't like attending the new churches that don't provide kneeler's to used during the Consecration of the Eucharist, and they're not particularly fond of some of the music that is used during those services. The Pope was doing what a leader is supposed to do, be fair to all his flock and not favor one over the other.

The Vatican isn't any different than any other governmental institution. Along with the good and the mundane day to day work of the Church, there is bureaucracy, dissent and even corruption. But is it wise to tear down whoever leads it because they don't meet with the views of everyone within its membership? Is it possible to please everyone? For Benedict, God is Truth with a capital T and exists before and outside humans and institutions. That Truth is the only authority, and that authority requires obedience. Benedict's fans say he is at his most eloquent and inspiring when teaching about that Truth. His theology is hardly radical, but it is orthodox. It's not that he doesn't care about people, it's that he wants people to care more about Jesus.



Many people have compared the Catholic Church to the Mafia because they say once you're in, you can never leave. Now, we all know that isn't true! Right?

Ok, there are a few rules of etiquette that you must follow in the Catholic Church that seem to be very similar to the Mafioso rules of etiquette. Tell me what you think...

  1. Never look at the wives of friends.

  2. Never be seen with cops.

  3. Don’t go to pubs and clubs.

  4. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife’s about to give birth.

  5. Appointments must absolutely be respected.

  6. Wives must be treated with respect.

  7. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.

  8. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.

  9. People who can’t be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn’t hold to moral values.

  1. Never look at the wives of friends.

  2. Never be seen with cops.

  3. Don't go to clubs and pubs.

  4. Always being available for the Knights of Columbus, it's a duty - even if your wife’s about to give birth.

  5. Appointments with the Pastor must absolutely be respected.

  6. Husbands must be treated with respect.

  7. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.

  8. Money can never be appropriated if it belongs to others in your family, i.e. don't steal change from your kids piggy bank to put in the collection basket. The Church will accept checks or money orders.

  9. People who can’t be part of Knights of Columbus: women or anyone who behaves badly and doesn’t hold to moral values.

I'm sorry, this is all I have for you today. I have to leave town on some family business (real family, not mafioso) on this Wednesday (April 30) and should be returning (hopefully) on the following Wednesday (May 7th). On Tuesday I can only come around intermittently because I have a lot of errands to run before I leave.

If any of you are into praying...pray that I am invisible to all traffic radar cops, and that I may be blessed with the patience of a saint while driving through Indiana rush hour traffic.


Sunday, January 12, 2003


When Two Crows asked me if I would like to be a partner on this blog, I was flattered, to say the least. But the challenges of writing a total opposite view of someone you truly admire has been a daunting task for me. Not to mention, I realize that my views as a Christian...a Catholic, differ widely from the views of most of the readers who come to this blog. For that matter, it differs from the views of many I read on the Internet. Let's face it, Catholicism is a very misunderstood religion. Heck, even Catholics, themselves, are often confused by our doctrine.

That said, with all that Two Crows has written on reincarnation, I thought I would put forth the Catholic views on the subject. Nothing I am writing is in anyway a slam what is written by Two Crows, we just happen to have different belief's, that's all. After all, we are writing about all things spiritual, and that is very difficult to wrap our human minds around,isn't it?

The subject of reincarnation is an age old discussion that has dated back as far as the Greeks. 20% of today's world religious population are either Hindu or Buddhist with both religions believing in reincarnation. According to Hinduism’s most sacred scripture, the Bhagavad-gita (5.18), “the humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater.” Social ills such as racism, sexism, nationalism, caste-ism, and speciesism arise because souls falsely identify with their temporary bodies. On the spiritual platform, all are equal.

A 1990 Gallup poll found that 25 percent of Catholics in the United States believe in reincarnation. Another recent survey, by the University of London, concluded that 28 percent of the people in France believe in reincarnation, while only 57 percent believe in God.

Belief in reincarnation has been strongly embraced by the New Age movement in the United States. It was Shirley MacLaine, an avid New Age disciple, who said she recalls being taught: "The theory of reincarnation is recorded in the Bible. But the proper interpretations were struck from it during an ecumenical council meeting of the Catholic Church in Constantinople sometime around A.D. 553, called the Council of Nicaea [sic]" (Out on a Limb, 234–35). Where did she get her information? Certainly not from doing any real research into her claim. The fact is that there was no Council of Nicaea in A.D. 553. Further, the two ecumenical councils of Necaea (A.D. 325 and A.D. 787) took place in the city of Nicaea and neither dealt with reincarnation. What did take place in A.D, 553 was the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople. Records show that it, too, did not address the subject of reincarnation...none of the early councils did.

The closest the Second Council of Constantinople came to addressing reincarnation was, in one sentence, to condemn Origen, an early Church writer who believed souls exist in heaven before coming to earth to be born. New Agers confuse this belief in the pre-existence of the soul with reincarnation and claim that Origen was a staunch believer in reincarnation. Actually, he was one of the most prolific early writers against reincarnation!

The true origin of where Shirley got her ideas that Origen taught reincarnaiton came from the book, Reincarnation in Christianity, written by Geddes MacGregor. MacGregor speculated that Origen's texts which he claimed were written in support of this belief were somehow suppressed or disappeared. Admitting he had no evidence, MacGregor nonetheless stated, "I am convinced he taught reincarnation in some form". So there ya go! He says these texts once existed, with no evidence to prove this, Shirley reads his book and then writes her own book repeating the same false statement, and Voila! The doctrine of reincarnation is accepted by New Agers!

The fact is, Oregin did not believe in reincarnation, and it is stated in many of his writings. Just to show a few instances:

"If the doctrine [of reincarnation] was widely current, ought not John to have hesitated to pronounce upon it, lest his soul had actually been in Elijah? And here our churchman will appeal to history, and will bid his antagonists [to] ask experts of the secret doctrines of the Hebrews if they do really entertain such a belief. For if it should appear that they do not, then the argument based on that supposition is shown to be quite baseless" (ibid.).

"Someone might say, however, that Herod and some of those of the people held the false dogma of the transmigration of souls into bodies, in consequence of which they thought that the former John had appeared again by a fresh birth, and had come from the dead into life as Jesus. But the time between the birth of John and the birth of Jesus, which was not more than six months, does not permit this false opinion to be considered credible. And perhaps rather some such idea as this was in the mind of Herod, that the powers which worked in John had passed over to Jesus, in consequence of which he was thought by the people to be John the Baptist. And one might use the following line of argument: Just as because the spirit and the power of Elijah, and not because of his soul, it is said about John, ‘This is Elijah who is to come’ [Matt. 11:14] . . . so Herod thought that the powers in John’s case worked in him works of baptism and teaching—for John did not do one miracle [John 10:41]—but in Jesus [they worked] miraculous portents" (Commentary on Matthew 10:20 [A.D. 248]).

"Now the Canaanite woman, having come, worshipped Jesus as God, saying, ‘Lord, help me,’ but he answered and said, ‘It is not possible to take the children’s bread and cast it to the little dogs.’ . . . [O]thers, then, who are strangers to the doctrine of the Church, assume that souls pass from the bodies of men into the bodies of dogs, according to their varying degree of wickedness; but we . . . do not find this at all in the divine Scripture" (ibid., 11:17).

"In this place [when Jesus said Elijah was come and referred to John the Baptist] it does not appear to me that by Elijah the soul is spoken of, lest I fall into the doctrine of transmigration, which is foreign to the Church of God, and not handed down by the apostles, nor anywhere set forth in the scriptures" (ibid., 13:1).

What Oregin did believe was that the soul existed before birth and the Church believed that the soul didn't exist until conception of birth. The discussion of when a fetus has a soul is still in dispute among many, even within the Catholic Church, but the doctrine still holds, life-including soul-begins at conception.

This isn't to say that the Catholic Church has ignored the discussion of reincarnation. Pope John Paul II had called scholars from around the world to have a conference, "Reincarnation and the Christian Message." At this conference, church leaders emphasized that reincarnation is incompatible with Christian doctrine.

Pope John Paul II acknowledged in his 1994 apostolic letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente ("As the Third Millennium Draws Near") that the belief in reincarnation expresses the human "inexpressible longing to live forever."

"How are we to imagine a life beyond death?" the Pope wrote. "Some have considered various forms of reincarnation: depending on one's previous life, one would receive a new life in either a higher or lower form, until full purification is attained. This belief, deeply rooted in some Eastern religions, itself indicates that man rebels against the finality of death. He is convinced that his nature is essentially spiritual and immortal." The Pope stated definitively in his letter: "Christian revelation excludes reincarnation, and speaks of a fulfillment which man is called to achieve in the course of a single earthly existence."

The stresses of life, the longing for immortality and existential angst tempted even some of the earliest Christians to consider reincarnation. It was in the first generation of the Church that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews thought it necessary to say, "Human beings die once, and after this [comes] the judgment" (9:27).

The author of the book, Reincarnation: The Missing Link in Christianity, begs to differ with the Church. It basically repeats the thoughts of early Gnostic's. In the foreword of the book, written by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, her daughter Erin wrote: "I find Christianity's take on life incredibly bleak. If we really have only one shot at eternity in either heaven or hell, what happens to those of us whose lives are cut short by war or cancer? And if Jesus can simply wipe away all of our past mistakes, is there a point to our actions on earth?"

This sentiment by many Gnostic's is their claim that God's justice shows no mercy, whereas reincarnation enables us to work out our problems, through endless lifetimes, on our own steam. Elizabeth Prophet observes that "seemingly decent people commit murders.... Although murder is a serious crime, do those who commit it really deserve eternal punishment?" Instead of looking at the complete doctrine of the Catholic Church...or any Christian church for that matter, she doesn't mention the possibility of repentance or forgiveness. Believers in reincarnation are left with one tomorrow after the next until they "complete their life plans".

Christian views that reincarnation is incompatible with what Jesus taught about death and the afterlife. Luke 16:19-31 records Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus. In this parable, both the rich man and Lazarus die, but neither is reincarnated. Instead, both go on to their eternal reward: the rich man to torment, Lazarus to paradise (Luke 16:23).

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus makes it clear that Jesus didn't believe in reincarnation after death, but in judgment. This is also the teaching of the New Testament writers and was summed up by the author of Hebrews when he wrote, "It is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).

Elizabeth Prophet asks the question, "Could you be a Christian and still believe in reincarnation?" The Catholic Church would answer in the negative, you can only affirm reincarnation if you deny Incarnation, and only if you deny the Man, Jesus, who said, "Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." (Luke 24:39)