Month: December 2010

To Hell With Trivia!

We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics. My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

Michael J. Sheehan  Archbishop of Santa Fe


To Hell with trivia that is trying to damage my Catholicism. If my treasure chest, filled with gold, gems and wealth of fantastic value, was covered with scratches, dust and rust, I wouldn’t dump it into the trash bin. 

The Church is a treasure chest. During the past 2000 years it has been reshaped and battered, but it is a sturdy strongbox, protecting what is of real essence. During its long history it has been buffeted by heretics, corrupt Popes, schisms and ridiculous decisions and actions.  Today, here is a sampling of the blows it is taking:

– Pope Benedict seems to have stumbled with his discussion of condoms. On this slippery slope, he intended to espouse a tradition of Catholic moral reasoning.

– After spending $500,000 to renovate the church in Lorain, Ohio, the bishop ordered it (and 50 other churches) to close.  In ignoring the protests of parishioners, he refused to engage them in meaningful dialogue.

– The universal scandal of homoerotic priests gets much publicity, even though it involves less than 2% of the splendid religious who are devoting their lives to the Church.

– The Vatican Bank is accused of money laundering.

– In 1996 Catholic Common Group Initiative warned that without addressing polarization, “the Church would be torn by dissension and weakened in its core structures.”

– To the outside world and many Catholics, the Church is so enamored with and dedicated to the Pro-Life cause that it is viewed as merely an anti Pro-Choice organization.

– “For heaven’s sake, why doesn’t the Church realize we should again have married priests?”

– “When are those old bachelors in clerical garb going to wake up to the times, and ordain women deacons?”

– etc. etc.-etc.-etc.

          That enough for the treasure chest — let’s look inside. There we find items, some over 4000 years old that confirm the birth of our religion; these are the revelations from God to the Jewish people.  Next, there are 2000 years of documentation of our Faith confirming that (a) there is one God, and (b) as Jesus, God became man. Inside, we find the Holy Spirit and nineteen centuries of devotion to the Virgin Mary. There is a recording of millions of martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for our Faith.

          Also, there also are the accumulated thoughts and writings of outstanding theologian, like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. Of greatest value is the Sacrament of Communion — the Holiest of the Holy.


As Joyful Catholics we think both historically and spatially. We attempt to see things with the lucidity of a child’s eyes. As the French Dominican, Father Bro, stated, “If he so wishes, each of us succeeds perfectly in suffocating the questions that disturb him in anesthetizing them.”

Regarding the endless flow of trivia attacking our Church, we embrace basic truths, We have neither the time or interest in becoming the judge, jury and executioner of our dust-covered treasure chest with its scratches and rust. It will survive ’til the moon is no longer.

          In 1481, in Florence, Father Girolamo Savonarola, O.P., wrote: “At the end of the life of reason is the contemplation of divine things. So the more perfect a man abstracts himself from earthly things and devotes himself to the contemplation of that which is divine, the more perfect will be his life.

          With our pertinacity to basics, we Joyful Catholics put aside the peripheral and focus on essential truths.  We nod in agreement to this statement by Saint Francis de Sales, “My God, what a shame that we are so inconstant! Surely, there is no stability in us and yet this is the most essential quality in the spiritual life.”



And let me have your thoughts. (


Other recommended Catholic blogs

Sacred Space (the Jesuits in Ireland) Saint Louis Catholic

Shepherd of Fort Worth (a new blog by Bishop Kevin W. Vann)


Recommended readings

–         “Dead and Back Again”, by Marilyn Prever in the November/December Touchstone.

–          “Cash-cowed” by Margaret O’Brien Steinfels in the November 19 Commonweal.

–         “Courageous creativity and rigorous fidelity” in the November Homiletic & Pastoral Review.


Last week, the winner of the autographed copy of Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholic is Sheila Rassmen in Calmar, IA. Here are the answers:

1.     Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s maiden name was Bayley

2.     John was not one of the missionary companions of Paul.

3.     Next to Warsaw, Chicago is the city with the largest Polish population.


We Do Indeed Need to Show Joy as Catholics

We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics.  

My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop of Santa Fe


News Flashes

–             In his 11/21 New York Times column, Nicholas Kristof blasts charities who have staggering administrative costs, and he praises Catholic Charities as one of our most efficient and effective charities.

–         Under the category of  “nothing is new”, St. Luke wrote in the first century, As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

–         There have been massive demonstrations in Brussels, Paris and London about the Iraqi abuse of Christians following the slaughter of those at a Mass in Baghdad. Outside of Cardinal George urging President Obama to come to the aid of Iraqi Christians, we American seem oblivious to this situation. Could it be because of our sense of guilt in unilaterally being the nation that devastated this country?

–         In line with my blog about Sing-along Masses, Zenit listed the Pope’s ideas how to improve participation at Mass.  Here are a few of his suggestions (Hey, you priests, are you listening?) The word can only be heard in silence, outward and inward. The people must be educated in the value of silence. When called for, silence should be considered a part of the celebration.


My favorite priest, layperson, breathing saint or organization

As my favorite laypersons, I endorse Violet and Allen Large in Nova Scotia, who won $11 million in lottery.  They spent it all, and not a cent for themselves. They donated everything to charities. 75-year-old Allen said, “That money that we won was nothing. We have each other.” (I wonder if I would do the same. What about you?)

(Now, tell me about your favorite Catholic priest, layperson or organization that is making a difference


Interesting Sayings 

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.   A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.   
Thomas Jefferson 


I call everyone ‘Darling’ because I can’t remember their names.  Zsa Zsa Gabor


If a man wishes to know the deepest ocean of divine understanding, let him first scan the sea, and the less he find himself to understand of those creatures which lurk beneath the waves, the more let him realize that he knows less of the depths of its Creator.

Saint Columban (died 615)


The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

A self-justifying procrastinator



As the lucky winner of Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics, I want you to know I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It is a fresh breeze for our Church.

Dorothy Wilson

 It is through the fissiparousness of us Joyful Catholics that the Church will continue to expand.

                                                Dr. Roger Duckworth 

I agree with your three reasons to respect the Muslims. But for me, that’s all.

                                                Mildred Richard

 Chuckle Time

In a grade school production of the Christmas Story, the youngster playing the role of the stern innkeeper was unhappy with his assignment. The night of the play when Joseph knocked on the door, the kid followed the script and said, “Go away. The inn if filled and there is no room for you and Mary.”

          Then he added, “But come in and have a drink.”

Special Intentions List

As you pray with a broad brush, please include these loved ones, who have been submitted by our readers. You, too, are invited to send me names of your special persons who are in need of prayer.  My address is They will be on the list for 60 days. At the end of that time, if prayers are still needed, you merely have to renew the name. 

Juanita Caldwell, Isola Todd, David Abbey, Linwood “Skip” Williams, Roseanne Somlock, Nicholas Gallagher, Tom Lewis, Donald Whitcomb, Violeta Zepeda, John Aylor,

Rev. Joseph Marini, Enrique Portillo, Sharon McPike, Tom Ryan,

 Joseph Normile, Jim Quimby, Russell Edwards, Gertrude Goldstein,

Rev. Stephen Huffstetter, Hugh Cannon, Eric Moore, Joan Barrett, 8-year-old Michael Fotta and his parents, Lolita Alvarez, Camilus Musselman,

 Ed Block, Isobel Milligan, Peter Bartkiewiez and his family,

 Joe Toles, Grace Toomey, Bob Earll, Camilus Musselman,   Ed Cole, Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Jay Parker, William Stephenson, Roger Stoven, Bob Abbott, Denny Kline, Lois Pinkin, Larry Mannino, Cheryl DeSantis

The cholera victims in Haiti.

We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics

We do indeed need to show joy as Catholics.   My motto — “Be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

Michael J. Sheehan Archbishop of Santa Fe


The Thoughts of a Caterpillar,

…while during the lava period inside its cocoon, are in three stages. The first is pre-cocoon:  “During my crawling days, I worked like a Trojan 24 hours a day, moving and eating to be in good shape for my transition day. Then, with guidance from Something Outside, from my own insides I spun enough fabric to attach to a branch and completely encircle myself into an airtight cocoon.”

          Next comes mid-term: “After this task was finished, I completely relaxed and let happen whatever was to be. I sensed a phenomena taking place within me. So be it.”

            Third is the Wow! stage. “Look at me now that I have broken out of the cocoon! Instead of a row of tractor-like legs, I have four graceful spindly ones. My body is trim with long antennas at my forehead. And attached to my back are now unfolding two large wings with a beautiful pattern of many colors. Soon, I will flap them and be airborne.

          “When I was crawling, I used to look up and see butterflies flying and I said, ‘They’ll never get me up in one of those things’ and now I am one!”

          In many ways, we Joyful Catholic can relate. Regarding the pre-cocoon time, Saint Albert the Great wrote over eight hundred years ago: So long as man lingers, trifling with the objects of the imagination and senses, he has not yet passed beyond the limits and instinct of his animal nature, which he possesses in common with the animals. They know and feel through images and their senses, nor can it be otherwise, for they have no higher powers. Not so it is with man, who by his intelligence, affections and will, is created in the image and likeness of God. Hence it is by these powers that he ought, without intermediary, purely and directly to commune with God, be united to him and cling to him 

          The mid-term period is like the passive moments following receiving Communion, and after prayer and mediation when we relax and let the Holy Trinity take over. With faith, we don’t question our inner transition taking place, and we agree with Saint Cyril of Alexandria who said in 430, “Those who have maintained an honorable and elect life, full of all excellence, and have been accounted worth of attaining to a glorious and marvelous resurrection, will be necessarily raised for above the life which men led in this world.” 

          Our Wow! stage is when we Joyful Catholics are alert and let the miracles, large and small, take place. Under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, we accomplish and achieve what we could not have done on our own.  We flourish in a new life, filled with spiritual frisson. Now, let’s soar!

(How does this grab you? 


Recommended Readings

– “Mary’s Theocentrism” by Fr. Joseph F. Previtali, in the October issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review.

–  “A Showdown For the Ages” in the November issue of New Oxford Review, this is a warning from Tom Brejcha,  “The longer Notre Dame presses (the prosecution of the 88 protesters of President Obama having been honored), the more estranged the university will become from the prolife movement.”

–   the article by Kevin O’Rourke, O.P., “From Intuition to   Moral Principle,” in the November 15 America.

–         “Are There No Principles Left?” in the November Catholic League Catalyst, by its president William A. Donohue.


The first to send the right answers to will receive a gift copy of Light Reading for Good and Wayward Catholics.

1.     What was the maiden name of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton?

2.     Which of these four was not a missionary companion of Paul?

Silas, Barnabas, John, Mark, Matthew?

3.  Next to Warsaw, what city has the largest Polish population?