How to handle a "scandal." I have personally witne…

How to handle a “scandal.” I have personally witnessed two potential scandals and two different ways of dealing with it. One involved a seminary rector and a number of bishops were involved (they covered it up for as long as they could –several years and then all hell broke loose), the other involved a principal at a Jesuit school (more on this below) where the Jesuit President of the school gathered the entire student body with teachers and we all found out about the allegation at the same time (hell never broke out–the students who were not noteworthy for comportment handled it like men). Cover-up I have found only leads to a bigger scandal, truth extinguishes scandal.

There is a news story today of another incident being handled by the same school I once taught at and if you read the story you’ll see the Jesuits are still doing it the same way (at least in the New Orleans province):

The announcement was met by stunned silence.

My take on the Karen Hughes departure: She says…

My take on the Karen Hughes departure:

She says it is for “her family” and if reports of terrorist threats against Washington, D.C. are true, who can blame her?

Report from the Seminary Today Currently I am a…

Report from the Seminary Today

Currently I am at seminary in the midwest. Since I am good friends with a Bishop who is on the Board of Trustees here, I have access to both the seminary and the seminarians that the press is not allowed. In fact, if I took out my wallet and flashed my PRESS pass, I am sure that I would be quickly ushered out the door. I may try that later today, when I’m actually leaving anyway, but now on to report my experiences yesterday.

I arrived at the seminary in the early afternoon. There were a number of television trucks parked near the entrance. One local news agency was setting up to do a live remote broadcast. When I came into the front entrance I was stopped, and asked why I had come. I responded to meet with one of the faculty members (an OSV author who I had an appointment with later in the day). She told me to have a seat. I asked if I might visit the chapel (to pray). She said someone would have to accompany me.

Now, I haven’t had the experience of “being accompanied” anywhere since I was a child and so I asked why this was the case. She explained that many of the priests and seminarians rooms were right outside the chapel and I would be invading their “privacy.” This explanation went on for some time as I raised a number of questions. Finally, a seminarian arrived, who had been summoned somehow (perhaps a secret button, like a bank teller might have?). He was to be my accompanier. I declined his invitation and asked the receptionist if my friend (the bishop) was out of his meeting.

All of a sudden she started apologizing. She didn’t know who I was, they had to be careful, they had some incidents (no explanation as to what these were), etc. She rang the bishop, he came down and for the rest of the day I had free reign of the place.

I was impressed. The main chapel had undergone the usual deconstruction but another chapel remained untarnished. In the untouched chapel, their were seminarians at prayer (a fair number), and preparations were being made for Eucharistic Adoration. There were students in cassocks, clerics and jeans. I’m guessing that each vesture represented an idealogy. It struck me later when attending Vespers (evening prayer) that they were evenly divided.

It was just before Vespers that I viewed the whole ensemble. They actually seemed to be the same mix of men you would have seen twenty years earlier. They came in all sizes and shapes, as well as ages. Most were young, though their faces bore more stress than one would expect–no doubt due to the approaching final exams and for some ordination.

No shocks, very quiet atmosphere, prayerful. No overtly effeminate men. I am impressed.

More later…

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritua…

This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous are posted below among the other posts and last week’s archives. Here is the Sixth Step:

6. Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).

St. Benedict attaches a scripture passage to this maxim which in many ways points to where he has obtained the previous four. In Romans 13:9 the Apostle wrote, “The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself, (Romans 13:9, NIV).”

The simple rendering not to covet is intriguing. We probably are used to the formulation that we should not covet our neighbor’s goods or our neighbor’s wife, but here there is just the simple injunction not to covet. There is nothing more difficult in the culture that we live in than to rid ourselves of desire.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha (enlightened one), based an entire religion on ridding ourselves of what he discovered was the source of all ill. In his four noble truths he stated, that all life is suffering, the cause of suffering is desire, the way to rid the world of suffering is to extinguish desire, that experience is Nirvana.

I remember teaching basically the same truth to teen boys in high school, and receiving a predictable response—“if you rid yourself of desire you wouldn’t move—you would just lie on the couch.” They, mirroring the culture that we live in, saw desire or coveting as a good thing. It is the very fuel that propels one to have great goals and to achieve great success.

But is it?

Doesn’t our desire or coveting rather blind us to achieving our goals, creating a false sense of what is needed to make us happy? What if we were to live each day with a sense of purpose but instead of being concerned about our plan we primarily were focused on God’s will for us.

This may seem too idealistic and we might retort, “How can I know God’s will for me today?” The spiritual writer Jean-Pierre De Caussade in his great spiritual work Abandonment to Divine Providence gave a simple guide to answering the question. The will of God can best be discerned by a simple acceptance of whatever the day brings and to a focus on that.

My spiritual director Benedictine Father Lambert Reilley once mirrored this thought when I complained about all the distractions that I was suffering from. “People keep showing up and interupting the work that I am trying to get done.”

“Why look at them as distractions?” Father Lambert asked me. “Instead see them as people that God is sending to you.” What Father Lambert (who now is Archabbot Lambert) was saying to me was mirrored in the Rule of Saint Benedict’s injunction that the monks were to welcome the stranger as though Christ himself were arriving at the monastery.

So this notion of coveting, covers not only material things and the relationships that others have, it also covers are very time and the way we view it. Time is the biggest culprit in the whole business of ridding ourselves of coveting. We want and desire to have _______________(fiill in the blank) right now rather than waiting until it comes our way.

If it is our health, we want to feel better now, so we take drugs that in the long run ruin our immune system. If we are trying to lose weight, we want it now so we may injure our health seeking a quick solution. If we want material items why wait, put it on credit. All in all, coveting is a rejection of the world that we live in as it is, and the message of the Gospel is just the opposite, the world is not changed by wishing it to be otherwise, but rather by confronting the world as it is and dealing with it.

Why would we not sit around on the couch, if we rid ourselves of desiring? Because we would realize that we have work to do and it needs to be done now! The very act of coveting if we conceptualize it is that of a dreamer, not someone who is immersed in reality.

The opposite of coveting is acceptance.

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