Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Holy Father and the Cult of False Idols

At the last Mass of the Holy Father in Cuba, one image from the television coverage impressed me above anything else: looking out over Revolution Square in Havana, from the vantage point of the large altar area where the Pope stood, off in the distance, the camera took in an immense mural of Che Guevara. When at UC Berkeley, I got continually annoyed having to see his face on everything from t-shirts to bumper stickers. Later I learned, that like most secular idols, Guevara was one of the most over-touted and despicable personalities in history, for many of the key moments in his life have remained purposely fuzzy; as the image overpowered the true person behind the hype and propaganda. Here, I am reminded of the endless softball questions thrown to Obama during his 2008 campaign and the vault full of documents that to this day he refuses to release. Though what is truly remarkable about Obama is that he was able to present an already solidified mythic image before he had actually achieved anything. Because even though many pop idols have a sketchy claim to fame, the lore of Obama was conjured up from near nothingness; a couple of mediocre self-serving books and a short stint in local and national politics.
On a polar opposite plan are many of our contemporary heroic Catholic religious and saints who have been fully vetted by a suspicious media and by the Church's own scrupulous examination processes. Their images do not need propping up or governmental propaganda apparatuses to remain fully relevant. Interestingly, Pope Pius XII sustains a major following despite a flood of particularly nasty fantasy-filled books and negative press. Of course, the current Holy Father is also a prime example, as after his election the international media stalked down almost everyone he ever spoke to as a child and adult and scoured through decades of written material hoping to find any hint of scandal. Despite their efforts, they emerged empty-handed. While the same so-called media repeatedly failed to do even the most miniscule amount of investigative journalism when it came to Obama. But this pseudo-religion, that is essentially Marxist, as it contends to sustain state-driven symbols as new gods, is destined to fail. These false idols are pap to the populace and are largely distractions manufactured to confuse and obscure; and the list is endless from degenerate music-queens to criminalized sports stars and hollow ganster martyrs. But there is always hope: the Holy Father, on his way to Mexico, stated: “it is evident that Marxist ideology as it was conceived no longer responds to reality.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fr. John Corapi and Fr. Donald Calloway: Divergent Commonalities

Before his well-publicized trials that unfortunately played out in front of the world, I was quite the admirer of Fr. John Corapi. Regardless of what he may or may have not done, the story of his conversion will always be a powerful testament to the loving power of the Lord's forgiveness. At about the same time as Fr. Corapi was going through his tribulations, I met a dynamic young priest who in many ways reminded me of him. I saw the same passion in his homilies and spiritual talks, the same sort of prodigal-son background, and the same adulation from the public. If you are not familiar with Fr. Donald Calloway's story, in brief: he came from a broken home, got into drugs, crime and promiscuity; all at a very young age. He had a St. Paul conversion, became a Catholic, and then entered the priesthood eventually becoming a father with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception (MIC.) He has written several books including his biography “No Turning Back.”
The main difference I see between the two men is in their divergent religious lives. From what I understand, Fr. Caropi entered the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity (SOLT) when the order was still a fledgling congregation just starting to develop. He was given a rather wide bit of leeway and functioned as almost a free-agent priest. It seems that he rarely if ever lived in community. Never being under the direct supervision of a superior. Hence, this is where his problems arose. On the opposite spectrum, Fr. Colloway has always lived with his community even though he maintains a strenuous speaking schedule that looks to be not as jam-packed as Fr. Corapi's when he was still in his heyday. That also may be a clue to why Fr. Corapi floundered as he neither had the support nor the direction from a community and he often had to muscle through a tasking non-stop travel schedule that probably left little time for prayer.
Fr. Calloway seems to have been able to strike a balance between his public-life and a religious centered existence where he can still rejuvenate his inner spirit. Fr. Calloway is also the Vocations Director for the MIC. This added duty must help him to stay grounded and keeps him continually tied with his community. For exceptional souls, such as Fr. Corapi and Calloway, must be given special direction. For example, St. Bernadette of Lourdes often endured harsh even sometimes cruel treatment from her superiors and fellow sisters, but those examining her cause for sainthood often mentioned her persistence in the religious life as one of the primary impetuses for her eventual canonization. Her seclusion in the religious life kept her humble. In contrast, Melanie, one of the two seers from La Salette, stumbled from one religious order to another eventually ending up a rather sad figure; corrupted by a curious world. These men need the same type of structure. Unfortunately, Fr. Corapi tried to do it on his own.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

San Francisco: A Catholic Guide to the City of Sin

Some may be surprised to learn that San Francisco, which is often more remembered for it's liberal present and bohemian past, has a rich Catholic tradition. Although, Los Angeles is now the largest city in the State, when LA was still a backwater, San Francisco was regarded as the Paris of the West. For this reason there are relatively few impressive Catholic structures in LA and a number of historic churches, shrines and chapels in San Francisco. Here are some of my favorites:
Saint Ignatius:
650 Parker Ave. (Across the street from Christo Rey.)

Carmel of Christo Rey:
721 Parker Ave. (Across the street from Saint Ignatius.)

Notre Dame des Victoires:
566 Bush St. (Downtown.)

Legion of Honor Art Museum:
100 34th St. (Lincoln Park.)

Mission Dolores:
3321 16th St. (Mission District.)

Shrine of Saint Francis and The Porziuncola:
610 Vallejo St. (North Beach.)

Chapel of The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration:
771 Ashbury St. (Haight-Ashbury District.)
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Saints Peter and Paul:
666 Filbert St. (North Beach.)