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I am slowly deciphering some of the written materials left by the late Msgr. William J. Awalt. For review and comments, they are being posted at my BLOGGER PRIEST site.


Msgr. Awalt was the pastor of St. Ann’s Church in NW Washington , DC for just over 30 years, retiring in the year 2000. I was honored to preach at the Mass celebrating his 60th anniversary as a priest in 2007. His pastorate was marked by a deep devotion to the Eucharist and a never-ending preoccupation with preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith.

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Stoned to Death for Adultery

Today’s news included the story about a stoning of an adulterous couple, 20 year old Sadiqa and her lover 28 year old Qayum. Qayum had left his wife for her and the two were caught at a friend’s house by the Taliban. This past Sunday, before a crowd of 150 men, they were stoned to death in the Kunduz providence of northern Afghanistan. Before the fall of Taliban rule such stonings were common. Such brutality shocks us but it speaks volumes about the mentality of the enemy and their brutal religious beliefs.  (Take note, we are told that such is a distortion of Islam.)   

Despite dark moments in history, by contrast, right-minded Christians would censure wrongdoing but pay heed to the witness of our Lord.

Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” (John 8:2-11)

Our nation seems to have moved to the opposite extreme, excusing all sorts of sexual depravity and the violation of the marriage bond. Adultery, fornication and sodomy were once universally regarded as crimes. Half of the 50 states of the U.S. still regard adultery as a criminal offense. Not in your state? Last I heard it was illegal in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. However, along with the other immoral acts, it is rarely prosecuted. Adultery is still a violation of the military code of conduct and can earn a court martial.

Adultery was defined in some states as actual sexual congress and in others, like Virginia, as “lewd” or “lascivious” associations. I recall a few years ago the authorities used a fornication charge to get a court order to raid a house of a suspected drug pusher— sneaky! Possible penalties for adultery are as severe as a life sentence (Michigan), two years imprisonment (Pennsylvania) or in my own state of Maryland, a $10 fine. Given the money problems in the state, I am surprised the fine is not raised and the law enforced. Just as with the speed and red light cameras which catch offenders for hefty fines, could we not place discrete anti-smooching cameras in parks, near pools, at bars and maybe even in bedrooms? Charging per each offense, I would suspect given the lifestyle and lack of commitment today, the money would come flooding in!

How far must we go to insure public morality? Who determines today what is right and wrong?

What are your thoughts about all this?

Leave comments at BLOGGER PRIEST.

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I have always had the deepest respect for women religious. It seems to me that we unjustly joke about them or ridicule them. Critics will complain about sister hitting them with a ruler but say nothing about the learning and discipline that made their later successes possible. (By the way, a nun who is four-foot-something tall controlling a class of 50 plus boys might take a broken ruler or two!) These women often did without so that they might make a difference in people’s lives. They gave themselves to God’s service as his brides. Now that so many of them are elderly and sick, we need to remember them with love and respect. They pray in worship to God and in petition for those whom they love.

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Making Myself Scarce

I am not dead, just busy. Blogging is not the fun it used to be. There are so many nasty people, bad for the blood pressure.

Here is an instance, a person from Texas (under various names) offered the following three comments to my blog:

“You make me sick, you old freak. ROT ROT ROT!”

“You narrow-minded bigot. ROT IN HELL!”

“You have no right to call yourself a priest, you are despicable and disgusting, and it is you my friend who will rot in hell. ;)”

I am just sick and tired of it.

Sorry, I do miss the good souls who came to this blog. I will still pop back once-in-a-while. God bless!

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I am experimenting with a new TEMPLATE at http://bloggerpriest.wordpress.com/.

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Some time back I made a post in response to inquiries about people’s pet dogs and the question as to whether they would be given entry into heaven. It is amazing how long the subsequent thread has become. My answer was essentially to stress human immortality and our hope for heaven. Animal substantial forms would continue to exist as paradigms in the divine mind. Anything more would be up to God’s mysterious providence and I would not presume to give an answer where the Church has not. Others were free to speculate, but we would not know anything more fore sure until or if we find ourselves among the saints.

All sorts of responses were elicited. Some were angry with me and thought I was mean-spirited. (I could not post all of these comments.) Others made arguments for the continued existence of animals because they are a part of our affection and shared existence in this world and thus would add to our happiness in the next. Others cited Scripture and argued for a literal new earth. Some ridiculed the whole notion of an afterlife, for anyone or anything. Others agreed with me that the stress had to be upon the beatific vision and how we (people) are made for God. In any case, the whole gambit of responses were made. It actually makes for an interesting discussion. I mention it again here, in case anyone new might like to see the comments or add some.

I would not worry much about the fate of animals after they die.  If we love animals we should do what we can now to protect them from abuse and suffering.  We live in a world where many species are rapidly becoming extinct. 

Further, some may err by the sin of presumption about their own salvation.  Are you sure that you are going to heaven?  Speaking for myself, I have faith in Christ and try to be a faithful disciple in the Church.  I worship God and try to serve him through my charity and sacrifices for others.  However, if people forget God, discount obedience to the commandments, and hate their fellow man… well, they may be in for a terrible surprise!

While I do not agree with everything in the fundamentalist protestant message, here is an interesting clip from a Christian Scare Video that was shown to me in HS Bible Club…

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Many years ago I had a website called the GEHENNA PAGE (1996-97). There really were no blogs back then and the Catholic presence online was pathetic. However, anti-Catholic sites were popping up everywhere and little men were pontificating like popes against the Church. I posted this response below to one critic’s biblical proof texts which were supposed to hurt the Church.

Contending that it was from the devil to prohibit the good of marriage, he made the following citations:

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructions, through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences. They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer (1 Timothy 14:1-4).

I responded that these words refer to a false asceticism and not to the practices of Catholic Christianity. The early Church and well into the Patristic period, had to deal with cults and movements which made all sorts of exaggerated claims and required various austire practices. Some urged a return to Jewish dietary laws. Others wanted to go even further with fasting and abstinence, perpetually destroying joy in the goods of creation. There were even movements which urged strict celibacy upon all members as the only way to enlightenment and salvation.

The Catholic position is quite different. Our use of fasting and abstinence is not perpetual and it is not a rejection of certain foods as unclean or unworthy of man. Rather, their absence, to coin a cleche, is to make the heart grow fonder. It is precisely because something like meat is good that we might temporarily abstain. Jesus himself fasted and prayed in the desert and alluded to it in the future as something his followers would do. As for marriage, Catholics believe that Christ raised it up to a level of a sacrament, a special sacred sign of his relationship as the bridegroom to his bride, the Church. It is a mysterious means of encountering the Lord himself and receiving grace. Obviously, if such is the Catholic view, we would not be seeking to degrade it by our practice of celibacy. Priests and religious vow celibacy freely, not because marriage is bad, but because it is so good. Celibacy becomes a wonderful gift, freely embraced, as a sacrifice for God and his holy people. Jesus was celibate. St. Paul not only practiced it but encouraged it. The celibate priest becomes a sign of contradiction pointing for the kingdom of Christ to a hedonistic world. It is not a rejection of love, but a selfless abandonment to divine love as manifested in service to God’s people, the Church. It is not a calling for everyone, just as not everyone is called to priesthood or consecrated life. The majority of people seek holiness in marriage and family life.

Noting that Peter was married, he asked how could the purported apostolic line come through Peter when Catholic priests and bishops were celibate? The critic followed with more piece-meal verses:

And when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed, sick with a fever (Matthew 8:14).

Now Simon’s mother-in-law was keeping her bed sick with fever, and they immediately told him about her (Mark 1:30).

But he rose from the synagogue and entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a great fever, and they besought him for her (Luke 4:38).

These references to Peter’s mother-in-law do indicate that Peter was married; although her absence from these texts might lend one to think that she experienced some mishap and might have passed away. Be this as it may, the Catholic Church has never hidden the fact that Peter and other religious leaders of the Church were married. Indeed, the Catholic Church had a married clergy all the way up to the 12th century. The Fourth Lateran Council was quite decisive in mandating compulsory celibacy for any who would be priests of the Roman or Western Rite. The Eastern rites of the Catholic Church, to this very day (in Europe and the Far East) have an optional married clergy. These priests are in full union with Rome.

Also, in our own nation many Protestant clergy, Lutheran and Episcopal, have entered into the Roman Catholic priesthood, even though they are married and have families. Those who are raised in the Western rite realize that celibacy is a special gift and a particular charism of our priestly experience. It is a sign of a wondrous single-hearted love. One of the fruits of this sacrifice is the availability that a priest can give to his prayers, study, and service.

Any indication that Peter’s married state would affect apostolic succession is a low blow. Those who followed Peter had a spiritual and not a physical affinity to the great apostle. While the Church has known nepotism, such is the exception and not the rule.

No one forces a young man to become a priest or brother. There is no coercion for a woman to become a nun. They know that vows of poverty, obedience, and celibacy are part of the package. If God gives a person a vocation in the Catholic Church, we believe that he will give them the graces and gifts to follow this life.

The majority of men who leave the priesthood to get married ultimately have failed marriages. Promises are made to be kept. The problem is not the Church or God; the dilemma are people who are unwilling to surrender their lives fully to Christ. Marriage is also a sacrifice, amidst the joys. However, if we trust God and walk with him, he will guide our path.

Acknowledging that St. Paul was single, he claimed that the apostle thought we should have the freedom to marry. The debate continued and the anti-Catholic critic quoted more poorly applied Scripture:

Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and brothers of the Lord, and Kephas? (1 Corinthians 9:5).

The Catholic Church also recognizes the right of people to get married. However, the Church has a right of her own to regulate her ministries. Permanent deacons, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Catechists, Readers, Acolytes, and Lay Evangelists and Ministers all serve the Church and may be married. Would the anti-Catholic demand compulsory matrimony? I hope not. Those who opt for priesthood in the Roman Rite also freely embrace celibacy. This is no less than what St. Paul did. After listing all the various rights that a follower in Jesus possesses, he acknowledges that he has chosen not to use these rights for himself.

Here are some Scripture citations of my own:

[After listing the right to marry among many other freedoms, St. Paul says] Yet we have not used this right. On the contrary, we endure everything, so as not to place an obstacle to the Gospel of Christ. … I have not used any of these rights, … (1 Corinthians 9:12,15).

[After speaking about marriage] This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: It is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, … (1 Corinthians 7:6-8).

[Advice to Virgins and Widows] Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:25-31).

[More on virginity] So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better (1 Corinthians 7:38).

[About a widow] She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 7:40).

[Celibacy is a sign of the kingdom!] His disciples said to him, “If the case of a man with his wife is so, it is not expedient to marry.” And he said, “Not all can accept this teaching; but those to whom it has been given. For there are eunichs who were born so from their mother’s womb; and there are eunichs who were made so by men; and there are eunichs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let him accept it who can” (Matthew 19:10-12).).

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cutie9There are some critics who contend that the scandal in Miami with Father Alberto Cutie is providential. While God can certainly write straight with our crooked lines, I would stress that he never directly intends evil. There I have said it. I have used the big “e” word, EVIL. I am not judging anyone’s soul. However, I can make a judgment upon scandal and the actions of people in the public square that can lead good Catholics astray. I am not sure what happened with Father Alberto Cutie. He has appeared on the news with details we did not need but which have further confused and complicated matters. He insists that for twenty-one years he absolutely preserved his celibacy intact and was not sexually intimate with anyone. That is fine and dandy. But then, what happened? He says he “believes” he has fallen in love. He says he “believes” that God might be calling him to marriage. He says he believes that celibacy is a good thing and does not want to be the poster boy for married priests. He denied a sexual relationship, told one interviewer he had been intimate with the woman in the photographs, but not sexual and yet he apparently said in another news program that he had been sexually intimate with her. He said that he did not go out of his way to make trouble for the Church. He said that he and the woman he cares about were almost alone on the beach and that they were not there long. But the compromising photos were taken, despite attempts at stealth.  Okay, but still he sought to hide a romantic relationship to which he had long ago given up any right to have.

He preached and gave one message in his parish and on radio and television; but he lived another. Had he been an ordinary parish priest, there would have been a local scandal, but it would not be international news. It would not be the stuff of tabloids and anti-Catholic videos. The fact that this censured priest continues to speak about the matter in public is also a growing problem. He has given countless interviews in both English and Spanish. He just will not stop talking.

What can we say to the enemies of compulsory celibacy for priests?  Priestly celibacy is not outdated. It is a powerful sign of contradiction that neither the devil nor the hedonists of the present age can stand. They malign it as a fantasy or cover-up for hordes of homosexual and/or pedophile clergy. Priests forgive the sexual transgressions of other men and women all the time. However, if a priest should fall, there is only recrimination and exile.

There is nothing wrong with men and women expressing love to one another. It is natural and beautiful. But sexual congress belongs to the state of marriage alone. Priests like all men can make mistakes; but, unlike most men, the majority of priests in the Roman Rite are pledged to a lifetime of celibate love. Yes, while celibacy is a discipline, it is also a manner of loving others, albeit in a single-hearted way. The celibate priest knows a special solidarity with the brokenhearted, the poor, the suffering and those who are alone. His celibacy says that he belongs to the people he serves, without reservation or distraction. He does not belong to another person or even to himself. He belongs to the Church in which he serves. He demonstrates his love for God in how he pours out his life for others.

I suppose it is in the air right now as to what he will do. But one interview was particularly disturbing when it was asked if he would stay or leave the Catholic Church. He may have misunderstood what was being said because he seemed to admit that he was currently weighing his options. If a charismatic priest, regarded by some as the Oprah of the Church, should defect, the harm he would inflict upon the Church could be enormous. He has been instrumental in drawing many people back to the practice of their faith. This scandal could further explode and cause an exodus of souls from the true Church.

He was handsome and seemingly filled with vigor and love of the Church. Such things are contagious in a good way. But hero-worship of any sort, particularly with celebrities, has a dangerous flip-side. They can do much good. But, they are also capable of terrible wrongs and damage. Younger people who easily relate to him might now view the rules of the Church as arbitrary and heartless. They might say to themselves, if someone like Father Cutie can no longer tolerate the Church, then why should I?

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A friend sent the notes from a priest below and I was quite impressed.  Abortion sours this presidency for me.  The fruits of Lincoln have come full circle with Obama, but still we refuse the truth.  Just as we once refused to admit the personhood and rights of black slaves; today we refuse to acknowledge the same essential elements for the unborn.  I suspect the ghost of Lincoln needs to pay the new president a visit.–FJ

Pastor’s Notes
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Carmel, IN

lincolnobama2In the past weeks the fall out created by the invitation of our President Barak H. Obama to speak and receive an honorary doctorate at the commencement exercises at the University of Notre Dame this spring has caused considerable unrest among Catholics in the United States.

The bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese has refused to attend the commencement in protest. Other bishops have criticized the president of Notre Dame, Fr. Jenkins, for the invitation. Thousands of students and alumni have expressed their outrage about Obama’s visit to Notre Dame as well.

To a causal non-Catholic observer, all of this might seem a little strange. Who could imagine people being other than honored that the President of the United States has taken time out of his busy schedule
to come and speak at their university?

The issue that is at the heart of this controversy is abortion. What is specifically in question is our President’s policy of promoting abortion all over the world, even abortions performed well into the third trimester. The Notre Dame controversy gives us a good opportunity to review what President Obama has already done about abortion in the first 80 days of his administration:

Nearly all of his executive branch appointments have tapped advocates of abortion on demand.

On January 23, our President reversed the Mexico City Policy, which mandated that overseas family planning agencies that receive US tax dollars not promote or perform abortions. This policy reversal has made it possible for organizations like Planned Parenthood to receive government funding for their campaigns to legalize abortion in Latin America and Africa as well as getting money for performing abortion
in countries where it is legal.

On March 9, he signed an executive order mandating the spending of federal taxpayer money to subsidize embryonic stem cell research, threatening to direct federal funds away from adult stem cell research.

Embryonic stem cell research always involves the destruction of human life and can involve the creation of human life for the sole purpose of destroying it. Adult stem cell research involves the use of umbilical cord blood and bone marrow and is not at all problematic from a moral point of view. Obama’s action came despite the fact that adult stem cell research seems to be much more medically promising than embryonic research.

On March 17, he nominated his first of what is likely to be many dogmatically pro-abortion judges to the federal bench.

On March 29, the President announced plans to overturn an executive order signed in the Bush Administration that protected health care workers’ freedom of conscience to not perform abortions and other morally objectionable medical procedures.

This is only the beginning. We hope and pray that President Obama’s pro-abortion agenda is not as successful in the coming years as it has been in the past 80 days.

~ Father Richard

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Memorial of Saint Scholastica, virgin

Genesis 1:20-2:4 / Psalm 8 / Mark 7:1-13

Today’s first reading has God continuing his act of creation, particularly of the living creatures that inhabit the earth. Upon the seventh day he rests, not because God was tired but to establish a pattern of work and rest for men. The Sabbath or the Lord’s Day is one upon which we avoid unnecessary work and give special honor to God through worship. God made everything out of nothing. He sustains all things in existence. Plants and animals reflect God’s goodness simply by being what they are designed to be. Men and women are different in that we have immortal souls and can respond back to God’s love with our own. We are made in the image of God.  We are called to know, to love and to serve God in this world; and to give him glory forever in the next.

Everything is God’s gift to us. Compared to him, we are nothing; and yet, he has made us his stewards over creation: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.”

Looking to the Gospel, the Pharisees and scribes challenge Jesus because some of his disciples did not observe the ceremonial ablutions at meals. While not specifically mentioned in today’s reading, the context here would also include the challenge about not keeping the Sabbath rules. Jesus responds that by quoting Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.” First, they did not know that Jesus was THE LORD OF THE SABBATH and the one who makes the rules. Second, they interjected human laws that actually buried the true law and its spirit. Third, they did not really care who Jesus was because they had already rejected him as the promised Messiah.

We forfeited our likeness to God through sin, and yet now through grace this is restored.  Jesus is the Savior who comes to repair the breech between man and God caused by the fall after our creation.

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