Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Triduum = Less blogging, more 'spiritual reading'

I won't be blogging much over the next week-- We'll be having houseguests for the octave of Easter.

And, for the Triduum, I'm rereading my favorite Catholic book of all times, the one that rekindled my faith in college.  The book that I tend to see as an antidote to many of the Legion's woes (though that might be because it's the book that lit the fire for orthodoxy in my heart.)

I first read this book under the direction of an aging Quaker who'd escaped the holocaust and had a great love for history.  I've read it over and over in many seasons of my life-- not just for the spiritual wisdom, but also to better know the man who wrote it...and now that I have kids, to know his mother as well.

Yup.  I'm spending this week with Sts. Augustine and Monica in the Confessions.  So why did I put "Spiritual Reading" in quotes?  Because, frankly, I tend to think of daily 'spiritual reading' as a chore that is supposed to get done.  And I love St. Augustine so much I'd gladly ignore all my chores and spend all day with him.  Well, except that when I ignore my duties, I end up with bodily fluids all over the house.....


Bonum, Verum, Pulchrum has the story.  It never ends, does it?  I'm still wondering how people can argue that the "Good outweighs the Bad" in the Legion's work.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Legion as Greek Tragedy

The story of the Legion seems to be one of victims and tragedies. We’ve seen the pain of the abuse victims, the secret families, and the ex-members who were thrown aside as soon as they were no longer useful to the movement. But, in the end, the greatest victim of Maciel’s methodology may have been the man himself.

Maciel used his warped definition of ‘charity’ to make sure that no one could criticize his behavior. He surrounded himself with lieutenants whose greatest desire was to protect the movement. He lived within a bubble, where sin had no consequences.

Sometimes I wonder if Garza, Corcuera and company actually hated Maciel. After all, by practicing Legionary ‘Charity,’ they may have damned him.

In Legion-speak, charity means not criticizing other people. It means excusing sinful acts and remaining silent in the face of a superior’s unjust behavior. In contrast, Christian charity calls us to admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant. We are called to care more for the souls of others than for our own comfort and popularity.

Maciel taught his followers to practice an inversion of Christian Charity. As a result, they were either unwilling or unable to call him out for his behavior. Even worse, they happily portrayed him as a living saint. They insulated him from the temporal consequences of his actions and let him live as an unrepentant sinner.

In the end, we have a story that is more in keeping with a Greek tragedy than with the history of Catholic religious orders. Maciel thought he could use God and the Church for his own gain. Instead, he harmed others and destroyed his own life. He may have even damned himself.

Last week, the Legion apologized for Maciel’s actions. Now I want to see them apologize for their own actions. They owe their followers an apology, for leading them astray. They owe the Conquest and Challenge kids an apology, for encouraging them to model their lives on Maciel’s. But, more importantly, they owe Christ and his Church an apology. We’re responsible for the spiritual well-being of our brothers and sisters.

The souls of the Legionaries may have been in Maciel’s care, but he was also in theirs. When Corcuera and Garza allowed him to sin with impunity, when they didn’t force him to accept punishment for his crimes, they abandoned him. They put Mammon above Mercy and Luxury above Love. Maciel goes before them as Marley went before Scrooge. They have had their warning – they have seen the consequences of a lifetime of lies. It is time for them to repent.

Fortunately, we have a pope who will not allow them to escape the consequences of their actions. He can’t force them to ask God for forgiveness, but he can remove them from power and hopefully provide the catalyst for their conversion.

This holy week, I’ll be offering my prayers and sacrifices for my friends who remain tangled in Maciel’s web of lies, fear and control. I originally started blogging on the subject in the hopes that I could use it to start a conversation with friends in town who shy away from in-person discussions of LC/RC and who keep insisting that everything’s GREAT! I am now fairly certain that it hasn’t reached any of them. So my only option is to take to my knees and plead with the Holy Spirit. I suspect many of you are in the same position – so let’s storm heaven this week.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oh, another thing (before I run to do more kid stuff!)

In his communique, Corcuera says: "For his own mysterious reasons, God chose Fr Maciel as an instrument to found the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, and we thank God for the good he did."

Ok.  Yes, it is VERY hard to understand how God would choose Maciel as an instrument to found LC/RC.  Even if you look at it from the perspective of taking care of Maciel, knowing that he had a particular vice (pedaphilia), why on earth would an all-knowing, loving God call him to a life where he would be constantly surrounded by young boys?  It truly is mysterious....

Just like it's mysterious that God would call Madoff to start a financial company, or a flawed character like Margaret Sanger to start a charity organization.....

Of course, there is another possibility.  Perhaps God DIDN'T choose Maciel to start LC/RC. Perhaps Maciel just started it on his own, as a convenient way to get victims and money.....

hmm.... why do I have the sudden urge to shave my legs?

UPDATE: Apparently the "Leg-shaving" joke is falling flat-- it was supposed to be a reference to Occam...

The Scandal of the Cross..and the LC

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it slightly blasphemous that, in his letter to Regnum Christi members yesterday, Corcuera equated Mary's reaction to "the scandal of the Cross" with the reaction an RC member OUGHT to have when faced with "The scandal of Maciel"

The 'scandal' of the crucifixion is that the Son of God, innocent of all sin, allowed himself to be treated like the worst of sinners in order to save us.  Mary stands by, suffering alongside of him, because she loves him and knows he is doing God's will.

The 'scandal' of Maciel is that a man who claimed to be a living saint who'd 'never said no' to God turned out to be a rapist, a child molestor, an adultorer, an embezzler, and a corruptor of the sacraments.  The RC are suffering BECAUSE of his sins.

Giselle fisks the letter, but actually, I think it's pretty well done. It appeals to the intended audience - people who are looking for any excuse to ignore the hugeness of what Maciel did, and the implications of his life for the LC/RC.  If you want to be convinced that Maciel's crimes are no big deal, that there can be a charism anyway, and that a twisted man can come up with a clean methodology, it's the letter for you.   If you want to keep lying to yourself and risk yourself and your family so that Maciel's lieutenants can continue to thrive, it's the perfect letter.

If you're looking for truthfullness, you're better off reading something else.

(Sorry for any mispellings -- I rushed this off during a nursing spree, but it's a busy, busy day so I won't have time to comment for a while.  Emily from the comments: I will get back to you later today, after I'm done shuttling short people around!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Blogging -- Because I've been Reading

Somehow, my collectrion of random musings on Kidlit with a hint of religion and politics has become all Legion, all the time.  So, with apologies to those of you looking for more Legion news, here's a round-up of what I've been reading:

This book is great-- not just the steampunk plot set at the dawn of World War 1, but the physical book.   The pages are heavy, the illustrations help set the mood.  Before I started reading, I spent about 15 minutes gasping with joy because the book itself was an amazing sensory experience.  Even the endpapers make me sigh.

The plot moves quickly and the characters are fascinating.  It's not as dark as the Uglies series - I'd let a precocious 10 or 11 year old read it. (Note to new blog readers-- when in doubt, preview the book yourself! I know we all have different standards for our children.)

I love Ally Carter.  Her Gallagher Girls novels manage to combine screwball romantic comedy (Think Katherine Hepburn) with action/adventure.  And her books are CLEAN.   She purposely writes them so they'll be fit for 11 or 12 year olds, but entertaining for all ages.

Heist Society isn't as lighthearted as her previous books-- the heroine has two weeks to plan the crime of the century, or her father will be murdered.  But Kat is clever, her fri

A great debut novel.  Nim is a "Trouser Girl" in a land that seems to be based on Victorian England.  In her homeland, she would have been an honored performer, singing and dancing for royalty. But she left home to seek her fortune, and now she's stuck singing in third rate music halls.  A mysterious nobleman hires her to accompany a piano-playing automaton. Nim gets pulled into a decades old mystery, and discovers secrets that endanger her life and the automaton's existance.

A great fantasy-mystery, also fine for the 11 and 12 year old crowd.  I liked it because there were also not-very-thinly-veiled references to Jane Eyre.

I started reading Jane Yolen back in Elementary School, when I stumbled across her "Pit Dragon" books.  A few years ago I tore through her Scottish Novels.  Devils Arithmatic is one of my favorite Holocaust books of all time.  There was no way that I'd miss her latest book.

First of all, for the parents out there, this is definitely a YA or adult book.  There are several sex scenes (though not graphic and WITH complications-- always a plus!), and a lot of blood and violence.  Because by the end, the fairies are at war. 

This book turns the old story of 'mortal lost in the land of faerie' on its head.  The story revolves around two sisters who caught the Fairy Queen in a compramising position with a mortal man.  They're exiled from Faerie and forced to learn the rules and navigate the dangers of that bizarre place known as 'The Mortal World.'  Initially, they're just trying to survive in a land of iron buildings and money, but soon they get drawn into a web of intrigue -- which seems to center on two young mortals.

This book was a ton of fun, but, as I said, not really great for younger teens.  I'd put it firmly in the "Preview" catagory.  After all, you know your kids and what they'll be able to handle. I would have loved it at 15 or 16, but it would have freaked me out at 12.

Anyway, that's how I've been spending my nursing time the last 2 weeks. Nothing terribly deep, but these books are so much better than anything on daytime television! :)

Also, for the record, if I wrote as well as ANY of these people, I'd be over the moon! (And published by now!)

ends are intriguing, and the plot twists keep the book moving at a quick pace.  Carter's books aren't trying to be deep or great literature, but there's noone I'd rather spend a rainy spring afternoon with.  Her books just scream for a warm cup of cocoa and a big comfy chair.  (Also a roaring fire, but my house doesn't have a fireplace, so I do without!)

To the Mothers of Regnum Christi

I know you think that Regnum Christi helped you become the Catholic you are today. But it didn’t, really. You joined RC because you wanted to deepen your faith, because you were looking for a chance to learn and a chance to serve. You already had the desire.

If RC hadn’t been handy to meet that desire, God would have provided another way. You would have found the books you needed, the friends you longed for and the retreats you wanted.  You were already praying for the grace to know and love Christ more deeply, and that’s one of those prayers He can’t ignore.

You didn’t need Maciel and his warped methodology, but he needed YOU. He needed you to provide cover, so people would think he was a saint. After all, he attracted so many young Catholics on fire with love of the Lord! He needed you to provide money, to fund his luxurious double life. He needed you to provide labor, so he could build his empire.

Most of all, he needed you to provide your sons. He needed access to victims. He needed young minds that he could mold into copies of himself. He needed those boys. And he needed to convince you to give them over to his care.

It makes me shudder when I think of it—all those mothers, striving after holiness, sending their sons into the arms of Maciel. All those mothers urging their sons to hang out with the ‘super-holy’ Legionaries instead of those plain old diocesan priests. All those mothers sending their sons away, because Maciel urged them to ‘be generous with God,’ even as every fiber of their being screamed that the boys should stay home.

You didn’t need him. But he needed your sweet, innocent sons.

I am unbelievably thankful that all of this came out while my sons are still tiny. Because I wasn’t on the ball. I wasn’t vigilant. I believed the spin. And I would have let my sons join Conquest when they asked. I would have let them join EYCD. I would have let them go to Legion seminary, because heck, their vocation is between them and God, right?

My sons have been spared. Many sons were not. You didn’t need Maciel to learn how to be a good Catholic. But he needed your sons.

Peter Vere at Catholic Light has a Novena going on for the Legionaries. It seems like a good night to pray, doesn’t it?

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Public Service Announcement for LCs in Rome

I'm reposting this from the Life-After-RC blog on the off chance that someone reading needs it and is on a computer that blocks access to Giselle's site.  (Apparently some LC in Rome want to leave but are being forced to stay by superiors and don't know who to trust.)

Any Legionary priests or seminarians who want to leave the Legion and need a place to go to find help can walk or take a cab to any of these places to find help and shelter.
(If they need to take a cab, they can ask someone at the destination to pay for it. This is no time for misplaced pride. The Holy Spirit will find someone to pay the taxi man):

The Missionary of Charity Fathers have a place in Rome--they can be trusted
Fr. Sebastian, General Father
Contemplative Brothers
00177 ROMA – ITALY

The Jesuits can be found during the day at the Gregorian:
Piazza della Pilotta, 4

The Dominicans can be found during the day at the Angelicum:
Largo Angelicum, 1
00184 Roma, Italia

The Opus Dei Priests can be found during the day at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross:
Piazza di Sant'Apollinare, 49

The American diocesan seminarians are at the North American College:
Via del Gianicolo, 14

The American diocesan priests who study in Rome live at the:
Casa Santa Maria
Via dell’Umilta, 30
00187 Rome, Italy
TEL 06/6900.1821

The American priests who work at the Vatican live in the:

Villa Stritch:
Via della Nocetta 63,
00164 Rome, Italy

Saturday, March 20, 2010

From Pope Benedict's Irish Letter, in the section addressed to abusers:

Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.

Read the whole thing-- the Dioceses of Ireland are also getting a Visitation-- makes sense-- after all, there was rampant abuse there.... Visitations happen only when there are major problems? I'd never have guessed......

Friday, March 19, 2010

Legion-speak #2 - "God Brings Good Out of Evil"

I was originally going to respond to Anon 10:56 in the comments of the post below. But this is actually something I’ve been wanting to blog on for a while, so you guys get another post instead.

Anon 10:56 said:

"But “God draws straight with crooked lines” doesn’t mean that God turns sin into blessings.”
I don't quite understand this because God is always bringing forth good out of evil.

"God could not bring good out of Maciel’s evil, because Maciel did not repent."
Again, I'm confused. Since when does the sinner have to repent for God to bring good from the sin? And can't God do anything He wants?

NO! God does NOT bring good out of sin. Sin cuts us off from God, the Ultimate Good. The Good God brings from a bad situation does NOT come from sin, but grace.

So, Maximilian Kolbe is not an example of God bringing good (an awesome martyr) out of Evil (The Nazi camps). Rather, it is an example of God taking one mans good RESPONSE to evil (courage, self-sacrifice, faith) and turning it into an even GREATER good.

God took the loaves and fishes and multiplied them into a feast. He turned water into wine. He did not take rotting food and transform it into a feast or mud and turn it into wine. He takes the good things we give him and transforms them into better thing. But he can’t use our sin – sin, by its very nature is SEPARATION FROM GOD. We’re called to reject Satan and his works, not to turn them to good. Why? Because there can be no good apart from God.

God brought our salvation out of the crucifixion, it’s true. But our salvation is not a result of a disgusting Roman execution method. It comes from Christ’s love for us and His willingness to give himself up for us.

God does not turn evil to good – but he brings good out of our responses to evil, when we respond in a Christ like way.  He's not bringing good out of sin.  He's bringing good out of conscious decisions to be brave, or honest, or self-sacrificing.

Remember – sin and suffering weren’t part of the original plan. It was supposed to be so much better than this- for all that God can mitigate the effects of sin through grace, it would be better if we had never sinned at all.  (For a better explanation of this, check out C.S. Lewis’s Perlandria. C.S. Lewis explains everything better than I can! :) )

On Crooked Lines

The Legion and its supporters are fond of telling us that “God draws straight with crooked lines.” Nat has a pithy retort here. Still, the root of the problem is the Legion’s tendency to twist words and give them new meanings.

Twisting aphorisms isn’t as serious as twisting words like “Vocation” and “Charity.” They’re not messing with the deposit of Faith in this case, just folk wisdom. But they’re using this ‘wisdom’ to encourage people in folly, so we need to cut through the tangles.

In Legion-speak, “God draws straight with crooked lines” is used to explain how God can make a great “good” ( LC/RC) come from Maciel’s sins.

But “God draws straight with crooked lines” doesn’t mean that God turns sin into blessings.

It refers to those detours in our lives—the times we’re trying to do God’s will, but get sidetracked by events beyond our control. For example, last week I wanted to go to the Women’s Evening of Recollection at our parish. I needed some adoration time, I couldn’t wait to hear Father’s talk and hit the confessional. I looked forward to it all day. Then my husband came home with a sinus headache, the big kids were hungry and the little kids were screaming. I couldn’t go to church and be holy – I had to take care of my family instead.

This was one of those crooked lines. From a human perspective, it was a detour. Life had shoved me off the straight path (evening at church) onto this crooked line—I mean, the kids are always going to be hungry and cranky, but the evening of recollection only comes once a month! How am I supposed to grow in holiness while cooking a meal and washing dishes and burping a baby and holding a toddler? That evening, it seemed like God himself was working against my desire to deepen my faith. Definitely a crooked line.

But, from God’s perspective, things are different. He doesn’t see these things as detours. He sees the whole pattern – how our children will grow up remembering our loving care, how there will be other nights of recollection, how learning to cheerfully submit to our station in life will help us submit to His will in bigger things later one. My crooked lines are God’s straight ones.

Sin is not a crooked line. It can’t be made straight. It’s not a detour, it’s a roadblock. The only way to get a ‘straight line’ after sin is to repent and start over. God could not bring good out of Maciel’s evil, because Maciel did not repent. He started sinning at the founding, and he kept piling sacrilege upon sacrilege up until the moment of his death. We can only pray that he was given the mercy of a deathbed conversion. But his congregation? His rules? His writings? His inspiring talks? They’re a rock slide blocking the road to holiness.

An evil man cannot create a good spirituality. A man seeking only his own will cannot teach others to seek God.

There is no crooked line here, unless, somehow, your own suffering as you leave this tainted soil helps to purify you for what lies ahead.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rhetoric and Wisdom

Every now and then, someone will read something I’ve written and tell me that I’m ‘wise.’ It’s my least favorite complement, because it’s so obviously false. I’m not wise. Anyone who spent a day with me would be pretty clear on the depths of my folly.

So why do people call me wise? Well, some are just indulging in over the top praise. The ones who are serious are usually basing the complement on something I’ve written – they’re mistaking knowledge and rhetoric for wisdom.

Wisdom shows itself in through action. We treasure Mother Teresa’s sayings, but her example is what made people follow her- her actions showed her to be wise.

St. Peter was a wise man—he recognized Christ as the Messiah, he knew how to repent and seek forgiveness. Yet, half the time when he spoke, he sounded like a fool.

St. Joseph was one of the wisest of the saints. He lived and worked at the side of the Christ Child. Think about it—he was so wise that Christ, the Son of God, obeyed him! Yet the Gospels have not preserved a single word from St. Joseph. Wisdom is about how one lives, not how one writes or speaks.

The founders of the great religious orders were wise—many of them left marvelous writings behind, but it’s their lives, their way of living in the presence of Christ, which we seek to emulate.

Words are great, but they don’t guarantee Wisdom. According to his followers, Marcial Maciel wrote (or plagiarized) many beautiful things. He must have been a wise man, worthy of emulation, because of the way he talked. He said that he never said no to the Holy Spirit! What wisdom, what holiness!

But while words can lie, deeds don’t. Maciel lied. He stole. He raped and sodomized. He was not a wise man. He was not worthy of emulation. He cannot teach you how to follow Christ. His writing is a resounding gong, because he did not have love.

Knowledge and rhetoric are enticing, but they’re easy to come by. All you need is a stack of good books and the will to study. Wisdom has to be lived. And a foolish man (or woman) cannot teach you how to be wise.

Back from Sick Kid Land

My kids are all mostly breathing again (Lots of snot, but no croup anynmore, thank God! :), so I'll be posting on and off today - once I get the breakfast dishes done.  In the meantime, Sandro Magister has a good, balanced article on what will probably happen next for the Legion.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Note to Commentors

I'm not ignoring you guys-- I have two croupy kids and no time to think!  I'll be back when their lungs start behaving!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Terry Pratchett and the Legion

The Anchoress quotes Terry Pratchett's "Going Postal" with respect to all the things our government has declared "To Big to Fail."  But the same quote seems to sum up Maciel, the Legion, and why people keep holding on.

Of course, Terry Pratchett is a genius when it comes to human nature, even if he doesn't understand the Divine at all.  He's like Joss Whedon in that sense.  A great artist can create things that teach about the Truth, even when he doesn't understand it himself.  When he strives to be 'authentic' he hits the Truth without seeing it.

Anyway, if you're planning on taking my advice from earlier today about reading, and you enjoy humor and fantasy, it's hard to go wrong with some good Pratchett! 

Anon out of RC Explains Charity and Detraction

In the comments at Catholic Light

An excellent summary of the issues surrounding Maciel, with some relevant links!

Hear that Smacking Sound?

It's the sound of the CDF slapping their foreheads at LC/RC obtuseness:

Here's the interview

The money phrase is:

In sixty percent of cases there has been no trial, above all because of the advanced age of the accused, but administrative and disciplinary provisions have been issued against them, such as the obligation not to celebrate Mass with the faithful, not to hear confession, and to live a retired life of prayer. It must be made absolutely clear that in these cases, some of which are particularly sensational and have caught the attention of the media, no absolution has taken place. It's true that there has been no formal condemnation, but if a person is obliged to a life of silence and prayer, then there must be a reason...

So much for the whole argument that Maciel was never convicted and was just "Taking on for the Church," huh?  I guess the problem is the CDF assumed we were all smarter than we actually are.. mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  At least we know better for next time, right?

Lost Words

Over the years, Giselle has blogged a lot about the “Though Stopping Phrases” in LC/RC. The idea is that certain phrases stop introspection and analysis. They end arguments prematurely. They get stuck in people’s heads like a catchy song and they take over.

I think I’m seeing some of that with my RC friends. When I ask about the current crisis, certain responses come up over and over again:

“God draws straight with crooked lines.”

“God uses flawed instruments.”

“It’s hard to understand how God can let this happen.”

“We’re waiting to see what the Church says.”

There are answers to all of these, but people don’t say these things when they’re looking for answers. These phrases are like a concrete wall – the conversation smashes into them going 65mph, and it crumples and dies.

So why are these words so effective at stopping thoughts and conversations? I think it has to do with another fiendish aspect of Macielism. Maciel taught his followers that ‘time is kingdom.’ They weren’t to waste time on frivolous activities; they needed to work towards the ultimate goal of building up the Church through RC/LC.

People followed this directive with varying degrees of success. Some RC people I know feel perfectly all right kicking back and watching a stupid movie. Others are obsessed with only watching things that are edifying and approved. (Honestly, I think this is why two pretty mediocre films, Bella and Fireproof, have gained such a huge following among RC people. Both films have the RC seal of approval – so members can watch them without feeling guilty! They’re not wasting time by watching Kirk Cameron smash his computer- they’re growing spiritually! Meanwhile… those of us off snickering at the antics of Father Ted are just bound for the nether realms.)

Why is this utilitarianism so horrible? Well, when “Time is Kingdom,” Art, poetry and literature are some of the first things that get thrown out the window. Don’t waste your time reading Blake – go save some souls! Pride and Prejudice isn’t useful – read some of Maciel’s letters instead! Don’t watch The Scarlet and the Black or Keys to the Kingdom .  Gregory Peck’s moral lessons aren’t clear enough. Here, watch something Mediocre instead! Build the kingdom!

The thing is, great art gives us the images and words we need to think about our own lives. When I go to the zoo and see a tiger, Blake’s poem shows me a side of it I might have missed otherwise. When I see friends trying to make sense of how they got run over by the train wreck that we call “Maciel”, I can understand different aspects of the problem because of what I’ve learned from novels.

Art and literature help us understand our place in life. They help us work through problems. A passing acquaintance with Shakespeare or Greek drama can help us recognize our flaws and see our strengths.  Maciel stole that from his followers. He took their words, their images, and gave them these anodyne phrases instead. He denigrated their deep feelings and made them put on a shallow plastic ‘serenity’ mask.

Without words and images, we can’t think. We need rich language to deal with big problems. If you find that RC has taken your words, get them back! Read folktales and plays. Watch great movies. Take a long leisurely stroll through an art gallery. Settle down with a good poetry anthology. You can think around the easy (but untrue!) answers of the thought-stopping phrases. You just need to find the language – and sometimes the language of art and literature shines a clearer light than the language of philosophy and theology.

Now I’m off to attack the laundry monster in the basement… wish me luck!

*a note on the links—I linked all the books and movies to Wikipedia, not Amazon. I don’t want to make money off of suffering RC folk! (On the other hand, when I blog about YA titles, I’ll link to the Amazon widgets—not because I want you to buy them, but because Amazon really DOES have the best code for embedding nice pictures of book covers!)*

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What (and Why) I Hate

In the previous thread, "Just Wondrin" asked:

And why do you personally hate the LC/RC so much? Just curious

I don’t hate the people in the Legion and in Regnum Christi. I hate that Maciel used them. I hate that he abused the boys entrusted to his care. I hate that he and his lieutenants lied to them and told them he was a living saint.

I hate that he fooled good people. I hate that he hurt and fooled some of my friends. I hate that he pretended to have a charism, and that he exploited the 3gfs. I hate that he lied to advance his goals, and misled countless young men and women.

Basically, I’m angry about the people he hurt. I’m ashamed that, as an outsider, I believed the lies for so long, and even recommended his group to others. But mostly, I’m furious that he took advantage of people’s love for God.

Maciel is like one of the money changers in the temple. People came from all over the world to worship at the temple—for them the trip was a pilgrimage, a chance to be near the divine. The money changers used them to make a profit. It is WRONG to use the faith of innocents like that. It is wrong to lead children astray, to replace their free discernment with your will. It is wrong to tell people they’re building up Christ’s kingdom, when really they’re building up yours. Anger is a natural reaction to Maciel’s crimes—it’s time to pull out the whip and start flipping tables over before any other innocents get used.

True, Maciel is dead, but the men who covered up for him, the men who lied for him, the men who gained power by hiding his crimes? They’re still there. And people in LC/RC have a right to all the information.

So I don’t hate the Legionaries or Regnum Christi members—but I hate the structure Maciel created to control them. I hate that they still feel obliged to remain, that the leadership keeps trying to convince them it’s their ‘vocation’ – I hate that they’ve been poorly catechized, so that they think it’s legitimate to equate Maciel’s life with St. Peter’s.

I want the light of truth to scour the Legion clean -- and I want the church to help heal those have been hurt, and to keep others from the same fate.

There is No Charism. There never was. Your Vocation was NOT to the Legion. God doesn’t call us to follow false teachers. Regnum Christi is a free association, NOT a vocation equivalent to marriage. The Church has no room for dark secrets and manipulated vocations. I want the temple to be cleansed of the money changers.

Taking Advantage of Youth

While I was writing the response to Warrior Woman’s post on the “What Should RC Members do Now?” post, I realized something about Maciel.

He was brilliant at taken advantage of Youth. Not just physically, but spiritually.

It’s the nature of youth to burn with passion, to want to do great things and important things. It’s also the nature of youth to underestimate their elders – to assume that the quiet acts of piety and charity are lukewarm and mediocre, because they’re quiet.

So, for instance, I went through a “Liturgy Planning Nazi” stage in college, where I was determined to shake the congregation out of their complacency with acts of LITURGY. (It’s a pretty embarrassing period in my life. I went all the way – cactuses in the baptismal font, making the congregation give up chairs for lent, ‘dramatizing’ the readings… well, we avoided Liturgical dance… but only barely…)

Or look at St. Augustine. In the brashness of youth he mistook his mother’s simple piety for plain old stupidity. He had to run off, join a cult and lead a life of sin before he recognized the truth – and even then, it took the brilliance of St. Ambrose to bring him around.

Maciel understood this tendency – and that’s how he roped people in. He promised them a chance to do big things, when other adults just wanted their help with donut day. He promised they could be saints, cofounders, even. He asked huge amounts of time and money from them, and they gave, because for the young bigger is always better.

He gave them rallies. He gave them VOCATIONS. He made them feel special and needed. He made them an elite corps. He got them to engage in Apostolate! Look at us, we’re apostles! We’re saints in the making!

But he gave them nothing in exchange. He took their time, their money, their enthusiasm, and used them feed his own sinful desires. He was like a great gaping mouth, swallowing the good and repaying it with evil. He took their enthusiasm and turned it to his own ends with faulty theology and thought stopping phrases. (Lost Vocation, Sure Damnation! It rhymes, so it MUST be true.)

It takes a special gift to do that. Hitler had it. Stalin had it. Mao had it, and Maciel had it. The people who’ve been in RC since high school are like people recovering from the Cultural Revolution. They had enthusiasm and belief, but Maciel twisted them. And now, they have to take a step back and mourn their spent youth and idealism – otherwise, how can they go on?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Of Bicycle Wheels and Movements Founded by Criminals

When I was 7, I got my first real bike. My grandfather found a set of old training wheels in the basement. They’d belonged to my mother, and they were like nothing I’d ever seen before.

All the other kids I knew had pretty flimsy training wheels. They might slow you down if you were tipping over, but they didn’t really seem safe. How could those little plastic circles protect you from the horrors of the street?

My training wheels, on the other hand, were solid. They weighed as much as my little brother. They were huge – almost as big as a tricycle wheel. In fact, they were almost a vehicle in and of themselves – They had shelves so that another kid could stand on them and ride while I pedaled.
I was proud of them. They looked weird to the other kids who were used to the cheap modern wheels, but my training wheels were sturdy. They were a relic of the early 1950’s, but things had been better made back then.

It was a while before I noticed the problems. My wheels had no turning radius. While other kids were doing donuts in the cul-de-sac, I had to make large, lazy circles. They were stable- I didn’t fall down as much as the other kids, but when I did fall… well, the wheels were so big and sharp and heavy that they actually hurt me worse than the pavement did.

Worst of all, I wasn’t learning to ride on my own. For the other kids, training wheels were a stage – they breezed through them on the way to speed and freedom. Mine seemed to weigh me down. I loved them anyway. They were mine. They were strong. They kept me safe.

Everyone around me tried to get me to give them up. They were all wrong. My parents, siblings and friends had no idea how important those training wheels were. I’d fall even more often without them! I’d get hurt! I needed them!

Finally, I got sick of the nagging. I let my dad take them off. But I made him promise that I could have them back in a few days.

I rode off, and promptly fell. I’d never learned to balance- my training wheels had taken over that critical function. Without them, I finally had to start learning. A few days and several scrapes later, I could finally keep up with the other kids. I could do donuts. I could ride fast and free down the big hill and know what it was like to fly.

I hadn’t realized how much the training wheels were weighing me down. Once I experienced life without them, I never looked back.

My parents asked me if I wanted to save them for my kids. I assume they were joking—in retrospect, the wheels were positively penitential.

In our spiritual life, we all have weights like that. God may be calling us to get rid of them, but we’re afraid to let go. After all, they’re our weights. We know them. We love them even though they hurt us. What if God’s weights aren’t as good?

The thing is, God’s not offering us another weight in exchange – he’s offering us freedom and the chance to soar on the wind. If we take a deep breath and have the courage to follow him, we’ll soon see our old weights for what they really were – shackles.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mormons and the Legion

When I was first married, we used to get a lot of Mormon missionaries. My husband and I always invited them in and talked to them. Not so much to try to convert them – we realized that was a lost cause. But we figured we could at least give them some lemonade and kindness, and let them see that Catholics were normal people. (Many of these kids had never met an actual Catholic before, and had all sorts of funny ideas about how we lived and what we believed.)

Anyway, one day a pair of them tried to use the formula “Well, Catholics believe x, and that’s not what the Bible teaches!” (I forget the exact argument – too many years and children have intervened.)

I said “No we don’t.”

They argued that we DID believe that. So I pulled out the Catechism and showed them what we actually believe. The guys were floored. They couldn’t believe we had this book that contained the essence of Catholic teaching. They asked if they could have it. I had to tell them ‘no’ (It was the copy my husband got for his confirmation and had sentimental value). I told them that if they went in to Borders they could pick up the paperback for 6.95. Or they could borrow it from the library.

They couldn’t believe that the Church would make our teachings available to anyone, even non-Catholics. They were shocked that everything we believe was out there, in bookstores and online, for anyone who cared. Mormonism has secret teachings. The Church doesn’t.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I keep hearing that I can’t really understand RC/LC, because I’ve never been on the inside. And ex-members have blogged about secret books (some plagiarized!), books only available to members, books that were supposed to be kept hidden in back bedrooms or at retreat centers.

THIS IS NOT CATHOLICISM. We don’t have ‘secret teachings.’ There are no ‘secret books of the Benedictines.’ Heck, even the ‘secret archives’ of the Vatican aren’t really secret—they’re just poorly catalogued and you have to make an appointment to work with them (like most archives). Heck, even the ‘secret’ parts of the Mass aren’t secret. Anyone can get a Sacramentary and see the parts the priest is supposed to say silently.

Our Church is from Christ, and we’re without guile. We don’t have secrets. We tell everyone the Truth about ourselves. We don’t hide our light under a bushel basket. We’re not Gnostics.

So… where does that leave the Legion, with its secret knowledge?

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Request

Would all the anonymous commenters mind using pseudonyms?  (Instead of checking 'anonymous', check 'name/URL'-- you can put in any name you want, and the URL is optional)  That way, you can still be anonymous, but have an actual NAME instead of "Anon 8:47" or whatever.

If you don't want to, that's OK too- but it can be hard to follow a conversation when everyone is named 'Anonymous!'

So, What Should Regnum Christi Members Do Now?

The Apostolic Visitation only covered the Legion, and possibly the ‘consecrated’ women. Your average Regnum Christi member is pretty much on her own right now. The Church isn’t going to tell her whether to stay or go – the Vatican doesn’t have that kind of authority over the laity. Unless the local bishop bans Regnum Christi, the members are going to have to come to a decision on their own.

So here are the cold hard facts of the matter:

-Regnum Christi takes its ‘charism’ as a movement from Maciel.

-Maciel didn’t actually HAVE a charism. He was simply using the people in the movement to fulfill his own insatiable desires for sex, power and money.

-Most Regnum Christi sponsored groups use Legionary priests for spiritual guidance. While these priests probably have good intentions, they’ve been formed by men who have been formed by Maciel. Maciel could NOT form good priests, because he was not a good priest himself.

Basically, Regnum Christi is going to die a slow death. Those of us on the outside are not going to trust our children to programs like K4J, Challenge, and Conquest. A simple Google search or two can reveal the Maciel connection. Even if the local leaders are good people, why should we participate in groups tainted by their links to Maciel? There are other programs that accomplish the same ends with better means.

So where does that leave current RC members? Chances are that the Visitation will sever the ties between Legion and Regnum – which leaves Regnum as collection of apostolates that ultimately answer to a central authority (The Mission Network.)

But you know what? The whole IDEA of the Mission Network goes against Church teachings on Subsidiarity. The Church urges us to try to do as much as possible at a local level. Instead of imposing a standardized national program, we need to step back, observe, and really see what our individual parishes need.

This also follows what Christ taught us about Charity. He didn’t say “If you meet a man with no cloak, and you have two, organize a national coat drive with huge fundraising capabilities and multiple levels of bureaucracy.” No. You’re just supposed to see his need and solve it on the spot, by giving him one of your coats.

The Knights of Columbus provide a good example of how to do this. They’re a national organization (mostly for Life Insurance purposes, as far as I can tell!), but they do an incredible amount of charitable work at the local level.

Check out the back pages of Columbia magazine some time. Their projects tend to run along the lines of “Knights from the St. Jerome Council in River City Iowa noticed that the parish wheelchair ramp was falling apart. They raised funds, purchased materials for a new ramp, and spent Saturday afternoon installing it with volunteer labor.”

This is how we are called to practice Charity. It’s personal, it’s helpful, and it doesn’t seek any reward.

It also presents a way forward for current Regnum Christi members. You joined because you loved God, and wanted to serve the Church. You thought that Maciel was a holy man, who could teach you how to love Christ. You were fooled.

But you don’t need Regnum Christi. You have your parish and you have your family. You can model your family on the Holy Family – Mary didn’t serve God by organizing fashion shows. She took care of her family and neighbors. When you bring dinner to a new mom, you’re serving God and the Church. When you give an elderly neighbor a ride to the hospital, you’re serving God.

These are quiet acts of charity. There’s no ego boost with them, no feeling of accomplishment. But they are huge gifts to the people on the receiving end, and a way of making God’s Love present in their lives.

You need time to heal. You need time to recover. You need time to unlearn the bad that Maciel gave you and to immerse yourself in the good that is your local church. You don’t need to do big things right now. It’s enough to pray, love your family, and love your neighbor.

* A quick side note for people wondering how this mess affects their children:

If you have small children, you obviously don’t want to go into the details of Maciel’s perversions. You can just explain that sometimes bad men pretend to be good and holy – and then they can trick people. (There are lots of fairy tales and folktales that teach this lesson.) But, it’s OK because God never tricks and he always keeps his promises.

For slightly older children, C.S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle” deals with this problem very well. Heck, it’s a great read for adults, too. Lewis was a very wise man. If you read it with Maciel as the ape and RC/LC as the donkey, you have a great allegory for the current situation.

For teens – I’ve noticed there’s a certain anti-teen element in a lot of what Maciel taught – the whole idea of ‘Lost Vocation, Sure Damnation’ and sending boys to the Apostolic schools to ‘protect’ them plays into a lot of parental fears about the teen years.

You’ll need to be honest with your teens. And for good advice on how to encourage your teen to stay Catholic, check out These links.  Father Longnecker has thought a lot about how to bring teens to the Church, and he has a great approach that values their intelligence and freedom.
** One last digression***

For those of you wondering how this will effect the Visitation - The children of Maciel have been working with the Visitors since the beginning. In fact, I wonder if the reason all this is coming out now is because Benedict WANTS it to come out. After all, you need to bring the filth to light before you can clean it up. And the revelations of Maciel’s crimes will help current members understand the Vatican’s actions.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why the Legion and Its Lay Movement Have No Charism

Some of my friends are still insisting that Maciel could have had a legitimate charism—that in one brief moment of grace in his sordid life, God could have given him the impetus to found a religious order.

I think they’re missing how charisms usually come about.

If you look at other orders, the charism doesn’t come to the founder in a lightening flash. He doesn’t wake up one morning and say “I’m going to found an order to serve the poor!” Charisms seem to develop organically, after many years of toil, after the founder is already trying to serve God in everything he does.

Take St. Francis, for example. He didn’t wake up one morning, write down a rule for Franciscans, and start an order.

First, he experienced a deep conversion. Then, on fire with love for Christ, he started trying to follow Gospel teaching literally. He tried selling all his belongings and giving the money to the poor—but that scheme backfired magnificently. (The cloth was actually his dad’s, and he had to pay his father back. The bishop was sympathetic, but firm.)

Then he tried to “Build up the Church.” Literally. By begging for stones and renovating a decrepit chapel. But people were attracted by his fervor- without trying to, he attracted companions. After a while, they decided they needed a rule, and they went to the Bible to find it.

And then, Francis had to begin the slow work of living by that rule, and figuring out exactly what it meant. It took St. Francis a lifetime to learn to serve God. If you had asked him what his “Charism” was, he wouldn’t have been able to articulate it- as far as he was concerned; he was just a simple man trying to follow Christ.

From the outside, it’s easy to see what the Franciscan charism is – Francis and his companions lived lives of radical poverty, depending on God for all their needs, while preaching the Gospel and caring for the poor. They found freedom through poverty, and trust through uncertainty. They passed on that spirit to posterity, and now we can look back and say “aha!” They had a charism.

The Legion’s account is topsy-turvy. They claim the charism can only be seen from the inside, even though usually charisms are clearer to those who are outside looking in. They claim Maciel received this charism from God in a moment of grace – that it doesn’t matter if he never lived it and it never led him to holiness, because the charism is still sound.

In a world where most orders follow the Franciscan model (1. Conversion 2. Trying to live a better life 3.Attracting companions 4.Gradually developing a way of following Christ based on the founder’s experiences that continues through the generations), the Legion alone has a charism delivered directly by God.

For years, many of us were willing to give the Legion the benefit of the doubt—maybe it was a new way, for the 20th century! (Of course, Mother Teresa’s order followed the old way, but never mind that)

Now that the truth’s out, it’s clear that the Legion is different from all orders that came before it. Not because they got a special charism in a special way, but because they have no charism and were founded by a child-molesting embezzler. There can be no charism. I can’t say it enough. There is no charism. There never was. Those who joined LC/RC were spiritually defrauded. They’re like people who bought into a non-existent timeshare development.

But you can’t sue for spiritual fraud-- you can’t recover your time, your trust, and your faith in a court of law. All you can do is grieve, pray for healing, and try to persevere. Putting a happy face won’t help you; it will just delay the inevitable crash. But Maciel was not Christ, and his groups are not the Church. Your local parish has not defrauded you; the sacraments have not betrayed you.

I’m feeling especially harsh today. I’m not surprised Maciel molested his own kids—after all, he molested the kids who thought they were his spiritual children too! But I’d hoped that the cover-up was not as large; that the depths of corruption in the Legion were not so deep. I’m sorry for Maciel’s sons, but I’m angry that Jim Fair, the Legion’s official spokesman, is happy to just brush the whole thing aside.

Since it’s March, the month of St. Joseph, I’d suggest you turn to him, especially if your income depends on Maciel’s evil empire.

Ite Ad Joseph!


For those of you who are wondering why this pleasant little kidlit/mommy/Catholic blog has turned all Legion all the time in the last few days, I’m sorry. I’ve been following this story closely for a year now, but commenting on it anonymously. But it’s time to stop hiding behind pseudonyms. My family lives near one of the Legion high school seminaries. Many of our friends from Church and the home-schooling group depend on the Legion to support their families. Many more of them are in Regnum Christi and promote its activities in our community.

I’ll try to intersperse some kidlit posts over the next few days, but for now, the issues with the Legion are looming large around here. In the meantime, if you see a post with “Legion” in the header, you can feel free to skip it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Random Freakiness

Is it bad that the allegations in this story seem LESS unlikely to me now that I know that the Church allowed a congregation founded by a pederast to flourish for years and that JP2 declared that the pederast was "An Efficacious Guide to Youth?"

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.....

Sordid tales, Countersigns, and the Tupperware in the Fridge

The latest sordid information about the sins of Marcial Maciel has me thinking about Fr. Frechette and his work in Haiti again.  (Yes, I’m still thinking about that article—it was truly eye-opening. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.)

Father Frechette talks about sign and countersign – that when we witness great evil, we can respond by committing an act of great holiness. We can follow Christ’s teaching and shine a floodlight into the dark and evil places. Fr. Frechette did this when he and the sisters gave a Christian burial to the young man burned alive.

This is another place where the Legion is falling short. When faced with the evidence of Maciel’s crimes, they’re NOT providing a countersign. They’re not reaching out to the victims or engaging in public penance. Instead of shining a floodlight to illuminate the darkness, they’re trying to hide the crimes under a bushel basket.

“Don’t pay attention to that,” they tell us. “Look away. Focus on the good. Ignore the evil. You haven’t personally experienced it, so it’s not really there.”
As Christians, we’re supposed to let our light shine— when our countersigns light up the darkness, they show the world both the evil and the alternative. You can’t repent if you don’t acknowledge the sin; you can’t heal if you ignore the illness.

Right now, the Legion’s problems are like that old Tupperware in the back of your refrigerator. You know there’s something nasty in there. You know that when you open it and look inside, the smell will turn your stomach. So you shove it to the back, behind the milk and the eggs, and hope that it will miraculously clean itself up.

But of course it doesn’t. It festers. It blooms. An entire world of filth grows where once there was a sprinkling of mold. If the lid’s not on tight, it gets into the air and starts contaminating other food, even the walks of your refrigerator. Until you can steal your stomach, grab the bleach, and attack the problem, everything else is tainted.

This is where the Legion is right now. The rot is out of control, they need a countersign to fight the evil. Instead, they’re paralyzed, waiting for Rome to come in and save them—which is itself a sign of what’s wrong.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Vocations, Charisms, and Videotape

I've been following the whole Legion/Visitation saga pretty closely since last February.  I live near one of the Apostolic school, and many friends from our Parish and our Homeschool group are heavily involved in the Legion and Regnum Christi.

One thing I've realized is that the Legion IS very different from other orders.  I'd never looked too closely at them before, I assumed that their words meant the same thing as everyone elses, and that life on the inside was pretty much like life in the Jesuits.  After all, everyone said they were "Like the Jesuits, but Orthodox."

Anyway, over the last year I discovered that they're really not at all like the Jesuits - or any other order.  A  video that Giselle at the Life after RC blog posted really makes that clear.

Contrast it with a Dominican vocations video.  Notice how the Dominicans talk a lot about what makes their life unique.  They quote Thomas Aquinas, they're very specific about their charism, they try to explain what it means to be a Dominican priest, as opposed to any other sort.

The Legion seems to be talking about priesthood in generic terms. One young man decided to become a Legionary because the kneel before the tabernacle and have a love for the Eucharist?  All priests love the Eucharist-- if they didn't, how would they last in a life dedicated to Christ?

Also, the emphasis on sports in the video confused me.  It occupied the place the Dominicans gave to study and teaching (big parts of their charism).  So are we to assume that the main thing that sets the Legion apart is its devotion to intermural sports?  Can sportiness really be a charism?

Jesting aside, the video was also pretty depressing.  The shots and audio of Maciel really hammered home what's at the heart of the foundation.  How many of the boys in the first photo were abused?  Can Maciel really be anyone's model for the priesthood?  How can idealistic young men be twisted so that they follow a philandering, embezzling, abuser? 

The whole situation just gets darker and darker.  I honestly don't know how anyone associated with this group is hanging on... unless they hope the Vatican will step in and GIVE them a charism?  Maybe the Salesians or somehing?

On a final, brighter note, I also checked out the Jesuit Vocation Channel on Youtube.   The "Should I date before Novitiate" video was hilarious.  They interview 3 Jesuits... and none of them agree with each other!  Isn't that the essence of Jesuitness?  "Ask us a simple question-- and we'll consider all sides of the argument and give you anything but an answer!"  Good to know the Socratic method is alive and well.  I also loved the "What do Jesuits do for fun?"  videos.  Answer?  Apparently, they read alot.  And watch movies.  And write.  And argue.  Yup, sounds about right.

I know some of you are probably thinking, "But the Jesuits are heretics! And the Legion is Orthodox!"

So a few quick points:

1. Orthodox groups do not get investigated by the CDF.  By the time they launch a full scale visitation, they're already SURE there's a problem.  It's just a question of how to fix it.

2. While individual Jesuits may be heretics (When you allow intellectual freedom, sometimes you get idiots.  It's the way of the world), their rule and charism are sound.  Why?  Because the founder, and most of the early Jesuits, are Saints!  The Jesuit life led them to holiness-- it should be able to lead others to holiness too.  Meanwhile, given the history of Maciel and the current actions of the Legion's leadership, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the rule and 'charism' are sound.  

3. The ends never justify the means.  Even if the Legion is somehow turning out good and holy priests, if it's doing it through morally suspect methods (i.e. denying personal autonomy and free will, abusing confession and spiritual direction, disobeying local bishops in spirit, if not in the letter of things) then it is no good.  Bad means = a bad group. 

BTW-- I'm not commenting on blogs (other than my own) this Lent, but I might as wwell out myself here (and later over at the other blogs.)  I am Mouse from AMP.  I'm sorry that I believed Legion spin over the victims' testimonies.  I'm sorry I recommended Legion-sponsored groups to others.  And I'm sorry I hid behind a pseudonym for so long.  There was no reason to, really.  I owe it to my friends and neighbors to be honest and forthright about where I stand on these issues, and to speak the truth, even when it's unpopular.

(But I'm also a coward.  So pray that I have the courage I need to be truthful in the coming months!)