Outstanding blog by a passionate Catholic speaker and writer I plan to follow regularly.
I recently read a comment online wherein someone asked if prayer was an escape meant to transcend this secular existence we all face. As I thought about that question and its implications, it occurred to me that I see prayer, not as an escape but, rather, as a drink we are meant to then share with the world.
To see prayer as an escape implies that, as Catholics and Christians, we are somehow striving to flee this rock we call home for a relatively few number of decades in comparison to eternity. Believe me, many times I remember an old 60s ( or was it 70s?) commercial where this woman would bathe with Calgon soap and cry “Calgon, take me away!” which implied that, somehow, that soap was so good that it took you to another world for the length of your bath. Is prayer a bar of Calgon? Is the idea behind prayer to “get out of town” for a while? While we would perhaps like to think so, it is not.
Escaping is a very attractive option for Christians. After all, we have been in the eye of the storm since day one, and running for your life seemed a good idea when Nero was running the show. The popular notion of the praying hermit or the cloistered nun invokes the sense that, to be holy, one must transcend this earth, hide from it, so to speak. However, while some are called to do that, most are not. Christ was tempted to avoid His Cup but, in the end, He drank it. Prayer is that Cup. We may think it is a magic potion designed to help us get away from this mess but, alas, that is not what it is meant to do. In fact, praying to avoid our duty as Christians makes no sense at all.
Would a good pilot pray that he never flies again? Would a good surgeon pray that he never operates again? No, if we want to follow Christ, truly walk in His footsteps, we have to see prayer as a drink, and the Holy Eucharist as the food, which will strengthen us, not to head for the fence, but to turn around and march right into the mess with Christ in our heart.
Feeling thirsty today? Pray, and then go to the trenches knowing Christ is by your side.
Copyright, 2012, Gabriel Garnica
I will begin by revealing that I am a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education in its Lincoln Center campus, where I earned a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling a few years ago. Looking back, my Fordham experience was a tale of two divergent realities. Academically, I feel that I received a very good graduate education with generally good professors, a number of whom are top notch in their field. My spiritual experience at Fordham was a different matter, however. I expected to experience some inconsistency with traditional Catholic teaching, given the environment we live in, but what I encountered was a blatant illustration of why Catholic education in this country, apart from some noble exceptions, is a disaster.
By “Catholic Education” I mean an education which manages to combine outstanding academic preparation with a deepening in core Catholic teaching for Catholic students and a fair, balanced presentation of issues relevant to the Catholic Church for non-Catholics. What I experienced was merely a Catholicism dripping in the social justice rubbish that has been used by secular liberals to promote loads of positions and agendas contrary to traditional, core Catholic teaching. I refer the reader to my pieces http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/garnica/120216 and http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/garnica/120321 wherein I outlined why major so-called Catholic institutions like Fordham, Georgetown, and Notre Dame have become dens of dissident indoctrination with the Catholic Church in this country.
I observed professors who have volunteered at Planned Parenthood; a mostly young, white female student body in my particular field of study more likely to listen to NPR than pray a Rosary , and a rampant presentation of non-traditional marriage and abortion rights as the unjust victims of an intolerant, outdated, mostly male-dominated Church. Rampant feminism was everywhere yet, despite its powerful presence, homosexual rights seemed the most protected agenda. Although I did not personally have a particular professor, it appears that his office included a large rainbow flag. I do not believe that homosexuals should be mistreated or abused because of who they are, but I also believe that it is wrong to pretend that the Catholic Church either defends homosexuality or has been wrong in its traditional stance regarding it. In one class, we were subjected to a one hour film depicting how homosexuals are abused and mistreated in various countries. While I regret such treatment of anyone, I question why we did not see a similar film demonstrating how women are similarly or even more abused throughout the world, especially considering 98% of the class was female.
Obama’s victory was met with fawning hysteria by virtually all the female students and, as far as I can tell, all of the professors. I doubt that if Jesus Christ Himself had landed in Lincoln Center there would have been a similar reaction. People were moved nearly to tears, with many somewhat spoiled, upper-class, young, white women at the front of the line, wailing about how they never expected to see the day that such an event would occur. Never mind that Obama was clearly the most pro-abortion and pro-non-traditional marriage candidate to ever run for the White House and even someone with the intelligence of a cranberry could see that he was going to spell trouble for core Catholic teaching. That teaching, after all, was delusional mental illness at Fordham anyway, so why would a shining knight in armor coming to finish it off be an enemy to be feared? Professors thought nothing of discussing core Catholicism with a kind of condescension and patronizing exasperation reserved for what they likely, in the privacy of their minds, viewed as religious hicks fingering beads and accusing everyone of a one way ticket to hell. One called California’s Proposition 8, limiting marriage to a union between a man and woman “stupid, evil, and hateful” openly and without even considering or imagining that any student in her presence might disagree.
A consistent point of discussion in my program was whether it was ethical for a counselor to accommodate the spirituality of clients. Many argued that clients should be told to keep their faith out of the therapy session. Others argued that it was tantamount to murder for any counselor to recluse herself from cases inconsistent with her religious beliefs. A poll I conducted for a class revealed that the vast majority of counseling students would have preferred just about any kind of client over a religious one. Being religious was treated as akin to being a leper. Thankfully, I was relieved to find that most counseling students were a little more comfortable workingwith religious clients than homicidal maniacs.
By the time I graduated from Fordham’s Graduate School of Education, I had experienced my fill of spoiled, upper-class, white, young females who felt qualified to save the world from its ignorance steeped in religious and/or male-dominated bias. A friend observed that many of these women seemed distant and suspicious of their fathers. I was practically assaulted during a group counseling class, where a few young females resented anything I said to my professor’s amusement in telling me that I had officially become “the scapegoat”.
Looking back, I have come to the ironic realization that this program which was educating future counselors and was the scene of so many self-appointed knights in shining armor out to fix the world was so steeped in dysfunction and delusion. It is no wonder that the APA and other governing mental health bodies is so contradictory to core Catholicism that one cannot possibly embrace the APA completely without, in fact, ignoring or rejecting significant core Catholic positions.
Fordham, run by Jesuits, prides itself as promoting the Jesuit tradition of a well-rounded, profound and practical, education. However, as shown by its litany of positions and actions inconsistent with core Catholic positions http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/1674/Coulter-Controversy-Highlights-Speaker-Policy-at-Fordham.aspx and http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/SearchResults.aspx?Search=fordham it is obvious that this institution has taken the infamous “social justice” mantle to move its brand of Catholicism in the direction of secular socialism, feminism, and liberal dissident views.
As one who has prayed in front of a Planned Parenthood far less than I would have liked to, it occurs to me that praying in front of Fordham may be just as necessary.
Copyright, Gabriel Garnica 2012
Dear Lord, a few words from Your sweet lips were enough to calm the sea and wind soothing Your followers’ fears. We believe that You stand by us during the storms of our lives, despite our weakness. Help us to release our fears and doubts to the embrace of Your eternal love and protection.
Sweetest Jesus, You knew the pains of poverty and the struggle to find work. We believe in Your purpose for our lives and surrender our wants in the service of Your Divine Will. Help us to escape the material poverty of this world and seek the eternal wealth of Your warm embrace.
Gentle Master, You faced the injustice, ridicule, persecution, and hatred of a world not always willing to hear or live Your message of unselfish love, devoted service, genuine humility, and total sacrifice. We believe in the truth of that message, and the blessing of Your example. Help us to overcome these earthly obstacles in the service of Your name and the footsteps of Your example.
Lord Almighty, we believe in the depth of Your love, the strength of Your protection, the warmth of Your embrace, and the virtue of Your message. We believe that You are the purpose of our lives and the Truth we seek. Above all, we believe that with You as our goal, the battle is won regardless of whatever setbacks we may face along the way.
Amen. Copyright, 2013 Gabriel Garnica All Rights Reserved
I once believed that martyrs lived in an age long past
and that their fate, by their faith was cast.
That by their choice their blood would shed
as witness to their Lord’s steps they led.
Yet I have come now to see, that martyrs we all begin to be
the moment we reject this world’s sin
yet realize that this world we are in
is our starting place from which to save
as many souls from the eternal grave
of self that drags so many down
I once believed that to follow Him as best I could
I would have to hang from that Holy Wood
or at least remove myself from this place
which has long rejected His suffering Face.
But long since then have I come to see
that being a martyr can also be
the delicate balance that one must make
to dream in Heaven one must wake
to this earth’s calls.
For to follow Christ we must pursue the difficult path
a call which brings its own wrath
of leaving, yet cleaving, to our fellow souls
for following Him, demands the goals
to witness His Presence in a world so blind
and see that Presence in those souls we find
who need Him most.
I now believe, that we begin as martyrs with the call perfect
which is ours unless we choose to reject
That we must live our lives as the Hymn
“If anyone comes to me, I want to lead them to Him.”
Copyright, 2012 Gabriel Garnica