The Ten Ironies of Holiness…..Part Three of Three


After too long a break, we complete our discussion of the Ten Ironies of Holiness with the final three ironies.

8.   The More We focus on God and unite as children of God, the more we will have to divide ourselves away from those toxic to our mission.    

Many people argue and fervently believe that God is all about, only about, unity.  They fashion the road to God as some merry hug-fest whereby everyone holds hands and marches into paradise.  These people see the solution to our problems as unity.  If we could only be more united, we would have less problems.  Unfortunately, life, and our road to holiness, is not like the American Civil War where one side promoted a wrong and the other side opposed it and there was a war to grind these two opposing forces together through bloodshed.  Contrary to the unity buffs, all problems are not solved by merely “uniting” everyone or promoting that opposing sides must find a compromise, a common ground, or “find the light”.

Yes, there are problems and situations out there where unity is the answer, where people are called to work together to work things out.  Many marriages that end in divorce might have been saved if the two sides just worked at working together, at saving their injured relationship.  Often that effort is warranted or motivated by a common cause, such as sparing the children untold suffering.  Whatever the motivation or rationale, there are times when working together to make things work is not only a good idea but practically a responsibility.

However, there are other times when working together to come together is actually a bad thing.  Suppose a woman married to a violent abuser has a chance to break free from her abuse but, opts, in the name of unity, to stay with this abuser.  What if one has a business partner who is unethical and robs the business, or is incompetent and is bringing the business down.   What if a widow with three daughters meets a new man and discovers that he is trying to sexually abuse one of  her daughters.  Should she stay with this fiend in the interest of unity?  Lastly, suppose that one’s child has a friend who is drawing one’s child away from wholesome and positive activities toward unwholesome and negative conduct.  Should one’s child stay with that bad example, out of some misguided notion that maintaining unity is some saintly thing to do?

Obviously, in all of the above situations, unity is unity with a toxic situation or person that will only draw us away from God, away from our mission to serve God, and away from our salvation.  Remember that God Almighty will divide on Judgment Day.  Whether we accept it or not, we  have a choice between being the wheat and the chaff, and then we have a choice about whether or not we want to embrace the wheat, or the chaff.  The ultimate secret to serving Christ, then, may well be the ability to be compassionate, serving, generous, forgiving, and open to those who stray without letting ourselves accept, embrace, condone, much less support their positions which may be inconsistent with who we are and what we should be about.

9.      The more we fail, struggle, and fall, the less we will fail, struggle, and fall.

This world is obsessed with avoiding suffering, pain, and failure.  We cringe at the sight or thought of anyone suffering.  Is this cringe out of compassion, or is it out of pity?    Better still, are our tears and fears the fruits of our broken dreams, hopes, aspiration, perceptions, and/or delusions?  Do we cry for how struggles and obstacles impact us, or for how these things impact others?  A simple glance at the lives of most, if not all, saints, reveals that they each struggled mightily over many different issues.   In fact, one may rightly conclude, when looking at the saints, that being close to God is being close to suffering, and that would be true.  We have each been given crosses to bear, and how we bear them will often show how close we are to the One Who has borne the most.  The more we suffer and fail here, the less we will suffer there, because we will have maximized our potential and while using our struggles as fodder for graces.

10.    Holiness is about embracing discomfort and rejecting comfort.

A lack of suffering anda measure of  comfort  are the front lines of the battle against the devil.  It is there where evil finds the most ready, willing, and able souls poised to throw their lot with the most fearful  creature they have ever experienced.  Saints like Francis, Clare, Don Bosco, and Philip Neri faced extreme obstacles head-on, with their heads held high, believing in the power of God to transform their struggles into graces.  When we are too comfortable, we tend to forget God because, whether we admit it or not, we start fashioning ourselves the answer to all questions.  On  the other hand, struggles build character, and make us recall our roots.

Copyright, 2013  Gabriel Garnica

I Should Have Prayed in Front of Fordham


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