Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 26, 2019 Column Father De Celles

Shutdown Troubles? I encourage all of you to pray for a just end to the federal partial shutdown, and for all those directly affected by the shutdown. Please be aware if that if any parishioner directly affected by the shutdown needs financial help, even a short-term loan, the parish can help. Just contact me or Eva in the parish office.

Gillette Commercial. I must say something about Gillette’s new commercial lecturing men about what it refers to as “toxic masculinity.” While perhaps in some ways well intentioned, Gillette has clearly bought in to the popular and false ideological notion behind the term “toxic masculinity.” That is, first of all, that all traits that we traditionally have defined as being clearly masculine (or feminine) are actually merely culturally or socially conditioned (i.e., learned, not genetic/natural). Second, it is held that certain “learned masculine” traits are inherently destructive and must be suppressed, including aggression/violence, hypersexuality, competitiveness, and suppression of emotions/feelings.
It is well documented that males and females are very different physically, mentally, and emotionally, and this is rooted in their male or female genetics—they were born this way. I commend you to the work of anthropologist Lionel Tiger (The Decline of Males and Men in Groups) and philosopher Christina Hoff Summers (Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys). And I would argue that each of these so-called “learned” “toxic masculine” qualities are rooted in good healthy masculine traits which are defined in male genetics.
For example, aggression/violence. Although this trait is often discussed in a negative-pejorative sense, no one thinks it evil when a security guard aggressively disarms a crazed school shooter by force (i.e., “violence”) When we see little boys playfully wrestling with each other or pretending to shoot at each other using their fingers as guns, that is not toxic. Rather, it is an expression of a natural and good masculine trait.
The key is understanding that they gifted with this violent/aggressive tendency not in order to hurt innocent people, but rather to readily defend self, family and community. This is a good and natural thing. And it is the corruption of this good trait that is the problem. Which is why Jesus and His Catholic Church have never rejected aggressiveness or violence, but rather promoted self-discipline and self-control, to govern these traits with reason and with love. This has been one of the great contributions Christianity has brought to the world, and it is the loss of this Christian perspective that have led to the abuse of these traits.
So while men should exercise self-control in reason and charity, especially in their treatment of women—in particular by following the teachings of Jesus—but they should not be ashamed of being masculinity.

Covington Catholic Boys. By now you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the boys from Covington Catholic High School (Covington, Kentucky) at the March for Life on January 18. While it was first reported that the boys were insulting to an old Indigenous American Indian, the facts eventually proved they were innocent, and were in fact themselves the victims of abuse by two different radical groups.
Of course, everyone ran with the original false story of the boys abusing the old man, and condemnations rained down on them from all over the place. Most despicable was the almost immediate condemnation by their school and by the spokesperson for their Diocese of Covington, and so by their own Bishop.
This makes me ill. Isn’t this a form of “child abuse”? Why are Church officials increasingly so quick to blame or condemn their own, even our children, before the facts are known. It seems sometimes they are too afraid of being blamed for the bad behavior of others. Isn’t that a big part of the reason for the cover up of sexual abuse—officials trying to avoid looking bad?
Of course, fortunately, not all of our leaders are this way. But let us pray that all Catholic leaders will always have the courage and integrity it takes to apply true justice to all entrusted to their care. And let’s pray for the boys from Covington.

News you might have missed. Due to the snow on January 12-13 you might have missed these topics covered in my column that day. I want to re-publish them (abridged) for your benefit today:
Update on Lighting and Murals Project. I just wanted to let you know that our lighting project, which was complete in August, is completely paid for and came in under budget. The total actual costs were $363,831.80 (including the millwork and initial costs for the paintings), compared to our budget of $372,207.90. The only thing that remains to be paid for is the murals themselves and their installation, which is fixed at a cost of $67,200.00.
Offertory Collection. I want to thank all of you for giving so generously to various collections over the last few weeks, and for your special year-end donations to the parish.
But I’m a little concerned too. Because for the last few months I’ve been watching our collections and other donations very carefully and, unfortunately, they’ve been going down. For the six months ended December 31, 2018, we’ve seen a decline in “revenue” of $93,000, or down 8% from last year at this time. That’s a lot of money.
Now, frankly, I have been expecting something like this for years: I figured once the building loan was paid off some of you would stop seeing the need to give as much.
But there is probably another factor affecting this: the abuse-coverup scandal. A lot of people think the only way to get the bishops and the pope to do something is to hit them in their pocketbooks, so they’ve decided not to give to the Church, or not to give as much as before.
I understand that. But only 8% of the parish offertory collection (we call it the “cathedraticum tax”) goes to the Bishop for diocesan expenses. So by decreasing your donations to the parish you are affecting the parish much more than you are affecting the Bishop/Diocese. So if this a concern, please reconsider. And remember, contributions to the Maintenance Fund or to the parish separately from the Offertory Collection are not subject to the cathedraticum tax, and 100% goes to the parish. [To be clear: I am not in any way expressing support for withholding donations to the Bishop].
The thing is, we will survive and be okay with the decline in contributions. But we will be limited in our planning for the future, and in what we can do today. And I don’t want the parish to be just “okay,” even financially. I want us to flourish.
So I once again thank you all for your generosity. And I just ask you to please prayerfully consider the level of your giving, and give what you think is right to the parish.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles