Saturday, January 28, 2017

Depression, from the perspective of one traditional Catholic

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Yes, depression.  Friends, if you're willing to read this entire blog post, all I can say is I want to reach your mind and heart about this issue.

I'm talking about "clinical depression."  A mental disorder of impaired mood, resulting in loss of motivation, interest in hobbies and social activities, pessimism, persistent obsessive and negative thoughts, decrease in hygiene and health maintenance, which affects work, school, and relationships.   If not dealt with, it will also affect your spiritual life.

Primary causes:  genetics, chronic abuse, loneliness.

This is the hard sell of my post: I believe that just about everyone in the USA, and just about everyone reading this right now, has experienced depression before, at least low grade depression.  That is, the absence of a regular state in life in which you are mentally healthy, balanced, clear-minded, confident, and living in relative peace with family and friend.

Here is my proof:  American, Western culture.  No syllogism needed.  We are not living in the Shire.

And as for the American, traditional Catholic, we are not living on Mount Athos, or in the woods.  It is metaphysically impossible for our psyches not to be permeated with the cultural, moral, and psychological toxicity of our tormented society, and not to experience at least on a material, neurological level that toxicity.  The three-dimensional brain, and powers of the soul (intellect, will, memory, imagination, emotions) all have limits, beyond which some forces of creation are more powerful.

I know this is a tough pill to swallow for some.  Family and friends who are more overtly depressed, can be the scapegoat for not recognizing our own mental malady.  Ask yourself, how often do I feel despair? gloom? a heaviness in my brain, like a wet blanket suffocating my mind?  a darkness, or greyness that invades my daily thinking?  perhaps not everyday, but frequently?

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This Philosophy of Human Nature goes back to the modern philosopher Descartes

One temptation might creep in, to think of ourselves as an angelic spirit floating around a body.  As if depression is just a factor of the body, and not the mind, or that the mind is just a spiritual substance.  As if we can just will away our dark emotions, or only pray more and it will disappear.

Depression is not centered in the liver, pancreas, or eyeballs, it is centered in your brain, where your conscious personality resides.  We are not merely a torso with two upper and lower extremities, and and an empty skull cavity filled with a spiritual ghost.  Protestantism and the modern philosophical school of Rationalism would have us think so.  We are also an organic brain, which is the most essential organ of our human nature (angels = spirits;  humans = souls = spirit united to a body, even in heaven).

Another myth:  this is mostly about women.  In my opinion, the majority of American men are dragging themselves through life in a state of SILENT depression.  The signs and symptoms are clearly there.  We cope by becoming workaholics, alcoholics, assholes, who come home and isolate ourselves from wife and children.  We stoically embrace a Protestant work ethic, cuz that's what dad did.  The machismo ethic of manhood thinks its main opponent is modern, effimacy in men.  It isn't.  The main opponent of evil is the good, and the Catholic good for manhood is seen in Jesus Christ and his foster-father St. Joseph.  The traditional Catholic nature of a man is to be a gentleman, reason-driven, justice-focused, order-producing, piety and morals protecting.

Think about it.  We spend thousands of dollars a year for our physical health (insurance, copays, medications, nutritious food), but almost nothing for our mental health.  Illness sucks.  We all need and want health.  And health is not just of the body, but the brain and mind.  If the mind declines this is what also declines:  the body, behavior, productivity, work, finances, relationships, etc.

I think the hard part for trads in this, is the pharisaical stigma many religious folks attach to depression, especially from a jansenistic spirit thinking psychology per se is from the devil, and mental illness is necessarily a sign of spiritual sin.   The myth being that the depressed must be crazy, socially or economically unstable, immoral, or possessed.  To tell yourself or others you're dealing with depression, and to get some help for it, is tantamount to becoming socially stigmatized as "one of those people."  When in fact "those people" are 95%+ of modern, Westerners, on some level.

I'll raise my hand and say, yes, I've dealt with the signs and symptoms.  Its a cross. Psychological science does not do it justice in categorizing or defining it.  It takes poetry to delve into its reality.

But depression IS manageable if not also cureable.  The tragedy is most don't know this.  The remedy is relatively simple, but requires courage and commitment.

It takes humility, to admit it to yourself and others and get help.  To seek counsel from a Catholic counselor and/or good priest when depression starts to seriously impact your life.  To take medications/supplements/specific diet.  Journaling is a marvelous tonic as well!

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There is hope.  The greyness may always be there, entering the mind from time to time.  This is 21st century America.  Unless you move to a sanguine, communal, tropical culture like the Philippines, odds are very high you're going to deal with this. But we can take control of it, for the sake of ourselves and our families.

We have to.  If our bodies are a temple of the Holy Ghost, that also includes the brain and mind, we must take care of the health of the mind.  Our vocations and states of life depend on it.

Onward and upward.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fr. Tim Davison of Tulsa, interviewed by the Remnant, about saying the Latin Mass

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Smoke circles glide across the room as I puff on my pipe, reminiscing on the good memories I have of one Fr. Tim Davison, who now celebrates daily and Sunday Traditional Latin Masses at St. Peter and Paul parish in Tulsa, where he is the pastor.

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I must've been ten or something, kneeling in the grass adjacent to the property of the Tulsa abortion clinic.  The crowd chanted the Hail Mary, as a brave young priest knelt in front of the clinic's doors, chained to the front door handles.  He was peacefully and prayerfully blocking access to murder.  This young, zealous priest was Fr. Tim Davison.

Over the years I heard stories of his works, earning the reputation of a very hard working and pious parish priest, especially among the Hispanics.  He was good friends with Fr. James Jackson, one of the pioneers of the Fraternity of St. Peter American district, in the early days of the FSSP.

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Fr. James Jackson, FSSP

I recall one story he told us, about a ski trip with Fr. Jackson.  Before hitting the slopes, on one side of the hotel room stood one priest facing a table offering the new Mass according to the 1970 missal, while the other faced his table offering the traditional Mass according to the 1962 missal.  I imagine those times with Fr. Jackson strengthened Fr. Tim's (as he is usually affectionately called) sensus traditio, i.e. sense of tradition.

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Imo, controversy would hit the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic newspaper (i.e. before it was turned into a full throttle church of nice magazine) back in the day over Fr. Davison's changes to St. Peter and Paul parish.  Amidst interracial divisions between the Anglo-saxons and the Hispanics, Fr. Davison was leading a quiet crusade to restore the sacred to the sanctuary and divine liturgy under his charge.  He joined the other 1% of clergy worldwide to offer Mass "ad orientem," i.e. "facing East" towards the altar in the same direction as the people. Use of the altar rail and communion-on-the-tongue became the norm for Holy Communion.  Latin and Gregorian chant were reintroduced.

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A few years ago Fr. Davison would decide to learn and start regularly celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, including on Sundays.  At the Fraternity of St. Peter parish there was a group that wanted a distinctly Fraternity parish church, while a second group wanted to be a part of a regular diocesan parish but with the TLM.  Those factors + Fr. D saying the Mass of the Ages just down the road made for a recipe to create a new Latin Mass community, within St. Peter and Paul parish.

Curious if Fr. D's conversion story to Tradition had spread online, I googled it and discovered this amazing interview of Fr. D by the traditionalist Remnant newspaper:  LINK  I'll go ahead and post it, and insert some of my own thoughts here and there in RED, Fr. Z-style!

Fr. Tim Davison Interview with The Remnant!

Q. Thank you, Father. Can you please give our readers an idea of what motivated you to join the SP pilgrimage to Rome?

A.I have only been celebrating the traditional mass for about one and a half years, not very long. And when I was invited to join the pilgrimage to Rome as chaplain of the US group I had to think about it, because I have a parish, I have a school. I’m very busy [Yes, he is!!]; but after thinking about it I decided I needed to go, I need to be with other people who are experiencing this liturgy and its riches and that’s basically the motivation behind my acceptance of the offer to go along as a chaplain. I wanted to be with people to celebrate this event in the life of the Church, especially since I have been interested in the traditional liturgy for a long time.

So, in a nutshell, I decided to come along in this pilgrimage to find support and to also support those who are celebrating the traditional liturgy.

Q. What are the circumstances which led you to the decision to start celebrating the traditional rite?

A. My spiritual director for a time was a Benedictine, Father Mark Kirby [Fr. Kirby tried to found a Latin Mass monastery near Tulsa,but is now in
Ireland], who is also known for having written the book “Abuse Of The Holy Eucharist Is A Cancer At The Heart Of The Church!” He had a big influence on my appreciation of the liturgy and its history, and the traditional liturgy especially. So through that influence and that of the monks in a monastery in our diocese [That'd be the famous Clear Creek monks], I decided that I would like to learn this liturgy and to celebrate it. Another motivation was my mother, who is ninety-four years old and who has asked me to do the traditional liturgy for her funeral.

All those reasons came together, and then I asked the Fraternity of Saint Peter to teach me to say the old Mass [Word is Fr. also used an SSPX tutorial video]. They taught me and as I started celebrating I became more interested and very happy to learn it because it has given me a much deeper understanding of our Catholic liturgy and its tradition that I could not really have had from the Novus Ordo, even though I have been celebrating the Novus Ordo for my first seven years as a priest. But the experience of the traditional liturgy has deepened my appreciation of the mystery involved in the Eucharist, of the reverence and respect that naturally goes along with the gestures and so forth.

Q. Can you also tell us something about your parish and how your decision to start celebrating occasionally the TLM has impacted its life?

A. My parish has three distinct groups, starting from the English-speaking group served by priests celebrating the Novus Ordo in English. These parishioners tend to be older people [what's up with old people not liking the Latin Mass??], not too many young ones among them, and they are not too interested in the traditional liturgy; then we have the Hispanic portion which makes up the majority of the parish, but there is not a whole lot of interest there either; and then we have the third group, which is attached to the Latin Mass, but they were already going to another Latin Mass before, and so when they came over I ended up with servers, schola and everything I needed for the High Mass. So, I have these three distinct groups, and so far they have been staying pretty distinct. Some of the first two groups occasionally went to the Traditional Mass, but not too many seem all that interested.

Q. Unlike what many detractors of the old rite claim, it does not seem that your parish is experiencing a particular “spirit of division”…

A. Not at all. Everything is very peaceful and there is no problem, apart from trying to stretch myself to take care of the three groups. And celebrating the Latin Mass. Two low Masses a week on Mondays and Fridays and the High Mass every Sunday, takes more energy and time because it requires more work to celebrate it well, and learning the old calendar, the traditional and the ordinary form of the mass

Q. And what does the bishop say?

A. Our Bishop, Bishop Edward Slattery, is very traditional [there you have it]and, as far as we know, is the only bishop who celebrates the ordinary rite ad orientem and celebrates himself the Traditional Latin Mass. So, he is very open and favourable, I would say. In fact, on April 24, 2010, he celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the extraordinary form to honor the fifth anniversary of the elevation to the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. It was the first Solemn High Mass celebrated at the National Shrine in more than forty years, before a reported audience of 3,500 including dignitaries such as Cardinal William Baum, as well as nearly 100 priests and seminarians. Moreover, Bishop Slattery brought the Fraternity of St. Peter into the diocese, who are based in the Most Precious Blood Parish, formerly known as the Parish of St. Peter [This is a Tulsa diocesan priest describing Bishop Slattery's legacy of traditional Catholic works in the diocese!].

Q. You are very blessed to have such a traditional bishop. Could you tell us a bit more about his background?

A. Yes, you are absolutely right. He is seventy-four and soon approaching the retirement age of 75. He originally comes from the Diocese of Chicago and it is no coincidence that this city has played and is playing such a prominent role in the development and spreading of the TLM, thanks to the presence there of the parish of St John Cantius under the guidance of Father Frank Phillips, who in 1998 founded the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, a Roman Catholic religious community of men dedicated to the restoration of the sacred in the context of parish ministry.

Q. Could you elaborate on this?

A. Well, St. John Cantius stands as an unique parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It’s here where the above Canons Regular are based, helping many Catholics discover a profound sense of the Sacred. As one can read in their website, their mission is precisely that of helping Catholics rediscover a profound sense of the sacred through solemn liturgies in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Mass in Latin and English, devotions, treasures of sacred art, and a rich program of sacred liturgical music, thereby permeating their lives with a renewed faith. Its mission is reflected in the community’s motto: Instaurare Sacra (Restoration of the Sacred).

In particular they are also offering training to those clergy wishing to celebrate the TLM and it’s here where my parish comes back into the picture, in the sense that we have here a Mexican priest and when he came to my parish to be my assistant, he saw that we were saying the Traditional Mass and asked if he could learn it. So I sent him to St. John Cantius in Chicago and he was number 1000 that they trained. If we consider that the Fraternity of St. Peter has trained probably another thousand, there may be some two thousand priests [Holy Moses!!]who are saying the Traditional Latin Mass in the US.

Q. Has the extraordinary form also influenced the way you celebrate the ordinary rite?

A. Yes, certainly. The biggest influence is the spirit, the silence, the reverence, the extreme care with which everything has to be done, to make sure for example that no particle of the Eucharist falls on the ground and/or remains on the celebrant’s fingers, or the need for him to keep his index finger and thumb together until these have been rinsed. I don’t think it would be a bad idea for the new rite to recover traditional discipline in this matter, a discipline fostering reverence and awe at what we are privileged to do. In a nutshell, the whole Traditional Rite of Mass from the beginning to the end draws us into the transcendent mystery of God.

Q. Are you hinting at differences, if any, between the two rites?

A. Exactly. It’s almost as if with the gestures, the silence, the words you can’t help but to be drawn into the mystery and contemplation. It comes out very strongly. With the novus ordo I never had the same sense. [that make's two of us Padre] I try to celebrate it as well as I can, I do it ad orientem [hope he isn't stopped from doing so], I don’t give communion in the hand, I do not have extraordinary ministers—but even here it is definitely still not the same thing. In my parish I have to celebrate both forms, in order to cater for the majority, who do not understand and are not that interested to know the history of our liturgy, how the liturgy was celebrated throughout almost the entire life of the Church. But we are working on that and certainly we are not giving up. For example, as of August we have introduced on Sunday a low mass at seven o’clock with the reading and preaching in Spanish, so we may have some of the novus ordo Mass people come to that Mass and maybe through that to the High Mass with preaching in English, and maybe actually it will have an enriching effect on the whole parish. To put it frankly, I think it is already having just such an effect, because the people who come to the Latin Mass come dressed appropriately, they have to keep silence and reverence in the church, so the other people see that and as a result their own behavior is also being positively influenced.

Friday, January 13, 2017

"Catholic Man Show" Radio Program, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Interviews New Okie Trad Sam Guzman.

Its late Friday evening, and I'm puffing away on my new corn cob pipe, savoring some fine tobacco from Ted's pipe shop over in Utica Square, in Tulsa.  Some thoughts come to mind.

Catholic Men:

Catholic men need fellow Catholic men.  Not to compare the size of each others' wallets or egos, but to wrestle each other around a bit in sportsman-like fashion, to challenge each other to live up to the Catholic meaning of virtuous manhood, as exemplified in the life of Our Lord and his foster father St. Joseph.  Their humility, meekness, and justice is our ideal.

There's something about the bond between Catholic men, hashing out some issue of theology or politics while sharing a beer or smoke.  Disclosing domestic crosses, letting their hearts synchronize to the same slow beat of solemnity that comes with being providers and protectors, braving the brutal world of socio-economics.

Our blood runs thick together when we connect with Adam, Abraham, Moses, Our Lord, St. Joseph, and every manly, virtuous saint that's come down the pike of Church history.  We have an indefinable primordial need for fellow manly Catholic fellowship, to strengthen us in the Faith and in God's design for saintly manhood.

The "Catholic Man Show" of Tulsa:

So were my thoughts last night after listening to an excellent tradition-minded Catholic radio program aired here in Oklahoma, by two best friends and devout Okie Catholics, called the "Catholic Man Show."

The show airs Thursdays from 7-8 pm on 94.9 FM (or online here: LINK, with archived episodes)

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Adam and Dave.  Okie Catholics, hosts of the Tulsa-based "Catholic Man Show"

They do sound a bit millenial (me being more Gen-X) and at times novus (me being relatively more a rad trad)--to be honest--but in Chestertonian fashion they build their weekly program--about a very traditional Catholic topic related to manhood--around sharing a fine liquor and discussing clever gadgets useful to men.  Very manly and entertaining, I'd say. Their weekly discussions are refreshingly realist, ironically humorous, while whimsically musing on matters of faith and culture. Definitely a thumbs up from the Okie Traditionalist!

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And Okie Trad Sam Guzman of The Catholic Gentleman Blog:

Going back to last night, while driving across town in the cold and icy drizzle of Oklahoma in January, I caught the 7-8 pm Catholic Man Show, and was supercharged to hear their interview of a fellow Okie Trad Cat Blogger, and Latin Mass-devotee, namely Sam Guzman.  CLICK HERE

You may know Sam from his famed Catholic blog The Catholic Gentleman, by which, it seems, he's become a sought after voice on Catholic radio/TV.   You may have in fact run across his work in the last few days online, interviewing the famous Fighter Bas Rutten, now very openly a devout Catholic, who, like Sam, attends the Latin Mass!  Interview.

In the title to this blog post, I said "New Okie Trad," since Sam, his wife, and children recently and adventurously relocated to Oklahoma to live near Clear Creek monastery (Latin Mass).  He's now an Okie Trad, and I welcome him to Oklahoma, our Local Church, and the local Latin Mass community.

Okie Trad Bloggers Unite!  St. Joseph, pray for us!

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Yes, Okie Trad, all quite true!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The "Jam on my Bread." The Little Things that Make Life More Tolerable.

Man the last couple months have felt like I've been "running the gauntlet," as it were.  A major family health problem needing daily assistance, the annual extended family holiday chill, the Christmas blues, and seasonal winter dips in serotonin levels.

Its been enough to tempt me to scarf down an XL New York style pizza.  That or stock up on more Kentucky Delux whiskey or pipe tobacco for my new corn cob pipe.

But despite these occasional, descending dips in life's Valley of Tears, I can still maintain enough mental alertness and energy to attend to my daily duties of state, well most of the time anyway.  That is, with the help of God's grace and a few daily pleasures, the "Jam on my Bread," as it was called my by Irish ancestors. Here are a few that come to mind.

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"The Jam on My Bread"

1. A good long walk.  Next to the sacraments, I can think of no better activity for nurturing the soul.  The longer and more adventurous the better.  A traditional daily recreation for the monastic, the contemplative journey of a long walk does something for the mind, helping it meditate and sustain equilibrium.

2. My little dog.  Truth be told, often more loyal than any woman, friend, family member, or priest. That little canine would lay down in traffic for me.  She'll be immersed in chewing on a bone over on the couch and I'll whisper  "Hey."  It takes a moment for her to process what she heard and perk up and look over at me.  I'll just signal her with a silent, knowing smile, and in a heartbeat she's skipped across the room onto my lap to lean against me, and lay her head against my shoulder.  "A man's best friend."

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Except my dog is about 1/10th the size.

3. Savory meals.  Readers may remember I eat low carb, so an example of a tasty evening meal is chicken wings fried in coconut oil, drenched in homemade butter-based Buffalo sauce, ranch, celery sticks, and a Caesar salad. Plus a tall, cold glass of diet Mt. Dew.

4. Alcoholic Spirits.  I don't drink a lot, but I allow myself modest quantities once or twice a week.  The cheap stuff, but there's nothing like the first minute or two after sipping on a whiskey chilled over one cube of ice.  Muscles relax, the tension subsides, and the respiratory rate slows.  Thoughts drift from daily-to-do lists and philosophical conundrums to happy-happy thoughts about the last movie I enjoyed, the memory foam pillow Santa brought me for Christmas, or my next savory meal.

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5. Smoking my Pipe.  It is a singularly comforting experience to hold in your hand a warm pipe filled with tobacco, and to slowly draw from its medicinal properties.  A couple bowls will usually do the trick.

6.  Blogging.  If you have any inkling for writing, and need to get out your thoughts and emotions, then try to start a blog on any subject you like, that you would enjoy talking about.  Let your inner, creative voice come out.  In time you'll carve out a unique niche of readers.  For me it has been cathartic.  A daily bit of jam on my bread.

7. My new memory foam pillow.  Folks, you know when you discover something new in your life that suddenly cures a chronic ill, you say to yourself "Now why didn't I try this before?"  That light bulb moment came to me on the first night of Christmas.  I think I have a typical problem with pillows that require some adjustment and readjustment through the night, which disrupts your sleep and affects your health. No more. This special pillow is a heavenly God send.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

"Okie Trad from Tulsa" SONG: Emailed from Texas

Well as Forest Gump always says, or his mother, "Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're going to get."  And when you blog about being an Okie Trad, you never know what kind of emails you're going to get.

This time it was from a fellow Catholic and blog contributor from Texas who once was an Okie living in Oklahoma City.  By the way, he relates he personally knows our Bishop Konderla from his experience at St. Mary's Center at College Station.

He wrote us a song for the blog, set to the tune of Merle Haggard's song "Okie from Muskogee"  Listen to the tune HERE.  Without further ado, I give you, 

"Okie Trad from Tulsa"

We don’t adore ourselves at Mass in Tulsa;
No happy clappy chummy huggy spree,
We still worship one God the Almighty;
We like prayin' right, and bein' free.

I'm proud to be an Okie Trad from Tulsa,
A place where Okie Trads hear Jesus call.
We still worship God and not each other,
And the Latin Mass the biggest thrill of all.

We don’t make a party out of Mass time,
We aren’t chatting up and holdin’ hands.
The priest the only one in Holy Orders,
In persona Christi for us all he stands.

I'm proud to be an Okie Trad from Tulsa,
A place where Okie Trads hear Jesus call.
We still worship God and not each other,
And the Latin Mass the biggest thrill of all.

We don’t make a virtue out of sinnin’.
Jesus didn’t say “go and sin once more”.
No one can tell us Hell is not forever,
In the logic of the Gospel, evermore.

David sang the psalms to God the Father.
But he failed to serve the people of the King.
So as a hireling he was rightly punished,
‘Til as a shepherd he could serve again.

I'm proud to be an Okie Trad from Tulsa,
A place where Okie Trads hear Jesus call.
We still worship God and not each other,
And the Latin Mass the biggest thrill of all.

Copyright 2016 © GM

PS If anyone knows how to make a youtube video using these lyrics with the Okie from Muskogee music in the background, let me know.  I could use it to update the post.