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Amateur Priests
Dream of a Church without property
Thu July 30 2020  7:53pmFaith/Philosophy

There are Christian communities that have no denominational name, no church buildings, none of the usual ecclesial trappings. Their weekly home meetings are punctuated at intervals by pastoral visits from an elder or 'bishop'. The elder has a clearly defined territory within which he moves in circuit-rider fashion, preaching, teaching, counseling, and accepting such food and lodging as are offered him. He has no home of his own, and so is unmarried. He is allowed to own only what clothes, books and personal items he can carry in a single large suitcase.

Why shouldn't the Catholic norm be similar? The local group is the family; the husband and father being also an ordained Catholic priest. The family Eucharist is typically attended, daily and on Sundays, by Mom and the kids in a common room of the house, or a room set aside as a chapel. Nearby Catholic households that do not have their own domestic priest might participate in the Mass as well, as guests. This might include single moms, divorced men, and similar situations. On special occasions, the gathering might include other outsiders.

Have you ever lived in a small community where the resident priest offers a home Mass? Have you ever lived in the same household as your confessor? I have, and it is a very powerful experience of what the Church is and can be. In a single day, the relationship between Blase and myself might include celebrant / communicant, co-workers, confessor / penitent, and opponents at Pinochle. Mixing home life with the Sacraments tends to make both more real. That is, if the home life is real and Catholic to begin with.

Differences between this and the parish life of today are notable but do not affect the essentials. The domestic priest has full sacerdotal powers, including to hear confessions. But he must always be a true amateur: He is not allowed to gather to himself any sort of congregation or parish, he can not erect ecclesiastic buildings, and, most importantly, he can never accept salary, stipend nor any type of material remuneration, nor expect a privileged social status for his priestly work. The Offertory consists of just bread and wine; money and other material gifts are never offered nor accepted.

A number of domestic churches are organized within a specific geographical territory, each one served by a circuit-rider bishop. The bishop visits each household or small group of households in turn, preaching, teaching, confirming, and answering such questions and issues that may have arisen since his last visit. He is fed and housed by the families he serves, and over which he has true pastoral and apostolic authority. One very important episcopal responsibility is to keep vigilant watch over orthodox beliefs and practices, so as to preserve and strengthen Catholic unity. Another huge responsibility of the bishop is to interview, vet, train, and ordain new domestic priests, and new circuit-rider bishops. The vetting process is especially important to insure ahead of time that the candidate's personal and family life are sufficiently authentic and Catholic so that the Sacraments aren't taken lightly nor family life stilted. Probably in the early years of implementing this idea, most married Catholic men would fail the test.

Since the large number and small size of the domestic churches dictate a relatively small territory for each bishop, he might be comparable to an auxiliary bishop of today, and his territory might be better termed a deanery rather than a diocese. Along with his fellow circuit riders, he would of course be answerable to a bishop or archbishop of a full diocese. The amateur status is, then, of two sorts: On one level, the married priests who are providing for themselves and their families by their own labor in the world, and who never accept a nickel for their priestly work. Above them in authority, but under them in dependency, the bishops live as homeless beggars and pilgrims.

Caveat: The ideas presented here, in addition to being somewhat incomplete and lacking in details, are also offered by one who would in any event be ineligible to fully participate. At best, I might be allowed as one of the guests on the sidelines, as mentioned above.

Now, the domestic priest requires careful vetting ahead of time, but not a huge amount of formal education. But the circuit-rider auxiliary bishop and his overseeing bishop or archbishop surely need to be firmly grounded in all aspects of Catholic doctrine and discipline. To that end, they should be taught by very trustworthy educators. This might mean seminaries with paid staff. I suppose such institutions could be owned and managed by lay people and amateur priests as non-profit entities.

On the other hand, Catholic primary education needn't require parish school buildings nor paid staff. Much of the above is premised on the notion that the term 'domestic church' should be taken literally. Well, here's another dictum that should be taken literally: that parents ought to be the primary educators of their own children. If it's normative for the man to serve as his own family's pastor and priest, it's certainly normative for the woman to serve as the home schooling mom. All aspects of life returning to a home base.

Well, many details still to be worked out, as the idea grows and takes shape. Perhaps that's the next blog article: How specifically this might gradually come to pass.

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Doctrines, Canons, Buildings
Radical thoughts about Church property
Thu July 23 2020  4:26pmFaith/Philosophy

Full-tilt panic over covid-19 has reached Nicaragua, following months of ministerial hand-wringing. To my knowledge, no outright church closings here, but that may be mostly because Ortega has not provided the desired cover of government mandates. Daily Masses discontinued at my parish. The main door barred and locked even during the single Sunday Mass; die-hard parishioners must enter and exit through the small side chapel and through quasi-barriers of shoe and hand disinfectants. Those who come forward for Communion must submit to a second alcohol hand cleansing, with Communion on the tongue disallowed. (Of course, some die-hards still bring their dogs to Mass, without face masks; am not sure if their paws are disinfected. Well, after all, this is Nicaragua.) By the way, no hand cleansing required before putting money into the collection bag.

Together with similar or worse clerical cowardice elsewhere, this has me puzzling anew over the crisis of authority in the Church. When I see my pastor discouraging people from attending Mass, but proceeding apparently uninterrupted with the construction of a large and ugly new auditorium, I think to myself, "Perhaps that's the biggest part of the problem." But more on that below.

Did you know that Canon Law strictly forbids the cancellation of public Masses or barring Catholics from attending? Look it up for yourself. Likewise Canon Law mandates that Catholics in a state of grace be allowed to receive Communion on the tongue. In fact, that's still the prescribed norm, pandemic panic notwithstanding. That is to say, the nervous precautions of pastors and bishops today constitute an out-and-out rebellion against the spirit and letter of Catholic Canon Law. And it gets worse:

Important to distinguish between Canon Law and defined Catholic doctrine. Canon Law may change (slowly) as times change; doctrinal teaching may (even more slowly) develop and deepen in understanding, but must never change. That is, once defined, a Catholic doctrine may not be repealed or nullified. Important as well to recognize when the Law is based upon defined doctrinal teaching, and when it is merely disciplinary or even arbitrary. An example of the former is the all-male priesthood, based upon the doctrinal understanding that the priest is Alter Cristus who must adequately resemble the man (vir) Christ Jesus. Likewise, barring folks from attending Mass is contrary to the Law because contrary to the doctrinal teaching on the central need for the Eucharist, and the very purpose of the priesthood. Bishops and priests who deny the Eucharist to Catholics not only violate Canon Law, but spurn the essence, the raison d'être, of their own priesthood.

By contrast, an example of a merely disciplinary law would be the requirement for priestly celibacy, which is already waived in many cases. Likewise the requirement for several years of formal post-secondary education before ordination. These Canon Law requirements are obviously not doctrinally based. Most of the early priests were neither celibate nor degreed. So these requirements could readily be relaxed or scuttled, much like no meat on Friday or the 3-hour Communion fast.

Speaking of arbitrary rules, I cannot find any doctrinal or Canon Law requirement for the construction of church edifices. As far as I can determine, a Mass said in a private home or outdoors is every bit as valid and licit as a Mass said in a consecrated basilica with a relic in the altar. Please correct me if my understanding is wrong.

Which leads to this point: What would be wrong with recovering the ancient norm of meeting in one another's homes for the 'Breaking of Bread'? And what would be wrong with having the Mass said by the homeowner himself, priest, husband and father? I suppose the main difficulty would be, not doctrine nor Canon Law, but overcoming the long entrenched bureaucratic mindset of a professional priesthood.

Radical: Pertaining to the root [of the crisis]

This idea is radical. It may also be futuristic. Open your eyes, pastors, and see that, if the increasingly atheistic governments of the world can close your churches because of a virus, they can do so for any other reason as well. So, forget your precious tax-exempt status, which can also be revoked without warning, and which only tames and silences you as docile government serfs. Put aside your real estate holdings and administrative burdens. The government may soon confiscate your church property, so beat them to the punch. Dispose of the land and buildings while you have the freedom to do something worthwhile with the proceeds. Even were this not the future, Catholic bishops would do well, would be truer to their vocation, as poor pilgrims and strangers in a hostile world. The notion of domestic priests and homeless circuit-rider bishops is both ancient and (perhaps) futuristic.

One thing is certain: There would be no church closings if there were no church buildings to close. More importantly, returning to the custom of a literal Domestic Church (just the family, plus perhaps one or two nearby priest-less households) would also return us to a truer sense of the agape feast, of worshipping together with people whom we know and love personally. Plus, since this arrangement would require a fierce loyalty to essential Christian Truth, it could also lead to a greater sense of worldwide Catholic unity, confraternity and fellowship. As we deliberately draw away from friendship with the world and its temporal riches, we draw closer to Christ and towards one another. (cf.James 4:4)

Would any of this be possible? Would it be desirable? How would this idea work, how might it get started, and how fully implemented? Well, even though this is all probably just Jerry's crazy fantasy, an impossible dream, I do hope to develop these thoughts further in subsequent blog posts.

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4 Sudoku Challenges
Solve one of these four to win
Mon July 6 2020  12:39pmSudoku

Now that it's more and more difficult to find Sudoku grids that the CyberJerry Sudoku Analyzer (the 'Analyzer') can't analyze step by step, the great Sudoku Challenge is also becoming more difficult. To help out a bit, below are four Sudoku grids that the Analyzer can't analyze step by step. You just have to figure out how to solve one of these analytically (no guesswork) to qualify as a successful Sudoku Challenger. Click on any of the grids to bring it up in the Analyzer. Both it and you should be able to solve several cells. But at some point, the Analyzer gets stuck and can't give a hint. Can your brain keep analyzing beyond that point, and solve the puzzle? If so, click on the (read article)

rev. Jul 17 2020  7:49pm
Unavoidable Rectangle
When the Unique Rectangle technique is unavoidable
Fri June 19 2020  9:24pmSudoku

A recent round of minor enhancements and corrections has made the CyberJerry Sudoku Analyzer capable of analyzing increasingly tough Sudokus. Two results: the "New Puzzle" control now offers a "Genius" level, and the "Hint" feature may offer extremely complex hints, containing many interdependent sub-steps of a variety of advanced strategies. The added focus on complex Sudokus has had another unforeseen result: the possibility of encountering what I call the "Unavoidable Avoidable Rectangle". (Not being able to find any mention of the phenomenon in any other website, I claim the right to assign this name to it.) Let me explain: (read article)

rev. Jun 25 2020  7:40pm
Sudoku Challenge (2)
Another Sudoku Bug Report and Challenge
Mon June 1 2020  12:10pmSudoku

This blog article serves as both another bug report and as a candidate for the Sudoku Challenge .

This time, the Sudoku Analyzer cannot solve the Sudoku step-by-step. It should be able to. This is a known bug, recently discovered by yours truly, and which yours truly is working on, and hope to have fixed soon.

In the meantime, if you think you can solve this Sudoku analytically (no guesswork), (read article)

  1 comment
rev. Jun 5 2020  9:45pm
Fear of Death
Fear of Life is fear of death
Tue April 7 2020  1:34pmFaith/Philosophy

. . .that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.   (Hebrews 2:14b,15)

A blessed Holy Week, and a Joyful Easter to all who read this.

Panic over COVID-19 is growing along curious lines. Those who are closing their shops and offices (and churches) and hiding in their houses or behind surgical masks are generally the rich, the educated, and the elite. At least where I live, most folks who have to work for a living are trying to go about their daily business as usual. Is there (read article)

Heads Up
Sudoku Analyzer Bug Report
Fri February 14 2020  2:15pmSudoku

This Sudoku puzzle has me scratching my head.

The Sudoku Analyzer solves it step by step, giving clues along the way. Which is to say, it is not one of those occasional Sudokus which can only be solved in trial-end-error guesswork manner. But at a couple points, the Sudoku Analyzer gives very complex hints where simple hints are possible. This is not according to design. Then, in at least one very complex hint, several secondary hint steps are omitted, without which the complex hint is incomplete.

What's especially baffling is that these (read article)

rev. May 22 2020  7:59pm
Life is only for love, and time is only that we may find God.
- Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

4/30/21Data Rings  2
3/3/21Improbable Chess Graphics
1/30/21Solar Panel 2
11/24/20Ode to Sudoku
10/7/20Version 3
8/23/20Successful Challenger 2
7/30/20Amateur Priests 1
7/23/20Doctrines, Canons, Buildings 1
7/6/204 Sudoku Challenges
6/19/20Unavoidable Rectangle
6/1/20Sudoku Challenge (2) 1
4/7/20Fear of Death 3
2/14/20Heads Up
1/11/20Billionth Birthsecond 1
12/31/19Versus-2 1
12/3/19Copyright/left 2
10/24/19DePyper 1
7/19/19Schizophrenia 4
7/11/19New Math 1
6/2/19Times and Seasons 4
11/29/18Data Security 1
10/2/18Until 7
9/15/18Empty Chair 11
8/28/18Riddle me this 6
8/1/18Sudoku Challenge Answered 3
7/4/18Unrest in Nicaragua 7
5/9/18Some Specifics
4/20/18Crisis of Authority 4
3/17/18Theocracy 2
3/1/18Self abnegation 1
12/14/17Sudoku Challenge
12/2/17Blog End
11/16/17Meta Blog 6
Copyright (c) 2017-2021 Gerald DePyper - Jinotega, Nicaragua, C.A.
rev. 2021.03.21