Elia Kazan’s “Splendor in the Grass” hit me hard when I was a young teen

 

It’s been several months since posting a review of one of Elia Kazan’s films, so it’s time to get back on track with the director’s fifteenth and last profitable project.

Splendor in the Grass
Directed by Elia Kazan and featuring Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, and Audrey Christie
Warner Bros., 1961, 124 minutes

After the dismal commercial failures of his three previous films (the so-called “Southern Trilogy”), Kazan turned to popular playwright, William Inge, for a box-office-friendly teenage melodrama.

Plot

Arthur “Bud” Stamper (Beatty) and Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis (Wood) are king and queen of their high school in 1928 Kansas and madly in love. Bud is from a wealthy family and the top jock on campus (although not a gifted student), while Deanie is from a much more modest background, but is one of the school’s most attractive and popular girls. Together, they’re an ideal couple, but must increasingly battle the temptation to become more intimate. Deanie’s materialistic mother (Christie) counsels her daughter to remain chaste because Bud is the “catch of a lifetime” and he surely wouldn’t marry a “bad girl.” In the meantime, Bud tells his Type-A-on-steroids father, Ace Stamper (Hingle), that he can no longer fight lustful temptations, so he’s determined to marry Deanie immediately after graduation and run the family ranch, but the small town oil baron insists that academically-challenged Bud go to Yale in order prepare himself to take the oil business to the next level. Bud’s scandalously immoral older sister, Ginny (Barbara Loden), has brought shame to the Stamper name and Ace hopes Bud can redeem the family’s reputation.

Recognizing that he can no longer control himself, Bud cools the relationship with “good girl,” Deanie, but lets off some steam with Juanita (Jan Norris), the school “floozy,” thereby humiliating Deanie, and sending her into an emotional breakdown. Somewhat recovered and desperate to win back her boyfriend, she forces herself on Bud, but he rejects her uncharacteristic advances. Deanie becomes so distraught, she attempts suicide. As Deanie teeters on the verge of a complete mental collapse, her doctor advises an anxious Bud to end all contact for her health’s sake.

Bud goes to Yale, but his heart isn’t in it and he’s failing all of his subjects. An Italian waitress, Angelina (Zohra Lampert), befriends him in his lovesick misery. His father visits Yale in an attempt to rally Bud, but ends up jumping from a New York City skyscraper when the stock market crash of 1929 totally destroys his business. In the meantime, Deanie is sent to a sanitarium to recover her mental and emotional stability. There, she befriends a male patient and a lukewarm romance blooms. When Deanie is released after a long, thirty-month stay, she returns home, and immediately asks to see Bud to determine if there’s any spark left in their relationship. She visits Bud on his struggling ranch and learns he’s married to Angelina, with one infant child and another on the way. Disappointed but not broken, Deanie stoically commits to going forward with her life, finding “strength in what remains behind.”

Commentary

“Splendor” resonated with audiences across the country. Inge won an Oscar for his screenplay (Kazan had a large amount of input) while Wood was nominated for her performance. This was Beatty’s film debut, another notable “find” for Kazan. Hingle’s full-throttle performance is quite memorable but skirts with being “over the top.” Most of the movie was shot around New York City.

I first watched “Splendor” when I was in my early teens and was floored by the unorthodox conclusion (the attached video captures the final 3.5 minutes). Kazan stated in later interviews that the last reel was his favorite of all of his films. It certainly wasn’t a stereotypical Hollywood ending. Two characters in love are supposed to live “happily ever after,” but real life is never so orderly, which is why “Splendor” struck a chord. I remember being quite smitten with the lovely and vulnerable Deanie character, probably like many of the film’s teenage male viewers. The startling uniqueness of this film launched my decades-long study of its director.

The two DVD’s of “Splendor in the Grass” released by Warner Brothers unfortunately provide no commentary or remarkable bonus features.

Trivia alert: Screenwriter, Bill Inge, has a small role as a Protestant minister saddened by the spiritual emptiness of his church’s biggest contributor, Ace Stamper.

Additional thoughts from a Christian believer

Kazan was a Marxist atheist who rebelled against religious and societal norms of morality. Perhaps more than any of his previous films, Kazan used “Splendor” to attack “middle-class materialism” and “puritanical morality.” Antagonists Ace Stamper and Mrs. Loomis are presented as the duplicitous enemies of the pure love of their children. Bud and Deanie struggle to adhere to their parents’ hypocritical moral code, ultimately destroying their love.

“Splendor” was somewhat revolutionary in its day for its exploration of teenage sexuality, but by today’s standards it hardly raises an eyebrow. It’s interesting to note that Leftist crusader, Kazan, carried on an affair with Loden throughout the filming of “Splendor,” returning to his wife and children each evening at his comfortable estate in the tony suburb of Newtown, Connecticut. Hypocrisy?

Christians understand we cannot satisfy the ultimate moral code, the Ten Commandments. But God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. He conquered sin and death and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. As Christians, we attempt to follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. As a teenager, I struggled with sexual temptation. Those hormones were firing like a well-tuned 350 V-8 engine. It’s a common experience, right? These days, teens are experiencing even greater pressure to give in to temptation at an even earlier age. The Lord gave us guidelines for a reason. To protect our physical and emotional well being and the well being of others. Rampant premarital and extramarital sexuality have led to all kinds of individual and social problems. Perhaps the church would have done better to present sexuality positively, as a natural and wonderful gift of God for married couples, rather than negatively, as something dirty and not to be spoken of. After all, The Song of Solomon is in the Bible. But a person must accept Christ as Savior before they can follow Him in obedience.

Natalie Wood left her then-husband, Robert Wagner, for co-star Beatty during the filming of “Splendor,” much to the delight of Kazan, who sought emotional reality from his actors. Wood would reunite with Wagner in 1972. She died under suspicious circumstances in 1981 while on an excursion on the Wagners’ boat, the ironically-named “Splendour.” William Inge committed suicide in 1973. Beatty would go on to achieve fame mainly as Hollywood’s celebrated #1 Lothario. But now they castigate Harvey Weinstein?

After watching “Splendor,” I can remember scrambling to the library to read William Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” (1804), with the famous passage cited in the film:

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.

Scholars still debate whether Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a Christian. Most of his earlier poetry glorifies nature as a semi-deific force. Later poems displayed a much more orthodox Christian view. In his “Ode,” the poet admonished his readers to move forward with their lives rather than dwell in the past.

God’s Word has much to say about looking back. Believers are to focus on Christ and Christian service and not look back at the world’s temptations with desire.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” – Philippians 3:13

See here for more Bible verses about looking forward in Christ.

SPLEN

SPLEND
Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood aboard the “Splendour”
Advertisements

“You musn’t take THAT Bible passage literally!”

This morning, I was listening to the 10/29/13 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show, broadcast by The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), featuring priest-host, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Mike Denz.

About half-way through the show, Trish from Buffalo called in with a concern about her 14-year-old son. The boy’s religion class had been studying a passage from the Old Testament in which God had commanded the Israelites to kill all the inhabitants, including children, of the pagan Canaanite nations they were invading. The boy was upset by the passage and asked his mother, “How could a God who is all-loving, all-merciful, and all-forgiving wipe out a whole nation,” especially the children? The mother didn’t know how to answer, so she called Rick for advice.

Priest Rick explained that when ancient peoples fought over land, they invoked the help of their deities, just as Israel invoked Yaweh. He said the Israelites attributed to God the command to attack the Canaanites and credited Him for all their victories, but that God DIDN’T ACTUALLY command the attacks. Rick went on to say that the Israelites were looking for a way to justify their aggression, so they attributed it all to the will of God. In closing, Rick stated, “So they put then on the lips of God these commands to destroy even to the point of (murdering children),” because they had mistakenly understood that to be God’s will. Trish thanked Rick for his “wise” counsel.

Believers, see anything wrong with priest Rick’s Old Testament exegesis? Yes, God DID command the Israelites through his prophet, Moses, to wipe out the pagan peoples of Canaan. Yes, even children. God is sovereign. He brings new life into the world and takes life away. 150,000 people die each day in this world; men, women, and children. It’s not pretty but that’s the reality in this fallen world. The pots cannot tell the Potter how to manage the pots. God commanded the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites because He didn’t want them to be ensnared by pagan idolatry. As we know, the Israelites disobeyed the Lord, spared many of the pagans, and did embrace pagan idolatry. But despite the continual disobedience of Israel and its ongoing dalliance with paganism, the Lord’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ prevailed. Praise God!

Like most Roman Catholic clerics, priest Poblocki has a very low view of Scripture. He stands on the traditions of his church, not on God’s Word. If his church’s man-made traditions and philosophies disagree with Scripture, a priest will choose his church over Scripture every time. Speaking of idolatry, just step inside a Catholic church. And speaking of murder, comparatively “enlightened” Roman Catholic prelates persecuted those outside the church right up into the 20th century. There were the crusades, the inquisitions, pogroms, forced baptisms, and murderous Catholic falangists. How does Rick explain all that to the 14-year-old?

“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? – Isaiah 45:9

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35

I had been reading Deuteronomy 20 as part of my daily Scripture reading just yesterday, where God commands the Israelites to exterminate all the Canaanites. Coincidence? Hardly!

Why did God command the extermination / genocide of the Canaanites, women and children included?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Canaanites-extermination.html

Postscript: Old Testament passages that deal with Israel’s fidelity to Yaweh are not dry, useless historical information, but are inspiration for Christians to also remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to His Gospel. But as we look around evangelicalism today, we sadly see plenty of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal when it comes to false teachers and false gospels.

Face forward! No, face backward! Forward! Backward! Forward! Backward!

A few days ago, I was listening to the 8/8/17 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF [Our Lady of Fatima], 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), with this particular broadcast featuring Jesuit priest, Robert McTeigue, and moderator, Steve Quebral.

A variety of topics were discussed including the current controversy that’s raging throughout the church over the “Ad Orientem” question.

Ad Orientum? What exactly is that, you ask? Okay, allow me to share a little background information.

Back in the early 1960s, moderate and liberal Catholic prelates pushed for church practices to be modernized. The old, dusty rituals were done pretty much as they had been done for centuries, including the mass being conducted in Latin. “Who wants to sit through an hour-long liturgical ritual they can’t understand?,” they asked. Pope John XXIII  obliged and called together the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), which made several changes to the mass liturgy including, among other things, removing the altar rails, changing the language to the vernacular, and having the priest face the congregation instead of showing them his back. The new, modernized version of the mass was dubbed “Novus Ordo” or New Order. Conservative Catholics were enraged by these alterations, which seemed to them to make the mass less dignified and less “holy.” They were angry then and they’ve been angry ever since.

As I mentioned, one of the alterations to the mass was changing the posture of the priest from facing away from the congregants, i.e., “Ad Orientum” (literally, facing eastward toward the altar – older churches always had the entrance of the church at the west end) to facing the congregants (“Versus Populum” or facing the people). Conservatives know they cannot change all masses back to Latin (Latin masses were restored on a very limited basis in 2007 by pope Benedict XVI to appease conservatives) or reinstall communion rails, but they can fight for the priest to turn around 180 degrees as he says mass, as it was done before Vatican II. Last year, conservative cardinal Robert Sarah, who holds the position of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, urged priests and bishops to start celebrating masses “Ad Orientem” once again at regular, “Novus Ordo” masses. Pope Francis, hardly a fan of turning back the clock to pre-Vatican II days, quickly rejected Sarah’s appeal, but many conservative priests and bishops have taken up the “Ad Orientum” battle cry. Some have arbitrarily begun saying mass “Ad Orientum” once again.

In the “Calling All Catholics” segment, conservative Jesuit, McTeigue, spent quite a bit of time arguing for the return to the “Ad Orientum” posture.

If you’re an evangelical reading this post, you may wonder why all the fuss about which way the priest faces at mass. After all, wouldn’t it make sense for the priest to face the congregants? But this kind of debate over the intricate details of the liturgy is common within Catholicism. Every mass all over the world is supposed to follow the exact same prescribed formula. If a neglectful or rebellious priest deviates from the official script one iota, some pious retiree with too much time on his or her hands will be on the phone to the diocesan office within the hour. The lesson is, DO NOT mess with people’s rituals and traditions.

But in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter which way the priest faces during the mass because the entire liturgy of the mass is anti-Biblical. The priest does not actually change the bread wafer and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Neither does the priest actually offer the Jesus wafer and wine as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Rather, God the Son, Jesus Christ, offered the perfect sacrifice for sin once and for all on the cross at Calvary and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for all those who accept Him as their Savior by faith alone. There is NO MORE sacrifice for sin as God’s Word plainly says:

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:11-14

There’s nothing in the empty mass ritual that conveys that an individual must repent of their sins and come to Christ and receive Him as Savior personally by faith alone. For Catholics, the idol of ritualism takes the place of saving faith in Christ. Trust in Christ, not in rituals and religious legalism.

Explaining the Heresy of the Catholic Mass, Part 1

Explaining the Heresy of the Catholic Mass, Part 2

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup – News & Views – 7/1/17

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), revised in 1992, has 2865 numbered paragraphs full of man-made traditions. In addition, the church has many other traditions not even mentioned in its catechism as I recently noted with the Gregorian masses. I couldn’t find any statistics online but I would guess only a miniscule percentage of lay Catholics have read even a small portion of their CCC “owners manual.” Although the church claims Scripture, tradition, and its teaching magisterium all have equal authority, its traditions and magisterium trump Scripture every time.

After the jolt of Vatican II, Catholicism faced another crisis when pope Paul VI released  his Humanae vitae encyclical in 1968, which insisted Catholics could not use birth control. Traditionalist Catholics view this declaration as infallible but it was bitter gall for people in the pews. Statistics show 98 percent of Catholic girls/women, ages 15-44, have used contraception. The fallout? If people won’t accept one illogical, man-made dogma (contraception is bad, the unreliable rhythm method is OK), they’ll turn their backs on others, also, and hence today only 20 percent of Catholics attend mandatory mass every Sunday.

In this revealing 1000-word article written to a Catholic mother on how to keep her son in the RC church, the name of Jesus is mentioned once. Only once! As usual, it’s all about the institution. One of the advisements is to “Encourage your children to have relationships with priests and religious.” You’ve got to be kidding! What loving parent would send their child into a viper’s den?

A small group of Catholic teachers and students received the Pentecostal/charismatic “gifts of the spirit” in 1967 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. The Catholic charismatic movement now boasts 160 million members although the vast majority, including many priests, still believe in Catholicism’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit. “No need to join one of those charismatic outfits down the road where people take their religion seriously,” says the church. “We’ve got all the bases covered.”

Ontario appears to be on the cutting edge of liberal progressivism. First, they pass a law saying children can be removed from parents who oppose their transgenderism. And now, if you send your kid to a Christian/religious school, they can opt out of religion classes.

There’s a word in the dictionary named “Jesuitism.” This refers to the “casuistic” approach to moral questions and problems that developed and flourished within the religious order. Casuistic or casuistry refers to “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality; fallacious or dishonest application of general principles; sophistry.” In layman’s terms, you can justify anything as long as it’s done for the “greater good.”

After thirty-years of “soul-searching” the RCC is still unable/unwilling to confront its pedophile priests crisis as evidenced by this latest chapter involving cardinal and papal confidant, George Pell.

How long can the RCC uphold its teaching on traditional marriage? Recent statistics show 67% of Catholics support gay marriage contrasted with 35% of White “evangelicals.” See here. I’m sure MANY liberal priests are already marrying gay Catholic couples on the QT.

Yes, you have to love The Babylon Bee!

“The Keepers” on Netflix: Recommended with sadness

I finally finished watching Netflix’s seven-part-series, “The Keepers,” about the unsolved murder of a young nun in 1969. Sister Cathy Cesnik taught at an all-girls’ Catholic high school in Baltimore, Maryland. She disappeared in November, 1969 and her decomposed body was found the following January. The murder was never solved but two retired alumni of the high school and former students of the nun have relentlessly attempted to identify the killer/s.

The facts show that Father Joseph Maskell, a chaplain at the high school, had sexually abused a large number of the students. One of the victims had confided in Sister Cesnik who took initial steps to expose Maskell but then disappeared. There’s little doubt that priest Maskell orchestrated Cesnik’s death even if he was not the murderer himself.

This is gut-wrenching stuff. The sexual abuse of multiple girls at Archbishop Keough High School by Maskell and another priest sickens the soul. Then there was the murder. And finally there was the cover-up of Maskell’s abuse by the Baltimore Archdiocese and its subsequent legal battles with the victims.

My heart breaks for the victims of Father Maskell and for all the other victims of abuse within the Catholic church. The church definitely perpetuated the abuse through its clerical celibacy rule and by moving known predators from one parish to the next. I’m also very saddened that the Catholic church deceives its members with a false gospel of sacramental grace and merit rather than teaching them the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

I highly recommend this series although it’s difficult to watch. But the truths it reveals are so important.

excatholic4christ

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism…

View original post 99 more words

The death of one nun was just the tip of the iceberg

 

A new Netflix docu-series, “The Keepers,” premiers tomorrow, Friday, May 19th and it looks like something Christians may want to watch. I certainly will be.

The seven-part series focuses on the unsolved murder of a Catholic nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, inKeep Baltimore, Maryland in 1969. One of the suspects was a priest, Father Joseph Maskell, a known sexual predator, who was shuffled from parish to parish by the church hierarchy. The documentary alleges that Maskell was abusing girls at the high school where Cesnik taught and she was attempting to expose him prior to her death.

It’s one thing to hear general information about the scandal of pedophilic and abusive priests and the subsequent cover-up by the church hierarchy. That’s bad enough. But it’s another thing to examine the personal aftermath of the abuse and cover-up in the lives of actual human beings with names and faces and in the lives of their families.

Catholicism has much to answer for, in regards to this scandal as well as for misleading its members with its false gospel. Not only were children, nuns, and young seminarians victimized by “celibate” sexual predators, but Catholics in general were and are being misled into believing they must merit their way into Heaven.

One-hundred-years ago, church spokespersons offhandedly dismissed accusations of abuse in Catholic schools, seminaries, convents, and rectories as “Protestant porn.” Now they’re keeping their mouths shut and wishing it would all just go away.


In Netflix’s “The Keepers,” a nun’s unsolved murder, a sexual abuse coverup and crumbling Vatican II hope
http://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2017/05/17/netflixs-keepers-nuns-unsolved-murder-sexual-abuse-coverup-and-crumbling

IFB Memories #12: Church and politics

There’s always been a tension within Christianity regarding what kind of a relationship the church should have with politics and the state. The early Reformers unfortunately adopted the Roman Catholic viewpoint that the state was the divinely ordained agent of the church. That concept still lingers in varying degrees throughout the West but especially in the United States. European countries still have official state-supported denominations although few people attend services.

In American evangelicalism today, at one end of the spectrum are Christians who argue the church and state should work hand in glove; elect Christian-friendly politicians, ensure the appointment of Christian-friendly judges, and legislate laws that reflect Judeo-Christian beliefs and values. At the other end of the spectrum are Christians who argue the job of the church is to evangelize and disciple and not to become entangled in worldly concerns. We are ambassadors of our Father in Heaven on a mission to evangelize, not to be deeply-rooted, nationalistic patriots.

My wife and I accepted Christ back in the early-1980s and we began attending an independent fundamental Baptist church that patterned itself after Jerry Falwell (pictured) and his Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Falwell and his Moral Majority were so focused on championing conservative causes that the Gospel was relegated to the back seat. Co-belligerency alongside religious unbelievers (e.g., conservative Catholics) eventually contributed to an “ecumenism of the trenches” as Chuck Colson once approvingly noted.

Our pastor regularly mixed the Gospel with politics from the pulpit. America was presented as a Christian nation that was in a covenant with God in the very same way as was ancient Israel. Old Testament passages meant only for Israel were regularly misapplied to the United States. Our church was heavily involved with New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a political advocacy group supported by IFB and conservative evangelical churches in the state (see last article below). During election years, candidates from both parties were invited to our church to discuss their political positions but only Republicans bothered to show up. That church’s heavy involvement in politics and the constant harangues about the culture wars from the pulpit led to our decision to leave, among other reasons.

I don’t know exactly where the line is regarding the church’s involvement with politics and the state but I’m quite happy politics are never mentioned from the pulpit of our current church.

I’m currently reading “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America” by Frances FitzGerald, which was published in April. It’s a history of evangelicalism in America from an unbeliever’s perspective. It’s not always complimentary but the facts are fascinating, especially regarding the struggle to determine the church’s relationship with the state. Review to follow.

Below are a few articles that touch upon this church-state dichotomy:

With God on Their Side: How Evangelicals Entered American Politics

Don’t compromise the gospel in social cooperation
http://news.sbts.edu/2017/04/13/dont-compromise-gospel-social-cooperation-says-mohler-tgc-workshop/

Evangelicals gather in Albany
http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/273279/evangelicals-gather-in-albany/

Dead bones religion

I just love me a good sermon from the Word of God from a Spirit-filled preacher. If you know the Lord and you’ve been to a Jesus-preaching, Gospel-focused, evangelical church with a pastor who has surrendered his heart to God, you know what I’m talking about. A Spirit-filled, godly evangelical preacher can expound on a single Bible verse for an hour and believers’ hearts will dance with joy at His Word.

Sadly, millions of people attend churches – Catholic and most mainline Protestant – where the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is never preached. Congregants will hear snippets of the Bible and some platitudes about the God of love and being a good neighbor, but there are no convicting words from Scripture about their sinful condition and no invitation to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone.

Have you ever attended a Catholic mass? As part of the formalities, the priest gives a short talk called a “homily” (from the Greek homilia – to have communion or hold intercourse with a person). The Vatican advises its clergy to limit their homilies to around eight minutes so as to leave enough time for all of the many rituals of the 45-minute mass.

A homily’s listenability varies widely depending on the priest. Many of these men are socially withdrawn and were initially attracted to the priesthood because of the isolation it offered. Public speaking is generally not their forte. Beyond that, none of these priests preach the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Rather, they propagate a joyless religious system of sacramental grace and merit that leads no one to Heaven.

I was browsing the internet the other day and came across podcasts of the homilies from Peace of Christ Catholic parish. Peace of Christ incorporates three former parishes on the eastside of Rochester, N.Y., including the one I attended as a child and teen. Below is a link to the 9-minute homily given by current pastor, “father” Robert Schrader, on Sunday, April 30, 2017. I invite you to take a listen, even for only a couple of minutes if you’re pressed for time. Argh, this brings back memories of so many Christ-less Sunday mornings! Schrader is obviously reading his prepared homily from a sheet of paper. It’s excruciatingly dry and boring. There’s no joy, no passion, and most importantly, no Gospel of salvation by grace through faith! As a believer, I recoil from this message that’s spiritually DOA.

Take a listen to Schrader’s homily below. You’ll be amazed.

Robert Schrader, homily for 4/30/17

It’s a chore for Catholics to have to sit through these tedious, monotone homilies as well as the accompanying dead liturgical rituals of the mass. Many Catholics legitimately ask themselves, “Why bother?,” when their pope teaches that even atheists can merit Heaven if they follow their consciences and are “good.” Catholic sources report only 20% of Catholics attend obligatory weekly mass while a whopping 56% say they attend mass only “a few times a year,” “rarely,” or “never.”

Praise God, there’s an alternative to “dead bones” religion. His name is Jesus Christ. God the Son came into this world and lived a perfect life so that He could offer it up as a sacrifice for your sins and mine. But Jesus rose from the grave, conquering sin and death, and offers eternal life and fellowship with God as a free gift to all those who accept Him by faith alone. No one can merit Heaven by trying to follow the Ten Commandments or their conscience. No one. Go to Jesus in prayer and accept Him as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to help you find an evangelical church in your area that preaches God’s Word without compromise.

Don’t you dare try to correct me! I’m a priest!!!

FC

Although I left Catholicism and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior several decades ago, I like to listen to Catholic talk radio daily just to keep abreast of what’s going on within the RCC. The show I listen to regularly is “Calling All Catholics” on The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima) 101.7 FM out of nearby Buffalo, New York. Catholic priest, Rick Poblocki, pastor of St. Josaphat’s in Cheektowaga, N.Y. (a Buffalo suburb), is featured on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he’s by far my favorite call-taker because he’s just so entertaining in a rough, gruff, unpolished, “youse guys” kind of way.

Rick is a hard-nosed, no-nonsense priest who sounds like he would have very much enjoyed the veneration given to the “alter Christus” clergy back in the pre-Vatican II, church-militant era, when the pious faithful used to kiss the hands of their parish priests, who claimed to change bread wafers and wine with their hands into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Back in those days, no Catholic would have even dreamt of standing up to their priest, which of course led to all kinds of abuses. On questions regarding evangelicals, Rick usually starts off in a very conciliatory tone but as things progress and he begins to get lathered up, he can be counted on to refer to evangelical ministers as “Reverend Billy Bob” and to evangelical Christians as “Bible thumpers” or “Bible bangers.” Yes, it’s all very entertaining when the polite facade comes down.

Today I was listening to the podcast of the 12/03/2013 show and a listener had the audacity to send in an email correcting the priest. In an earlier portion of the show, Rick had referred to the deceased mother Teresa (d. 1997) as being in Heaven. But the Catholic church wouldn’t actually canonize mother Teresa until September 4, 2016, almost three years after this show was broadcast. Let’s pick up on Rick’s reaction to the insolent listener:

Mike Denz, show moderator: We’re gonna go to one of those emails we got from Jim in Rochester (N.Y.). “Father Rick mentioned that mother Teresa is in Heaven. How does he know that?” And then he puts a Latin phrase in there that I believe…

Rick Poblocki, priest: Oremus Pro Invicem.

MD: “Let’s pray for each other,” is that right, or “Pray for one another”?

RP: Who knows.

MD: [Laughs]

RP: Anyway, here’s the thing. Well, Jim, I’d say this, nobody really knows until the church canonizes her but there’s a sure bet that she probably is. Probably because she never asked such a snotty question of a priest or tried to make him look stupid. And if you want to say something in Latin, why don’t you try the “Miserere,” Psalm 51, and see how that one works? Next question. Let’s do something real here.


It became very popular among some compromising evangelical pastors to hold up Billy Graham and mother Teresa as exemplary Christians to their congregations. Unfortunately, Billy Graham drifted into ecumenism early in his career and then into universalism. Mother Teresa upheld the Catholic church’s false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit and also championed universalism. Despite what Rick and the Catholic church claim, nobody really knows if mother Teresa is in Heaven. If she accepted Christ as her Savior by faith alone before she died then she is in Heaven. But if she held onto the Catholic church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit then she died in her sins and went to hell.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14

Father Jones and Mrs. Jones?

Thorn
Cardinal Ralph (Richard Chamberlain) and his “friend,” Meggie (Rachel Ward), in 1983’s television mini-series,”The Thorn Birds.”

Pope Francis continues to shake things up in the Catholic church to the chagrin of traditionalists. This week he announced that he’s going to look into the possibility of allowing priests to marry (see stories below).

There appears to have been some prejudice against married clergy for centuries before 1075 when pope Gregory VII officially barred married priests from ministry. It was argued that celibate priests practiced a higher form of spirituality and were able to concentrate on their priestly duties more effectively. Probably even more troubling to the hierarchy were concerns about married priests and church finances. A few decades previous, Pope Benedict VIII issued a ruling prohibiting the children of priests from inheriting property.

But a celibate clergy soon created all kinds of problems for the church. It was once reported that Rome had the highest number of prostitutes per capita among major European cities. Many popes, cardinals, and bishops kept secret (and not so secret) mistresses. Illegitimate sons of the church’s princes were often awarded high offices within the church bureaucracy. Human nature being what it is, “celibate” priests preyed upon married and unmarried women within their parishes. The church’s rule of clerical celibacy also attracted sexual deviates and social misfits. The scandal of clerical pedophilia and the subsequent cover-up by the hierarchy has rocked the church to its foundations over the last twenty years.

But Francis is being pragmatic. The Catholic church has experienced a significant decline in priests in the last fifty years. There were 60,000 priests in the U.S. in 1965 but that number has shrunk to 37,000 in 2015 and many of those men are elderly. Parishes are closing or consolidating because of the shortage of priests (and declining attendance). Now that priests are no longer venerated in Catholic society anywhere near the degree they were fifty years ago, there is little that attracts warm-blooded, young Catholic men to a celibate lifestyle. Conservative Catholics will fight this change just as they are fighting Francis’ “Amoris” encyclical allowing communion to remarrieds. This switch to married clergy will take some time but by floating this balloon we can see that Francis is greasing the skids.

From an evangelical point of view, it’s very clear from God’s Word that a mediating priesthood and sacrifice for sin were done away with by the ministry of Jesus Christ. The Bible also warns against religious leaders who forbid marriage. Roman Catholics claim their church is “Semper eadem,” never changing, but even a casual student of history knows the Catholic church has changed its teachings and disciplines rather frequently.

Thank you, Lord, for freeing me from man-made doctrines and precepts. Thank you for opening my eyes to the glorious “Good News” of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Jesus Christ, the Perfect Priest
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/1611/jesus-christ-the-perfect-priest


Pope Francis: ‘We have to think about’ married priests in Catholic Church
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-we-have-to-think-about-married-priests-in-catholic-church

Pope Francis open to allowing married priests in Catholic Church
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/03/10/pope-open-allowing-married-priests/98998496/

Sex orgies, prostitution, porn: Allegations shake Catholic Church in Italy
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/03/09/sex-orgies-prostitution-porn-claims-shake-catholic-church-italy/98962674/