24 October 2016

Seemingly Good, but either Bad or Hypocrite or Ill"

So says Pope Francis of those Catholics who seek to follow the moral law as expressed in Catholic doctrine. As Hilary White said, I think there is a fourth logical possibility here.

Contrast this with the Introit and Epistle from Sunday's Mass. First, the Introit, so beautiful an expression of how God wishes us well and longs for us to call upon him:

INTROIT Jer. 29:11, 12, 14

Said the Lord: "I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me and I will hear you, and I will bring you back from captivity from all places."

God is not looking to "do us in", but to save us. But He desires our cooperation in this salvation-- he waits for us to call upon Him and follow Him in truth. St. Paul confirms that we are called to actually follow Him, to conform to Him as our pattern-- that means keeping His commandments:

Brethren: Be ye followers of me, and mark those who walk after the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction: whose God is their belly: and whose glory is in their shame: who mind earthly things. But our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself. (Philipp. 3:17-21; 4:1-3).

So, I think that it might just be possible that to seek to conform to the law of God means that a person may be something other than bad, a hypocrite, or ill.  Maybe that person is striving for holiness? That's still a good thing, right?

So, when the whole world and the pope, too, are against you for trying to get to heaven, don't worry.  Remember:

Said the Lord: "I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. You shall call upon Me and I will hear you, and I will bring you back from captivity from all places."

Persevere, brothers.

21 October 2016

God Bless Donald Trump

Truthiness to Power, indeed.  Killary looks like she's imaging him floating in a river someday, soon. Like I said after the second debate, at least somebody is willing to say it to her face. Might give me some joy in the FEMA camp where they put all of us Catholics Hillary is pretending not to hate at this dinner.

And Cardinal Dolan, Your Eminence, you look a little uncomfortable.  We could use a shepherd to guard us against the wolves. Instead, we have a brash real estate investor who is forced to take up the mantle.

19 October 2016

A Moment of Reckoning

I don't mind the drama or hyperbole, because this speech is, in its substance, true.  Who knows what monstrosity Hill & Friends will unleash tonight? Who knows what pre-planned Trump scandal will dominate news tomorrow? Hillary Clinton is, whether she knows it or not (and I'm not committing to an answer here), the tool of Satan. He is the father of lies, and she is an inveterate liar. Her handlers are liars. The press propaganda wings of her campaign are liars. 

I am tired of being lied to 100% of the time.

18 October 2016

"The City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it.": A Pre-Election, Must-Read Sermon

This Sermon, reflecting on the Gospel for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, was given by Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins, ICRSS:

XXII Sunday after Pentecost 
Saint Louis, October 2016 
Interesting questions asked by these hypocrite Pharisees. Interesting dilemma for Our Lord. But the answer is prompt and clear. The divine prudence of Our Savior is soon going to shut the mouth of those setting traps to prevent Jesus from teaching the Truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Two alternatives in the mind of the accusers. First possibility, Our Lord gives a negative answer: it is not lawful, legitimate and therefore necessary to give tribute to the civil authority. He would then receive of course the support of the Pharisees, but on the other side be accused of treason or grave lack of submission towards the Emperor. Now, if he gives a positive answer saying, yes it is lawful and therefore you should all give tribute to the Emperor, then he would have attracted against him, crowds of Pharisees, priests and doctors of the law, because we should be accountable to God and only to Him, he would have lost all credibility with the crowds.  Terrible dilemma in the mind of a simple reader: to God or to the Emperor. 

But here comes the answer; Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Once again the vain efforts of error broke down on the rock of truth. The order is now re-established; the hierarchy is clearly defined in the divine government of all things. Obey the law established by men he seems to say. And while facing his passion, he once again reminds us this reality: Thou wouldst not have any power over me at all, if it had not been given thee from above. 

You probably all have heard this definition of the Law given by Saint Thomas: as a regulation in accordance with reason promulgated by the head of a community for the sake of the common welfare. Obedience to the law for the sake of the common welfare. 

Obedience to the Law

Our first point therefore, obedience to the Law: The man who opposes authority is a rebel against the ordinance of God, and rebels secure their own condemnation, says Saint Paul. Thou must needs, then, be submissive, not only for fear of punishment, but in conscience. Pay every man, then, his due; taxes, if it be taxes, customs, if it be customs; respect and honor, if it be respect and honor. Therefore, it is certain that every just human law – both ecclesiastical and civil – imposes an obligation in conscience; the law as the secure and safe regulation for society, for the common welfare. The first place where this common welfare has to be cherished and lived truly is of course the family. The family is the basic social unit of the society. When the family is stable then the whole society is on the right track to a better welfare. This implies obedience and submission to the law that regulate family life.
That is, husbands, be the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the Church, as He sanctifies his church through his leadership. Exercise over your family the leadership, the authority that was given you by God, treat your wife generously and honorably. Reminding yourselves often the key role you play in the education of your children, moral, spiritual, social, physical education of your children. Reminding yourselves often the power of the example, good or bad, that you give to your family, because you are the head, and if the head doesn’t give its command, its orders, its power, then the whole body is kind of paralyzed, incapable anymore to just survive. Be constantly occupied in some honest pursuit with a view to provide necessities for the support of your family and to avoid idleness, the root of almost every vice!
Wives and mothers, submit yourselves to your husband, train your children in the practice of virtue and pay particular attention to your domestic concerns, never forgetting that next to God, you should be loving your husband, esteeming him above all others through the practice of a willing and ready obedience. This is the first law, the law given for the welfare of the family as first unit of society. Now let’s open the circle and let’s consider a wider aspect of the law. It would be too long to develop now the different aspects of the law so let’s just focus on one particular issue, especially because this issue today is the fundamental issue, on this issue rely the stability and existence of society and particularly the family. 

What about evil laws? 

What about evil laws, that are contrary to what I believe, to what my faith teaches me, to moral principles, or even to nature itself. What about the authority given by God to Caesar is exercised in a way which is contrary to God’s law, opposed to the common good in its ordination to our ultimate end, Heaven? When you hear this command to render to Caesar the things of Caesar, says Saint John Chrysostom, know that such things only are intended which in nothing are opposed to religion; if such there be, it is no longer Caesar's but the Devil's tribute. And moreover, that they might not say that He was subjecting them to man, He adds, "And unto God the things that are God's." 

The first object of the law is the common good, therefore as soon as the common welfare is no more the principal object, then the law ceases to be a good law. It is a moral impossibility to obey an evil law. The reason for that is the intrinsic evil of every offence against the Natural Law, and all persons are bound to do all in their power to avoid whatever is intrinsically evil, such as abortion, euthanasia, Gender theories, freedom of marriage… While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, declares Pope Pius XI, we must all the more loudly proclaim his kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm his rights. And when we hear about lesser evil we as Catholics have to remember that this notion of lesser evil is just a way of thinking for tactical voting. It is clear that a Catholic may not choose any evil. Lesser evil doesn’t exist in a catholic mind. 

Of course the often-used name suggests something true, in voting I know that some consequences will be evil. But if I vote it is because I firmly chose all the good choices of the party in question. The object of my choice is and should always be good, a possible good, and my intention is all directed towards this good object. 

Therefore, in this double-effect principle four conditions are required: First, the act itself must be good. Second, the good effect must not be caused by the evil effect. Third, the good effect and not the evil effect must be directly intended by the agent. Fourth, there must be a proportionality between the good and evil result, the good must outweigh the evil. And this is our obligation towards Caesar, guided and enlightened by what is due to God, and his Eternal Law. 

We must repeat, declared Pope Pius X,  with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker - the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO. To restore everything in Christ. 

Grab your rosaries and go to his Mother, beg for the grace of the restoration of Christian society, when Caesar was subordinated to God and when his first preoccupation was common welfare. And she promised, at the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph! 

17 October 2016

OK, I Think I Have the GOP Leadership's Strategy Down

1. Tell everyone Trump can't beat Hillary.

2. Do everything possible to ensure Trump doesn't beat Hillary.

3. Tell everyone how right you were all along.

4. Accept perks from your masters for arranging it all, with the biggest perk being that Hillary doesn't target you for destruction.

5. Enjoy your own little corner of the death of Western Civilization.

Am I missing anything?

14 October 2016

Catholic Dylan Doubters: I've Got You Now

I mean, this just beats all.  

First, I would of course understand if the Vatican Newspaper were to make no comment on the Nobel Literature Prize-winner Bob Dylan.  He's a poet and singer, and not a publicly-professed (as far as we know) Catholic.  In fact, if the Church were working as it ought to, run by faithful adult Catholics, I would be surprised if it did comment.

But it did. 

So my question to the Vatican press office is this: if you see fit to say anything, why say something so ungracious?  From the story at US News & World Report:

The Vatican newspaper says some of Bob Dylan's lyrics are beautiful, the work of a true artist who influenced entire generations. But it says he's just a songwriter and that "real" writers who know what it takes to produce a book might not be happy with this year's choice for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

L'Osservatore Romano, which frequently chimes in on pop culture, wrote a brief article about Thursday's award.

It said the Nobel committee certainly recognized Dylan's "great talent." But it said many of the artists inspired by Dylan's beautiful songs subsequently wrote "truly boring" lyrics. And it said the Nobel decision certainly "must not have pleased real writers, such as potential winners Don De Lillo, Philip Roth or Haruki Murakami, who know the enormous work that goes into writing a novel."

The paper did praise Dylan for having steered clear of all the trappings of celebrity culture, saying he followed "an invitation to not conform, and think with his own mind."

Bob Dylan not a "real writer"?  Puh-lease.  I could say much, but I will refrain. Though I will mention that I've heard lots of boring homilies and read some pretty boring exhortations lately, written by various persons, I'm sure.  I am beginning to think that Bob Dylan must indeed be a traditional Catholic, in order to earn the facile scorn of L'Osservatore Romano.  Maybe he loves the traditional Mass?

Hey, fellow Catholics, maybe it's time to give him another try.

13 October 2016

"Did They Speak Out Against Him, Did They Dare?": Bob Dylan Wins the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

The quote in the post title above comes from Dylan's "In the Garden", from his vastly underappreciated 1980 album Saved.  It refers, of course, to Our Lord, and asks in wonder whether after all He had done and said, that the chief priests had the audacity to speak against Him.

Well, Bob is not Our Lord, but he has been singularly blessed by Him with the gift of poetry in the service of beauty and truth. Still, many speak out against him, how they dare I don't know.

Today it was announced that Bob Dylan is the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.  'Bout time.

There is a very nice write-up on Yahoo News, from which this lengthy excerpt comes:

Stockholm (AFP) - US music legend Bob Dylan, whose songs have influenced generations of fans, won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday, the first songwriter to win the prestigious award in a decision that stunned prize watchers.

The 75-year-old was honoured "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," the Swedish Academy said.

The choice was met by gasps and a long round of applause from journalists attending the prize announcement. The folk rock singer has been mentioned in Nobel speculation in past years, but was never seen as a serious contender.

The Academy's permanent secretary Sara Danius said Dylan's songs were "poetry for the ears."

"Bob Dylan is a great poet in the large English-language tradition, from William Blake onwards," Danius told Swedish news agency TT, calling him a "sampler of literature".

Embodying both "the intellectual and popular tradition", he has been influenced by the Delta blues, folk music from the Appalachians and French surrealists like Arthur Rimbaud, she said.

"Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound," the Academy wrote in biographical notes about the famously private singer.

The Nobel is the latest accolade for a singer who has come a long way from his humble beginnings as Robert Allen Zimmerman, born in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, who taught himself to play the harmonica, guitar and piano.

Captivated by the music of folksinger Woody Guthrie, Zimmerman changed his name to Bob Dylan -- reportedly after the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas -- and began performing in local nightclubs.

- Civil rights campaigner -

After dropping out of college he moved to New York in 1960. His first album contained only two original songs, but the 1963 breakthrough "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" featured a slew of his own work including the classic "Blowin' in the Wind".

Armed with a harmonica and an acoustic guitar, Dylan confronted social injustice, war and racism, quickly becoming a prominent civil rights campaigner -- and recording an astonishing 300 songs in his first three years.

Dylan's first British tour was captured in the classic documentary "Don't Look Back" in 1965 -- the same year he outraged his traditionalist folk fans by using an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival on Rhode Island.

The following albums, "Highway 61 Revisited" and "Blonde on Blonde," won rave reviews, but Dylan's career was interrupted in 1966 when he was badly injured in a motorcycle accident, and his recording output slowed in the 1970s.

By the early 1980s his music reflected the performer's born-again Christianity, although this was tempered in successive albums, with many fans seeing a resurgence of his explosive early-career talent in the 1990s.

- 'A class of his own' -

Since the turn of millennium, as well as his regular recording output and touring, Dylan has also found time to host a regular radio show, the Theme Time Radio Hour, and published a well-received book "Chronicles," in 2004.

He was the focus of at least two more films, Martin Scorsese's 2005 "No Direction Home" and "I'm not There" in 2007 starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett.

Over the years Dylan has won 11 Grammy awards, as well as one Golden Globe and even an Oscar in 2001, for best original song "Things have Changed" in the movie "Wonder Boys."

From the New York Times, I just post these few excerpts:

“Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience,” Bill Wyman, a journalist, wrote in a 2013 Op-Ed essay in The New York Times arguing for Mr. Dylan to get the award. “His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.”

Sara Danius, a literary scholar and the permanent secretary of the 18-member Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, called Mr. Dylan “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” and compared him to Homer and Sappho, whose work was delivered orally. Asked if the decision to award the prize to a musician signaled a broadening in the definition of literature, Ms. Danius jokingly responded, “The times they are a changing, perhaps,” referencing one of Mr. Dylan’s songs.


“As the ’60s wore on,” Giles Harvey wrote in The New York Review of Books in 2010, “Dylan grew increasingly frustrated with what he came to regard as the pious sloganeering and doctrinaire leftist politics of the folk milieu.” He “began writing a kind of visionary nonsense verse, in which the rough, ribald, lawless America of the country’s traditional folk music collided with a surreal ensemble of characters from history, literature, legend, the Bible, and many other places besides.”

Sorry Shakespeare. Bob Dylan is the greatest poet in the English language.

12 October 2016

Mini-Trump and Me

Look at this cute picture of Mini-Trump.  Adorable.  It got me thinking, though.

Why don't I have a mini-me?

Oh wait. I do.

People, This is Paradise

And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken. And he cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. –Genesis 3: 23-24
In the midst of a spiritual direction conference last week, almost as an aside, my director said something that rang true then and has only grown in my mind:

The current situation in the Church is like paradise.


If you haven't been awake the last fifty twenty four years, I can't do much more than I have done to sound the alarm and point out all of the disasters we face today. But remember this: as much as the Church is in turmoil and confusion-- from top to bottom all the way back up-- a time is coming when we will look back on 2016 and wish we had appreciated it.

We have the Mass. You, Joe Catholic, can go to Mass every single day. Even the timeless Mass is available to more people now than at any time since 1970. I, personally, can assist at the traditional Mass every single day.  Do I? The Holy Sacrifice is effected every single day, all over the world.  There are priests to celebrate it. Do I avail myself of this means of salvation?

“A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God. In our churches, Christians will search in vain for the red lamp where God awaits them. Like Mary Magdalene, weeping before the empty tomb, they will ask, ‘Where have they taken Him?’” -- Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pius XII, 1931.

We have confession and the availability of sacramental absolution. How precious is that? You, Joe Catholic, can go to confession at least every week, no matter where you live.  There are still priests who can and will absolve you.  You just have to ask.  Do you?  I can avail myself of a regularly scheduled confession time every single day in my Oratory.  Every day. Any day.  Do I make use of it?

We can speak to, encourage, and commiserate with other Catholics every single day.  We can speak with our brethren throughout the world at any time.  How great is that? Do we encourage each other? Do I encourage anyone? Not nearly enough, I know.

Yes, the obscuring of the faith and the confusing of the faithful at the highest levels of the hierarchy is flat-out wrong, troubling, and a portent of worse to come.  But we have access to Denzinger, the Roman Catechism, books by saints, fathers and theologians at our very fingertips.  I have an app on my phone that gives me a totally solid spiritual library-- greater than that which monasteries used to guard as precious treasures of civilizaton-- that I can access at will. This app contains the Bible, the Breviary, a comprehensive collection of traditional prayers, Aquinas, De Sales, a Kempis, and so much more.  Do I read these things to my sanctification?  Did I mention that I have the entire liturgy of the Church in an iphone app? It is incredible.  These works are not just there, but they are searchable and extremely easy to use.

Do I use these resources for good?

We are free to do all these things.  This is not 17th Century England, where we would be arrested and tortured for assisting at Mass, or for refusing heretical worship.  This may be the case in the future-- maybe the very, very near future-- but not now.  Do we understand how good we have it?  All the weak and faithless members of God's Holy Church do not prevent us from being Catholic.

People, this is Shangri-La.  

Yes, we will likely look back on this time, with the clouds gathering, as a period of glory.  We have the total freedom to practice our faith and to fortify us for hard times.  Let's do just that. Man up.  Stay close to the Sacraments.  Stay close to Mary and the saints. Stay confessed. And let us be grateful.

Heads up-- we are made for Christ, and He will sustain us. 

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall put you to death: and you shall be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be scandalized: and shall betray one another: and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall seduce many. And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold. But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved. – Matthew 24: 9-13

11 October 2016