08 December 2017

Gaudens Gaudebo: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Daily Consecration of ICRSS to Blessed Mother

In the presence of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and with heaven and earth as our witness, we prostrate ourselves at thy feet, O Mary, Our Lady.

We acknowledge Thee as our Mother, as the Immaculate Conception, living tabernacle of the Divinity, as Queen of angels and of men, as Mother of the Church and of the Catholic priesthood, and as refuge of the afflicted. That is why, small and weak that we are, we wish to consecrate to Thee our Institute, our families, our persons, our works, our future, all that pertains to us and is in us, and which God, in His immeasurable goodness, has entrusted to us for our good use.

We also consecrate to Thee the value of our good actions, past, present, and future, leaving to Thee the entire and full right of disposing of us and all that belongs to us. Mary, be our Mother; sanctify us, purify us, correct us, guide us, pray for us and protect us.

Help us to perfectly fulfill the duties of our state of life. Extinguish in us all self-love, which prevents Thy Divine Son, King and Sovereign Priest, from reigning in and around us.

Cover abundantly with thy maternal protection all the parishes, chapels, schools, works and missions entrusted to the Institute, and mayest Thou forever impede the devil from reigning, in any manner, in this Institute which desires to be entirely Thine for the greater glory of God, the exaltation of our Mother the Holy Catholic Church, and for the conversion of sinners. Amen.

06 December 2017

Half a Century

So today marks the beginning of my second half-century outside the womb. Fifty years, and I know that most of that time has been squandered, or worse. Still, I know God loves me because I see it in the countless blessings He has given me. First and foremost, His Son and His Son's Church. Thank God I've not lost the faith; I pray always for an increase of faith, hope and charity, not to mention final perseverance and a happy death. I thank all the holy priests, religious, family, and friends who have set such good examples and who have given such support in the faith that it is easy to follow. You know who you are.

Apart from all that, I have been blessed with the most beautiful wife, inside and out, that there exists on this guilty earth. She is the only one who could possibly drag me across the heavenly finish line. A perfect soul mate: generous, kind, patient, loving, longsuffering. Thank you.

And though I can't remember all of their names, I am blessed by 37 wonderful children. Their mother's DNA ensures their worth, and the few faults I can see in their behavior just hold up a mirror to me as a reminder to always do better by them. One of them is even married and produced a super-beautful little granddaughter, so I have Psalm 127:6 covered, too.

I and everything I have are consecrated to Our Blessed Mother. She may dispose of me as she sees fit. What better person to trust?

God bless you all!

04 December 2017

Teachers According to Their Lusts

It can't get much worse. Except, as my brother says, when it does. We are on such a devastating trajectory here, a trajectory any Catholic of good will can see, though the speed is a variable we can only guess. As Our Lady herself said, only she can save us.

The big news of the weekend was the publication in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official Vatican way of promulgating official papal acts, of the execrable Buenos Aires bishops' pastoral guidelines implementing the execrable Amoris Laetitia in such a way as to execrably grant unrepentant, public adulterers access to the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as the execrable formerly "private" letter of Francis approving this plan, and stating, execrably, that there are "no other interpretations" of the matter. 

Is this manifest, pertinacious heresy? It sure seems like heresy to claim that the Divine Law is incapable of being followed. It sure seems wrong for the Church to encourage mortal sin and sacrilege. It sure contradicts the words of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, and also contradicts the Scriptures and the constant teaching of the Church. Pertinacious? I am not a canon lawyer, nor am I a theologian. Thus, whether it be heresy or no, it does not change the duty of a Catholic to adhere to Catholic doctrine. No one, not the pope, an angel, or the antichrist can change the truth into a lie. Our duties as Catholics-in-the-pews remain the same.

Thus, not being a theologian nor canonist I cannot address this question of whether this act is a triggering device that caused Bergoglio to depose himself from the See of Peter. But, just because I don't know doesn't mean that it is not A VERY GOOD AND RELEVANT QUESTION. 

And that is not me sidestepping the issue. When and if some act of adherence to the execrable notion that mortal sinners must be allowed to commit sacrilege against Our Lord's Body and Blood with the sanction of the Church, then it will be time to for a nobody like me to make that call. Could that happen? You betcha. I pray I will stand with Christ and His Church then, as I pray for that grace now.

Thus, there are lots of good questions that the typical layman cannot yet answer. If Francis, assuming he validly assumed the office in the first place, has indeed deposed himself through attempting to promulgate heresy, that is a determination only the Church can make. Because only Christ has the power and authority to depose His Vicar. Only the Church can definitively announce such a deposition. Therefore, whether it occurred or not, until the Church acts (presumably through action by the Sacred College) Francis retains the juridical power of the office.  

So, please, if any of the hierarchy of the Church still love Christ, will you do something nowPlease?!

As usual, God has a way of reminding us Who is actually in charge. The Epistle and the Gospel from today:

Epistle, 2 Tim. 4:1-8

Beloved: I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus, Who will judge the living and the dead by His coming and by His kingdom, preach the word, be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and teaching. For there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their lusts, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables. But be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation patiently, work as a preacher of the Gospel, fulfill your ministry. As for me, I am already being poured out in sacrifice, and the time of my deliverance is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will give to me in that day; yet not to me only, but also to those who love His coming.

Gospel, Matt. 5:13-19

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its strength, what shall it be salted with? It is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a lamp and put it under the measure, but upon the lampstand, so as to give light to all in the house. Even so let your light shine before men, in order that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall be lost from the Law till all things have been accomplished. Therefore whoever does away with one of these least commandments, and so teaches men, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever carries them out and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."  

In the Time of My Confession: Penn Jillette and Gospel Bob

Penn Jillette is one of those very rare modern men who can actually think. By that I mean that he can formulate sentences, think logically, listen to answers, make well-reasoned responses that are appropriate to the questions, and perhaps actually be persuaded by argument.  He is still rarer in that he is a thinking atheist who can respect the Christian as he is. He gives credit to the Christian for his own beliefs, and takes his arguments seriously. An atheist, or a leftist like Camille Paglia, who can do this is so refreshing in this time of the big lie that he seems like Aristotle.

I posted this before, but here is what I mean about his intellectual honesty and good will:

But what does that have to do with Bob Dylan, you ask? Plenty. I was blessed enough to be gifted with Bob Dylan's new Bootleg Series Vol. 13, which focuses on Bob's overtly-Christian, "Gospel" period from 1979-81. And in addition to the incredible music, the collection includes a book of photographs from the period-- and an essay by Penn Jillette.

Here are just brief excerpts from what he has to say about Bob and his music:

Here starts my search: Over thirty-five years have passed and I've been asked to write my thoughts on Dylan's gospel period from my point of view. While I was waiting to hear this Bootleg Series, I did a little homework. I took Time Out of Mind off my turntable and finally listened to Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love carefully. Gonna change my way of thinking.

Now Dylan's gospel records are good. I know the records haven't changed over these years, so it's me. I come to Dylan for passion, and profundity. I come to Dylan for truth. I come to Dylan to question what I'm feeling. I come to Dylan to understand what I'm feeling. I come to Dylan to change what I'm feeling. I come to Dylan to knock me out of the trivial. To make life seem more important than TV, movies, Facebook and Twitter. I come to Dylan to make life more important than just today, and these records deliver everything I want. At the time these recordings came out, I asked myself, "What's wrong with Dylan?" Now listening to these recordings full of heart, and truth, and passion, naked power, the question suddenly becomes "What was wrong with me?"


Here starts my revelation: When these recordings of live versions, outtakes, and rehearsals from the gospel period arrived, I experienced the burning bush. I was on the road to Damascus. These records changed me. I'm not Christian but I've changed. I've been listening to these records all day, every day and my life and life in general seem more important. Dylan never deals with the trivial, and these records frighten me with the awful truth of how sweet life can be. Bob has said that the purpose of art is to inspire. I am inspired. I want to be a better person and think more about things that matter. I have the spirit.


I must face some of my own hypocrisy. I never sequestered Bach's Saint Matthew's Passion on my shelf in shrink wrap. I listen to all the Bach sacred music without the chip on my shoulder that I had for Bob. I feel the music, the inspiration and the passion directly. Bach's faith doesn't get in the way. The faith is a big part of what I love about it. I don't pretend to understand what inspired Bach and it doesn't matter to my heart. I love the music. Was that okay with me because Johann's long dead and I don't understand German? I don't know. I love Ray Charles singing "Amazing Grace." Why was that always okay with me? Why did it take so much longer for me to hear Dylan's gospel? I'm afraid there aren't any good reasons and there may be some bad ones.


I must be careful that my new tolerance doesn't fall into disrespect. Listening to these records I mustn't pretend that Bob could be singing about any old thing. I can't pretend that we can replace the word "Jesus" with "Chuck Berry" and the songs would mean the same thing. They would not mean the same thing. I mustn't patronize a Nobel Laureate with some sort of ugly work-around of "God to him is what art is to me." All of that wouild be an insult to Dylan and I would never do that. So, as I listen to these gospel songs, I try to take his faith and passion seriously and honestly and feel it as best I can from his point of view. I need to let his preaching the word of [G]od speak to me of the human condition, uplift me, inspire me, and not in any way cheapen the depth of his belief.

And not just for these gospel records. Common wisdom is that Dylan went back to being a secular song writer after this period, but that's a lie. The truth is Bob Dylan never was and never will be a secular song writer: "God said to Abraham kill me a son"-- is not "Fly Robin Fly". "I can hear a sweet voice gently calling, must be the mother of our Lord." "I'm sworn to uphold the laws of God." And "Narrow Way" is more about Jesus's "narrow gate" than an answer song to Sir Mix-a-Lot.


The epiphany: There are atheists in foxholes and there are atheists singing along with "Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody." I'm listening now.

End of the World Stuff, or Bob?

Those are my two choices for blogging fodder today, people. 

And I choose....


But Bob first, 'cause other bloggers are already writing about the end of the world.  See you soon.

30 November 2017

Beginning Today: Novena to the Immaculate Conception

Greetings, everyone! As the post-Christian, secular season of Christmas is in full swing, I confess to a palpable level of annoyance. Not that people jump start Christmas (after all, it is after Thanksgiving), but that Advent. Still. Hasn't. Begun!

But I've opined on that subject long ago. Today my mission is to promote a way to prepare for Advent and Christmas at one fell swoop, and ease our way into the contemplation of the Love of God Who became incarnate of the Blessed Virgin.

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is the Patroness of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (not to mention of the United States). Each year the Institute holds a novena of Masses in preparation of Our Lady's Feast, each Mass with a different priest preaching the sermon.  This year is no exception.

So if you wish to participate in this beautiful tradition, the schedule of Masses at St. Francis de Sales Oratory is as follows (hint-- it begins tonight):

Novena in Preparation
of the
Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Thursday, November 30
6:30pm Low Mass
Father Brian Harrison
Chaplain, St. Mary of the Victories Chapel
"Mary, Seat of Wisdom"

Friday, December 1
6:30pm Low Mass
Father Eric Kunz
Pastor, St. Clare Parish
"Mary, Mother of Our Savior and Help of Christians"

Saturday, December 2
8am Low Mass
Canon Adrian Sequeira
Vicar, St. Francis de Sales Oratory
"Maria, Cause of Joy"

Sunday, December 3
10am High Mass
Canon Francis Altiere
Old St. Patrick's Oratory, Kansas City
"Virgin Most Powerful - Virgin Most Merciful"

Monday, December 4
6:30pm Low Mass
Father Henry Purcell
Associate Pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish
"Tower of David - Tower of Ivory"

Tuesday, December 5
6:30pm Low Mass
Father Thomas Keller
Pastor, Assumption Parish
"Morning Star"

Wednesday, December 6
6:30pm Low Mass
Father Damien Dougherty, OFM
Professor of Sacred Scripture, Archdiocese of St. Louis
"Mary, Mother of the Church"

Thursday, December 7
6:30pm Low Mass
Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins
Vice Rector, Shine of Christ the King, Chicago
"Mirror of Justice, Mother of Mercy"

Friday, December 8
6:30pm High Mass
Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, Saint Francis de Sales Oratory
"Queen Conceived Without Original Sin"

22 November 2017

Re-Post: My Introduction to the Bullfight 15 Years Ago

The other day I stumbled across an article on the corrida, or bullfight as most know it, here. I have had a great affinity for Spain and things Spanish for a long time, and the bullfight is no exception. This article, and a book I'm currently reading, got me thinking about the bullfight as a metaphor for Catholic culture. 

Though forced to travel off-season on account of airfare costs for a family of 37, one of my favorite memories was being able to witness an excellent-- a real-- bullfight in a pueblito called Villamuelas, about 60 km south of Toledo in the middle of nowhere Castile-La Mancha. Wikipedia says that the town's population is 737, and I cannot doubt it. Though the bullfight season ends in October, some friends and I were wandering the streets of Toledo in November when we saw posters for a bullfight for charity that afternoon in Villamuelas, featuring the renowned matador Julián López, known as "El Juli"

El Juli was a popular up-and-comer then, and later became an internationally acclaimed matador. Like the corrida itself, he personifies the drama of life-- glory, danger, victory and tragedy. He was seriously gored twice, once in 2005 and most recently four days ago. The photos on this page are all of him-- the last one is of him being carried out of the plaza de toros four days ago. Like life, the corrida is serious business. 

Ernest Hemingway, the most famous American aficionado of the bullfight, remarked that one could never tell how a person would react to the spectacle ahead of time. Grown men could go queasy while petite ladies developed a true passion for it. 

However that may be, the corrida affected me profoundly, and to me the entirety of Spain, and also that of Catholic culture itself, is exhibited in it. From Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon:

Some one with English blood has written: "Life is real; life is earnest, and the grave is not its goal." And where did they bury him? And what became of the reality and the earnestness? The people of Castille have great common sense. They could not produce a poet who would write a line like that. They know death is the inescapable reality, the one thing any man may be sure of; the only security... They think a great deal about death and when they have a religion they have one which believes that life is much shorter than death. Having this feeling they take an intelligent interest in death and when they can see it being given, avoided, refused and accepted in the afternoon for the nominal price of admission they pay their money and go to the bull ring. 

There is a ton of truth in that, though ironically coming from someone with English blood who later committed suicide. I found it absolutely true, and it fit my bullfight experience immediately. 

After deciding while in Toledo to hit the bullfight 60 km away that started in an hour's time, we found a taxi driver willing to take us there. On the way, I negotiated the return fare and a plan for him to pick us up hours later in the middle of nowhere-- a plan I prayed to Our Blessed Mother that she would make work. We got to the town just at starting time, and the taxi fare took most of our ready cash. We approached the temporary bullring with some uncertainty, but the ticket taker with very few teeth took credit cards. This took some time, and as I entered the ring the kill of the first bull (there are six) was just taking place. 

Imagine, the first sight I had of a bullfight, before I took my seat, was to stare at a bull, at eye level, with a sword in its heart. This bull stood there, blood dripping from its mouth, for what seemed like a full minute, as the crowd assumed a deathly silence. Nothing stirred and I was frozen in my steps. Then, suddenly, the bull simply fell over on its side and the crowd erupted. 

Welcome to Villamuelas!

The rest of the corrida was enthralling, thrilling, and strangely compelling. Powerful and noble beasts would rage into the ring, full of strength. The dance of the picadores and banderilleros would tire, weaken and slow it, readying it for the matador. But don't think that the bull was no longer able to menace. Quite the contrary. The challenge of the matador, the acceptance by the animal, and the dance of death played out. 

The audience cheered both, and woe to the matador who failed to respect the bull, either through cowardice, clumsiness or disdain. El Juli was magnificent, and the crowd-- particularly the ladies-- gave him his due. He was skillful and in command. On the opposite end of the scale, there was one matador the crowd more or less jeered (I was informed by the man next to me that he was Mexican, which he thought was enough explanation for the rough treatment). He tried one after another reckless and dangerous pose in order to win the crowd. It had some good effect until the bull reminded him of reality by goring his chest and then thrusting one of its horns into his ear. After every kill, the bull was taken out of the ring with great fanfare. 

Lest you complain of animal cruelty, consider this: these bulls lead a full life, are very well treated, are not tightly confined, and face only a fifteen minute contest, at the end of which they are killed quickly. Compare that to the life of the hamburger you ate for lunch yesterday. 

It is hard to find our place in the metaphor sometimes. Am I facing the dangers of life like the skillful matador, respecting danger and using my experience to overcome it well, relying on my training, being brave but not foolhardy? Am I playing to the crowd with reckless bravado, sure to get gored? Maybe I'm in the background, jabbing the danger at the back end of a long lance, allowing my horse to take the punishment. Maybe I am a banderillero fighting the enemy so that another may defeat it and get the glory. Then again, am I just a passive spectator of life, watching as others do the dirty work, moved perhaps but powerless to engage? Maybe I'm a person "with English blood" who is repulsed by the reality of life? 

Or, maybe, just maybe, I will be forced to be the bull-- a soft and easy life, until the end, when I must submit to my own inevitable martyrdom in the arena. A scenario every Catholic today might consider, no?

I'm pretty far afield now, but remember that article I mentioned at the top of the post? An excerpt:

My girlfriend, a recent convert but still possessed of strong doubts about the activity, asked what it was among the gold and gore that draws me back to the plaza de toros time and time again. I replied that it was the absolute reality of the corrida. As an art form, it represents man’s struggle with death and how it should be best faced, which is with a striking and elegant defiance. It represents a man standing alone on the sand with an animal intent on killing him. My first instructor in how to torear, the matador Juan José Padilla, almost joined their ranks two years ago when a bull removed his eye and a chunk of his skull. He was back in the ring five months later, sans depth perception, a triumphant return...

Whatever one thinks of the ethics of injuring and killing an animal as part of a public spectacle—I find it no less reprehensible than killing one at a third the age and after a far worse life for meat I do not medically need to eat—there is honor and glamour in earning your status and fortune by dancing with death.

This is why it stands in such stark contrast to what passes for honor and glamour at home in Great Britain. I just attended the book launch of an acquaintance who published his memoirs at the ripe old age of 26. It is more accurately described as a travelogue of his sexual adventures, something made clear by its title Laid in Chelsea. It is currently at number three on the Sunday Times bestseller list. The reason for this literary success is because the author, Ollie Locke, is famous for being in a reality television show called Made in Chelsea.

The fact that having your life filmed and broadcast, and then writing about your carnal exploits, can bring wealth and glory sums up so much that is wrong with modern Britain, a generalization that extends to our Saxon cousins in the US. Spain may be financially bankrupt, but at least it isn’t morally so.

...The British and American inability to distinguish between them is at the heart of our ethical and aesthetic decline.

One of the commenters to the article, commenting on the moral/financial bankruptcy point, went so far as to phrase it a bit stridently, that this was "the difference between a culture steeped in Roman Catholic traditions and one whose secularist values constitute the inevitable bequest of Protestant heresy."

I don't know. Maybe so-called 'reality television' is Henry VIII's greatest legacy. Maybe that's a stretch. What I do know is that there is more reality in the bullfight than in any reality television show. And reality is Catholic, plain and simple. 

To end the travelogue, our loyal cabbie was there to pick us up in the Castillian dusk. We struck up a conversation about the corrida and about Spain. The talk led to the faith, as it often seems to do. He was Catholic, but in his own words did not practice the faith "as well as [he] used to". We chatted pleasantly, considering the poverty of my Spanish. When we arrived in Toledo I gave him my rosary that had been blessed by Cardinal Rigali. It was a wrench to give it, but it felt right. 

After all, it was a fair bargain. I gave him a rosary, and he gave me the corrida.

21 November 2017

Apropos, of...

Syme strolled with her to a seat in the corner of the garden, and continued to pour out his opinions. For he was a sincere man, and in spite of his superficial airs and graces, a humble one. And it is always the humble man who talks too much; the proud man watches himself too closely. He defended respectability with violence and exaggeration. He grew passionate in his praise of tidiness and propriety. All the time there was a smell of lilac all round him. Once he heard very faintly in some distant street a barrel-organ begin to play, amd it seemed to him that his heroic words were moving to a tiny tune from under or beyond the world. 

-- G.K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

20 November 2017

That's One Way to Say It

I read the following statement today in an article about a failed merger between a parish that celebrated the TLM and two that did not:

There are some differences between a traditional Latin Mass and a Novus Ordo Mass, which is what most Catholics experience in church today.

14 November 2017

No Cupich for You!

USCCB, exercising some welcome spine on the only Catholic issue they have left to them, deny the Chairmanship of the Pro-Life Committee to Bergoglio's soft-on-heresy, seamless-garment henchman, Blaise Cardinal Cupich.  Archbishop Naumann is a known, determined, true pro-life advocate. He should lead this committee.

Now if the Bishops could stand up for ANY doctrine of the Church by like means...