21 November 2014

Wrath




In what I hope is a timely repost, here is the sermon on the deadly sin of Wrath delivered at the Oratory in 2011 by Canon Aaron Huberfeld of the ICRSS:
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Quinquagesima Sunday 2011


Wrath

Charity is patient, it is kind…it is not provoked to anger.

As we pursue our course of violet Sundays and our series of sermons, we discover that these Sundays are perfectly in accord with the traditional ordering of the Seven Deadly Sins. The list begins and ends with the most spiritual of these vices. We began with the two most miserable, and we will end with the one most diabolical. Today we begin to consider the four other deadly sins, the four that go together because they are the most human – they can exist only in the human soul. Devils are incapable of committing them, though our human language may often attribute these sins to them. And the first of these is the deadly sin of wrath.

When we considered the sin of sloth, we saw that there are two kinds of sadness: the sadness from God, and the sadness of the world. “The sadness which is according to God worketh penance unto salvation, but the sadness of the world worketh death.” We should know that there are also two kinds of anger: anger according to God, and the anger of man. The anger which is according to God is nothing other than holy zeal for the rights of God and of His Church. This righteous anger is often found on the lips of the Psalmist: “zeal for thy house hath consumed me;” and Our Lord Himself showed us the greatest example of it when He overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple and violently drove out all those who would make His Father’s House a house of traffic. Who cannot be inspired by the example of the holy martyrs who so patiently endured violence against their own person, but who would nevertheless fly into a rage if anyone of their persecutors dared to blaspheme the holy name of God? There is certainly nothing wrong with this sort of anger. On the contrary, there is something very wrong with someone who never feels it. The Sacred Heart teaches us to be meek, not weak.

The anger of man, however, cannot claim any divine inspiration. As St. James warns us: Let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger. For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God. Anger is a movement of man’s soul, a passion, and like all the passions, anger is neither good nor bad. Often our anger can be used for good. Everyone knows the old trick of getting his anger up so that he can get out of bed in the morning or run that last lap. It is when we allow our actions to be controlled by anger rather than right reason that sin enters in.

Anger may be defined simply as “the desire to get revenge.” And nearly always, it is not the rights of God or of our helpless neighbor that we are seeking to avenge, but our own ruffled pride. The smallest child displays this behavior. If his brother hits him over the head with a toy, he might be surprised the first time and just cry from the pain, but the second time his first thought will be to settle the score, with a little more thrown in for good measure.

The fact that sins of anger are often only venial should not put us at ease. Never forget that, after original sin, the first mortal sin recorded in the Scriptures was a sin of anger. Cain fell from grace long before he finally rose up against his brother. As Our Lord said from the Mount: you have heard that it was said to them of old, thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of judgment.

St. Francis de Sales tells us: “It is a matter of great importance to make our conversation agreeable. To do so it is necessary to appear humble, patient, respectful, cordial, yielding in all lawful things to all. Above all, we must avoid contradicting the opinion of anyone, unless there is an evident necessity for it. In that case, it should be done with all possible mildness, and with the greatest tact, without in the least outraging the feelings of the other party. In this way we shall avoid contests which produce only bitterness and which ordinarily spring rather from attachment to our own opinion than from love of truth. Believe me, there are no dispositions more inimical to human society than those which are given to contradiction, just as there is no person more commonly loved than he who contradicts no one.”

Some people are never in control of their temper, but most are able to avoid being an ogre in public; their own vanity keeps their anger in check. Tragically, it most often with those to whom we are closest – our friends and closest family members -- that our wrath knows no bounds. With them we are, it seems, ready to fight to the death over the smallest matters. In some households, snapping, cutting down, and a hateful tone of voice are a way of life – or rather, a way of death. The initial reasons for a quarrel are soon forgotten; all that matters is winning the battle at hand. One side tries raising the voice; the other fishes for whatever he can come up with at the moment; slanderous remarks about others, exaggerations, even outright lies. He is offended by every word or glance which could be perceived as an affront to his dignity. In his thoughts he nurses his anger, revisits old grievances, holds grudges. He spends the day imagining new fights and new arguments where his rights are finally vindicated. Then even vanity can no longer restrain the wrathful man. Like the man of Jericho in today’s Gospel, he is blind. He defies God Himself, for he says over and over again in his heart, vengeance is mine; I will repay.

Let us hear again the counsel of our holy patron: we must be “patient, respectful, cordial, yielding in all lawful things to all. Above all, we must avoid contradicting the opinion of anyone, unless there is an evident necessity for it. In that case, it should be done with all possible mildness, and with the greatest tact, without in the least outraging the feelings of the other party.” What a program for Lent! For most of us, following this counsel is nothing less than the Way of the Cross, a complete emptying of self. Examine your conscience on any given day, and recall all the times that you have crossed others in thought, word or deed. What were your reasons? Was it to defend God’s holy Name? To defend the truth and keep others, especially children, from learning error or falling into sin? Were you moved by charity to defend your neighbor from cruelty? Did you hope to defend your own good name from grievous slander? In all these instances, you may humbly thank God for giving you the courage to say what was right. In all other cases, you may be sure that your anger got the better of you.

Do not get angry at yourself about it. Cry out to God with all your heart: Lord, grant that I may see! Heal me from my blindness, and grant me the grace to see the misery which my anger causes me and others in this life and will surely cause me in the next unless I learn from You, who are meek and humble of heart. Let not one more sun go down upon my anger, but let me bury it today in the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Two Down, One to Go




Ebola scare in Jefferson County: False Alarm

Obamnesty: Real

Ferguson Grand Jury Fallout: TBD

Decision widely expected to be announced Sunday afternoon.

Oremus pro invicem.

20 November 2014

Meanwhile, God Is Still God, and Life Goes On: Upcoming at the Oratory

This Sunday at St. Francis de Sales Oratory is the Kirchweihfest and Seminary Society Luncheon, after the 10 am Mass.  The Kirchweihfest returns from a two-year hiatus and is being combined with the annual Seminary Society event, this unique arrangement due to the calendar-altering mega-event of the priestly ordinations this August jumbling things around a bit.

This event is always fun, and a great way to share good Catholic fellowship.  The menu is at the link to the Oratory Newsletter, below.  Two Mikes Catering will serve its usual excellent German-style luncheon, and proceeds will help our future priests studying in Gricigliano.  Waterloo German Band returns to provide the entertainment.

As a reminder, the Novena to the Immaculate Conception begins Sunday, November 30 and continues until the feast.  Each day's Mass has a different guest homilist, and all are great Catholic priests known for their orthodoxy.  More information at the link below.

Finally, the Gaudete Gala 2014 fast approaches.  This year the beautiful event will be held at the Sheldon Concert Hall on Grand on December 14.  Proceeds help the Oratory, particularly in its world-class sacred music program.  More information in the newsletter.

These events and more are well covered in the Oratory Newsletter, which you can read here

These are the seeds of Catholic Culture and Charity that help to build society, not to tear it down.  Helping the Oratory at any or all of these events is one way to be part of the solution to our city's real needs.  God bless.

A Postcard from the Edge of Fergusamnestebola

I just wanted to send out a post before the stage-managed fear fest here in St. Louis goes live this weekend.  We hear the Emperor's Amnesty plans tonight, and are told to panic there.  Then, the long-simmer of Ferguson is rumored to go to boiling-point sometime over the weekend, and we're told to panic there.  Now, of course-- of course!-- the Post-Dispatch tells us a possible ebola case is in the area.  And-- if you know anything about St. Louis-- of course the case is in Jefferson County.  Makes perfect sense.  Oh, yeah, PANIC!!

With all that in mind, I ask you for your prayers for our fair city, and for our country.  Most of all, that we receive God's mercy and protection from the very real forces of evil in our battles with the Principalities and Powers of this present darkness.

Stay safe, stay sane, and stay faithful.  God bless.

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
 
 

Meatless Friday Thursday, or Fatima Update?

I don't like to post the purely political, though sometimes I do.  This item could be that (hence the Meatless Friday tag), or it could be one to put in the Fatima archives.

Vladimir Putin gave an important speech in October to a meeting of some NWO movers and shakers.  The speech hasn't received a lot of press in the U.S.; after all, we have Kim Kardashian to worry about.  About all we're told is that Putin is a bad person.  Now, he very well may be, but the media telling us that is no reason to assume it.

And even assuming it, one can learn a lot about the motivation of one's adversaries by actually listening to what they say.  For instance, reading the speeches of history's greatest villain, Hitler, upon declaring war on the U.S. and later justifying the invasion of the USSR, provide an insight at least to what his motivations were, that you wouldn't get anywhere else.  Since Putin is now designated as the next Hitler, it might make sense to know what he's thinking.  Moreover, one can also see the weaknesses and problems with one's own position by doing so.  You don't have to agree with someone to learn something from his words.

At Fatima, Our Lady warned about the errors of Russia spreading, and about the annihilation of nations.  She also predicted, whenever the Pope gets around to consecrating Russia to her Immaculate Heart, the conversion of Russia and a period of peace to the world.

In this speech, I think you get a hint of all of this:  the thinking of Putin, the problems with U.S. foreign policy, the threat and danger, and a hint of how Russia just might be part of a solution.

Anyway, I found it fascinating.  I will post just a few excerpts, as it is quite long.  Long, but if you devote some time to reading it in full, your patience will be rewarded.  You will note from the first that it appears much more direct and plain than a speech out of Washington.  My excerpts jump forward quite a bit; I don't pretend to give a whole overview or even context.  To get that you would have to read the whole.  With that in mind, here goes:

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We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world, try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable, and why the risks are increasing everywhere around us.

...

As we analyse today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons. First of all, changes in the world order – and what we are seeing today are events on this scale – have usually been accompanied by if not global war and conflict, then by chains of intensive local-level conflicts. Second, global politics is above all about economic leadership, issues of war and peace, and the humanitarian dimension, including human rights.

The world is full of contradictions today. We need to be frank in asking each other if we have a reliable safety net in place. Sadly, there is no guarantee and no certainty that the current system of global and regional security is able to protect us from upheavals. This system has become seriously weakened, fragmented and deformed. The international and regional political, economic, and cultural cooperation organisations are also going through difficult times.

Yes, many of the mechanisms we have for ensuring the world order were created quite a long time ago now, including and above all in the period immediately following World War II. Let me stress that the solidity of the system created back then rested not only on the balance of power and the rights of the victor countries, but on the fact that this system’s ‘founding fathers’ had respect for each other, did not try to put the squeeze on others, but attempted to reach agreements.

...

But the United States, having declared itself the winner of the Cold War, saw no need for this. Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance. 

The Cold War ended, but it did not end with the signing of a peace treaty with clear and transparent agreements on respecting existing rules or creating new rules and standards. This created the impression that the so-called ‘victors’ in the Cold War had decided to pressure events and reshape the world to suit their own needs and interests. If the existing system of international relations, international law and the checks and balances in place got in the way of these aims, this system was declared worthless, outdated and in need of immediate demolition.
  
Pardon the analogy, but this is the way nouveaux riches behave when they suddenly end up with a great fortune, in this case, in the shape of world leadership and domination. Instead of managing their wealth wisely, for their own benefit too of course, I think they have committed many follies.  

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics. International law has been forced to retreat over and over by the onslaught of legal nihilism. Objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms. At the same time, total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.

...

Let’s ask ourselves, how comfortable are we with this, how safe are we, how happy living in this world, and how fair and rational has it become? Maybe, we have no real reasons to worry, argue and ask awkward questions? Maybe the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all, and their meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy, and we should maybe just relax and enjoy it all?
  
Let me say that this is not the case, absolutely not the case.

A unilateral diktat and imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result. Instead of settling conflicts it leads to their escalation, instead of sovereign and stable states we see the growing spread of chaos, and instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals. 

Why do they support such people? They do this because they decide to use them as instruments along the way in achieving their goals but then burn their fingers and recoil. I never cease to be amazed by the way that our partners just keep stepping on the same rake, as we say here in Russia, that is to say, make the same mistake over and over.

...

Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish. The situation was presented this way during the Cold War. We all understand this and know this. The United States always told its allies: “We have a common enemy, a terrible foe, the centre of evil, and we are defending you, our allies, from this foe, and so we have the right to order you around, force you to sacrifice your political and economic interests and pay your share of the costs for this collective defence, but we will be the ones in charge of it all of course.” In short, we see today attempts in a new and changing world to reproduce the familiar models of global management, and all this so as to guarantee their [the US’] exceptional position and reap political and economic dividends.

...

At the same time, the formation of a so-called polycentric world (I would also like to draw attention to this, colleagues) in and of itself does not improve stability; in fact, it is more likely to be the opposite. The goal of reaching global equilibrium is turning into a fairly difficult puzzle, an equation with many unknowns.

So, what is in store for us if we choose not to live by the rules – even if they may be strict and inconvenient – but rather live without any rules at all? And that scenario is entirely possible; we cannot rule it out, given the tensions in the global situation. Many predictions can already be made, taking into account current trends, and unfortunately, they are not optimistic. If we do not create a clear system of mutual commitments and agreements, if we do not build the mechanisms for managing and resolving crisis situations, the symptoms of global anarchy will inevitably grow.

...

I want to point out that we did not start this. Once again, we are sliding into the times when, instead of the balance of interests and mutual guarantees, it is fear and the balance of mutual destruction that prevent nations from engaging in direct conflict. In absence of legal and political instruments, arms are once again becoming the focal point of the global agenda; they are used wherever and however, without any UN Security Council sanctions. And if the Security Council refuses to produce such decisions, then it is immediately declared to be an outdated and ineffective instrument.

...

Colleagues, given the global situation, it is time to start agreeing on fundamental things. This is incredibly important and necessary; this is much better than going back to our own corners. The more we all face common problems, the more we find ourselves in the same boat, so to speak. And the logical way out is in cooperation between nations, societies, in finding collective answers to increasing challenges, and in joint risk management. Granted, some of our partners, for some reason, remember this only when it suits their interests.

...

Clearly, discussing the criteria for the use of external force is extremely difficult; it is practically impossible to separate it from the interests of particular nations. However, it is far more dangerous when there are no agreements that are clear to everyone, when no clear conditions are set for necessary and legal interference.

I will add that international relations must be based on international law, which itself should rest on moral principles such as justice, equality and truth. Perhaps most important is respect for one’s partners and their interests. This is an obvious formula, but simply following it could radically change the global situation.

...

The allegations and statements that Russia is trying to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in the world – I want to emphasise this. While respecting the interests of others, we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our position to be respected.

18 November 2014

Do Words Have Any Meaning?

This might surprise you, but the Holy Father gave another homily today.  This might surprise you, but it contained another round of condemnation for certain Catholics the Pope sorta, kinda, doesn't really identify.

In all seriousness, I can't get comfortable with the imprecision of his language in most of his ad hoc remarks, but especially today.  Whom does he mean?  What does he mean?

In  the Zenit article above, we read the following.  I add a few emphases:
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Feeling spiritually comfortable is a "state of sin," Pope Francis cautioned today during his morning homily at the Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on the problem of lukewarmness.

As reported by Vatican Radio, the Pope drew his homily reflections from the readings of the day taken from Revelation Chapter 3 and the Gospel according to St. Luke on the encounter of Jesus and Zacchaeus the tax collector.

In the first reading, he noted, the Lord asks Christians in Laodicea to convert because they have become "lukewarm." They live a "comfortable spirituality." They think: "I do what I can, but I am at peace and do not want to be disturbed with strange things."

Pope Francis noted that people who “live well think nothing is missing: I go to Mass on Sundays, I pray a few times, I feel good, I am in God's grace, I'm rich" and "I do not need anything, I'm fine." 

This "state of mind," he warned, "is a state of sin, feeling spiritually comfortable is a state of sin."

The Lord has harsh words for people like this, he said: "Because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth." 

Then, he added, "there is a second call" to "those who live by appearances, Christians of appearances." 

These believe they are alive but they are dead. And the Lord asks them to be vigilant. 

"Appearances," the Pope said, "are these Christians' shroud: they are dead." 

And the Lord "calls them to conversion."

"Am I one of these Christians of appearances? Am I alive inside, do I have a spiritual life? Do I hear the Holy Spirit, do I listen to the Holy Spirit, do I  move forward, or ...? But, if everything looks good, I have nothing to reproach myself about: I have a good family, people do not gossip about me, I have everything I need, I married in church ...I am 'in the grace of God', I am alright.

"Appearances! Christians of appearance ... they are dead! Instead [we must] seek something alive within ourselves, and with memory and vigilance, reinvigorate this so we can move forward. Convert: from appearances to reality. From being neither hot nor cold to fervor." [...]

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Certainly the call to resist lukewarmness is good, and we all need to hear it.  Perhaps the feeling that we don't need to grow in holiness is the best sign of needing conversion.  But the way these things are phrased, in light of his statements and actions during his brief pontificate, sure makes it seem that Francis can read minds and hearts to specifically call out Catholics who practice their faith in a way he calls "mere fashion". 

Feeling spiritually comfortable is a "state of sin"?  Is that true in Heaven, too?

Marrying in the Church makes me a Catholic of appearances, but spiritually dead?  No, of course not.  But why that particular example, coming just after the Synod against on the Family and its despicable intermediate relatio?  Being in the state of Grace doesn't mean "I am alright"?  Well, of course, in one sense yes, and in another sense no.

In sum, the homily seems just a mishmash of typical themes of Francis homilies.  Somebody who hasn't been paying attention, or who only reads them occasionally, or who doesn't go to church regularly, or who isn't Catholic, can readily see them as typical Gospel reflections, delivered a little simply.

But as a Catholic attached to the Church's tradition, I interpret them quite differently, and I believe I have reason to do so.  My nose is once again being popped with that rolled up newspaper.  "Bad trad!" 

No, you say, you are overreacting!  Maybe.  But I am a Catholic who married in Church.  I pray that I am in a state of Grace, or that God restore me to it.  I am grateful for the spiritual bounty I have at my ready disposal-- the Mass, the beauty of the liturgy, the Catholic community where I worship, the ancient and unchangeable teachings of the faith, the love of God.  Is the Pope insinuating that my whole spiritual life is a mere pretense, a whimsical fashion of an out-of-date piety?  Dear Holy Father, am I a Catholic of appearances? Am I dead?

Was the Church wrong for 1929 years, until Vatican II?  If so, how many well-meaning souls have been lost!  Why am I not Lutheran, or some other kind of Christian whose only irreformable doctrine is that the Catholic Church must be wrong?

Was the Church wrong for 1980 years, until Francis was brave enough to modify doctrines?

What happened on the plains of Caesarea Philippi?  What about the promise that the gates of hell should not prevail?

Wow, I am getting overdramatic.  Sorry.  This homily isn't the worst of them by a long shot.  Just the pebble that started this mini-landslide of a post. 
Peace.

Archbishop Chaput's Letter Annoucing the Papal Visit

I print it in full, with just a few comments of my own:

Dear Friends,

Today is one of great joy for our Archdiocese, our City, our Commonwealth and our country! It was a privilege to be in the presence of our Holy Father this morning in Rome when he announced to the world that he will be with us in Philadelphia next year for the World Meeting of Families (this occurs just prior to the Ordinary Synod in Rome, which is expected to be the culmination of this year's shenanigans)

This moment is an historic and exhilarating one for all of us to share. It is the answer to the countless prayers of so many people who have asked God to guide Pope Francis to Philadelphia, the culmination of many months of hopeful anticipation, and the fulfillment of my own confidence that the Holy Father would grace us with his presence next year. It will mark his first ever visit to the United States of America as pope and he will be only the fourth pope to visit our nation. Words cannot sufficiently express how overjoyed I am by this most welcome news and I know so many of you share that feeling. These are the kinds of emotions that have one source—the true love of Jesus Christ filling our hearts. 

A hallmark of Pope Francis’ ministry has been a genuine love for all people of good will (with very few exceptions, no doubt) and he has maintained a keen focus on the many diverse challenges that families face globally (with an eye towards doing just what...?). I’ve loved and admired him since we first met at the Synod for the Americas in 1997. I know that the Holy Father’s charisma, presence and voice will electrify our gathering. Regardless of confessional differences (among Catholics), billions around the world have been drawn to this pope (in a vague, non-converting sense). Our gathering in Philadelphia is open to all who have a generous heart (which, we are informed, does not include Catholics attached to Tradition). It has the power to transform, in deeply positive ways, not just the spirit of Catholic life in our region, but of our entire community. It will be a moment unlike any other. 

As I’ve said many times before, Pope Francis’ presence will bring all of us – Catholic and non-Catholic alike – together in tremendously unifying and healing ways (I don' really know what this means.  Does it mean anything?). We now eagerly anticipate Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia next September. We will be ready and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts! Let us all raise our voices in thanksgiving to almighty God for the gift of Pope Francis (yes, the gift of Pope Francis certainly calls for our earnest prayers to almighty God)  and for the Holy Father’s decision to come to Philadelphia.

+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia

I understand that this is exactly the kind of letter any bishop would write on such an occasion.  So, my picking is indeed nitpicking.  Sorry.  The only reason I made the comments I have here is that it just seems so.... I don't know... like "I for one welcome our new Insect Overlords"-y. 

I pray the Holy Father has a spiritually beneficial and safe trip to our country, and that the Church be strengthened to continue her faithful adherence to Christ and His Gospel. 

17 November 2014

With All Due Respect, Please Do!

And recruit as many of those who share your way of thinking as you can.

Cardinal O’Malley: ‘If I were founding a Church, I’d love to have women priests’

Civil War in the Church?

This is the sensational and melodramatic description of the current mess used by Damian Thompson some weeks ago.  Nice copy, but not really accurate; it is far better, and far worse, than mere civil war. 

This video installment from The Remnant analyzes the whole thing, and does it well, in my opinion.  I never hear Chris Ferrara without admiring his insight.