31 August 2009

Young People Flock to the Old Mass, Redux

Some of the comments on a post below by an anonymous commenter prompted me to repost an article from Inside the Vatican that I posted on a couple of years ago. The anonymous commenter states that the claim that the attendees of the traditional Mass are younger than the novus ordo is a purely anecdotal claim that is in essence a fantasy.

Colleen Carroll Campbell's book The New Faithful contains statistical verification of the correlation between the orthodoxy of the praxis of any particular faith and the youth of its adherents. This doesn't speak directly to the type of liturgy per se of course, but it does go to the question of the draw of the fullness of the faith to the younger generation.

The traditional Mass is, in the Roman Rite, the timeless expression of Catholic worship. The new Mass lacks the obviousness of orthodoxy of the traditional Mass. The new Mass cannot be considered heterodox as promulgated-- that is impossible, considering the indefectibility of the Church. But it is undeniably less strident in its presentation of the reality of the sacrificial nature of the Mass and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Please note that I do not in any way claim that one cannot be a good and orthodox Catholic and attend the new Mass. Put that keyboard down! My point here is just a comparison of the forms as promulgated-- get a side-by-side comparison of the prayers and rubrics and decide for yourself. The reverent and rubrically correct celebration of either form will have a similar effect. It is harder to measure with the new Mass, though, because it varies from priest-to-priest, often within any given parish. Therefore, it is not as capable of measure in the way that one can measure the population of a traditional Mass oratory that has a fixed location and mode of celebration. To my way of thinking, such stability and consistency is another trait that makes the traditional Mass superior-- but I digress.

To a certain extent, obviously, our personal experiences of the the average age of attendee of the Mass, new or old, is anecdotal. The statistical evidence exists, of course, in the records of the places where people attend Mass. It will depend on location and other factors, not just the type of Mass.

However, when it comes to the traditional Mass, it really depends less on the ordinary parish considerations and more on the substance of the liturgy itself. Why? Because for the new Mass, the general rule is that one would go to their territorial parish. But few territorial parishes have the traditional Mass (yet). In the case of the traditional Mass-offering churches in this Archdiocese, on the other hand, they are attended by people who choose to be there without regard to territorial parish identification. This is true not only with the two oratories, but even the parish churches that offer the traditional Mass draw the faithful from a regional area.

In short, I would bet a large sum that the registry records of St. Francis de Sales or SS. Gregory and Augustine will bear out the demographic claims. Unless and until they are made public, this remains just my opinion-- and if you hate the traditional Mass, as some of you do, feel free to call the claim a fantasy if you like.

For everybody else, enjoy the article below, and reflect on how much as happened in just the last two years.

Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.

29 August 2009

Mourning the Loss

These people don't actually realize they are really longing for the traditional Mass.

The Long and the Short of It--

Summer at the Oratory was a good time for young and, um, slightly less young.

28 August 2009

After Kennedy's Death: Silence from the Pope

That's the headline, anyway, from Time magazine:

There was a poignant footnote to President Obama's historic July 10 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. Behind closed doors in the papal library, Obama handed Benedict a letter that Senator Edward Kennedy had asked him to personally deliver to the pontiff. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later told reporters that nobody - not even the President - knew the contents of the sealed missive. Obama himself asked Benedict to pray for Kennedy, and called the ailing Senator afterward to fill him in on his encounter with the 82-year-old Pope.

The letter, most likely already re-sealed and tucked away in the Vatican archives, was probably just a dying Catholic's request for a papal blessing. In the eyes of the traditionalist wing of the Church, however, Kennedy should have been asking the Pope for forgiveness. The Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reported Kennedy's death, praising his work on civil rights and fighting poverty, but noted that his record was marred by his stance on abortion. As of yet, unlike some other world leaders, Pope Benedict has not commented or issued an official communique in response to Kennedy's death. One veteran official at the Vatican, of U.S. nationality, expressed the view of many conservatives about the Kennedy clan's rapport with the Catholic Church: "Why would he even write a letter to the Pope? The Kennedys have always been defiantly in opposition to the Roman Catholic magisterium." Magisterium is the formal expression for the authority of Church teaching. (See a Kennedy family photo album.)

Since Kennedy's death on Aug. 25, commentators have been poring over the Liberal Lion's many legislative achievements and the details of his biography. But it is also worth remembering that for four decades Ted Kennedy remained the nation's most prominent Roman Catholic politician, and brother of America's first and only Catholic President. Ted Kennedy received his first communion directly from Pope Pius XII, and his marriage in 1958 was performed by Cardinal Francis Spellman, the influential Archbishop of New York. His mother, Rose Kennedy, once reportedly said that she'd dreamed that her youngest son Teddy would become a priest rather than a politician, destined to ultimately rise to bishop status. (See pictures of Pope Benedict XVI visiting America.)

Edward Kennedy, it can be said, was not cut out for the priestly life. His first marriage to former model Virginia Joan Bennett, ended in divorce in 1982, with the marriage annulled by the Roman Rota more than a decade later. And there are the infamous episodes in his life that showed a man not quite in control of his demons. But ultimately, beyond his personal travails, Kennedy's relationship with the Church hierarchy was destined for conflict because of politics. The Senator became both the face and engine of the liberal wing of the Democratic party that has long led the battle for abortion rights, stem cell research and gay marriage, all of which Catholic doctrine strictly forbids.

"He is a complicated figure," says Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and the culture editor of the Catholic magazine America. "Catholics on the right are critical because of his stance on abortion. Catholics on the left celebrate his achievements on immigration, fighting poverty and other legislation that is a virtual mirror of the Church's social teaching." (See pictures of the lion of the senate, Ted Kennedy.)

Back at headquarters, however, there is little room for nuance. "Here in Rome Ted Kennedy is nobody. He's a legend with his own constituency," says the Vatican official. "If he had influence in the past it was only with the Archdiocese of Boston and that eventually disappeared too." Some say the final sunset on the Kennedy name within Catholic halls of power was the Vatican's decision in 2007 to overturn the annulment of the first marriage of former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, the eldest son of Robert Kennedy. The successful appeal by Joe Kennedy's ex-wife Sheila Rauch, an Episcopalian, was another blow for the Kennedy image in Catholic circles.

During Benedict's 2008 trip to the U.S., there was some heated debate (with conflicting photographs and eyewitness accounts) about whether or not Kennedy took Holy Communion at the papal mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, with conservatives insisting that the Pope says the rite should be denied to pro-choice politicians. With this in mind, Church observers are keen to see if Boston's Archbishop Cardinal Sean O'Malley will preside over Kennedy's funeral.

In what may mark the final flicker of Kennedy influence in American Catholicism, reports circulated last spring that Obama was considering JFK's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, as the possible next U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. That was not to be. Indeed in the wake of Uncle Ted's death came word Thursday that Obama's final choice had arrived in Rome to take up the diplomatic post at the Holy See. His name is Miguel Diaz, a little-known Cuban-born professor of theology firmly on the record as pro-life.

Oh Boy! What a Great Idea!!!

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

...Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. ...


That'll show the haters! Hail the Leader!

Meatless Friday Friday, Part II

I don't smoke. I have never smoked. Not even once. I find it utterly disgusting. I state this up front to give you my bias.

But the rush to ban smoking in public establishments like restaurants strikes me as unconstitutional and just another step on the road to soft totalitarianism. If a restaurant or bar wants to allow smoking, guess what-- I can choose not to go there. There is nothing in the constitution that requires me to go to the casino, nor has the Leader yet made it mandatory.

And this is not the equivalent of banning persons of a particular race or gender (discrimination on these grounds is prohibited by the constitution), nor is it the same as allowing drug use (this, unlike smoking tobacco, is illegal activity).

In the end, the viability of the business will be affected by its decision. If enough people refuse to patronize a diner because of the smoke, the business will either ban it, provide effective separate seating or go out of business. Likewise, if smokers keep a place in business because it allows smoking, then it benefits them and the business.

Do we really need to run everybody else's lives this minutely?

Prayers Needed

More bad news at St. Stanislaus Kostka; I have not confirmed any details yet, but the caretaker of the formerly Catholic parish apparently committed suicide last night.

Please pray for his soul.

27 August 2009

41I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom:testificor coram Deo et Christo Iesu qui iudicaturus est vivos ac mortuos et adventum ipsius et regnum eius
42Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine.praedica verbum insta oportune inportune argue obsecra increpa in omni patientia et doctrina
43For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears:erit enim tempus cum sanam doctrinam non sustinebunt sed ad sua desideria coacervabunt sibi magistros prurientes auribus
44And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.et a veritate quidem auditum avertent ad fabulas autem convertentur
45But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober.tu vero vigila in omnibus labora opus fac evangelistae ministerium tuum imple

Nicely Provocative

From Inside Catholic.com comes this thought-provoking piece about a nice side-benefit of the traditional Mass-- the difficulty for the Look-at-me! crowd to ad lib their own personal liturgical revolutions:

The Death of 'Me-Church'

by Steve Skojec

This past Sunday, as I attempted to get my wriggling, squeaking, squirming children settled in our pew for what usually amounts to a liturgical rodeo -- see if you can keep them on their best behavior for eight seconds without getting thrown out of the church -- I noticed the arrival of two women in their sixties who clearly looked like they did not belong. Processing up the aisle in search of a seat, they were dressed very casually, with the short-cropped, boyish, almost intentionally unattractive hairstyles that seem to be de rigeur for the aging members of America's post-feminism movement. They stood out in a sea of suits, ties, dresses, and chapel veils.

Far be it from me to judge based solely on appearances, of course: I may be a Trad, but when I know I'm going to be wrestling with toddlers for the duration of an hour-and-a-quarter-long Mass in the heat of the summer, I'm the first to arrive in a polo shirt instead of an oxford. Even so, sometimes it's just true: "By their fashions you will know them."

This daring duo of anti-patriarchalism might have been guests in from out of town and staying in the hotel across the street, unaware that the 9 a.m. Mass at this particular parish is, in fact, a throwback to the glory days of Catholicism, before the option existed to replace all the masculine pronouns for God in the liturgy with gender-inclusive ones. Might have been, I say, but for the fact that they gave themselves away with their refusal to kneel during such unimportant moments of the Mass as, say, the consecration. They stood like Amazon warrior priestesses at attention, forming a phalanx to defend the rear guard of fruit-loopy Catholicism's last hoorah.

As I looked at them (they were partially blocking my view of the altar, so I couldn't help it), I felt not my usual twinge of irritation at the guardians of "Me-Church," but instead a kind of amused pity. They couldn't perform their non-conformist schtick, mad-libbing their way through responses that, in Latin, they couldn't understand. Hindered by the liturgical language barrier and unfamiliar with the posture of the priest, they were also unable to determine when to hold hands inappropriately during the "Our Father" and were ritually deprived of the showy displays of human affection afforded them by the Sign of Peace.

In other words, the liturgical experience in which they found themselves was horizontal-proof. It resists by its very essence all efforts to make it conform to Man. Instead, within its confines, man (or womyn, if you prefer) must conform to God.

As I watched the priest, his attention turned to the altar and, incidentally, away from their awkward and ineffectual protest, I felt certain that I was at last seeing the death of an ideology that had long outlived its time. The parish was full -- not just with gray-haired hangers-on, but with young families teeming with small children, all of whom demonstrated a deep fondness for tradition, ritual, and respectful worship. The visitors' triumphalistic "We Are Church" mentality was made irrelevant by a more humble, less self-conscious Catholicism. The people around them were far less concerned with having the attention focused on them, and far more concerned with keeping children quiet and well-behaved, and making it through the confession line before Communion time.

This reality is not restricted to the extraordinary form of the Mass, though it finds much substance there. As the Church turns with a view to the past, not just the future, and admits more of its once-abandoned orthodoxy back into its liturgies, the revolutionaries who sought to remake Catholicism are growing old and fading away. The Church is timeless and seems now, at last, to be maturing out of its bi-millennial identity crisis. It is a Catholicism that remembers what it was and where it is going -- to Our Father's house -- where the choirs of angels sing not their own praises but His, forever and ever.

Compare and Contrast

CWR: Long Time Coming for the Post-Christian Sisters

Due to space and formatting problems, I have had to scrub the article and instead will give the link, here, to a very informative and important article on the lead-up to the visitation of the women religious orders.

26 August 2009

Kennedy to Have Funeral Mass

One of the leading advocates of the legalized killing of innocent unborn babies,

One of the leading Senators responsible for preventing an anti-Roe v. Wade Supreme Court,

One of the original I'm-personally-opposed-but... Catholics who have blocked pro-life legislation whenever possible,

will be honored with a Catholic funeral Mass on Saturday.

Canon 1184 doesn't seem favorable:

Can. 1184 §1 Church funeral rites are to be denied to the following, unless they gave some signs of repentancebefore death:

1° notorious apostates, heretics and schismatics;

2° those who for anti-christian motives chose that their bodies be cremated;

3° other manifest sinners to whom a Church funeral could not be granted without public scandal to the faithful.

§2 If any doubt occurs, the local Ordinary is to be consulted and his judgement followed.

Oh, and the Leader will give a eulogy.

Cum ergo videritis abominationem desolationis quae dicta est a Danihelo propheta stantem in loco sancto qui legit intellegat tunc qui in Iudea sunt fugiant ad montes...

1976 Propaganda--Stock Up Now!

Historical Biblical Evidence Uncovered by Martin Luther

"See, it says in First Corinthians that no effeminate or lier with mankind will enter the Kingdom of God, UNLESS he is in a committed relationship; if so, he can also be a Lutheran minister."

"P.S.  Write in "alone" just after "faith", in Romans, while you're at it."

Meatless Friday Tuesday, Part I

One of my favorite comments on any post is this one: "What does this have to do with a Catholic blog?"  The usual answer is found in the masthead of this blog-- "unabashedly Catholic news and views".  By this I mean that I am Catholic, I'm not abashed, and I have a view.

A friend of mine has often suggested that I start a regular feature called "Meatless Fridays", because sometimes it is fun to cover some topic that doesn't seem to quite fit the overall purpose of the blog.  I have so far demurred, because I didn't want to limit myself to waiting for Fridays to post on oddball stuff, just in case.

Now I have a sensible solution.  If my "unabashedly Catholic news and views" can be on any topic, why shouldn't "Meatless Friday" occur on any day of the week?

Therefore, welcome to Meatless Friday Tuesday. 

Our subject today arose from a lunch conversation some friends and I were having about the Jeff Smith drama, and somebody who had seen the mockumentary "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?" pointed out that the ubiquitous local political science professor Ken Warren appeared in the film.  Another asked, "Who's Ken Warren?" 

I replied, "Ken Warren is the Tamm Avenue overpass of political scientists."

This got me to thinking about the utter predictability of the St. Louis local media.  Below is a list of some of the certainties of St. Louis local TV--

Death, Taxes, and...

1.  If there is a campaign coverage segment, Ken Warren will be interviewed ("I brought my own microphone!").

2.  If a flake of snow exists, or is rumored to come, the reporter at the bottom of the studio food chain will be standing on the Tamm Avenue overpass  (This is typically accompanied by video footage of traffic humming smartly along Highway 40, followed by stock footage of salt trucks being filled with salt, circa 1978.).

3.  In the above wintry situation, the second lowest reporter on the food chain will be reporting from the "panic aisle" of the Schnucks at Hampton Village (The bread!  The milk!  The Humanity!).

4.  If the Archbishop takes a walk outside the chancery, SNAP media divas will be interviewed to the effect that the Archbishop is doing it all wrong, and that it hurts people's feelings ("I brought my own microphone!").

5.  If there is a story about the stock market, Julie Niemann will be interviewed ("Don't you have your own microphone?").

6.  Teresa Woodard will be surprised.  VERY Surprised.

7.  During the Summer, should the temperatures break 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the 57-minute weather report will be briefly interrupted by a report from the Tamm Avenue overpass reporter at some local community center urging people to leave the comfort of their homes to pile on cots in the air conditioned gymnasium at Webster Groves, and begging people, please, please get those pets out of your car!  Now! NOW! (Typical footage on these stories--also circa 1978--includes children running through fire hydrant spray, and the dramatic, Lawrence-of-Arabia-straight-into-the-desert-sun shot.).

8.  No matter what time the city hall, sports arena, office complex, police station, or store covered in any news story closes-- you will find the intrepid local reporter parked outside of it at 10:05 p.m. for a live shot, just in case it springs to life.

9.  Dave Murray's Weather Spotlight has very little to do with weather, and doesn't really deserve a spotlight.

10. It's A.D. 2020, and Rene Knott is still trying to get a handle on this sports thing.

That's a start, anyway, and certainly not an exhaustive list.  If you think of others, please feel free to add in the combox.

What Do You Know

P-D photo

I had a friend who was involved in the Missouri Catholic Conference's annual lobby day effort last year on an important pro-life bill under consideration by the Missouri Senate.  A group of Catholic citizens, led by the conference leadership, went to Jefferson City to talk to their representatives and senators about the bill.  It was not unusual for lawmakers who were in session to briefly exit the chambers to meet and greet the group and discuss their positions and concerns with the bill.

Needless to say, my friend was not sanguine about the chances of Jeff Smith supporting a pro-life bill--he was a well-known supprter of the legalized killing of innocent babies in the womb.  But, like on most bills, there was hope he could support this- or that- portion of a bill that might make its way to a vote as an amendment to other bills.  Even if not, it is common courtesy to meet with one's constituents.

Well, this friend was in the Senate lounge with other citizens, and several senators on both sides of the issue had been in and out to discuss the matter.  When Senator Smith was asked to come out to meet his constituents, there was a delay.  Then, he looked out, on tiptoes presumably, to see which group it was that wanted to see him.  One look must have told him what he needed to know--he stiffed the Catholic Conference.  My friend was not terribly impressed with his fortitude.

Today, I awoke to check the local paper breaking down in inkstained tears over the sad fall of this same former Senator:

Once high-flying political star Jeff Smith was brought low by lies.

25 August 2009

St. Louis IX, King of France

Ora pro nobis

Jeremias 2: 33-37

233Why dost thou endeavour to shew thy way good to seek my love, thou who hast also taught thy malices to be thy ways,quid niteris bonam ostendere viam tuam ad quaerendam dilectionem quae insuper et malitias tuas docuisti vias tuas
234And in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor and innocent? not in ditches have I found them, but in all places, which I mentioned before.et in alis tuis inventus est sanguis animarum pauperum et innocentium non in fossis inveni eos sed in omnibus quae supra memoravi
235And thou hast said: I am without sin and am innocent: and therefore let thy anger be turned away from me. Behold, I will contend with thee in judgment, because thou hast said: I have not sinned.et dixisti absque peccato et innocens ego sum et propterea avertatur furor tuus a me ecce ego iudicio contendam tecum eo quod dixeris non peccavi
236How exceeding base art thou become, going the same ways over again! and thou shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.quam vilis es facta nimis iterans vias tuas et ab Aegypto confunderis sicut confusa es ab Assur
237For from thence thou shalt go, and thy hand shall be upon thy head: for the Lord hath destroyed thy trust, and thou shalt have nothing prosperous therein.nam et ab ista egredieris et manus tuae erunt super caput tuum quoniam obtrivit Dominus confidentiam tuam et nihil habebis prosperum

Faith for the Future

Click here for info. The Archdiocese has launched its Faith for the Future site to support Kenrick-Glennon Seminary's capital campaign. Seminary info, plans, and links included.

24 August 2009

Pro Inimicis

Almighty God, have mercy on N. and N., and on all that bear me evil will, and would me harm, and their faults and mine together, by such easy, tender, merciful means, as thine infinite wisdom best can devise, vouchsafe to amend and redress, and make us saved souls in heaven together where we may ever live and love together with thee and they blessed saints. O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Saviour Christ. Amen.

Lord, give me patience in tribulation and grace in everything to conform my will to thine: that I may truly say: Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.

The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me thy grace to labour for. Amen.

--St. Thomas More, written while he was a prisoner in the Tower of London in 1534

I Just Wish They'd Make up Their Minds

I welcome some medical expert reader help here, but haven't medical associations and government agencies changed their mind several times on the issue of circumcision? It's hygenic, it's unnecessary, it's cultural, it's an anti-HIV tactic...

I think I've posted on the religious objections against the practice before. My question here is about the vacillation on the subject. What gives? How can we allow experts to run our lives if they keep changing their minds?

From Fox News:

Report: CDC Considers Promoting 'Universal Circumcision'

Monday , August 24, 2009

In an effort to reduce the spread of HIV, public health officials are considering the promotion of “universal circumcision” for all baby boys born in the United States.

The move comes after officials analyzed the results of several studies that show in African countries hit hard by HIV, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half, the New York Times reported. However, those studies focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting HIV from infected female partners. The main issue in the U.S. is men who have sex with men.

In 2008, the CDC estimated that more than 56,000 people were newly infected with HIV in 2006 (the most recent year that data are available). Over half of those new infections occurred in gay and bisexual men.

Click here for more facts on circumcision from the CDC.

Meanwhile, critics of the recommendation said it subjects newborn boys to “medically unnecessary” surgery without their consent.

But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the division of HIV/AIDS prevention at the CDC, told the Times that any step that could stop the spread of HIV must be given “serious consideration.”

“We have a significant HIV epidemic in this country, and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Kilmarx told the newspaper. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

An official draft of the proposed recommendations by the CDC is due out by the end of the year. In the meantime, the CDC is hosting its National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta this week.

The Benefits of Interreligious Dialogue?

I keep hoping this is some kind of spoof, but it appears on Haaretz.com, a mainstream Israeli media source. Will Ashton Kutcher spring out and announce that Saint Louis Catholic got punk'd?

Because if this is real, this is so repugnant. Perhaps the Vatican will keep this in mind when deciding which prayers are said in a Catholic Mass, or which persons are or are not subject to ecclesiastical discipline.

This is a joke, right?

Vatican teaching Hezbollah how to kill Jews, says pamphlet for IDF troops

By Ofri Ilani

The Pope and the cardinals of the Vatican help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews, according to a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

Officials encouraging the booklet's distribution include senior officers, such as Lt. Col. Tamir Shalom, the commander of the Nahshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.

The booklet was published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in cooperation with the chief rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, and has been distributed for the past few months.

The booklet, titled "On Either Side of the Border," purports to be the testimony of "a Hezbollah officer who spied for Israel."

"The book is distributed regularly and everyone reads it and believes it," said one soldier. "It's filled with made-up details but is presented as a true story. A whole company of soldiers, adults, told me: 'Read this and you'll understand who the Arabs are.'"

The copy obtained by Haaretz included a Pesach greeting from Shalom, "in the name of the Nahshon Brigade."

The story is narrated by a man named Avi, who says he changed his name from Ibrahim after he left Hezbollah and converted to Judaism. Avi says he was once close to Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and describes Hezbollah's purported close relationships with the Vatican and European leaders.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in a statement: "The book was received as a donation and distributed in good faith to the soldiers. After we were alerted to the sensitivity of its content, distribution was immediately halted."

According to the book, Nasrallah was invited to join a delegation to tour France, Poland and Italy, including the Vatican. Nasrallah could not refuse an invitation from the Vatican, Avi explained: "We knew [the Pope] identified with Hezbollah's struggle."

The book describes the alleged visit of Hezbollah officials to Auschwitz, led by the Vatican: "We came to the camps. We saw the trains, the platforms, the piles of eyeglasses and clothes ... We came to learn ... Our escort spoke as he was taught. We quickly explained to him: Every real Arab, deep inside, is kind of a fan of the Nazis."


Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, the son of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, is known for his extremist views, and was once charged with incitement to racism after calling for the expulsion of all Arab students from Safed College after a terror attack in the area.


David Menahemov, an aide to Eliahu, claims the book is not fiction. "Avi is a real person and everything in the book is absolutely true," insists Menahemov. "It's a totally true story, I know the guy personaly. He's an Arab, who even though he converted still acts like an Arab. We helped him to write and to translate it. We changed a few details to protect him and his family."

Massive Swine Flu Vaccination Campaign This Fall

From the Washington Post:

Swine Flu Campaign Waits on Vaccine

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 23, 2009

Government health officials are mobilizing to launch a massive swine flu vaccination campaign this fall that is unprecedented in its scope -- and in the potential for complications.

The campaign aims to vaccinate at least half the country's population within months. Although more people have been inoculated against diseases such as smallpox and polio over a period of years, the United States has never tried to immunize so many so quickly.

But even as scientists rush to test the vaccine to ensure it is safe and effective, the campaign is lagging. Officials say only about a third as much vaccine as they had been expecting by mid-October is likely to arrive by then, when a new wave of infections could be peaking.

Among the unknowns: how many shots people will need, what the correct dosage should be, and how to avoid confusing the public with an overlapping effort to combat the regular seasonal flu.

To prepare, more than 2,800 local health departments have begun recruiting pediatricians, obstetricians, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and even dentists, along with a small army of volunteers from churches and other groups. They are devising strategies to reach children, teenagers, pregnant women and young and middle-aged adults in inner cities, suburban enclaves and the countryside.

"This is potentially the largest mass-vaccination program in human history," said Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan who is advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as it spearheads the effort.

Public health officials describe the effort as crucial to defend against the second wave of the Northern Hemisphere's first influenza pandemic in 41 years.

As schools reopen, the number of cases could jump sharply within weeks, sparking a second wave potentially far larger than the outbreak last spring. Although the swine flu appears no more dangerous than the typical seasonal flu, the new virus -- known as H1N1 -- is likely to infect many more people because most have no immunity against it.

The vaccine effort carries political risks for the Obama administration. "If the outbreak fizzles, they will be susceptible to being criticized for spending billions of dollars," said Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, which advises Congress about medical issues. "On the other hand, if this outbreak is early and severe and there isn't enough vaccine, they'll be criticized for under-preparation."

Officials stress that they are proceeding cautiously. A final decision to move forward will not be made until they get the results of clinical trials -- testing to determine safety and dosing -- and assess the virus's threat. But officials are confident the vaccine will pass muster and expect a campaign will be launched as soon as manufacturers deliver the first vials.

"There's little doubt we're going to vaccinate people," said Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who is leading the government's testing of the vaccine. "Who and when and exactly how -- we have to figure out."

The campaign is haunted by memories of the government's ill-fated 1976 effort to vaccinate against swine flu. The epidemic fizzled, but the vaccine was given to 40 million people and blamed for causing a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome.


"This is an overreaction," said Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center, which opposes many vaccine policies. "There is no national security threat here. Why are we operating like this? This is not polio. This is not smallpox."

Fears and misinformation about the vaccine are circulating, including inaccurate claims that it will be mandatory.

"I'm very concerned about the dangers of vaccines," said Janice Smith, 58, of Misawaka, Ind., who attended a public hearing Aug. 15, one of a series of meetings the CDC has sponsored to gauge public sentiment about the vaccine.

Authorities are adamant that vaccination will be voluntary, and they say there is no reason to think the vaccine will be any less safe than the usual flu vaccine. An adjuvant will be used only if necessary and proven safe, they say.

To address concerns of pregnant women and parents with young children, some vaccine is being produced without a mercury additive. And because the short-term studies can identify only common, immediate side effects, the CDC will step up monitoring for rarer, serious complications such as Guillain-Barré.


In the meantime, local officials are drafting plans tailored to their communities. The shots in the arms and squirts up the nose will happen in schools, medical offices, hospitals, public health clinics, workplaces, drug stores and at mass vaccination events, possibly including drive-through clinics in parking lots where people would stick their arms out their car windows for a stab.


Schools considering giving shots to children are making plans to get permission from parents and have to determine how best to line up anxious, rambunctious students.

Everyone who gets a swine flu shot may need a booster several weeks later, potentially causing mix-ups about who got which shot when.

But Frieden and other outside observers expressed confidence that the program would be safe and successful.


The government is prepared to buy enough to vaccinate every person -- 600 million doses all together -- if the pandemic or demand warrants it. That could increase the cost to $5 billion for the vaccine alone. It would cost at least $9 billion to administer the vaccine to the entire population, according to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


Experts are uncertain whether they will face a shortage of vaccine because of high demand or will have plenty of vaccine but little interest.


The CDC is formulating a $4.8 million multimedia campaign to encourage people to get vaccinated and help alleviate concerns and confusion, including radio and television public service announcements, print ads, and messages delivered via Twitter, RSS feeds and video podcasts on YouTube.


"People Need to Wake Up"

The understatement of the year, perhaps.

blog post from Patrick Madrid on the effort to support Belmont Abbey College, which is in the crosshairs of the current administration over its refusal to abandon its Catholic principles and cover contraceptives for its employees.

Catholic College Students Rise to Defend Belmont Abbey College

Students from the University of Dallas, Franciscan University of Steubenville, De Sales University and Catholic University of America are fighting back.
Students at Catholic universities across the nation are banding together with students at Belmont Abbey College (BAC) in a stand for religious liberty and conscience rights, after the college was warned by the Obama administration last month that its refusal to cover contraception amounted to gender discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ignited the First Amendment firestorm earlier this month when it ruled Belmont Abbey College was wrong not to include coverage for contraception in its employee health insurance plan, despite the Catholic Church's prohibition on contraception as intrinsically evil. In addition to the Church's teachings against contraception as such, it is known that hormonal contraceptives often function as abortifacients.

According to BAC president William Thierfelder, while the local EEOC initially threw out the complaint, the decision was reversed after the affair went to officials in Washington.

Students from the University of Dallas, Franciscan University of Steubenville, De Sales University and Catholic University of America are fighting back, saying the EEOC decision is a troubling indication of the Obama administration's ideas on "reasonable" conscience protection.

"People need to wake up," said Michael Barnett, American Life League's director of leadership development and its LiveCampus college outreach program. "Under Obama, the federal government is forcing a religious institution to commit an act that violates its core values. This is religious persecution and a clear signal of what Obamacare would bring. This is the government imposing its will against the people's will."

In a letter to the Belmont, the EEOC claimed that the school discriminated against women by not covering contraceptives: "By denying prescription contraception drugs, [the college] is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women."

In a letter subsequently sent to EEOC chairman Stuart Ishimaru, Judie Brown, president of American Life League, pointed out, "The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is an evil and certainly not the sort of 'treatment' one would expect to find in a health insurance plan designed for staff at a Catholic facility. Your discriminatory actions against the college are unfounded and unconstitutional."

William K. Thierfelder, Belmont's president, affirmed that rather than provide contraceptive coverage, "We would close the college."

22 August 2009

Now Here's the Thing

A while back I posted about a classic homeschool moment when my family saw Julius Caesar at Shakespeare in the Park.

But you can't get Shakespeare every night, right?

Well, thanks to Methodist Jim I picked up two tickets to the Rams preseason game last night. I would have said "good seats", but when the Rams play as poorly as they did against the Falcons, the farther the better. I took The Boy with me.

Scene: First quarter, Falcons running through the Rams defense like a hot knife through butter.

After their second touchdown, I turned to The Boy and said something to the effect that it wasn't going very well.

His immediate response was to quote from the Constable of France and Bourbon on the field of Agincourt in Shakespeare's Henry V--

"Why, all our ranks are broke... Shame and eternal shame, nothing but shame!"

I said, "Boy, how many 12-year olds here tonight are quoting Shakespeare, do you think?"

"I dunno."

And there you have the good and bad of homeschooling in one fell swoop. I was proud of The Boy, and yet glad he wasn't in school so he avoided the inevitable beating of any egghead who would quote Shakespeare at a football game.


Thus far, with rough and all unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursued the story,
In cavernous Dome confining mighty men,
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.

Small time (we left in the 3rd quarter); but in that small most greatly lived
This star of homeschool. Fortune made his sword;
By which the world's worst preseason game he observed,
And for it left his sisters at home.

Middle daughter, next in line for free perks,
will this Boy succeed;
Whose homework so many have the managing,
That they lost the perks, and made this sister seethe.

Which oft our stage hath shown; and for her sake,
In your fair minds let this acceptance take.

Some Necessary Reforms of the Novus Ordo Coming?

Good news keeps coming-- the days of the potluck Mass are winding down...

The "Reform of the Reform" is in motion

In today's edition of Italian daily Il Giornale, religious journalist Andrea Tornielli brings the news that several "propositiones" approved by the plenary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (reserved session held on March 12, 2009) regarding several reforms of the new Mass of Paul VI. Full translation below:

ROME The document was delivered to the hands of Benedict XVI in the morning of last April 4 by Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is the result of a reserved vote, which took place on March 12, in the course of a "plenary" session of the dicastery responsible for the liturgy, and it represents the first concrete step towards that "reform of the reform" often desired by Pope Ratzinger. The Cardinals and Bishops members of the Congregation voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the rite, of the recovery of the sense of eucharistic worship, of the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and of the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations, and inappropriate creativity. They have also declared themselves favorable to reaffirm that the usual way of receiving Communion according to the norms is not on the hand, but in the mouth. There is, it is true, and indult which, on request of the [local] episcopates, allows for the distribution of the host [sic] also on the palm of the hand, but this must remain an extraordinary fact. The "Liturgy Minister" of Pope Ratzinger, Cañizares, is also having studies made on the possibility to recover the orientation towards the Orient of the celebrant, at least at the moment of the eucharistic consecration, as it happened in practice before the reform, when both the faithful and the priest faced towards the Cross and the priest therefore turned his back to the assembly.

Those who know Cardinal Cañizares, nicknamed "the small Ratzinger" before his removal to Rome, know that he is disposed to move forward decisively with the project, beginning in fact from what was established by the Second Vatican Council in the liturgical constitution
Sacrosanctum Concilium, which was, in reality, exceeded by the post-Conciliar reform which came into forceat the end of the Sixties. The porporato, interviewed by monthly 30Days in recent months, had declared regarding this: "At times change was for the mere sake of changing from a past perceived as negative and outdated. Sometimes the reform was regarded as a break and not as an organic development of Tradition."

For this reason, the "
propositiones" voted by the Cardinals and Bishops at the March plenary foresee a return to the sense of sacredness and to adoration, but also a recovery of the celebrations in Latin in the dioceses, at least in the main solemnities, as well as the publication of bilingual Missals - a request made at his time by Paul VI - with the Latin text first.

The proposals of the Congregation, which Cañizares delivered to the Pope, obtaining his approval, are perfectly in line with the idea often expressed by Joseph Ratzinger when he was still a Cardinal, as it is made clear his unpublished words on the liturgy, revealed in advanced by Il Giornale yesterday, and which will be published in the book
Davanti al Protagonista (Cantagalli [publisher]), presented beforehand at a congress at Rimini. With a significant nota bene: for the accomplishment of the "reform of the reform", many years will be necessary. The Pope is convinced that hasty steps, as well as to simply drop directives from above, serve no good, with the risk that they may later remain a dead letter. The style of Ratzinger is that of comparison and, above all, of example. As the fact that, for more than a year, whoever approaches the Pope for Communion, have had to kneel down on the kneeler especially placed by the cerimonieri.

RORATE note: The Pope needed, for practical purposes, this first bureaucratic step by the Congregation for Divine Worship. His decisions on this matter will come in the next few months and years. May God grant him many more fruitful years of work as Successor of Peter.

21 August 2009

Feast of St. Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal

"May we love and serve the Lord reverently with a loving, filial fear of offending our heavenly Father and of displeasing Jesus, our Divine Beloved. As long as we are in this life, we would do well to follow the well-traveled ways to holiness. Fear of God is the first step on this path. We cannot maintain a truly productive desire of serving God unless we have a holy fear of displeasing Our Savior and of being negligent in responding to grace and inspirations.

May all our actions, words, thoughts, and spirit be centered in God, on God, and for God! Let us keep our passions well-disciplined and our spirit pure and faithful. Fidelity to our way of life will help us keep our thoughts centered on God. Then our words will be an inspiration to family, friends, and acquaintances.

Let us do everything in a spirit of peace and love! Attracted by the example and virtues of Jesus Christ our Lord who did the will of His Father, let us walk and even run in the way of God's divine will, not letting ourselves be pulled and pushed about like puppets. Unless we do everything lovingly from a sincere and simple desire for God's glory and the salvation of the world, we will never succeed in obeying this Divine Will. Instead, we will render fruitless the graces of our way of life."

A blessed feast day to all who strive to follow the example of St. Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales--and who hold these saints' teachings dear.

20 August 2009

This is Why You May Want to Think Twice before Taking the Mainstream Media's Word for It on Healthcare or Anything Else

The intrepid Colleen Hammond has a most enlightening post on the reality of the media versus reality in changing reality by distorting reality when covering reality.

My purpose in posting this story is NOT to discuss the propriety, legality or wisdom of carrying a gun in a place where it is legal to do so but where it will almost certainly be used to discredit the movement the carrying person supports. Please don't comment on this aspect.

My purpose is to highlight the media's propaganda efforts on behalf of this administration. Stalin would be proud of these guys.

Look at the above photos, and notice the person carrying the weapon. Then watch this story:

But remember, the plan won't include abortion coverage or "death panels". I saw it on the news.

What Does It Mean...

...when your car makes this sound: "poiinnng!"?

19 August 2009

Healthcare Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

The headline and story are from the blog of the Catholic Key, the Kansas City-St. Joseph newspaper. Will the Church swoon once the leader whispers in her ear?

Bishop Slattery of Tulsa Promotes Ad Orientem Celebration in the Ordinary Form of the Mass

A wonderful article by Bishop Edward Slattery in the Catholic magazine of the Diocese of Tulsa shows what is truly possible in the reverent celebration of any Mass-- whether in the Ordinary or Extraordinary Form.

As many readers of this blog already know, the rubrics of the novus ordo missae presuppose ad orientem worship (meaning the priest facing liturgical East, along with the faithful). Years of versus populum Masses have dimmed the knowledge of this fact, but thanks to the faithfulness of many Catholics over the years and the efforts of Pope Benedict XVI, a resurgence of liturgical reverence and beauty is underway. In Tulsa, Bishop Slattery has announced he will regularly celebrate the Ordinary Form in his Cathedral ad orientem.

Here's the article:

Because the Mass is so necessary and fundamental to our Catholic experience, the liturgy is a constant topic in our conversation.

That is why when we get together, we so often reflect upon the prayers and readings, discuss the homily, and – likely as not – argue about the music. The critical element in these conversations is an understanding that we Catholics worship the way we do because of what the Mass is: Christ’s sacrifice, offered under the sacramental signs of bread and wine.

If our conversation about the Mass is going to “make any sense,” then we have to grasp this essential truth: At Mass, Christ joins us to Himself as He offers Himself in sacrifice to the Father for the world’s redemption. We can offer ourselves like this in Him because we have become members of His Body by Baptism. We also want to remember that all of the faithful offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice as members of Christ’s body. It’s incorrect to think that only the priest offers Mass. All the faithful share in the offering, even though the priest has a unique role. He stands “in the person of Christ,” the historic Head of the Mystical Body, so that, at Mass, it is the whole body of Christ – Head and members together that make the offering.

Facing the same direction:

From ancient times, the position of the priest and the people reflected this understanding of the Mass, since the people prayed, standing or kneeling, in the place that visibly corresponded to Our Lord’s Body, while the priest at the altar stood at the head as the Head. We formed the whole Christ – Head and members – both sacramentally by Baptism and visibly by our position and posture. Just as importantly, everyone – celebrant and congregation – faced the same direction, since they were united with Christ in offering to the Father Christ’s unique, unrepeatable and acceptable sacrifice.

When we study the most ancient liturgical practices of the Church, we find that the priest and the people faced in the same direction, usually toward the east, in the expectation that when Christ returns, He will return “from the east.” At Mass, the Church keeps vigil, waiting for that return. This single position is called ad orientem, which simply means “toward the east.”

Multiple advantages:

Having the priest and people celebrate Mass ad orientem was the liturgical norm for nearly 18 centuries. There must have been solid reasons for the Church to have held on to this posture for so long. And there were! First of all, the Catholic liturgy has always maintained a marvelous adherence to the Apostolic Tradition. We see the Mass, indeed the whole liturgical expression of the Church’s life, as something which we have received from the Apostles and which we, in turn, are expected to hand on intact. (1 Corinthians 11:23) Secondly, the Church held on to this single eastward position because of the sublime way it reveals the nature of the Mass. Even someone unfamiliar with the Mass who reflected upon the celebrant and the faithful being oriented in the same direction would recognize that the priest stands at the head of the people, sharing in one and the same action, which was – he would note with a moment’s longer reflection – an act of worship.

An innovation with unforeseen consequences:

In the last 40 years, however, this shared orientation was lost; now the priest and the people have become accustomed to facing in opposite directions. The priest faces the people while the people face the priest, even though the Eucharistic Prayer is directed to the Father and not to the people. This innovation was introduced after the Vatican Council II, partly to help the people understand the liturgical action of the Mass by allowing them to see what was going on, and partly as an accommodation to contemporary culture where people who exercise authority are expected to face directly the people they serve, like a teacher sitting behind her desk. Unfortunately this change had a number of unforeseen and largely negative effects. First of all, it was a serious rupture with the Church’s ancient tradition. Secondly, it can give the appearance that the priest and the people were engaged in a conversation about God, rather than the worship of God. Thirdly, it places an inordinate importance on the personality of the celebrant by placing him on a kind of liturgical stage.

Recovering the sacred:

Even before his election as the successor to St. Peter, Pope Benedict has been urging us to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the Church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship. For that reason, I have restored the venerable ad orientem position when I celebrate Mass at the Cathedral. This change ought not to be misconstrued as the Bishop “turning his back on the faithful,” as if I am being inconsiderate or hostile. Such an interpretation misses the point that, by facing in the same direction, the posture of the celebrant and the congregation make explicit the fact that we journey together to God. Priest and people are on this pilgrimage together. It would also be a mistaken notion to look at the recovery of this ancient tradition as a mere “turning back of the clock.” Pope Benedict has spoken repeatedly of the importance of celebrating Mass ad orientem, but his intention is not to encourage celebrants to become “liturgical antiquarians.” Rather, His Holiness wants us to discover what underlies this ancient tradition and made it viable for so many centuries, namely, the Church’s understanding that the worship of the Mass is primarily and essentially the worship which Christ offers to His Father.

– Bishop Edward J. Slattery