30 January 2010

Pope to Roman Rota: 'Judgments of marriage annulments must respect the truth'

The pope has also recalled the judgments of invalidity must respect the truth and justice of the facts and that they shouldn’t summit to societal pressure.

In particular, he said that all marriages are valid until proven otherwise. And that marital difficulties are not reasons to seek an annulment.

Apart from the grounds of marriage annulments, the Rota is the highest court of appeal for the Holy See. It is also responsible for judging the Church directly under the pope, like bishops and superiors of religious orders.

29 January 2010

Feast of St. Francis de Sales

The great Doctor of Charity's feast is celebrated today. Remember that there will be a Solemn High Mass this evening at 6:30pm at St. Francis de Sales Oratory. Because he is a principal patron of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, the faithful who assist at Mass are able to obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.

The setting for tonight's Mass will be Kevin Allen's Missa Cunctipotens Genitor Deus.

From The Liturgical Year:

Peaceful conqueror of souls! Pontiff beloved of God and man! we venerate thee as the perfect imitator of the sweetness and gentleness of Jesus. Having learnt of him to be meek and humble of heart, thou didst, according to His promise, possess the land. Nothing could resist thee. Heretics, however obstinate; sinners, however hardened; tepid souls, however sluggish; all yielded to the powerful charm of thy word and example...

Pray for us to Our Lord, that our charity may be ardent like thine; that the desire of perfection may be ever active within us; that we may gain that introduction to a devout Life which thou hast so admirably taught; that we may have that love of our neighbour, without which we cannot hope to love God; that we may be zealous for the salvation of souls; that we may be patient and forgive injuries, in order that we may love one another, not only in word and in tongue, but as thy great model says, in deed and in truth.

Harmonic Convergence: Bin Laden and the Leader in Full Agreement

I love starting out a Friday with a good belly laugh. Get this-- the story is that Bin Laden faults America for "climate change". Says the solution is to grind the American economy to a screeching halt. Says countries should avoid dealings with the dollar and that the dollar must be made worthless.

It sounds like the State of the Union Address, but it's not.
I can't wait for the Bin Laden/Dear Leader Beer Summit II.

From mywaynews:

Bin Laden blasts US for climate change

Jan 29, 7:46 AM (ET)


CAIRO (AP) - Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming, according to a new audiotape released Friday.

In the tape, broadcast in part on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden warned of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring "the wheels of the American economy" to a halt.

He blamed Western industrialized nations for hunger, desertification and floods across the globe, and called for "drastic solutions" to global warming, and "not solutions that partially reduce the effect of climate change."

Bin Laden has mentioned climate change and global warning in past messages, but the latest tape was his first dedicated to the topic. The speech, which included almost no religious rhetoric, could be an attempt by the terror leader to give his message an appeal beyond Islamic militants.

The al-Qaida leader also targeted the U.S. economy in the recording, calling for a boycott of American products and an end to the dollar's domination as a world currency.

"We should stop dealings with the dollar and get rid of it as soon as possible," he said. "I know that this has great consequences and grave ramifications, but it is the only means to liberate humanity from slavery and dependence on America."

He argued that such steps would also hamper Washington's war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The new message, whose authenticity could not immediately be confirmed, comes after a bin Laden tape released last week in which he endorsed a failed attempt to blow up an American airliner on Christmas Day.

28 January 2010

Whose Feast Day is It Anyway?

Today is the Feast of St. Peter Nolasco, who founded an order whose purpose was to ransom captives from the Mohammedans. Nor was he in the effort only half-way as the Catholic Encyclopedia relates:

The institute was called Mercedarians and was solemnly approved by Gregory IX, in 1230. Its members were bound by a special vow to employ all their substance for the redemption of captive Christians, and if necessary, to remain in captivity in their stead.

But wait, you say, today is the Feast of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. Right? Well, yes, it is in the revised calendar published in 1969. His traditional feast day is March 7.

Any day is a good day to honor one of Christ's saints, so one can legitimately ask why it matters. But why was the calendar reordered as it was? Before his election to the Papacy, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger pointed to a process much like the process that produced the new missal:

Ratzinger cited the reform of the liturgical calendar as an example of "the armchair strategy of academics, drawing up things on paper which, in fact, would presuppose years of organic growth." This approach was "one of the weaknesses of the postconciliar liturgical reform." Those responsible, he said, simply "did not realize how much the various annual feasts had influenced Christian people's relation to time. In redistributing these established feasts throughout the year according to some historical arithmetic -- inconsistently applied at that -- they ignored a fundamental law of religious life."

Thomas E. Woods, Jr.-- Benedict's Revolution: The Return of the Old Latin Mass

And there's the rub. Centuries of tradition, and the organic development of liturgy, feasts, fasts, rhythms and seasons all dissected, reordered, sanitized as though all of it was completely arbitrary. The normal course of growth, and the expectations of the faithful, were completely unsettled. The result has not been positive, and was not compelled by the council nor even by the new missal itself.

Should modern saints be included in the traditional calendar? Of course. How? The way it was always done-- integrated by the Church into the calendar while consistent with the handed-down tradition.

For those who wish a reform of the reform with a chance to succeed, the first--and relatively easy-- step, is to jettison the revised calendar, use the traditional calendar of the West, and add those saints' days Rome wishes to incorporate in addition to those already established.

With respect, then the reforms contemplated by Sacrosanctum Concilium could be approached in an atmosphere of more confidence that they, too, would be faithful to what has been handed down.

Latest Signpost on the Road to Civilization's End

Folks, this story is real. Only the tissues have been changed to protect the innocent.

From the land that used to be Great Britain:

Driver faces trial for blowing his nose behind the wheel ... after being pulled over by 'Pc Shiny Buttons'

By Gavin Madeley

Last updated at 4:47 PM on 28th January 2010

When motorist Michael Mancini found himself stuck in a queue of traffic with a runny nose, he instinctively reached for his hankie.

However, the simple act of pulling out a tissue and blowing his nose earned the astonished businessman a £60 on-the-spot fine after a police officer decided he was 'not in control of his vehicle'.

Police constable Stuart Gray handed out the fixed penalty notice even though Mr Mancini was stopped in stationary traffic with his handbrake on.

Pc Gray, nicknamed 'Pc Shiny Buttons' for his zealous approach to the job, courted controversy last year when he issued a £50 fixed penalty for littering to a man who accidentally dropped a £10 note in the street.

Now, father-of-two Mr Mancini, 39, who has never been in trouble with police before, faces a potentially expensive legal battle to clear his name after vowing not to pay the fine.

Last night, he said: "I was in total shock. I was stuck in traffic with the handbrake on and my nose was running.

'It's beyond a disgrace. Surely it would have been more dangerous to drive with a blocked nose?'

Having declined to pay the fine, Mr Mancini, of Prestwick, Ayrshire, now faces a criminal trial later in the year.

The incident happened as self-employed furniture restorer was driving in nearby Ayr and started to suffer from a runny nose when he got stuck in the traffic jam.

He said: 'I needed to blow my nose so I put my handbrake on and took the car out of gear.

'I noticed four police officers standing around near the Wallace Tower but I didn't think anything of it. Then one of them waved me over.

'I still had the tissue in my hand and was totally stunned when he said I was getting a fixed penalty notice for not being in control of my car.'


But prosecutors are adamant they will put Mr Mancini through a trial at Ayr District Court.

He said: 'I am really angry. I made sure it was safe to blow my nose. It's doubtful I'll get legal aid so this could potentially cost me thousands of pounds in legal fees.
'But I won't be paying the fixed penalty.'


Thursday Potpourri

Good morning. I wanted to jot down a few unconnected things:

1. Nancy Pelosi says
she has enough votes in the House to pass the Senate healthcare takeover bill. The Leader says he never quits, and promises more of the same. If this bill passes, can we lay to rest the notion that this is a representative government once and for all? The arrogance of these people is stunning, but will it be checked?

2. Speaking of arrogance, it really takes some arrogance to say things one knows are false with the appearance of conviction. To continue the lie after it is exposed is a higher level of arrogance-- almost an art form. Yet the Leader doesn't quite manage it here, as he gives the Congress a good laugh about "climate change" (h/t: Gateway Pundit):

3. On another topic, a friend of mine asked me if Jamie Allman will attend the
Mass on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales--the patron of writers and journalists-- tomorrow. I don't know, but he surely is welcome. If anyone sees him, be sure to drop a line.

4. The post on the victory for parental rights that was the grant of asylum to the German homeschooling family has generated some interesting comments. The German government had more than one defender, including a German man who wrote in. I responded to him. The exchange might be interesting to those who care about this issue, so I reprint it here (I have taken the liberty of correcting the spelling in the original, as the reader wrote in English and not his native tongue):

Anonymous wrote:

You are right, the law against homeschooling where made by the Nazis to get control of the children to assure that they grow up with the thick ideology of the Nazi system. But the reason why the kids have to go to school today is completely different: Every child in Germany has the right on education no matter if the parents want it or not. The only way to assure this, is to send the children to a school were they learn the values of freedom and democracy! The only group of people who have a problem with this are fundamentalist religious groups, wether they are christian or islamistic, because they are afraid of their children having their own choice if they want to follow their parents on their extreme way. I am very happy that the group of unteachable right wing extremist we still also have in Germany are not allowed to teach their children at home!

And even if you want to assure, that your children grow up with for example christian values, you have the possibility to send your child to a private christian school, which is even paid by the German taxpayer but still under the control of the German school authorities.You can even found your own school in this system!

The funny thing about this matter is, that the most families who now
have problems with the German school authorities have migrated to Germany from Russia!
They are called German-Russians because their ancestors emigrated from Germany to Russia in the 18`century and lived in German religious communities for a long time. After the second world war until now about 3 million of them came to Germany and got a German passport.

Some of them are fundamentalist Christians and don´t want to send their children to school! Our laws are like I tried to explain before. So why did they migrate to Germany if they do not respect them?

P.S. :Please excuse any mistakes, because my English is not the best! (SLC: No problem)

Jörg from Germany

thetimman said...


Thank you for your email. I am glad you commented here.

But let me respond that I think your position maintaining the rights of the state over the rights of parents--when it comes to the fundamental human right of the choice of education for one's own children-- highlights just why our ancestors left our European homeland and emigrated to this country.

This country is in no way Catholic, and by now the government is growing more and more hostile to individual rights. But the history of this country is one of respecting the fundamental rights of individual citizens from oppression by the state.

In Christendom, in the time of Kings and other hierarchical structures in Europe, this freedom was guaranteed by the Church, the existence of guilds and other voluntary groups, and by respect for traditional rights lived over centuries.

In Europe of today, you have a system based totally on positive law, with no anchor to God, Church, history, tradition or anything else. One social engineer of the past, like Hitler, gives way to one social engineer of the present, like the green party or a wall of Brussels bureaucrats. This is not the natural order of things.

Claiming the government has a greater right to your children than you, the parent, does, is to say in other words that you have no rights at all. This is the epitome of madness, and makes European citizens so malleably, timidly, dependent on the all-powerful state, that makes them cower so.

I say this without condescension, for our own country is far along this path itself. Yet some freedom remains, and the memory and desire for this freedom still exists in our hearts.

I don't want to find myself in the position where I defend any government's right to raise someone else's own children against the wishes of the parent's conscience.

State-funded religious schools are not the antidote to the problem. You live in a country where you are liable to fines and jail for speaking government-condemned thoughts out loud. Why would that government guarantee that a parent could rely on their religious beliefs being faithfully imparted, or that their children will learn history as it happened, and not as the government says it did?

Really, in the end, what the government of Germany or any state is afraid of by homeschooling is not Nazism, but individuals who are strong, free and can think for themselves. They are the real threat to what passes for "free" societies today.

A homeschooler can spot the lies in, for example, a state of the union address or a fake "climate change" warning. A citizen fully formed by the state will be much more likely to buy it.

Thanks again for reading.

5. Finally, I wanted to send a book recommendation if you are looking for spiritual reading. Christ, the Life of the Soul by Blessed Columba Marmion is absolutely fantastic. It is a profound, and profoundly straightforward, beautifully moving explication of God's plan, the centrality of Christ, and the Catholic faith. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

27 January 2010

For the Feast of St. Francis de Sales at the Oratory: Missa Cunctipotens Genitor Deus by Kevin Allen

From the Rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory:

Dear Friends of the Oratory,

This coming Friday, January 29, we will celebrate the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron saint of this Oratory and one of the four principal patrons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. In addition, as proclaimed by Pope Pius XI in 1923, this beloved Doctor of the Church, and "Gentleman Saint" from the 17th Century, has been honored by the Church as a patron saint of writers and journalists. In the year 1923 Pope Pius XI taught: “It is Our wish that the greatest fruits should be gained by those Catholics who as journalists and writers expound, spread, and defend the doctrines of the Church. It is necessary that they, in their writings, imitate and exhibit at all times that strength joined always to moderation and charity, which was the special characteristic of St. Francis.”

The celebration will begin with a Solemn High Mass at 6:30pm, followed by a reception for members of the press and news media - journalists, writers, editors - in the Rectory.

In keeping with the theme of relevance of tradition in the modern world, the music for the Mass will be from a contemporary classical composer, Mr. Kevin Allen. The choir will sing Mr. Allen’s “Missa Cunctipotens Genitor Deus” for this patronal feast. The Mass was written in 2000 and dedicated to Sister Lorainne, one of Mr. Allen’s elementary school teachers. It is written for SATB voices in the polyphonic style that is both new and consonant with the Roman School of Polyphony.

Kevin Allen, who will visit with us this when we celebrate the feast of St. Francis de Sales, wrote some time ago:

“The pervasive influence of our secular culture is destroying our ability to discern fundamental truths. This numbing of our senses has negatively affected our family and community life, our schools and political structures and even the Church. … After reading the Motu Proprio, ‘Tra le Sollecitudini’ of Pope St. Pius X, I was faced with a challenge that has been my endeavor from that day until now: ‘to increase the beauty and splendor of the ceremonies of the Church.”

I invite all of you together with your families and friends to join us on Friday, January 29th, here at St. Francis de Sales when we give honor to our great patron.

Radio Interview with Canon Apple, Kevin Allen and Nick Botkins on Classic 99

Also on Friday, January 29, Radio Classic 99 (KFUO FM 99,1) will have Canon Jason Apple, Vicar at St. Francis de Sales Oratory, Mr. Kevin Allen and Mr. Nick Botkins on show at around 11:20 am. Mr. Botkins holds the position of Director of Sacred Music at the St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis. Please tune in and tell friends and family about this special event. We are most grateful to Radio Classic 99 for this opportunity to present sacred music in its original context and to introduce a wider public to the specific mission the Oratory in St. Louis has in promoting the splendors of the traditional liturgy and its music.

With my best wishes and the assurance of my prayers on the occasion of the feast of our great patron I am in Christ the King,

Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

26 January 2010

German Homeschooling Family Granted Political Asylum in the United States

Great news from HSLDA-- a German family who suffered persecution in their home country for the heinous crime of homeschooling their children were granted political asylum in the United States. This is a huge win for homeschoolers around the world, in that as long as the U.S. upholds this fundamental parental right, there will be a safe haven for those who cannot exercise this right in their homeland.

This is great news in its own right, of course. But what really floors me is that the Immigration Court actually upheld an immigrant's rights for once. (Rim-shot!) Seriously-- the deck is heavily stacked against any immigrant in the removal context, and especially for those seeking asylum from an "allied" country, or from a Western democracy generally.

Again I say, if you homeschool and do not belong to HSLDA, you are crazy. For a small annual fee, all of the legal advice and representation granted are free. In this case, consider this fee around 5-10K, plus the threat of removal from the U.S., possible jail time and/or fines in Germany, and maybe losing your children.

From the full story:

Immigration Judge Says Germany Violating Basic Human Rights

In a case with international ramifications, Immigration Judge Lawrence O.
Burman granted the political asylum application of a German homeschooling family. The Romeikes are Christians from Bissinggen, Germany, who fled persecution in August 2008 to seek political asylum in the United States. The request was granted January 26 after a hearing was held in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 21.

“We can’t expect every country to follow our constitution,” said Judge
Burman. “The world might be a better place if it did. However, the rights being violated here are basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”

Burman added, “Homeschoolers are a particular social group that the German government is trying to suppress. This family has a well-founded fear of persecution…therefore, they are eligible for asylum…and the court will grant asylum.”

In his ruling,
Burman said that the scariest thing about this case was the motivation of the government. He noted it appeared that rather than being concerned about the welfare of the children, the government was trying to stamp out parallel societies—something the judge called “odd” and just plain “silly.” In his order the judge expressed concern that while Germany is a democratic country and is an ally, he noted that this particular policy of persecuting homeschoolers is “repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”

‘Embarrassing for Germany’

“This decision finally recognizes that German
homeschoolers are a specific social group that is being persecuted by a Western democracy,” said Mike Donnelly, staff attorney and director of international relations for Home School Legal Defense Associaton. “It is embarrassing for Germany, since a Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children. This judge understood the case perfectly, and he called Germany out. We hope this decision will cause Germany to stop persecuting homeschoolers,” he added.

The persecution of
homeschoolers in Germany has been intensifying over the past several years. They are regularly fined thousands of dollars, threatened with imprisonment, or have the custody of their children taken away simply because they choose to home educate.

Romeikes expressed relief when they heard the decision.

“We are so grateful to the judge for his ruling,” said
Uwe Romeike. “We know many people, especially other German homeschoolers, have been praying for us. Their prayers and ours have been answered. We greatly appreciate the freedom to homeschool we now have in America and will be building our new life here,” he added.

Donnelly testified at the hearing on January 21, telling the immigration Judge that homeschoolers are persecuted all over Germany.

‘Ignoring the Truth’

“There is no safety for
homeschoolers in Germany,” Donnelly said. “The two highest courts in Germany have ruled that it is acceptable for the German government to ‘stamp out’ homeschoolers as some kind of ‘parallel society.’ The reasoning is flawed. The fact is that homeschoolers are not a parallel society. Valid research shows that homeschoolers excel academically and socially. German courts are simply ignoring the truth that exists all over the world where homeschooling is practiced. They need to look beyond their own borders.”

In 2003 the highest administrative court in Germany, which interprets its federal Constitution, ruled in the Konrad case that it was
permissable for parents who have jobs that require them to travel—such as circus performers and musicians—to homeschool, but homeschooling was prohibited for parents who wanted to for reasons of conscience. The highest criminal court said in the Paul-Plett case in 2006 that the government was allowed to take custody of children whose parents want to homeschool for reasons of conscience.

Donnelly challenged the reasoning of the German courts.

“It is ridiculous for German courts to say that homeschooling is allowed if you have practical reasons but disallowed if you have conscientious reasons,”
Donnelly said. “This is simply about the German state trying to coerce ideological uniformity in a way that is frighteningly reminiscent of past history. Homeschooling is a growing social movement all over the world, and the Germans want to stamp it out based on a fabricated notion that homeschoolers are a ‘parallel society.’ Germany’s treatment of homeschooling families is worthy of condemnation from the international community. I am proud that a United States immigration judge recognized the truth of what is happening in Germany and has rendered this favorable decision for the Romeike family.”

homeschoolers have been organizing and trying to draw the attention of German politicians. It has been difficult. Juergen Dudek is a homeschooling father who had been sentenced to 90 days in jail for homeschooling, but whose sentence was reduced to a $300 fine. He noted that officials in Germany have no appreciation for homeschoolers who think differently than the state.

‘Send a Loud Message’

“It is incredible to me that these officials give absolutely no weight to our faith or other conscientious objection to attendance at the public schools,” said
Dudek. “We have had a number of families who are not homeschoolers, but who know that the German school system is failing, who called us to encourage us. In our re-hearing the judge issued a decision reducing our sentence from jail to a fine but was totally dismissive of our reasons for wanting to homeschool. We have always been encouraged by the support of American homeschoolers, and we hope that this decision will send a loud message to the German people that what our country is doing is wrong.”

A board member of the
Netzwerk Bildungsfreiheit, an organization working for freedom for homeschoolers, said that the ruling would be helpful to homeschoolers in Germany.

“This decision reveals to the rest of the world that the German state acts outside the mainstream of Western democracies. Germany is in the company of countries like China, North Korea and others where fundamental human rights are not respected. Germany’s behavior exposes the totalitarian character of the German school law that takes away a parent’s right to educate their children. A decision on behalf of the
Romeikes puts blame on the German government and is a serious warning to Germans officials to change their policies and further accept the rights of the parents. We hope that the decision will send a clear message to authorities in Germany to make changes right away!”

Mike Smith, president of
HSLDA, also applauded the decision.

“It’s recognition that the German state is persecuting
homeschoolers,” he said. “We are pleased to have been able to support this courageous family, and we hope and pray that this decision will have a decisive effect on German policy makers who should change their laws to recognize parents’ rights to educate their own children.”

The United States and Russia

Women's groups urge CBS to drop Tebow Super Bowl ad


A national coalition of women's groups called on CBS on Monday to scrap its plan to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, which critics say is likely to convey an anti-abortion message.

"An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year -- an event designed to bring Americans together," said Jemhu Greene, president of the New York-based Women's Media Center.

The center was coordinating the protest with backing from the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and other groups.

CBS said it has approved the script for the 30-second ad and has given no indication that the protest would have an impact. A network spokesman, Dana McClintock, said CBS would ensure that any issue-oriented ad was "appropriate for air."

The ad -- paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family -- is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow's pregnancy in 1987 with a theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life." After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim, who went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy while helping his Florida team to two BCS championships.

Moscow mayor calls gay pride march 'Satanic'

The mayor of Moscow, known for his overtly homophobic statements, said Monday that he would never allow a gay pride parade in the city, calling it "Satanic" and saying marchers should be punished.

"A gay parade... cannot be called anything but a Satanic act," Yury Luzhkov told an education conference, quoted by Interfax news agency. "We haven't permitted such a parade and we won't permit it in the future."

Luzhkov called for gay marchers to be punished. "It's high time that we stop propagating nonsense discussions about human rights, and bring to bear on them the full force and justice of the law," he said.

Gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alexeyev reaffirmed that plans for this year's gay pride parade will go ahead despite the ban.

"We don't plan to make any changes. We still plan to hold a gay parade on May 29," Alexeyev told AFP.

Luzhkov first called the gay pride parade "Satanic" in 2007, prompting gay rights campaigners to sue him for libel -- unsuccessfully.

Organisers have never been granted permission to hold gay pride parades by the city authorities, leading to violent clashes with police and anti-gay protestors.

25 January 2010

What's at Stake in the Effort for Unity of Christians

Canon Jason Apple of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was kind enough to send the following, from his sermon during this past Sunday, during the Week for Christian Unity:

Sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany (January 24, 2010)

Dear Faithful,

You surely noticed that today a second collect was added to that of this Third Sunday after the Epiphany. This second prayer is for the unity of all Christians. This request will be asked of God also in the second secret and second postcommunion of this mass. These prayers are added for a week to the mass daily from the old Feast of the Chair of St. Peter at Rome to the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, or from January 18 to January 25, feasts of the great apostles of Rome, protectors of the Holy See, of the Pope, successor of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter.

This week of prayers was begun in the early twentieth century by Pope St. Pius X at the request of an Episcopalian clergyman, who later became Catholic himself. Often these prayers, and even by the 1962 Roman Missal, are called the prayers for the unity of the Church; they are the collect, secret and postcommunion of the Votive Mass for the Unity of the Church, also aptly called the Mass for the Removal of Schism, that is, division of certain Christians, even large groups of Christians, from communion with the successor of St. Peter and the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

If we employ the term “unity of the Church,” we must be careful to understand what we mean, for we have just called the Church One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The Church is already One; she is united, she is unique: with or without the Christians separated from her, and even with or without us. Therefore, do not imagine that praying for the unity of the Church means, as many misguided souls do imagine, the collecting of fragmented groups around the least common denominator to form the One Church lost in the divisions. No, the Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the true Church, is already and always has been ONE: unique, unified, united. There is no other and this one is not divided, no matter how many souls fall away. She is the one ark of salvation and the Pope is the captain.

So, when we say “unity of the Church” we mean these prayers are for the unity of all Christians in the one, true Church. We mean the removal of divisions that cause souls not to come aboard the Bark of Peter, the ark of salvation; we mean the removal of schism, or the refusal of submission to Christ’s Vicar on Earth, which is refusal of submission to Christ Himself.

Think of all the baptized souls outside the sheepfold of the Church. They wander in the dangerous wilderness, prey to wolves. Perhaps they imagine they are free, frolicking on the other side of the fence, but how mistaken they are to scorn the safe fence around Rome and to flee the Good Shepherd. Pray for these foolish and lost sheep and the Good Shepherd will go seek them out and bring them back, wherever they are, on His sacred shoulders and tend to their injuries and make them part of the One flock that hears His voice and follows Him wherever He goes.

We live in a Protestant culture, but, though in the world, we must not be part of it. Rather, pray for the conversion of all. God wishes us to do so, and all things are possible to Him.

The leper in today’s gospel had faith in Our Lord’s divinity saying, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” Jesus answered him, “I will, be thou made clean,” reaching out and touching him. The man was instantly cleansed of his leprosy. All things are indeed possible to Our Lord and we must never doubt His might. He created us and all that exists and sustains us in our being. It can be for us in our spiritual life as it was for the leper. Mortal sin makes us untouchables, but God’s touching us with the hand of his grace cleanses our soul. Jesus wishes to heal all men of the leprosy of sin and to make us all his obedient and trusting sheep, creatures full of purity and simplicity, who hear the voice of their Shepherd and follow Him, who run to Him in times of necessity and danger, but not only then, for they seek always to please Him and love to be in His presence.

May we seek to become such sheep rather than embarking on a perilous adventure in the wilderness and darkness outside the safety of the sheepfold. Pray for those wandering and lost souls, for they are not yet lost for good. The Good Shepherd can seek them out and bring them back, but they are in the greatest danger, so pray for them, especially now during this week of prayers for the unity of all Christians in the one, true Church.

Christianity Can't Cut It Like Baseball, That's for Sure

"A single religion never will bring the peace and cooperation to the world that reason will, but an appreciation of a great team sport can help."

-- A Product of Ten Years of Catholic Schooling

The quote above was pulled from a delightfully inane, weird-yet-typical, letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. My wonderful wife Sharon found this letter and called it to my attention. The photo at the above left shows the wonderful peace and cooperation brought about by the rule of Reason in 1793. And mass executions, like baseball, are a crowd-pleasing "team sport".

But, to the point: the letter in question is ostensibly to protest the so-called "Christian Family Day" at the ballpark that had been put on by a coalition of evangelical groups but this year has been taken over by the Cardinals. The groups previously involved in CFD worry that the Cardinals will water down the focus of the day.
Luckily, someone with his own ideas was able to write this letter:

Why promote one religion over another?

Regarding "Christian Family Day group calls foul on Cardinals" (Jan. 16): I was raised by a devout worshipper of Jesus Christ and attended 10 years of Catholic school, including four years at a reputable West Coast college. I also have been a fan of Major League Baseball since 1958, when the Giants and Dodgers moved west. I can assure you that baseball has done a lot more than Christianity over the past 50 years to nourish my joy in life and appreciation of other human beings.

I cannot fathom why the Cards would want to continue with Christian Family Day.

So much has happened over the last 20 years to demonstrate how ill-conceived it is to either publicize or honor one faith over others.

The largest and fastest growing faith in the world, reportedly, is Islam. Would the Cards even consider an Islamic Family Day?

The bottom line is, let the youth of St. Louis experience the joy of the game and a remarkable local tradition and forget about trying to show favor to one religious group. A single religion will never bring the peace and cooperation to the world that reason will, but an appreciation of a great team sport can help.

Bring a child [to] the ballpark and let the magic of that experience work by itself, without myth or superstition.

D. J. Richards, St. Louis

My mind struggles to take it all in; I think the best approach is just to let the entire letter settle in to your consciousness, slowly, like a fine wine or a good book. Glory in it. Embrace it.

I just want to thank the Post for publishing this, and Catholic schools of the sixties and seventies for producing the mind that authored it.

Bill O'Reilly: Let's just make Haiti a colony of the U.S.

Listening to the radio this morning I was subjected to Bill O'Reilly's one-minute "Talking Points Memo". His wisdom of the day: since "only" the U.S. could possibly maintain order and "ensure prosperity" in Haiti, we should must move on in and run it. That would be an act of charity, since we don't "need" them.

Well, Bill, pardon me if I demur. To begin, I don't know how good we are at ensuring prosperity these days. And it isn't our country, Bill. Why would helping people in the wake of disaster require us to be their overlords? And I thought the French were unfairly jumping to conclusions when they accused us of invading Haiti instead of helping them. Finally, do we have so many troops that we can station thousands more in yet another country? Why not just take over the world and solve everyone's problems?

Commentary like that doesn't really help.

23 January 2010

Because Its Their Own Citizens They Fear

The UK, ever one step ahead of the US when it comes to government surveillance of its own people, announces it will use unmanned spy drones over the British Isles to keep track of, among other things problem motorists, "fly tippers" and other malcontents. They are not satisfied with having a camera every ten yards; they need the latest spy/assassination technology.

And note they, like our wonderful government, also use the hypocritical pseudo-excuse of "patrolling the border"--in this case the wave of menacing French who would swim the English Channel. As a friend of mine remarked, tongue-in-cheek, "If the military were really defending our freedom wouldn't they be back here protecting us from the police?"

Drones could be used for civilian surveillance in the UK as early as 2012. Source: BAE

Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the "routine" monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.

Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates UK airspace, has been told by BAE and Kent police that civilian UAVs would "greatly extend" the government's surveillance capacity and "revolutionise policing". The CAA is currently reluctant to license UAVs in normal airspace because of the risk of collisions with other aircraft, but adequate "sense and avoid" systems for drones are only a few years away.

Five other police forces have signed up to the scheme, which is considered a pilot preceding the countrywide adoption of the technology for "surveillance, monitoring and evidence gathering". The partnership's stated mission is to introduce drones "into the routine work of the police, border authorities and other government agencies" across the UK.

Concerned about the slow pace of progress of licensing issues, Kent police's assistant chief constable, Allyn Thomas, wrote to the CAA last March arguing that military drones would be useful "in the policing of major events, whether they be protests or the Olympics". He said interest in their use in the UK had "developed after the terrorist attack in Mumbai".

Stressing that he was not seeking to interfere with the regulatory process, Thomas pointed out that there was "rather more urgency in the work since Mumbai and we have a clear deadline of the 2012 Olympics".

BAE drones are programmed to take off and land on their own, stay airborne for up to 15 hours and reach heights of 20,000ft, making them invisible from the ground.

Far more sophisticated than the remote-controlled rotor-blade robots that hover 50-metres above the ground – which police already use – BAE UAVs are programmed to undertake specific operations. They can, for example, deviate from a routine flightpath after encountering suspicious activity on the ground, or undertake numerous reconnaissance tasks simultaneously.

The surveillance data is fed back to control rooms via monitoring equipment such as high-definition cameras, radar devices and infrared sensors.

Previously, Kent police has said the drone scheme was intended for use over the English Channel to monitor shipping and detect immigrants crossing from France. However, the documents suggest the maritime focus was, at least in part, a public relations strategy designed to minimise civil liberty concerns.

"There is potential for these [maritime] uses to be projected as a 'good news' story to the public rather than more 'big brother'," a minute from the one of the earliest meetings, in July 2007, states.

Behind closed doors, the scope for UAVs has expanded significantly. Working with various policing organisations as well as the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the Maritime and Fisheries Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Border Agency, BAE and Kent police have drawn up wider lists of potential uses.

One document lists "[detecting] theft from cash machines, preventing theft of tractors and monitoring antisocial driving" as future tasks for police drones, while another states the aircraft could be used for road and railway monitoring, search and rescue, event security and covert urban surveillance.

Under a section entitled "Other routine tasks (Local Councils) – surveillance", another document states the drones could be used to combat "fly-posting, fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles, abnormal loads, waste management".

Senior officers have conceded there will be "large capital costs" involved in buying the drones, but argue this will be shared by various government agencies. They also say unmanned aircraft are no more intrusive than CCTV cameras and far cheaper to run than helicopters.

Partnership officials have said the UAVs could raise revenue from private companies. At one strategy meeting it was proposed the aircraft could undertake commercial work during spare time to offset some of the running costs.

There are two models of BAE drone under consideration, neither of which has been licensed to fly in non-segregated airspace by the CAA. The Herti (High Endurance Rapid Technology Insertion) is a five-metre long aircraft that the Ministry of Defence deployed in Afghanistan for tests in 2007 and 2009.

CAA officials are sceptical that any Herti-type drone manufacturer can develop the technology to make them airworthy for the UK before 2015 at the earliest. However the South Coast Partnership has set its sights on another BAE prototype drone, the GA22 airship, developed by Lindstrand Technologies which would be subject to different regulations. BAE and Kent police believe the 22-metre long airship could be certified for civilian use by 2012.

Military drones have been used extensively by the US to assist reconnaissance and airstrikes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But their use in war zones has been blamed for high civilian death tolls.

22 January 2010

The Mind Reels...

I wish this were a made-up story. It's not. But Holiday Inn beware: if I check in and someone who is not my wife hops in my bed, I Will. Freak. Out.

From Britain's Sky News:

'Human Bed Warming' Service Launched In UK

Holiday Inn, operator of over 4,000 hotels worldwide, will begin to offer a free five-minute "human bed warming service" at it's London Kensington hotel throughout next week.

If requested, a willing member of hotel staff will jump in your bed, dressed head to foot in an all-in-one sleeper suit, until your nightly chamber warms up.

"Like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed" is how Holiday Inn spokeswoman Jane Bednall described the idea.

Bed Warmers Jacqui Barry and Nick Woods (pictured) helped to beat the big freeze for Laurence Lancashire, centre, at the Holiday Inn Kingston-South in Surbiton, Surrey.

Dr Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said the idea could help people get off to sleep.

He said: "There's plenty of scientific evidence to show that sleep starts at the beginning of the night when body temperature starts to drop.

"A warm bed - approximately 20 to 24C - is a good way to start this process whereas a cold bed would inhibit sleep.

"Holiday Inn's new bed warmers service should help people achieve a good night's sleep especially as it's taking much longer for them to warm up when they come in from the snow."

Cardinal Ratzinger on the Aftermath of the Council

"Certainly the results (of Vatican II) seem cruelly opposed to the expectations of everyone, beginning with those of Pope John XXIII and then of Pope Paul VI: expected was a new Catholic unity and instead we have been exposed to dissension which, to use the words of Pope Paul VI, seems to have gone from self-criticism to self-destruction. Expected was a new enthusiasm, and many wound up discouraged and bored. Expected was a great step forward, instead we find ourselves faced with a progressive process of decadence which has developed for the most part under the sign of a calling back to the Council, and has therefore contributed to discrediting it for many. The net result therefore seems negative. I am repeating here what I said ten years after the conclusion of the work: it is incontrovertible that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Catholic Church."

— Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1984.

As Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness has done much to put things to right. He needs our prayers constantly. May God protect him and uphold him his mission.

New Reredos for Altar at West County Oratory

NLM has a nice story on the new altarpiece at the Oratory of SS Gregory and Augustine in West County. This really adds to the beauty and dignity of the setting for Mass. Adding components like this can work for nearly any sanctuary in the Archdiocese, and can often be done at quite reasonable expense. Given a modern-construction, fairly small space to use for the chapel, the Oratory has taken great care to make the setting as beautiful as possible. It is an effort to be emulated.

Paradiso, Canto XXXIII

1 Virgin mother, daughter of your Son,

2 more humble and sublime than any creature,

3 fixed goal decreed from all eternity,

4 you are the one who gave to human nature

5 so much nobility that its Creator

6 did not disdain His being made its creature.

7 That love whose warmth allowed this flower to bloom

8 within the everlasting peace was love

9 rekindled in your womb; for us above,

10 you are the noonday torch of charity,

11 and there below, on earth, among the mortals,

12 you are a living spring of hope. Lady,

13 you are so high, you can so intercede,

14 that he who would have grace but does not seek

15 your aid, may long to fly but has no wings.

16 Your loving-kindness does not only answer

17 the one who asks, but it is often ready

18 to answer freely long before the asking.

19 In you compassion is, in you is pity,

20 in you is generosity, in you

21 is every goodness found in any creature.

22 This man who from the deepest hollow in:

23 the universe, up to this height, has seen

24 the lives of spirits, one by one now pleads

25 with you, through grace, to grant him so much virtue

26 that he may lift his vision higher still

27 may lift it toward the ultimate salvation.

21 January 2010

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson to Visit St. Francis de Sales Oratory on Laetare Sunday: Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Extraordinary Form in the Saint Louis Archdiocese

The 25-Year Anniversary Celebration of the Traditional Mass in the Archdiocese of St. Louis will take place on March 14, 2010, Laetare Sunday, at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in the presence of His Grace Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of Saint Louis, at 10 am.  The celebrant of this Solemn High Mass will be the Very Reverend Monsignor R. Michael Schmitz, Vicar General and U.S. Provincial Superior of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

Although Summorum Pontificum, the motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, made it clear that the Extraordinary Form had never in fact been abrogated, the public celebration of that Form was practically nonexistent from shortly after the promulgation of the new missal until 1984, when Pope John Paul II published the first, fairly limited "indult" for the Traditional Mass in the CDW document Quattuor Abhinc Annos.  Later, the indult was broadened in the more famous motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988.

Here is one early entry from the St. Louis Review advertising this "indult" Mass at St. Agatha Parish in March 1985 (the first such Mass took place the prior month):

“A Tridentine Rite Mass will be celebrated at 10 am tomorrow, Saturday, March 2, at St. Agatha Church, 3239 S. Ninth Str. Authorization of the Mass under certain conditions was approved late last year by Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop John L. May has tentatively approved Tridentine Masses for the first Saturday of each month at St. Agatha. ...

The Latin language Tridentine Rite is the form of the Mass used prior to Vatican Council II.”

As it so happens, the pastor of St. Agatha on this date was Monsignor Bernard Granich, who just died on January 19th, and whose obituary is here.  Please pray for his soul.

After two decades at St. Agatha, the Traditional Mass community was transferred to St. Francis de Sales Oratory in 2005, which is an Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  Canon Karl Lenhardt, former Rector of the Oratory, was named Epsicopal Delegate for the Implementation of Summorum Pontificum for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis by Archbishop Raymond Burke in 2007.  Archbishop Carlson later appointed Canon Michael Wiener, the current Rector, to this same post, highlighting the continuity of the Archbishop's committment to integrating the Extraordinary Form into the liturgical life of the Archdiocese.  From humble beginnings 25 years ago, the Latin Mass community perservered, grew and ultimately flourished, so that now the Extraordinary Form is regularly, publicly celebrated at many locations throughout the area.

The presence of Archbishop Carlson at this Mass is also a blessing for all those who love the Extraordinary Form in St. Louis, and is an especially generous gesture considering His Grace has already committed to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the traditional rite at the Oratory in May.

His Grace will also preach the sermon.

All are welcome to attend this celebration.  It is a great opportunity to give thanks for the blessings received, celebrate the unity of the Church as expressed in her liturgical forms, and to greet Archbishop Carlson at his first visit to the Oratory.

It is not merely--or even mostly-- a remembrance of the past, but also a celebration of the good things Christ is doing right now in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. ...

Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. ...

(From the Introit of Laetare Sunday)

Anniversary of the Regicide of Louis XVI

To commemorate this sad day-- a day that has brought so much harm to Europe, and which ensured the end of Christendom, I take the following post and related links directly from the site Tea at Trianon:

Execution of Louis XVI

January 21, Saint Agnes day, is the dies natalis of the Roi-Martyr, when two hundred and fifteen (SLC Note: now 217) years ago, Louis XVI was taken from the Temple prison to be guillotined. The previous night he had said farewell to his family, and their reaction was so hysterical that he decided not to see them again in the morning, for fear of faltering in his own courage. His fifteen year old daughter fainted. He rode to his death in a coach accompanied by the Irish priest, Abbé Edgeworth de Firmont, who had been Madame Elisabeth's confessor and who had refused the oath to the government. Together they recited the seven penitential psalms, as described in the novel Trianon.

Arriving at the scaffold, the executioner tried to bind Louis' hands behind his back but he resisted, not wanting to be treated like a criminal who might try to run away. Abbé Edgeworth, fearing the king might be struck, convinced him to submit to the indignity by saying that it was one more way in which he resembled his Master. Louis raised his eyes to the sky as if seeing beyond this world and then with hands bound he ascended the scaffold unassisted. The drummers drowned out his last words to his people.

Some observers later reported that Abbé Edgeworth cried out,"Ascend to heaven, son of St Louis!" although the priest said he did not remember, being overwhelmed. Many ran forward with handkerchiefs to dip in the king's blood, as the executioner raised the head aloft, making obscene gestures. Some of the handkerchiefs were later preserved as holy relics.

The king's last words were:

“I die innocent of all the crimes imputed to me. I pardon the authors of my death, and pray God that the blood you are about to shed will never fall upon France.”

The forgiveness of Louis XVI.

His widow.

The Vow of Louis XVI.

Memoirs of Abbé Edgeworth

Attempt to Canonize Louis XVI.

And I'm Also Guessing the Baltimore Catechism Isn't Being Used in Religion Class

Thanks to a reader for alerting me to this item from the Archdiocesan Catholic Education website. I don't know if I can describe this train wreck better than the photo (above) and description from the site itself:

St. Ann-Normandy students surprised their pastor Father Bill Kempf with a special mass to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination. The altar and ambo were decorated with beautiful silver cloths, and 6th and 7th grade students opened and closed the Mass with a joyous liturgical dance. Before the Mass ended, student council representatives presented Father Bill with a money tree filled with dollar bills from all the students.

It is a wonderful thing to show gratitude to one's priest and pastor-- good priests sacrifice their whole lives for the sake of their flock. And so I can pass on the slightly weird money-tree thing. But the fact that the school children put on a liturgical dance at Mass is appalling in and of itself, and for other reasons it tends to suggest:

1) Liturgical dance is not allowed, and the rubrics of Mass are being ignored. The Mass is not the private property of any liturgical planner, teacher, or even any well-meaning child. This is a reason to doubt whether other rubrics are flouted at this parish.

2) The quality of religious education at this school is called into question. Clearly, the students are not being given a proper instruction in the Sacrifice of the Mass. I wonder about the level of catechesis. According to its website, the tuition and fees for one child amount to more than $3,500 per year. I would want a Catholic school to teach Catholicism in any event, but I definitely wouldn't pay money for it to teach a different faith.

3) This isn't a story that required investigative reporting to crack. The school and the Archdiocesan Education Office published it willingly, indicating they see no problem with allowing, teaching and encouraging liturgical dance to school children.

Historically, Catholic parents scrimped and saved to send their children to Catholic schools to ensure a Catholic formation for their children. There are many reasons for the decline in Catholic school enrollment, but the lack of a solid Catholic formation is one of them. I was very disappointed with this story.