31 December 2010
"God forgive me," said Guy. "I was one of them."
30 December 2010
Pope St. Sylvester confirmed the Council of Nicea which condemned the Arian heresy. He oversaw the construction of the mother Church of Christendom-- the Basilica of Our Saviour, otherwise known as St. John Lateran. He governed the Church immediately following that period of severe persecution, lasting three hundred years, by the Roman empire.
As Dom Prosper Gueranger wrote:
So that Sylvester is messenger of the Peace which Christ came to give to the world, of which the Angels sang on Christmas night. He is the friend of Constantine; he confirms the Council of Nicea; he organizes the discipline of the Church for the new era on which she is now entering: the era of Peace. His predecessors in the See of Peter imaged Jesus in his sufferings; Sylvester represented Jesus in his triumph. His appearance during this Octave reminds us that the Divine Child who lies wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and is the object of Herod's persecution, is, notwithstanding all these humiliations, the Prince of Peace, the Father of the world to come.
Pontiff of Peace! from the abode of rest where now thou dwellest, look down upon the Church of God, surrounded as she is by implacable enemies, and beseech Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to hasten her triumph. Cast thine eye on that Rome which is so dear to thee, and which is so faithful in her love of thee. Protect and defend her Father, King and Pontiff. May she triumph over the wiles of political intrigue, the violence of tyranny, the craft of heretics, the perfidy of schismatics, the apathy of worldlings, and the cowardice of her own children. May she be honoured, loved and obeyed. May the sublime dignity of the Priesthood be recognized. May the spiritual power enjoy freedom of action. May the civil authority work hand in hand with the Church. May the Kingdom of God now come, and be received throughout the whole world, and may there be but one Fold and one Shepherd. Amen.
I can never mark this feast day without thinking of the final conclave and last Sovereign Pontiff in The Lord of the World, by Robert Hugh Benson. It is a good reminder to always trust in God's Providence in the face of the worst of worldly situations.
29 December 2010
Upcoming: Jan. 1-- The (non) Holy Day of (non) Obligation to Celebrate (the Circumcision of the Lord)(Octave of Christmas)(Mary, the Mother of God)
So, as a service to readers of this blog, I can safely inform you that our episcopal conference has decreed that Catholics are not obligated to assist at Mass on Saturday, January 1, 2011, which under the modernized Calendar is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. I don't think this makes the day or feast less holy. But perhaps it is a sign that we cannot be bothered to go to Mass Two. Days. In. A. Row.
I urge Catholics to assist at Mass anyway, for what it's worth, preferably at the traditional Mass following the traditional Calendar of our Church, which celebrates, on the Octave of Christmas, the Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This feast marks the first time Christ shed His blood for the remission of our sins, even in His infancy. Contemplate that this shedding of blood would have been enough to redeem the whole world, apart from the immolation on the Cross.
In each form, the Gospel is one of the shortest of the year-- the recounting of the circumcision and naming of Jesus.
Mass at St. Francis de Sales Oratory that day-- 8am and 10am.
Better and Better: Cardinals Burke, Ranjith and Piacenza Appointed by Holy Father to the Congregation for Divine Worship
While he would likely disclaim such a notion, it certainly seems that Our Lord has great things in store for, and great tasks to be accomplished by, Cardinal Burke--to the great blessing of the Mystical Body.
28 December 2010
Fed on the lawns, and in the forest ranged;
Without unspotted, innocent within,
She fear'd no danger, for she knew no sin.
Yet had she oft been chased with horns and hounds,
And Scythian shafts; and many winged wounds
Aim'd at her heart; was often forced to fly,
And doom'd to death, though fated not to die.
* * * * *
What weight of ancient witness can prevail,
If private reason hold the public scale?
But, gracious God, how well dost thou provide
For erring judgments an unerring guide!
Thy throne is darkness in the abyss of light,
A blaze of glory that forbids the sight.
O teach me to believe thee thus conceal'd,
And search no farther than thyself reveal'd;
But her alone for my director take,
Whom thou hast promised never to forsake!
My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires;
My manhood, long misled by wandering fires,
Follow'd false lights; and when their glimpse was gone,
My pride struck out new sparkles of her own.
Such was I, such by nature still I am;
Be thine the glory, and be mine the shame.
Good life be now my task; my doubts are done:
What more could fright my faith, than Three in One?
27 December 2010
The tone of the article and the phrasing used leaves little doubt about the preferences of the writer. I will comment in green throughout the article below, to give you my own take, sometimes as a response, other times to interpret the words more closely to how I think they were meant. Again, these are just my opinions. Read the article without regard to them if you like:
Pope's master of liturgy helps Benedict restore traditions
By Jason Horowitz
IN ROME On a rainy Christmas Eve (even the clouds of heaven shed tears on the way this thing has unravelled), Pope Benedict XVI followed a procession of Swiss guards, bishops and priests down the central nave of St. Peter's Basilica to celebrate midnight Mass before dignitaries and a global television audience.
And Monsignor Guido Marini, as always, followed the pope. Queue sinister music, as the Jafar-like henchman enters the scene.
A tall, reed-thin cleric with a receding hairline and wire-framed glasses, Marini, 45, perched behind the pope's left shoulder, bowed with him at the altar and adjusted the pontiff's lush (all about the opulence here-- what of the poor?) robes. As Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, he shadows the pope's every move and makes sure that every candle, Gregorian chant and gilded (cha-ching $!) vestment is exactly as he, the pope and God intended it to be. Psst-- Marini thinks he's God.
"The criterion is that it is beautiful," Marini said.
But beauty, especially when it comes to the rituals of Roman Catholic liturgy, is a topic of great debate between conservative and liberal Catholics, who share differing views on everything from the music and language of the Mass to where a priest should stand and how he should give Communion. This friends, may be an understatement of biblical proportions. Although, I don't really hear "liberals' talking about beauty in the liturgy; rather, you would hear about immanence, or participation, or accessibility.
Some of the key trappings (a bit confusing here-- are they "key" or are they mere "trappings"?) of the Mass - the vestments and vernacular, the "smells and bells" (OK, just trappings)- have taken on a more ancient air since Benedict succeeded John Paul II, and since Marini succeeded Piero Marini.
Piero, 68, is a gruff Vatican veteran, a progressive who advocates a more modern ritual that reflects the great church reforms of the 1960s. (Yep, they sure were "great" "reforms". Don't worry about getting a seat in the pews if you're late for Mass these days-- you're good.) The younger and more punctilious Guido (the dilettante), who is not related to Piero, has argued for more traditional liturgical symbols and gestures - like the pope's preference that the faithful kneel to accept Communion (in line with AT LEAST 1,500 years of customary practice and in order to better express the reality of just Whom it is we receive) - that some church liberals interpret as the harbinger of a counter-reformation. If only. If only... Also, as an aside, I guess that if it really is a "counter-reformation", that must mean that the changes after the council would be Protestant-y, right?
'Battle of the Marinis'
The coincidence of their shared last names has resulted in YouTube links like "Battle of the Marinis." ("These things on the YouTube are fun but not important," said Marini the Second.) But within Vatican and wider liturgical circles, the Marini schism is actually a profound one about the direction of the church. It is, but "schism" doesn't quite capture the process as much as restoration.
The liturgical changes enacted under Guido Marini are "a great microcosm for broader shifts in the church," said John Allen, a veteran Vatican watcher with the National Catholic Reporter. Blind hog, meet acorn.
Since the Marini II era began in October 2007, the papal Masses clearly have a stronger traditional element. Guido Marini, who has degrees in canon and civil law (Boo! Lawyers!) and a doctorate in the psychology of communication (his name in Swedish translates Sven Gali), caused considerable consternation (Insert your own metaphor here. I am silent.) among some progressive Catholics in January when he talked to English-speaking priests about a "reform of the reform."
In an interview Thursday, he argued that the changes should not be seen as a liturgical backlash to modernity but as a "harmonious development" in a "continuum" that takes full advantage of the church's rich history and is not subject to what he has called (and, in fact, are) "sporadic modifications." Liturgical progressives (i.e., proponents of a non-Catholic Catholic liturgy), like Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., are concerned that Marini considers the reforms of the 1960s ecumenical council known as Vatican II as being among those sporadic modifications. (Ahem. Give this man $100)
At most papal Masses, a large crucifix flanked by tall candles is now displayed on the altar, even though many progressives say the ornaments block the view of the priest and the bread and wine. (Duh. And they do know that they don't stay bread and wine, right?) They argue that this obstructs the accessibility urged by liturgical reforms associated with the Second Vatican Council. ("Associate with" is exactly right. They are not of the council, but "progressives" do love to "associate" their schemes with it.)
Marini responds by saying that the crucifix reminds the faithful of who is really front and center in the Mass. He also says that the pope cannot sit in front of the altar when it bears the crucifix because "the pope can't give his back" to sacraments on the altar.
For Marini, Gregorian chants must be the music of the church because they best interpret the liturgy. And in September, ahead of the pope's visit to Britain, Marini told the Scottish paper the Herald that the pope would celebrate all the Prefaces and Canons of his Masses in Latin. A most welcome development, which nicely sidesteps the "pro multis" mistranslation.
Piero Marini, who stepped down in 2007 after serving as the master of celebrations for 20 years, has championed the (Spirit of [tm])Vatican II reforms, including the simplification (er, destruction is more like) of rites that he believes facilitates active participation. Facilitates= /involuntary shudder/.
In the name of "inculturation," or integrating church rites with local customs, the silver-haired Marini in 1998 accepted the request of local bishops to allow a troupe of scantily clad Pacific islanders (!) in St. Peter's Basilica (!!!) to honor (??!!) the pope with a dance during the opening liturgy of the Synod for Oceania. During John Paul II's visit to Mexico City in 2002, Marini likewise granted a local bishop's wish to let an indigenous Mexican shaman (!!!!) exorcise (curse) the pope during a Mass there. PLEASE, somebody tell me how this is not a grave violation of the First Commandment. I'll wait.
He said the changes that have been made since he left are obvious. "You don't have to ask me," said Marini, who has expressed wariness about the rollback of liturgical reforms. "Everyone can see it for themselves." About the best endorsement of the new Marini one could ask for.
A 'more sober' style
His successor said that the two clerics had a good relationship and that it was only natural that things change under a new regime.
"It's true that there were celebrations that gave more space to different expressions, but that was one style and now there is a different style, one that is more sober and more attentive to the essential things," said Guido Marini, who, like his predecessor, hails from northern Italy but who, like the pope, expresses admiration for the old Latin Mass. (Cue sinister music; flash lightning.) He added that Benedict considered the Mass a heavenly space that shouldn't be modified with "things that don't belong."
Marini has said there are no plans to force the changes on parishes around the world, but he hopes that they slowly spread and seep in. I join in this hope, and if the Holy Father wants to speed things along a bit, that would be even better.
Under Benedict, the faithful at papal Masses take Communion on their knees and receive the wafer (That would be God) on the tongue. Guido Marini said the change "recalls the importance of the moment" and keeps the act from becoming "banal." A recent picture of Queen Sofia in Spain receiving Communion from the pope in her hand - and while standing and not wearing a veil - brought rebukes from conservative Catholics. ("Reform of the reform apparently put on hold," read the Catholic blog Rorate Caeli.) (Yes, a distressing picture, which may have been in ignorance on her part. If it shows an intentional disregard of the Papal reception norms, it just provides a very small example of the fact that many of the aristocracy were often helpful in bringing down the old order that justified their own positions over the last few centuries.)
Perhaps the most apparent and luxurious (cha-ching!$!) sign of the new era is the pope's vestments. Benedict has worn an ancient form of the pallium, or cloak, preferred by first-millennium pontiffs. (The pallium of the more recent Popes, through JPII, was the same as any Metropolitan Archbishop. It was Marini 1 who changed it to a more Greek style of earlier times. Then the Pope, during Marini 2, changed it back to something more like before, with a slightly different fit and red crosses instead of black. FYI.) He also brought back the ermine-trimmed red satin mozzetta, a short cape. And the pope clearly does not obey the article of American political faith to never don an unconventional cap. He has sported a red saturno, a sort of papal cowboy hat, and an ermine-trimmed camauro, a crimson cap that resembles a Santa hat and is worn on nonliturgical occasions. (All about the clothes, you see-- i.e., the Pope is being frivolous. A very similar reason, BTW, why some dismiss the ICRSP for their concern with beauty in the liturgy.)
According to one senior Vatican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Marini sent him a page-long list of vestments he had to wear during a special ordination in St. Peter's. "I didn't recognize half of the things on it," the official said. "Then I had trouble getting it all on."
"The pope likes new things and antique things," explained Marini, who compared the pope's attire to someone in a family who likes modern fashions like, say, Gucci shades but also "the treasures of the family." (Cf. Matt. 13:52).
At a Dec. 16 evening Mass, the pope opted for a paisley patterned crimson and gold chasuble, while Marini, his fingers tented in front of him, wore a white cotta with breezy lace (what insinuation here, I wonder...) sleeves over a purple cassock. As the frail (I think what he means is this: Don't worry, leftist nuns, he'll die soon so just ignore him. Then back to the Table of Plenty!) pope sat in his throne (who does he think he is?!), Marini adjusted Benedict's robes and at the appropriate moments removed the gold miter in order to place a white skullcap atop the pontiff's white hair. He adjusted the pages of prayer books that altar boys propped up before the pope. After the chorus sang about the divine promise made to David, Marini helped the pope up to read a prayer. At the end of the Mass, the pope followed the candles and large crucifix back up the nave. Marini, as always, trailed immediately behind. (A particularly disgusting paragraph, as Jafar follows out the senile old coot from his outdated throne, a dithering "leader" who can't do anything himself. God has His own plans, of course. I can only pray that the next Pope is one even less to their liking-- but let's just pray for the Holy Father we already have.)
"It's hard work," Marini said. "But it's beautiful."
This blessing is an English translation from the Roman Ritual:
BLESSING OF WINE
on the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (December 27)
At the end of the principal Mass on the feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist, after the last Gospel, the priest, retaining all vestments except the maniple, blesses wine brought by the people. This is done in memory and in honor of St. John, who drank without any ill effects the poisoned wine offered to him by his enemies.
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.
If it please you, Lord God, bless + and consecrate + this vessel of wine (or any other beverage) by the power of your right hand; and grant that, through the merits of St. John, apostle and evangelist, all your faithful who drink of it may find it a help and a protection. As the blessed John drank the poisoned potion without any ill effects, so may all who today drink the blessed
wine in his honor be delivered from poisoning and similar harmful things. And as they offer themselves body and soul to you, may they obtain pardon of all their sins; through Christ our Lord.
Lord, bless + this creature drink, so that it may be a health-giving medicine to all who use it; and grant by your grace that all who taste of it may enjoy bodily and spiritual health in calling on your holy name; through Christ our Lord.
May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit, come on this wine (or any other beverage) and remain always.
It is sprinkled with holy water. If the blessing is given privately outside of Mass, the priest is vested in surplice and stole and performs the ceremony as given above.
25 December 2010
23 December 2010
But like most secular outlets, the Post simply doesn't get that there is only one reason for Catholic schools to exist, and that is to teach the Catholic faith. Any other function can be approximated in other places, but only a Catholic school can be Catholic. Talking with "national experts" is good, but I wonder if these are finance people or other "experts". I just hope these aren't the same national experts who have SpiritofVaticanII-ed us out of business.
What the Archdiocesan officials can do is to ensure a vibrantly Orthodox Catholic faith curriculum. Then work to ensure that faithful Catholics are the ones teaching it. And then ensure that this program has the active support of school principals.
In the end, if the Catholicity of the school doesn't "sell" the school to parents, then what is the point? From the full story at STLToday:
Carlson aims to fulfill vow to improve schools in archdiocese
By Elisa Crouch
Thursday, December 23, 2010
As soon as Archbishop Robert Carlson arrived in St. Louis last year, he made clear that improving Catholic schools was his top priority.
Enrollment throughout the 11-county archdiocese had been steadily declining for four decades. Concern that schools were losing their Catholic identity was growing. In the city's core, where white Catholics have left some neighborhoods, demographic shifts had some parish schools struggling financially.
Carlson vowed to tackle the problems even if it meant taking on potentially contentious issues, such as moving resources from wealthier parishes to struggling ones, and restructuring tuition.
So for the last year, he has been meeting with national experts as well as parents, teachers and pastors to develop strategies to improve Catholic schools. In doing so, Carlson is positioning the St. Louis Archdiocese to follow the lead of other large city Catholic school systems that have restructured to stem the loss of students.
"We don't have to sit by and let this happen," Carlson said in an interview this week at his Central West End residence. "Let's grow this system again."
Carlson said he doesn't expect drastic change. But he isn't ruling out spreading the cost of educating more than 34,000 students among all 189 parishes, including those that don't have schools. Nor is he ruling out closing or consolidating schools.
"It's always possible that schools are going to close," Carlson said. "At least at this point it's too early to say this school or that school."
He's considering ways to change the way parochial schools are financed.
One idea being explored is a full-cost tuition model with significant financial aid, similar to colleges and universities, said Daniel Conway, consultant for missionary advancement for the archdiocese.
The parents who could afford to pay full tuition would, and those who couldn't could apply for significant financial assistance.
Another is developing a foundation in the archdiocese so parishes wouldn't have to depend on their own resources.
In the Catholic system, most parish schools must survive through tuition, Sunday collections and fundraising. In addition, the archdiocese uses interest from a $10 million endowment to help parents with tuition. The Today and Tomorrow Educational Foundation is helping 1,800 low-income children who live in the city and cannot afford parochial or private education.
"We want to make sure everyone has access to our schools," Carlson said.
While many schools in the suburbs are flourishing, others in the city are struggling.
"It's really a very significant justice issue to have good schools that move people out of poverty," Carlson said.
"You can see something building," Carlson said. "Where people begin to see Catholic schools not so much in terms of their cost, but here we can provide a pathway out of poverty, here we can share the principles of our faith clearly, and here we can help our young people come in contact with Jesus Christ."
Overall, Catholic school enrollment in the 11 counties under the Archdiocese of St. Louis has dropped by 14,000 in the last 10 years, according to the archdiocese. However, the school system continues to be the seventh-largest Catholic school system in the country.
Carlson said he doesn't plan to mimic the approach that Archbishop Timothy Dolan is taking in New York. There, Dolan is restructuring the way schools are funded so they're not reliant on a home parish to stay afloat but rather would depend on clusters of parishes, or the archdiocese at large.
"Every diocese has its own personality," Carlson said.
"While regional funding is good, if you get the school too far away from the parish, in my experience the parish community can lose interest," he said. "It's a delicate balancing act where you keep the parish involved but you have regional sharing."
In early spring, Carlson plans to announce strategies that he hopes won't become contentious.
"With any huge effort, people will like this part and that part, but they may not like everything," he said. "Hopefully we've listened well and we can craft something which can be successful here in St. Louis."
22 December 2010
A few weeks after his elevation to the College of Cardinals by the Holy Father, His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke is coming home to St. Louis.
CHRISTMAS 2010: A MIDNIGHT MASS TO REMEMBER
CHRISTMAS MASSES AT THE ORATORY
Friday, December 24 – Vigil of Christmas
8:00 am, Low Mass
Christmas Carols 11:30pm, Solemn Midnight Mass
Saturday, December 25 – Nativity of Our Lord
8:00 am, Low Mass; 10:00, High Mass
Sunday, December 26 – Sunday in the Octave of Christmas
8:00 am, Low Mass; 10:00 am High Mass
Friday, December 31 - 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas
8:00am Low Mass; 5:00pm Benediction & Te Deum
(Plenary Indulgence available at Benediction)
Saturday, January 1- Circumcision of Our Lord
8:00 am, Low Mass; 10:00 am High Mass
Sunday, January 2 - Holy Name of Jesus
8:00 am, Low Mass; 10:00 High Mass
Thursday, January 6 - Epiphany
8:00am Low Mass; 12:15 Low Mass; 6:30pm High Mass
NEW SIGN AT ST. FRANCIS DE SALES ORATORY
21 December 2010
The news from STLToday:
Missouri, Illinois to lose one congressional seat each
Bonus video for CP and all other former disco-ers:
20 December 2010
Well, I saw this article on the Mises Institute site about the economic flaws of this movie (and "Miracle on 34th Street"), and thought I would share the relevant excerpt. It bears noting that the Mises Institute is not a specifically pro- or anti- Christian organization, but focuses on free market economics. By ignoring the essential element of religion and faith, it of course falls short of providing a really accurate economic philosophy-- a shortfall shared by all economic and political theories which fail to account for the truth of the Catholic faith.
So, don't take this excerpt as being in complete accord with my own views, but I do think it raises some pertinent points. After dissecting "Miracle on 34th Street", it continues:
["It's a Wonderful] Life" is a more ambitious film, with an intricate plot stretching from 1919 to 1947. George Bailey has spent what he regards as an unfulfilled life in the town of Bedford Falls running a "Building & Loan" association founded by his late father. A good man, he is less interested in profits than in helping people buy decent housing. He makes loans on the basis of character rather than demonstrated creditworthiness, with no indication given of the default rate.
Bailey is hated by Henry Potter, an angry cripple who "owns half the town," one of whose ventures is renting badly maintained tenements to the poor. To Potter, Bailey is "not a businessman" because he has "high ideals, so-called" and he contemptuously asks Bailey if he is "running a business or a charity ward."
What is not explained--what is never explained about the vindictive tycoons of fiction--is where Potter gets his money. (In the depths of the Depression, he is waited on by liveried servants.) He can't have made a fortune renting a few hovels, and none of the properties he owns will bring in a penny unless they offer something people want. So, although he is shown doing nothing but pushing other people around, Potter must be providing a valuable service or selling something in great demand.
Potter gets his first chance to break Bailey during the 1933 run on the banks, when Bailey's panicky stockholders want their investments back. Potter has already saved (and acquired) the remaining independent banks of Bedford Falls by guaranteeing their loans in exchange for control, and he tempts Bailey's stockholders by offering to guarantee the loans owed to the association if they sell him their shares at half price. But Bailey foils Potter's plan to capture his company by tiding his stockholders over with small loans from his own pocket until the banks re-open.
Let's stop the music here to ask why Potter would tender his offer. Presumably, Potter was willing to take over the banks because he believed there was money to be made from owning them. If he wants Bailey's B&L, he must likewise believe it is profitable, and that the loans outstanding will be repaid. But why would he think this if, as he says, "Bailey has never made a dime?" Why would he buy something worthless for any fraction of its original price, or guarantee loans he thinks he will end up paying?
It is suggested that Potter is driven by pure spite, but if so, if he is willing to take a loss just to hurt Bailey, he is acting directly contrary to profit-maximization. Perhaps Potter hopes that buying out Bailey will give him a housing monopoly, allowing him to raise rents as much as he pleases. But he must also realize that he is powerless to prevent other upstart lenders from invading his market by offering comparable services at lower costs.
Closely related issues are raised by Bailey's most idealistic venture, a development of attractive private homes meant for the likes of Potter's tenants. Bailey shows his essential goodness by personally helping the humble Mr. Martini, his umpteen children, and even his goat move in. Potter, of course, is further infuriated--when he should be asking how Mr. Martini can afford his new digs, or, equivalently, how Bailey could afford to build them.
However carefully Bailey controls costs (no more carefully than Potter, one assumes), his nice houses must be more expensive to construct than tenements. If the interest on the Martini mortgage comes to no more than the rent for a Potter-built hovel, Bailey will lose money or make very little, his stockholders will pull out, and Bailey will be left bankrupt. If on the other hand Bailey does charge more than Potter but Martini can and is willing to pay it, why did Martini live in squalor for so long when he could have moved elsewhere or, indeed, taken out a mortgage on a new house? In other words, if Potter's slums are overpriced, Bailey has filled a market niche attractive to any entrepreneur, occupation of which does not require moralistic huffing and puffing.
Potter finally gets his chance to ruin Bailey when Bailey's drunken uncle, loyally retained as financial officer (don't Bailey's stockholders care about personnel policy?), unwittingly leaves $8,000 of the firm's money on Potter's wheelchair. Potter of course keeps it, and, with the money missing, Bailey faces imprisonment. He is about to kill himself when an "angel, 2nd class" intervenes, showing Bailey that his life has been well-spent because of the good he has done. Bailey embraces life anew, and, in the final scene, everyone he has helped over the years chips in to lend him the missing money. There is not a dry eye in the house.
It seems to have eluded the creators of Life that two key elements of this denouement work against the profit-is-dubious, altruism-is-good message. First Potter's knowingly keeping the $8,000 is not a market transaction, since the money is someone else's property not acquired in a voluntary exchange. Potter's malefaction is just the sort of behavior the market forbids, and if discovered would lead to criminal penalties.
Second is the matter of the angel, Clarence, commissioned by Higher Powers to save Bailey from suicide. Now, Clarence is a bit of a bumbler who has spent several centuries in Heaven without getting his wings, and he is told at the outset that he will get his wings if he saves Bailey.
Of course, Clarence does not undertake the mission for the purely self-interested purpose of advancing himself. He is as kind as angels should be, and really wants to help. But the fact is that he does not save Bailey as an act of pure goodness, and the audience is expected to rejoice when, as a result of his efforts, he rises in the celestial hierarchy. Even in Heaven it is recognized that useful services should be rewarded.
I'm frankly pleasantly surprised that the report criticizes the police and finally admits that bogus terrorism fears are being cynically used to intrude on our private lives.
17 December 2010
During the commercial I was pleasantly surprised to hear the voice of Billy Devaney, General Manager of the Rams. Good for him.
Apparently, he has been assisting Birthright for a while. From an August press release (if you follow the link, there are two radio spots featuring Devaney-- the one on the right is more extensive):
RAMS GM BILLY DEVANEY TEAMS UP WITH BIRTHRIGHT COUNSELING, ST. LOUIS TO HELP WOMEN WITH UNPLANNED PREGNANCIES
St. Louis, August 23, 2010 — St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney is teaming up with Birthright Counseling, St. Louis. As adoptive parents, Billy and his wife understand the value; Birthright Counseling brings to the St. Louis community. "My wife and I are grateful to the young woman who chose life for our son and we'd like to help other mothers facing similar circumstances here in St. Louis. Birthright Counseling provides the practical assistance and emotional support many pregnant women are lacking in order to continue the life of their unborn babies." says Billy Devaney.
Mr. Devaney has recorded several Public Service Announcements and is a proud supporter of Birthright Counseling. St. Louis.
16 December 2010
15 December 2010
Cum autem tradent vos nolite cogitare quomodo aut quid loquamini dabitur enim vobis in illa hora quid loquamini. Non enim vos estis qui loquimini sed Spiritus Patris vestri qui loquitur in vobis.
“In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors - all the ancient priests, bishops and kings - all that was once the glory of England, the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter. For what have we taught, however you may qualify it with the odious name of treason, that they did not uniformly teach? To be condemned with these lights… by their degenerate descendants, is both gladness and glory to us. God lives; posterity will live; their judgement is not so liable to corruption as that of those who are now going to sentence us to death.”
--Saint Edmund Campion, at his sentencing, 1581
On 1st December 1581 Edmund Campion was dragged through the streets of London to be executed at Tyburn by the contemporary method of hanging, drawing and quartering. This involved being stripped of one's clothing, taken to the scaffold and hanged for a short period, but only to cause strangulation and near-death; then being cut down, disembowelled, and normally emasculated. Those still conscious at this point would have seen their entrails burnt or boiled before them, before their heart was removed. The body was then decapitated, signalling an unquestionable death, and quartered (chopped into four pieces). Each dismembered piece of the body was later displayed publicly.
Saint Edmund Campion, pray for us.
14 December 2010
13 December 2010
The RFT's story painted this as hypocrisy by the Church, because it didn't see fit to ask Judge Mooney to recuse himself in two other cases. The headline with which I took issue gave the impression that the Archdiocese was "demanding" Mooney's recusal because he was gay.
My rejoinder was essentially that his comments, and not his self-identified orientation, was the reason for the request. And then I suggested a more accurate headline.
Today's RFT blog takes on my post:
Catholic Blogger Tutors RFT on Headline Writing, Moral Law
by Chad Garrison
December 13, 2010
The blog St. Louis Catholic has responded to a story Daily RFT posted last week concerning the archdiocese's lawsuit against St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish.
As we revealed, attorneys for the St. Louis archdiocese sought and received the recusal of a gay judge who was to hear an appeal involving its lawsuit against St. Stan's. To us, such a move was newsworthy, considering A) It's never been reported, and B) Missouri law prohibits bias in regards to sexual orientation in the courtroom.
Here, though, is how St. Louis Catholic, saw it:
The Riverfront Times (on its blog) has now put its nose into matters touching the natural moral law. Historically, its experience in this area consisted largely of running ads for strip clubs and publishing dicey "massage" ads in its classified section. Now, it has decided to branch out and preach to the Catholic Church.
About what? The truth that homosexual acts are gravely contrary to the moral law. Why? To try to bolster Mr. Bozek's legal case.
Because the archdiocese requested its recusal of Judge Lawrence Mooney based on a letter he sent Archbishop Raymond Burke in which he wrote that he would be unable to attend a special mass because of the church's "chronic abuse of gays and lesbians," the blogger argued that our headline should have read:
Judge Who Had Written to the Archbishop that the Teaching of the Catholic Church on Homosexuality Constituted "Chronic Abuse of Gays and Lesbians" Recused Himself from Appeal Involving the Archdiocese, Records Show
Rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?.
Here, though, is what is most galling about the St. Louis Catholic's account of the RFT article. It omits the fact that, between the time that Mooney sent his letter to Burke and the time he was appointed to hear the St. Stan's appeal, Mooney sat in on two other appeals involving the archdiocese. In those cases, the archdiocese never asked for him to recuse himself. And, in fact, Mooney and his colleagues ruled in favor of the archdiocese in those appeals.
Update: Daily RFT has just learned that both those cases John Doe v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and Matt Doe v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis both alleged sexual abuse by priests. In the appeal of those cases, Mooney and his panel agreed with the archdiocese that the statute of limitations had passed on the sex claims.
So, yes, it is curious that the archdiocese and its attorneys would wait until the St. Stan's appeal to unearth the private correspondence between Mooney and Burke and use it as reason to ask for his recusal. Even weirder, is that despite Mooney's sexual orientation, they believe he's more competent to hear a case about sexual abuse than the one involving St. Stanislaus which, at its core, is a debate over money.
OK, first and foremost, I love the criticism of the headline. Anyone who reads this blog for a nanosecond will certainly agree that little I write "rolls off the tongue". Kudos for that. But I really wasn't trying to engage in a journalistic headline contest but to point out the error in, and misleading nature of, the RFT headline.
But as for the more substantive criticism of my post, I stand by what I wrote. The original RFT story, not repudiated by this latest post, leaves the reader with the impression that Mooney was asked to recuse himself because he is a self-identified homosexual. RFT maintains that despite the previous comments indicating the Judge's anti-Catholic position with regard to teaching on human sexuality, it was not relevant to the current case anymore than the two intervening cases.
First of all, I linked to the RFT story in my original post, and it cited the two other cases involing this judge, decided after the correspondence with the Archbishop. So, I didn't hide the fact, I just judged it as irrelevant as I do now. The other two cases involved statutes of limitation issues, which are more questions of law than fact. Bias, real or perceived, is far less a factor in an interpretation of a statute. Furthermore, the issue of the Church's teaching on human sexuality was not at issue in the other cases, which dealt with deviant behavior condemned by the Church. Whatever the faults of the Church's handling of those cases, it cannot be argued that such behavior constitutes the Church's teaching. These cases serve to show, if anything, that the Archdiocese was not motivated by the proclivities of the Judge, but rather moved to recuse only when it was relevant to the case.
And how are the Judge's comments relevant in the St. Stan's case? Well, in a significant way, for the following reasons:
1. An issue in this case is whether the parish is Catholic or not, which is in question due to the rejection of many Church teaching by the leadership there, including the teachings about human sexuality.
2. "Gay marriage", the condemnation of which is presumably part of what Mooney called "chronic abuse of gays and lesbians", is specifically supported by Mr. Bozek and his crew.
3. This case turns on factual determinations to a large degree, and on credibility issues as well.
In such a circumstance, the request for recusal seems obvious and natural. Judge Mooney's acquiescence to the request speaks well for him. The RFT tries to make something out of this that it isn't. Hence my criticisms.
But thanks for the shout-out.
This time, "SLU students" have invited Todd Salzman, the Chairman of the theology department at Creighton University (a subject for an Omaha Catholic blog, should that exist), to speak at the 6th Annual Undergraduate Marriage and Dating Conference. I put quotation marks around "SLU students", because that is how it is described at the linked story, but I am sceptical that anyone could be a keynote speaker for any conference at the University without faculty or administration acquiescence.
Salzman's best known work, "The Sexual Person", has been censured by the USCCB as containing serious errors with regard to moral issues concerning human sexuality. So, it may come as no shock to you that the book was positively reviewed by a SLU professor. From the full article at STLToday:
In a review of the book for the National Catholic Reporter in January 2009, Julie Hanlon Rubio, an associate professor of Christian ethics at SLU, wrote that "The Sexual Person" was "among the most important works in Catholic sexual ethics to emerge in the last two decades," and that its authors 'stand firmly within the Catholic tradition even as they argue for significant changes." (Lawler and Salzman cite Rubio's own work in the book.)
Only a mainstream "Catholic" University professor could write something as inane as that someone could stand "firmly" within Catholic tradition while arguing for "significant changes". Do these people have any idea of the faith? But I digress.
The Archbishop of Omaha, and even the USCCB--ponder that for a moment-- took a different view:
But while Catholic theologians were enthusiastic about the work, the magesterium saw things differently. Even before the book's publication, the archbishop of Omaha had criticized articles by Lawler and Salzman saying they had argued for "the moral legitimacy of some homosexual acts," and that their theology was "in serious error" and "cannot be considered authentic Catholic teaching."
After "The Sexual Person" was published, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committee on doctrine began examining the Creighton professors' conclusions.
In September, the committee of nine bishops issued a 24-page statement on the "Inadequacies in the Theological Methodology and Conclusions" of "The Sexual Person." The authors, it said, "reach erroneous conclusions on a whole range of issues, including the morality of pre-marital sex, contraception and artificial insemination."
The bishops concluded that the ideas in "The Sexual Person" were "clearly in contradiction to the authentic teaching of the Church, cannot provide a true norm for moral action and in fact are harmful to one's moral and spiritual life."
One might legitimately ask why a theologian so censured by the national conference of bishops is allowed to teach theology at a Catholic University, but this type of situation exists at so many Catholic colleges that one wonders why they are not all placed under interdict.
In a similar case a couple of years back, Cardinal Burke asked Aquinas School of Theology to disinvite another dissident theologian, Peter Phan, from speaking there. Aquinas complied.
In this case, according to the article:
Salzman expressed concern that, since the event was student sponsored, the students themselves might be mixed up in the debate. At the same time, he said, "It's important for them to get various sides of a position, and I think there's no better place to discuss these controversial issues than within the Catholic university setting."
In a written statement to the Post-Dispatch, Carlson said only that he knew of the bishops' September document on "The Sexual Person."
"I am aware of that statement and support it," Carlson wrote.
12 December 2010
10 December 2010
Catholic colleges must combat secularism, says Cardinal Burke in Boston
By Christine M. Williams
BOSTON -- "The name 'Catholic' accepts no qualifiers," Cardinal Raymond Burke said in his first public address since elevated to join the College of Cardinals on Nov. 20.
His comment was met with resounding applause from supporters of Thomas More College in Merrimack, N.H. at their annual President's Council Dinner. The event was held at the Harvard Club in Boston on Dec. 4.
To a culture full of ambiguity and moral relativism, Burke speaks decisively about right and wrong.
He told those gathered at the Thomas More College dinner to be wary of Catholic organizations that brand their names with adjectives and modifying phrases. He lamented the practice of many colleges qualifying their identity, calling themselves things like "Catholic university in the Franciscan or Jesuit tradition." This 'tradition' has little to do with the great tradition of the universal Church, he said.
The name Catholic has its full authentication, he added.
Secularism in the United States has created a "culture of violence and death" that denies the dignity of human life, integrity of marriage and right order of relationships between people. Now more than ever, the Church needs Catholic institutions of higher learning to form their students in the faith properly, he said.
"At the Catholic university, the very manner of study and research should manifest the bankruptcy of the abuse of human life and human sexuality which has come to be standard on many university campuses," he said. "How tragic that the very secularism which a Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission."
One of the first things every Catholic college must address is the "prevalent and utterly destructive error of our time that somehow faith is contradicted by reason," he said.
Students must be equipped to address the truth in their personal lives and society so that they will be able to resist the "secularist dictatorship" that seeks to exclude all religious discourse from the professions and from public life, he said.
In a time marked by religious illiteracy, when many young Catholics are poorly catechized, Catholic schools must teach scripture and tradition. Students must study the fathers of the Church and approved theologians -- above all St. Thomas Aquinas.
"There is really no place for engaging in speculative theology and certainly no time to waste on superficial and tendentious theological writing of the time. What sense does it make, for example, to engage students in the discussion of the possibility of the addition of women to Holy Orders when the students have little or no knowledge of the consistent teaching of the scriptures and tradition on the holy priesthood and on the reservation of priestly ordination to men?" he said.
Cardinal Burke stressed that the primary instructor at every Catholic university must be Jesus Christ. Christ who is alive in his Church must be taught, encountered in the liturgy and followed by leading a life of virtue. Otherwise, the school is not worthy of the name Catholic, he said.
"The presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the campus of the college and university is not something additional to or even extraneous to the pursuit of truth. It is rather he alone who can inspire, guide and discipline the professors and students so that they remain faithful in the pursuit and do not fall prey to the temptation which Satan cleverly offers to corrupt us every time we set out to obtain a great good," he said.