30 September 2011

Prayer Request

Out of your charity I would ask for prayers for the repose of the soul of my wife's stepfather, who died suddenly last night, and for her mother, who is in grief and shock today.

Thank you. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace.  Amen.  May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

29 September 2011

Beauty: the Key to Converting a World Remarkably Adept at Denying Christ

A holy priest sent me the link to this blog post at Virtuous Planet.  The author makes an excellent case for the truth of Beauty, a truth that necessarily compels the soul towards God.  Rather than excerpt it, I urge you to read the entire post here and then come back.  I'll wait.

OK?  This is one of things that most strongly draws me to the "conversion style" (this phrase is obviously inadequate but you'll get my gist) of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  Salesian in its approach, Benedictine in the focus on liturgy, and Thomistic in content, the Institute primarily attracts by its attention to beauty in all facets of the Catholic life.

More generally, this is why the traditional Mass, or the Extraordinary Form as it is called, will always attract souls to God and bring about the sanctification of Catholics far better-- far, far better-- than the Ordinary Form.  The soul is lost in the beauty and transcendence of it; the soul needn't contribute to the cacophony of or endure the relatively poor didactic tone of the Ordinary Form.  One meets the beautiful, and therefore one meets God.

As cult informs culture, so too will the restoration of our ancient liturgy, handed down by our spiritual fathers and shaped by the Holy Ghost, renew and restore the culture of our world.  Yes, the process will take time, and time is running out.  But no other way will serve. 

St. Michael the Archangel, Defender of Holy Mother Church, pray for us.

Training Them Young

If you thought that the bullfighting discussion was cutting-edge, just wait until you hear I've been keeping tabs on the Mehlville-Oakville Patch-- THE publication of record for South Countians.

One of my favorite readers sent me an opinion piece from that site on the antics of high school cheerleaders-- in this case, those from Oakville High School.  The actions that shocked her I have also seen from a local Catholic grade school cheerleader squad during an 8th grade basketball tournament.  So, this kind of routine isn't springing like Athena out of the heads of high-schoolers, either.

Moreover, my lovely wife Sharon used to be a member of the Oakville High flag corps during happier days, and the enmity between the cheerleaders and the flag corps is only slightly less intense than that of the Serpent and the Woman.  So, I thought she'd get a kick out of this.  Back in the '80s, the amount of hair spray employed to get that big hair look made any inter-squad squabble as flammable as the rumble of the network news teams in Anchorman.

Anyway, the relevant parts of the full op-ed are below.  For a hoot, check out the comments at the original story, and decide for yourself what would happen to Catholics if we ever really moved from being merely  disagreeable to becoming seriously inconvenient.

Dance Teams: Little Girls are Watching

Why a Mehlville mom thinks the dance squads need to refocus their style.

by Jenny Wescoat

My husband and son were decked out in all green and ready to cheer on Mehlville, while I grumbled around the house, trying to dig up some black and gold maternity clothes. We were headed to the Oakville-Mehlville football game, with our family split on loyalties...

The atmosphere at Oakville High School was great, with the crowd excited and engaged in the game. We had a fantastic time and my 4-year-old daughter only had eyes for the cheerleaders. My 1-year-old laughed and clapped every time the Tiger mascot did a silly dance, and my 6-year-old son continued taunting me, even as Oakville was winning.

We settled in at half time, ready to be entertained. When the Golden Girls and Pantherettes arrived on the track, I thought they looked really cute in their sparkly jackets and coordinating glitter tennis shoes. But the routine they proceeded to perform actually caused me to cover my little 4-year-old girl’s eyes.

I admit it’s been quite a while since I went to Oakville, but something has certainly changed. While the Golden Girls of my high school days were known to sometimes include a suggestive move here or there, their routines mostly showcased sunny smiles, impressive kick lines and precision dance moves.

This routine was different. The medley of songs was suggestive (Janet Jackson’s "Nasty Boys" was the final choice). I was thankful that the speakers muffled a lot of words, and the dance routine was riddled with moves that were obscene. What caused me to look away and cover my daughter’s eyes, however, was the look on the girls’ faces. For much of the dance, smiles were replaced with a “come hither” look. These girls had serious eyes and open, pouty lips.

You may think that obscene is a strong word. But when you consider that it’s not only teens and their parents who attend local football games, but also a little girl with her eyes full of glamorous older girls, there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with that platform of performance.

If the girls on these teams look back, many might remember idolizing cheerleaders and pom pom girls, just as my little daughter does. I want to challenge the girls on these teams to refocus their attention to using their talent to perform well. Every woman on the planet has the tools to seduce, but not everybody can dance. That takes talent. Seduction does not.

...I would encourage their parents to consider the objectification of their daughters on the football field track. It smacks of child sexualization to the tune of "Toddlers and Tiaras," just at an older age. Yes, your daughters are probably thrilled to be on the dance team, but at what price?

...I would ask [the girls themselves] to seriously consider the impact of their choices. There are so many television shows, magazines and models screaming at young girls that the value of women lies in their sexuality. Don’t join the ranks.

You have an opportunity to be a hero to little girls and to perfect your sport* in the name of excellence. Don’t sell it short by dealing only in the currency of sex.
*Don't worry, we all know cheerleading isn't a real sport.  But it's a necessary part of the P.C. myth, so roll with it.


Today is the great feast day of the Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel.  The following sequence written for this day comes from Adam of St. Victor, and can be found in Gueranger's Liturgical Year.

Let love break forth into praise; let our choir sing in presence of the heavenly citizens : our praise will be pleasing and beautiful, if the purity of our hearts be in accord therewith.

Let all praise Michael; let none deprive himself of this day's joy. O happy day! whereon the solemn victory of the holy Angels is recorded.

The old dragon is cast out, and all his hostile legions put to flight: the disturber is himself disturbed, the accuser is hurled down from the height of heaven.

Under Michael's protection, there is peace on earth, peace in heaven, praise and exultation; for he, mighty and valorous, stands for the safety of all and triumphs in the battle.

Banished from heaven, the originator of sin wanders through the air: he watches to lay his snares, and insinuates his poison; but the guardian band of Angels reduces his power to nought.

The three distinct hierarchies are ever occupied in contemplation and unending song; nor does their contemplation nor their ceaseless harmony interrupt their continual ministry.

Oh! in the heavenly city how wondrous is the charily of the three tripled choirs; they love us and defend us, and hope to see their ranks filled up by us.

As among men there are divers graces on earth, so in the heavenly reward the just will receive divers degrees of glory; other is the excellence of the sun, other that of the moon, and various the brightness of the stars: so shall be the resurrection.

Let th« old man be brought into conformity to the new, the earthly to the purity of the heavenly citizens; he is one day to be equal to them, and though not yet wholly pure, let him in hope look forward to the prize.

That we may be assisted by these blessed spirits, let us devoutly venerate them, and be untiring in our homage; sincere devotion reconciles to Ood and unites us with the Angels.

Meanwhile let us be silent as to the secrets of heaven, and lift up pure minds and spotless hands on high:

Thus may the most high senate recognise us as coheirs; and may the divine grace be praised alike by angels and men.

To our divine Head be glory, and among his members union. Amen.

28 September 2011

The Morality of the Bullfight

Always topical, Saint Louis Catholic is here to set your mind at ease on one of the most contentious and current controversies facing Catholics in the American Midwest:  the morality of the Spanish corrida de toros, or bullfight.

I know, I know.  You were just discussing this very topic with your spouse at breakfast.  You already made an appointment with your spiritual director concerning it.  But, since I ran a story this week on the last bullfight in Catalonia, I thought this might be of use to anyone who likes, hates, or who wants to see, someday, a bullfight.

As usual, the Catholic Encyclopedia has good information.  And, unsurprisingly, the Popes have weighed in the morality of it.

The short answer to the question of whether it is morally licit to see, promote, or participate in a bullfight is this:  yes.

After an initial condemnation of the bullfighting by Pope St. Pius V in 1567, this condemnation was modified and later mostly lifted by subsequent Popes.  IN 1597, Pope Clement VIII reduced any prohibition to a mere common law and this prohibition was limited only to the clergy and on holidays.

Now, it is important to note that the modern bullfight was developed in the mid-eighteenth century, and thus all of the prohibitions, large and small, were directed against a different type of bullfight, the origins of which can be traced to Moorish Spain.  If you are interested in the history of the bullfight, click here to read the Catholic Encyclopedia entry.

As a moral issue, the consensus is that there is nothing immoral in the bullfight. From the CE entry: 

Moralists as a rule are of the opinion that bull-fighting as practised in Spain is not forbidden by the natural law, since the skill and dexterity of the athletes precludes immediate danger of death or of serious injury (cf. P.V, Casus conscientiae, Vromant, Brussels, 1895, 3d ed., I, 353, 354; Gury-Ferreres, Comp. Th. mor., Barcelona, 1906, I, n. 45). Even in Spain and Spanish America they have been forbidden to clergymen and religious, by Pius V, as well as by the Plenary Council for Spanish America (n. 650; cf. also C. prov., Vallisol., I, p. 5, tit. 1, n. 11). The Bishop of Ciudad Rodrigo received the same answer from the Penitentiaria (19 September, 1893). 

So, there you have it.  You may now train to be a matador.  Or at least see a bullfight with a clean conscience.  And as to the sensibilities of some, the Catholic Encyclopedia hits the nail with an observation I made the other day: 

It is worthy of note that foreigners who have been present at bull-fights are not so harsh in their judgments as those who have formed an opinion from what they have heard about them from the societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

Chances that Anyone Reading This Post Will Care? Zero.

Hey pal, you got any illegal nachos in there?
And to me, that is the story.

The Green Bay Packers will use TSA-style wands to search every person seeking to enter the stadium to watch a football game.  No big deal.  After all, they're not doing body-cavity searches, pat-downs, or porno-scanners, right?

It's all about keeping people safe, right?

After all, because there were exactly zero incidents of mass violence in the last fifty years at Lambeau without any body searches, it stands to reason that we should have them now.

But I guess I'm alone in thinking that the indignities to which we will submit to live our ordinary lives at least merits recognition.  If terrorists can strike Lambeau, they can strike your supermarket.  They can hit the little league game.  They could even be UNDER. YOUR. BED!

Checkpoints, searches, conformity under threat-- these are characteristics of a police state.

Enjoy the game.

Facebook ReallyReallyReally Likes You

We know we are tracked on certain websites.  We know that certain devices we love to use also track us.  What few knew was that Facebook kept tracking you after you logged out.

From the UK Daily Mail:

'We didn't mean to track you' says Facebook as social network giant admits to 'bugs' in new privacy row

Reminder: Archbishop Carlson to Visit St. Francis de Sales Oratory on Sunday, October 9

I posted on this earlier, but I wanted to give a reminder as the day is fast approaching.  His Grace, the Most Reverend Robert Carlson, Archbishop of Saint Louis, will make a pastoral visit to St. Francis de Sales Oratory and assist at 10 am Solemn High Mass.  Map and directions at the link.

He will visit with the faithful after Mass at a reception in the Oratory hall.

All are welcome.  Please invite family and friends to join us in greeting the Archbishop.

26 September 2011

A Benedictine Sees the Connection between St. Benedict and St. Francis de Sales

I am very happy to post a link to this blog entry by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, the Prior of the Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa, OK.  As a member of an Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, this connection between Saints Benedict and Francis de Sales (which is made explicit in the Institute's choice of them, along with St. Thomas Aquinas, as its co-patrons) was one of the hallmarks of their spirituality that drew me to the Institute.
Dom Mark, who lately has worked with Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God in the establishment of that association in Tulsa, has seen the connection in a new light, as the rule of St. Benedict is adopted for this order whose patron is St. Francis de Sales.

All proceeds from the love of God, in which love we can have confidence:


Saint Francis de Sales & the Rule of Saint Benedict

Holiness Is Symphonic

The symphonic quality of holiness is a glorious thing orchestrated in Christ, by the Holy Ghost, to the praise of the Father. The teaching of certain saints wonderfully complement and elucidate the teachings of others. In this way, from one saint to the next, the ascetical and mystical theology of the Church develops organically through the ages.

Being Catholic

I have never been comfortable with narrow and confining attachments to particular schools or spiritualities. Benedictines are catholic: open to all that is true and good and beautiful in the Church of Christ. Benedictines in every age have known how to appropriate and integrate into life according to the Holy Rule, a diversity of spiritual sensibilities and attractions. Dom Jean Baptiste Muard, O.S.B. (1809-1854), the founder of the Abbey of La-Pierre-Qui-Vire, placed his monastery under the protection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque!

Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Benedict

My work, of late, with Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God and the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope, has afforded me an opportunity to consider the very "Benedictine" qualities of Saint Francis de Sales. There is a striking correspondence between the Patriarch of Monastic Life in the West and the Doctor of Divine Love.

Quite unexpectedly -- and providentially -- I came across a text written by a Benedictine abbot of the last century. Dom Romain Banquet (1840-1929), the saintly founder of the Abbey of En-Calcat, maintains that Benedictines are bound to love Saint Francis de Sales! Why? Because the spirit Saint Francis de Sales gave to the Order of the Visitation is, in essence, that of the Rule of Saint Benedict: gentleness and moderation; a gracious accommodation to weakness; meekness and humility and, above all, charity. Dom Romain Banquet wrote:
At the present time, it is necessary, I think, to resign oneself to establish [monastic] observances with regard to the weakness of temperaments and, by way of compensation, to do what the Beloved asks with such lively insistence: to turn souls entirely to the interior life, to union with Jesus, and to the little virtues of daily life.
We must love Saint Francis de Sales, because the spirit that animated him and that he gave so well to the Visitation is precisely the spirit of our Order [of Saint Benedict]. It would be easy to prove this by the study of the Rule and by the history of our first saints. One pays too much attention to their austerities, necessary in their time in order to master the bodies that nature had given them, exuberant with vigour. One does not pay enough attention to the spirit of interiority and of prayer with which they were filled.

Another One Bites the Dust

Another immemorial custom, that is.  Catalonia, that second-most unruly province of Spain, witnessed its last bullfight for the foreseeable future last night.  The effort to end the corrida was part-animal rights treacle, part-regional anti-Castillian politics.

Hemingway said, and for once I agree with him, that it is impossible for a person to really "get" a bullfight unless he has seen one.  Ahead of time, one might think they know how they will react, but it all goes out the window inside the arena.  He saw the toughest men go queasy, and the most delicate ladies embrace it.

In short, it is one of those most Spanish of things that are being thrown into the gutter-- down the memory hole.  Just like the Catholic faith.

From the UK Telegraph:

The last Ole! Bullfighting comes to an end in Catalonia

Almost seven hundred years of Catalan bullfighting history ended on Sunday night with the final death blow dealt by its hometown hero.

by Fiona Govan

While Jose Tomas, Spain’s finest matador, was the undisputed star of the evening, the honour of killing the last bull on Catalan soil fell to torero Serafin Marin, a native of Barcelona.

When Marin delivered the estocada, a half tonne bull dropped to the sand, just as reflections of the sun faded in the matador’s suit of light.

On a day when bloodthirsty spectacle was staged for the last time, Spain’s leading exponent of the sport took a triumphant bow in his favourite arena.

The final Ole! at La Monumental arena in central Barcelona marked the end of an era and cast the uneasy relationship between the Catalans and Spain into thick swirl of emotion.

The 18,000 seats for the region’s last ever bullfight sold out within hours and tickets traded on the black market commanding more than ten times their face value. A few were touted on the internet for as much as 1,500 euros each.

Even the posters that advertised the event became an instant collector’s item.

The limited editions prints, commissioned especially from Spanish artist Miquel Barcelo, have been disappearing from hoardings across the Catalan capital.

Queues formed outside the distributers as fans clamoured to get their hands on the piece of history.

Tomas can reportedly command a fee of up to half a million euros for each appearance and attracts aficionados from the world over.

He refuses to allow his bullfights to be televised, adding to the mystique surrounding him, and last year almost died when he was gored by a bull in Aquascalientes, Mexico surviving only after a 17-pint blood transfusion.

But while his name on the billboard guarantees a sell out, such popularity is rare.

Audiences have been dwindling in Catalonia for decades and the Monumental bullring, the last of three in the city to stage bullfights, rarely managed to fill a third of its seats and has struggled to turn a profit.

The death knell came in July 2010 when Catalonia’s parliament voted to outlaw what many consider a barbaric practice, following a petition by animal rights’ group Prou! — Catalan for “Enough” - which collected 180,000 signatures.

The prohibition comes into force on January 1 next year but the end was marked with the close of the bullfighting season in Barcelona on Sunday.

The ban triggered a furore across Spain and a nationwide debate over the quintessentially Spanish tradition that has inspired artists and writers including Goya, Picasso and Hemingway.

While campaigners celebrated the ban as a victory for animal rights and hoped it would be a tide turner that would lead to the spectacle being abandoned across Spain, many dismissed it as a purely political move.

Critics claim local politicians had agreed the ban on an activity seen as the symbol of Castillian Spain as a way of proving their independence from Madrid and distinguishing the region from the rest of Spain.

Marin, 29, decried the ban.

“The parliament has prohibited bullfights because it is a “Spanish fiesta” — the ultimate symbol of Spanish nationalism,” he said an interview ahead of the bullfight. “The ban has nothing to do with animal welfare.” Indeed, many have questioned how Catalonia can ban “la corrida” while continuing to allow other bull related cruelties, such as the “correbous”, where a bull with flaming torches attached to its horns is chased through the streets.

“They are banning the national fiesta whilst still allowing the Catalan correbous to continue,” Tim Parfitt, British author of “A load of Bull” and a Barcelona resident told the Daily Telegraph. “It is hypocrisy.”

The owner of La Monumental is demanded millions in compensation over the ban and promoters and breeders from across Spain are planning a class action to sue the Catalan authorities over denying them a means to earn a living

23 September 2011

UHB Talk

Nick:  You haven't seen this?  (Stops and briefly unbuttons collar.)  Detachable collar -- not many people wear them anymore.  They look much better.  So many things which were better in the past have been abandoned for supposed convenience.

Tom:  I had no idea anyone wore those anymore.  

Nick:  It's a small thing, but symbolically important.  Our parents' generation was never interested in keeping up standards.  They wanted to be "happy", but of course the last way to be "happy" is to make it your objective in life.

Tom:  I wonder if our generation is any better than our parents'.  

Nick:  It's far worse.  Our generation is probably the worst since ... the Protestant Reformation.  It's barbaric, but a barbarism even worse than the old-fashioned kind.  Now barbarism is cloaked with all sorts of self-righteousness and moral superiority ... (Pause.)

Tom:  You're obviously talking about a lot more than detachable collars ...

Nick:  Yeah, I am.  


From Metropolitan, by Whit Stillman

Missouri Will Soon Fund Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

This press release comes from Missouri Right to Life.  The lies that pushed Amendment 2 into law will now be joined by the rationalizations of legislators from both parties who have ensured that taxpayer money will fund the cloning of, involuntary experimentation on, and killing of unborn babies.

In case you don't recall, Amendment 2 was written in such a way that this immoral funding, once given, can never be cut.

Congratulations to Missouri for taking such a bold step down the road to perdition.
Missouri House Votes to Fund Human Cloning 

And Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The following statement can be attributed to Pam Fichter, President Missouri Right to Life:

Today, the Missouri House followed the Missouri Senate in supporting public funding of human cloning and embryonic stem cell research by supporting the Senate version of the Missouri Science Innovation and Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) by a vote of 94 yes, 48 no, with 17 legislators absent.  Prior to the final vote on the SB 7, the House rejected a pro-life amendment supported by Missouri Right to Life preventing unethical research by a vote of 68 yes, 74 no, with 17 legislators not voting.

MOSIRA sets up a fund, channeled through the state budget, to be administered by the pro-cloning Missouri Technology Corporation, to provide state money and/or tax incentives for new technology businesses, including businesses engaged in human life sciences research.  This legislation gives to the cloning industry the funding they sought with their deceitful $30 million campaign for Amendment 2 which narrowly passed in 2006 largely because voters believed they were actually banning human cloning with their support.

In spite of the promise of those who funded the pro-Amendment 2 battle that they were not seeking public funding, their efforts to receive that funding have been relentless.  Missouri Right to Life and a minority of legislators stood opposed to their efforts today.

Representative Randy Asbury (R-22) introduced the pro-life amendment and received floor support from  Reps. Stanley Cox (R-118),  Melissa Leach (R-137), Ed Schieffer (D-11), Linda Black (D-107), Nick Marshall (R-30), Wayne Wallingford (R-158),  Bart Korman (R-99),  John Cauthorn (R-21), and John McCaherty (R-90).

Speaking against the pro-life amendment were Representatives Anne Zerr (R-18),  Ryan Silvey (R-38), Chris Kelly (D-24), Mike McGhee (R-122), Thomas Long (R-134) and Speaker-elect Tim Jones (R-89).

The votes on SB 7 show Missouri pro-life citizens which legislators are willing to be consistent in their pro-life principles and to stand up to the powerful pro-cloning lobby and those who do their bidding in the Missouri Capitol.  The votes on SB 7 will be posted on MRL's website later today www.missourilife.org. 

SB 7 now moves to Governor Nixon's desk for approval.  It was a sad day for Missouri pro-lifers, yet those who stood for life will always be victorious. 

22 September 2011


No, that's not a still of a relocation camp featured in some dystopian movie.  No, that isn't Patrick Swayze back there near the fence of the abandoned Drive-In from Red Dawn.  No, that's not even a ---- camp that the government says don't exist.  That is a Post-Dispatch photo of a militarized police officer guarding guarding some students at St. Charles High School while the school was under "lockdown".

There apparently was a threat of some kind of harm to the school, students and teachers contained in a note, say the authorities, and although no one was harmed and no weapons found, the police did get to do a systematic search of the school grounds, lockers, and student possessions.  The students were searched, made to pass through metal detectors, and herded out to the football field under the watchful care of the St. Charles police "Special Response Team".

One of the mothers in the story, expressing relief her daughter was safe, had the quote of the day:

"It's a horrible thing to get a phone call at work and learn your daughter has been targeted," she said.  

I agree with the quote.

A Comforting Thought in Hard Times

"People may say what they like about the decay of Christianity; the religious system that produced green Chartreuse can never really die."

-- Saki
(Nice to see some Chartreusings from 1904)

20 September 2011

Kindergartner Unwittingly Turns In Mom for Drug Use

Who knew Show and Tell was just another way for The Man to get kids to testify against their parents?

I would advise all children out there to refuse to participate in Show and Tell without their lawyer present.

Yes, this is a tragic event that should not be the subject of crass humor; the real reason I posted on it was that the dateline is from Sweet Springs, MO, which is the only place along I-70 to Kansas City where you can get Diet Rite cola ($$ Casey's Mini Mart $$).

From STLToday: 

Boy brings mom's crack pipe to Missouri kindergarten show-and-tell 

 SWEET SPRINGS, Mo. • Officials at a small northwest Missouri elementary school say they were stunned when a kindergarten student brought his mom's crack pipe and some drugs for show-and-tell.

KCTV reports that the boy showed the items on Sept. 6 at Sweet Springs Elementary School. School officials called police.

The boy's 32-year-old mother was arrested and is charged with possession of a controlled substance and child endangerment.

Court records indicate that the teacher told police that the boy had the pipe and "several baggies of crack rocks." Officials say the drugs were worth about $3,700.

A family friend told KCTV5 that the boy is being cared for by relatives.

"They Can Hardly Think Straight in Arkansas"; or the Consequences of Educating Children in Industrial Batches

Thanks to Homeschool Goodies for posting this video.  Please take the time to watch this; while there are certain elements of it with which I disagree or which I think are not necessarily established, it is a very thought-provoking presentation. What I am absolutely convinced of is the inadequacy of the current institutional model of education to form children into intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy adults.

A Friendly Reminder from the Management

Please remember that all posts must have a name attached to them, real or otherwise, in order to be published.  If you need help just look at the instructions above the comment box when you're posting.  Thanks!

18 September 2011

Freedom from Attachment to Worldly Goods

Canon Michael Wiener of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest kindly sent me the text from his sermon today:

Seek ye therefore first the Kingdom of God,
and His justice


Holy Mother Church teaches us by good example.

Good examples are available by the thousands: The lives of the saints give an example of how one can allow oneself to be modeled successfully according to the image of God, the perfect image of the Master. 

Less frequently the Church presents to us bad examples, examples of sin and of refusal to respect and love the will of God: Solomon and his fall, the sinful rich man who ignores the beggar Lazarus wishing to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table – and Judas, the traitor among the apostles, the “son of perdition”. Judas is presented as the chief example of unfaithfulness and rejection of the love of Christ. Judas is one of the few if not the only one of whom we know is in hell.

Judas’ sin of delivering Our Lord is related to the sin of avarice, some say that avarice is the source and beginning of the final sin of delivering Jesus into the hands of his enemies.

“There are two kinds of avarice”, says St. Francis de Sales: “One is temporal, and it is that by which we are avid to acquire wealth, honors and the goods of this life.” The other kind of avarice “clings to what it has and is unwilling to part with it for anything.” Saint Francis explains: “This is highly dangerous and steals in everywhere, even into religion and into spiritual things. We may indeed restrain ourselves from the first kind of avarice, for there are many persons who are not ambitious for amassing much property, fields and houses. But they are few who easily part with what they possess. We find married men with children and a family, for whom they should acquire some things so as to provide for their needs, but who are nevertheless not at all concerned to do this. They squander and dissipate all their substance, and remain poor, weak and miserable all their lives. Yet, they are so avaricious for their freedom, which is their treasure, their wealth, and the noblest thing they have that they cling to it … and will surrender it for nothing else in the world.”

Judas, teaches the holy Doctor, was avaricious with these two kinds of avarice which we have just treated. He was avid to amass riches, to obtain money and more money, and he also concealed and clung to it. “The avaricious man makes a god of his gold and silver”, says Holy Scripture in various places.

What makes the case of Judas’ fall so spectacular is the fact that despite his closeness to the Lord he allowed his interests in money and riches to take the place of faith in and love for the Lord.

In sin the human person confuses means and ends. The things on earth ought to be used as means to our final end, which is Heaven, not as ends in themselves; while the things of God indeed are our final end, and should not be looked upon simply as helps to make this world a more gracious place to live.

“There would have been no wrongdoing at all in carrying the purse and managing the money if he had done as he should, but this disloyal and miserable man did not conduct himself as a faithful procurator, but rather as a thief and a miser. … So that from being an Apostle that he was, he became a devil and sold his Master for money.”

Of course, what aggravates the sin of avarice in the case of Judas is the fact that he was a priest, called and empowered to live out the priestly character in him, to live according to the character of Christ. Avarice and all kinds of purely worldly interests seem to be especially incompatible with the priestly vocation. However, it is especially in priests that these things find roots and attraction.

“Worldliness! Love of stocks and bonds! Luxury! Alcohol! Mention any sin that comes to mind. These are the tails on the falling kites of the priesthood”, says Bishop Fulton Sheen. “But there was already a tear in the garment of holiness before these other forms of nakedness and shame appeared. Our Lord knows where all such overt and scandalous sins started. Maybe they started in a ‘fifteen-minute Mass’, a ‘one-minute thanksgiving’ after Mass … But somewhere, somehow, the man who is a priest because of the Eucharist failed to be a Eucharistic priest.”

Bishop Sheen makes the point very clearly that the sin of avarice which is on the surface of the final sin of Judas is mentioned in the context of Eucharistic piety: “Jesus therefore, six days before the Pasch, came to Bethany, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life.” And when Mary took a pound of precious ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment, Judas said: “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?”

“It was Judas’ lack of faith that hardened his heart and confirmed him in his greed”, says Fulton Sheen. The lack of faith became especially obvious and destructive, we can say, in the moments when Jesus prepares his disciples for His continued presence in the Eucharist: In Bethany and at the last supper. 

In such an Eucharistic moment our Lord makes even the last attempt to save Judas from his own hardened heart.

“He that dips his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me. The Son of man indeed goes, as it is written of him. But woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed.”

And the Lord continues to offer rescue and help in our weaknesses especially effectively in our Eucharistic moments. Only an ever renewed Eucharistic piety, a faithful application of all liturgical wisdom and discipline can help us to keep the eyes directed toward heaven. Only if we allow our heart to be formed and reformed by the graces of God coming to us in the channels of the Sacred Liturgy, we can defend ourselves against our own sinfulness. Only if we learn again and again to see God as our final end, and not as our crutch to make this world a more gracious place to live, we will be able to overcome our sinful attachments to those things which were given to us to find God and to love Him in all eternity.

Seek ye therefore first the Kingdom of God,
and His justice


16 September 2011

The Color of Mass; or, Sharon's Trenchant Drug Humor

My lovely wife Sharon told me about an experience she had yesterday driving through the neighborhood.  On the bijou sign in front of a nearby Catholic parish, she saw an announcement for "Mass in the Grass" this Saturday evening.  The Mass will be celebrated in the park across the street from the consecrated Church (maybe 40 yards away), which will be closed for Mass that evening.

I chalked it up to the usual type of foolishness, thinking to myself, "Hey, if it's a picnic meal, it ought to be in the park."  But Sharon was more dramatically affected.

"Mass in the Grass!" she said, "The only way I'd go is if I had smoked it." *


While we're on the subject of nutty parish activities, I had to pass along this little vignette as some evidence of my satisfaction with our homeschool religion program.

In the bulletin of this parish, alongside notice of "Mass in the Grass", was a letter from the school principal relating to parishioners the progress of their progeny.  The principal wrote about the 7th grade (remember, SEVENTH grade-- which is either one year before, or the year of, confirmation) religion class.

They were given an assignment to write a prayer to God describing their favorite color.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Let it just wash over you.  Bask in it.  Ready?  OK.

The principal published two examples.  Here's one: 

"God, the color I'm praying to you about is orange.  To me orange is a very vibrant and happy color.  It reminds me of all the happy things in my life.  The color orange also makes me think of the sun and all the great sunny days I've had so far and of how many more on are the way.  To me orange also seems like a Thanksgiving color.  When I see this color it's like it's telling me to always be close to my family and to be thankful for them.

So, God, please always remember that I am thankful for the simpler things in life.  Please help me to never lose track of the real things that make me happy like the days that are just 'normal' when I get to be home and to be with my family.  Help me never to forget all the good things that I am blessed with.  Thank you for all the things that are orange to me.  Amen." 

First, I don't want anyone to think I am making fun of this student.  Not at all.  I think, considering the absolute inanity of the assignment, they did the best they could with it.  When I was in 7th grade, I don't know that I could have turned in a prayer to God describing my favorite color without getting an in-school suspension.  I mean, come on.

Perhaps this assignment might have been suitable for first graders, or kindergartners.  See, Billy, talk to God-- He made the colors!  And so on.  Is it any surprise that when the upper classes of a Catholic grade school get this type of fare from their religion curriculum, and participate in some JustFaith social programming, that they are an easy mark for that college roommate that asks them to their protestant Bible study?  Thinking happy thoughts and being taken to Mass in the Grass (if their parents go to Mass) just isn't the type of armor that's needed to resist the secular culture.  These students ought to be getting apologetics and catechism in the classroom and a properly celebrated Mass in Church.

Will they know what it means to be Catholic?

Maybe Sharon had an insight on this Mass in the Grass thing.  I think the religion department is smoking it anyway.

* For the record, my lovely wife is not, nor has been, a user of any illicit drug.  And yes, that includes my wedding day.

15 September 2011

How Does U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East Square with Catholic Teaching?

I post this video by Jack Hunter, the "Southern Avenger", to provoke discussion among Catholics about the state of American foreign policy and its effect on domestic policy in light of Catholic teaching.  Any member of another faith is welcome to comment as well.  But my point here is not to get to the "how/who" of 9/11 (i.e., not to espouse or rebut any "conspiracy" theories) but rather the effects of U.S. policies around the world.  I realize that to duck the "how/who" question is to affect the policy question, but I want to limit this to one topic area.  And let's keep the discussion polite.

To me, the insightful nature of the questions posed and answers suggested in this video are as relevant today as they were 10 or 5 years ago.  Your thoughts?

14 September 2011

Interview with Bishop Fellay in the Wake of the CDF/SSPX Meeting

This interview appears at the SSPX's public relations site, DICI.org.  I read this as very hopeful in tone, and to that end I have elected to highlight just three words in green to give you my take on where this seems headed:

Interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay after his meeting with Cardinal William Levada

[SLC format note:  question and answer]

How did this meeting go?

The meeting was conducted with great courtesy and with equally great candor, because for the sake of honesty the Society of St. Pius X refuses to evade the problems that remain. Moreover the theological discussions that took place during these past two years were held in this same spirit.

When I stated on August 15 of this year that we were in agreement on the fact that we did not agree about the Second Vatican Council, I also made sure to explain that when it comes to dogmas, like the doctrine of the Trinity, we are quite obviously in agreement when we find them mentioned in Vatican II. One sentence must not be taken out of its context. It is to the great credit of our theological talks that they seriously examined and elucidated all these doctrinal problems.

The joint press release by the Vatican and the Society announced that a doctrinal document was delivered to you and that a canonical solution was proposed to you. Can you give us any particulars?

This document is entitled “Doctrinal Preamble”; it was handed over to us for in-depth study. Hence it is confidential, and you will understand why I say no more about it to you. However the term “preamble” does indicate that acceptance of it is a preliminary condition for any canonical recognition of the Society of St. Pius X on the part of the Holy See.

On the subject of this doctrinal preamble, to the extent that this does not concern its confidentiality, can you confirm that it contains, as announced in the press release, a distinction between what is de fide [essential to the faith]—to which the Society fully adheres—and what is dependent on a pastoral council, as Vatican II itself claimed to be, and thus could be subjected to criticism without calling the faith into question?

This new distinction was not only announced in the press release; I have personally heard it from various sources. As early as 2005, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos told me, after I spent five hours explaining to him all the objections to Vatican II that the Society of St. Pius X had formulated: “I cannot say that I agree with everything that you have said, but what you have said does not mean that you are outside the Church. Write to the pope therefore and ask him to lift the excommunication.”

Today, for the sake of objectivity, I must acknowledge that in the doctrinal preamble there is no clear-cut distinction between the inviolable dogmatic sphere and the pastoral sphere that is subject to discussion. The only thing that I can say, because it is part of the press release, is that this preamble contains “certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church’s Magisterium and to ‘sentire cum Ecclesia’ [thinking with the Church]. At the same time, it leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and of the later Magisterium.” There you have it; no more and no less.

As for the canonical status that is said to have been proposed to the Society of St. Pius X, on the condition that it adheres to the doctrinal preamble: there has been talk about a [personal] prelature rather than an ordinariate; it this correct?

As you correctly note, this canonical status is conditional; only later on will we be able to see the exact modality of it; it still remains a subject for discussion.

When do you think you will give your answer to the proposal in the doctrinal preamble?

As soon as I have taken the time necessary to study this document, and to consult with those who are chiefly responsible for the Society of St. Pius X, because in such an important matter I have promised my confreres not to make a decision without consulting them first.

But I can assure you that our decision will be made for the good of the Church and of souls. Our Rosary crusade, which continues for several more months, must be intensified so as to enable us to obtain, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the graces of light and strength that we need more than ever. 

It is not wise to read too much in between the lines, but the tone is very promising, and clearly there is an expectation of further progress.  The words I highlighted give my own impressions only, but I think they provide a key to interpreting where the matter stands.

I also think it is very wise to keep this preamble confidential, as many--left, right and center-- would seek to stop the possibility of regularization.  Indeed, praying to Mary, Mother of the Church and Seat of Wisdom, is a very good idea right now.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and the Chance for Rapprochement for the SSPX

It has been reported elsewhere, but I would like to re-post the communique from the Vatican on today's meeting between Cardinal Levada and Bishop Fellay.  From VIS:


VATICAN CITY, 14 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy See Press Office released the following communique concerning the position of the Society of St. Pius X:

"On 14 September at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the congregation and president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'; Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the congregation, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the pontifical commission, met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, who was accompanied by Fr. Niklaus Pfluger and Fr. Alain-Marc Nely, respectively first and second assistant general to the society.

"Following the appeal of 15 December 2008, addressed by the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Father decided to remove the excommunication against the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre. At the same time, he approved the opening of discussions with the society in order to clarify doctrinal problems and to heal the existing rift.

"In order to put the Holy Father's instructions into effect, a joint study commission was set up, composed of experts from the Society of St. Pius X and from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who met in Rome on eight occasions between October 2009 and April 2011. Their discussions, which aimed to identify and study the essential doctrinal difficulties in the controversial issues, had the result of clarifying the positions of the two sides and their respective motivations.

"While bearing in mind the concerns and demands presented by the Society of St. Pius X about protecting the integrity of the Catholic faith against Vatican Council II's 'hermeneutic of rupture' with Tradition (a theme addressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith maintains that the fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See is the acceptance of the text of the Doctrinal Preamble, which was handed over during a meeting on 14 September 2011. The Preamble defines certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church Magisterium and 'sentire cum Ecclesia'. At the same time, it leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and later Magisterium.

"At the same meeting, certain suggestions were made for a canonical solution to the position of the Society of St. Pius X, with a view to achieving the desired reconciliation".


The preamble mentioned as the foundation for settling this matter and granting regular canonical status has not been made public.

The type of canonical solution envisioned for the Society, according to published reports, is an international personal prelature, or ordinariate, such as was offered to the recently reconciled Anglicans.

Obviously, the contents of that preamble are of the utmost importance to commenting intelligently on this issue; since we do not have the contents, I will refrain from commenting on it.  But as to the context of the situation, it is noteworthy that, like with the Institute of the Good Shepherd (a traditionalist group formerly connected with the SSPX and reconciled within the last few years), the Holy See does not see any problem with the SSPX questioning the many ambiguous formulations of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the many more problematic interpretations of them subsequent to the Council.  Such a process of questioning, if conducted in submission to the ultimate authority of the Holy Father, is a good thing.  To me, part of the problem is not the questioning, nor the power of the Holy See to decide these types of things, but rather that the Holy See has so often refused to exercise that power and authority it alone possesses.  Perhaps the conclusion of this matter will provide the cause to begin to clarify the worst confusions of the last fifty years.

As to the desirability of a canonical structure outside of the control of diocesan ordinaries, can that be questioned?  At least until we see Summorum Pontificum respected and implemented on a widespread basis, I think the concept of an ordinariate or prelature is an absolute necessity in practical terms.  Perhaps when the SSPX's number of priests and apostolates is unquestionably "in the fold", there will indeed be some pressure for the more recalcitrant local bishops to act in accord with the directions of the Vicar of Christ.

Talk about gravitational pull: the more the Extraordinary Form and the Traditional practice of the faith are made available-- the more the whole truth of the Catholic faith is actually imparted from the pulpit-- the more people will be drawn to fullness of the faith, and cast aside the milquetoast verisimilitudes they now largely endure. 

The mercy shown by the Holy Father and the trust shown by the reconciled SSPX will do great good for souls. 

12 September 2011

"For me, 'Don't worry' is the most frightening phrase in the English language.

'Dahn gworry' even more so."

-- Ted Boynton

Virgo Dei Genitrix, Quem totus non capit orbis, in tua se clausit viscera factus homo

Today is the Feast Day of the Most Holy Name of Mary.  This feast was made obligatory throughout the Church by Pope Innocent XI in honor of the victory of King John Sobieski of Poland over the Turks at Vienna.  This feast is the yearly thanksgiving for the deliverance of Christian Europe.  I can't think of a more timely feast for our era, when Christian Europe seems to be almost dead.  Hey, even the scraped-clean wasteland of the new calendar retained this feast, so you know it's a big deal.  The post title is taken from the Gradual of today's Mass.

Feasts like this, or the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary on October 7, show that with Mary no cause is impossible.  Our Lord has so ordained it that every grace we have or could ever receive comes from Mary's intercession and through her hands.  Like many of you, I think, I believe the Fatima prophecy has yet to fully play out.  And the only way to save us from the mess we have ourselves created is the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, for which we should daily pray.

Thoughts like this at Mass this morning had me thinking about what I hope is a momentous meeting between Bishop Fellay of the SSPX and Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Holy Office this coming Wednesday.  The SSPX is famous for its Rosary crusades, and I can only pray that Mary brings this irregular situation to a just end.  I can certainly understand why the Society would have reason to distrust many in the Curia, but in the end the Church is Peter, and Peter the Church.  I pray that Pope Benedict just takes action on his own and grants the SSPX its own ordinariate or personal prelature.  I mean, really, he doesn't need their permission.  He could simply grant faculties and then expect them to obey his authority.  There would not need to be any "vote" or "agreement" that the Society accept this term or that.  They would simply be a Catholic society of apostolic life.  At that point, if the Society priests are not under the jurisdiction of whatever modernist bishops are out there, and hence not subject to persecution by them, they would either conduct their affairs as any Catholic order would or else the only prelate they would disobey would be the Pope.  And then we would know what the lay of the land really is.  I realize I am too naive, but really, can't we just cut to the chase here?

The Transalpine Redemptorists have a post about the upcoming movie about the Cristeros, called Cristiada.  You may have seen this already, but the trailer is there.  It looks really good.

On another front, if you are a homeschooler looking to add order to your life, a friend of mine has developed this planning software that you may find useful.  Disclaimer:  we don't use this ourselves, because my lovely wife is a paper and pencil person.  And, like every other Catholic enterprise mentioned here, I receive no money for telling you about it.

Have a great Monday.   

10 September 2011

Rosalind Moss Becomes Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God

Congratulations and prayers go out to Tulsa, where Catholic apologist Rosalind Moss has become foundress of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope, a new association of the faithful under Canon 312, in view to its later becoming an Institute of Diocesan Right. God bless Mother Miriam and her sisters, and God bless Bishop Slattery for issuing the decree.

Mother Miriam's brother, David Moss, was kind enough to send me links to this great blog post about the event (excerpted below) and also to the sermon of Bishop Slattery. You can see more great pictures there.


A Momentous Event
This morning, on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the humble Oratory of our monastery was the setting of a momentous event. His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery was with us for the the canonical establishment of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope as a Public Association of the Faithful, in view of their becoming an Institute of Consecrated Life.
Rosalind Moss Becomes Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God
Foundress, Rosalind Moss, in religion Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God received the traditional Benedictine habit, given that the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope have begun to follow the age-old Rule of Saint Benedict.
Here is the text of Bishop Slattery's Decree of Erection:
In every age and place, the Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of Life, is at work in the Body of Christ to regenerate and extend the various forms of consecrated life by which the Church is enriched and made present in the world.
Beginning with the vocation of Saint Antony of Egypt, the Father of every form of consecrated life in East and West, and continuing through the charisms of Saint Pachomius, Saint Basil, Saint Augustine, and Saint Benedict, and of the myriads of holy founders and foundresses in every century the Church has never been without new and varied expressions of the call to follow the poor and virginal Christ, obedient unto death, even death on a Cross.
Moreover, from Apostolic times, unmarried women and widows have sought to imitate the Daughter of Sion, the Blessed Virgin Mary in her unconditional surrender to the will of the Father and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Having said her "Yes" in response to the message of the Archangel Gabriel, the Virgin of Nazareth became blessed above all women, the Joy of Israel, and the Glory of Jerusalem.
Among the women who seek to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary and aspire to share in her spiritual motherhood today, are the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope. The mystery of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the luminous pattern of their ecclesial mission to all peoples: Jew and Gentile, young and old, rich and poor.
Contemplating that mystery, they rejoice that the Light of the World has come, and receive the Child Jesus, Israel's Hope and Consolation, from the arms of His Blessed Mother as did Simeon; their mission is to teach others to do likewise, and so find hope in this valley of tears.
They listen to Simeon's prophetic utterance and recognize in his arms the Promised One, who from the altar of the Cross will offer Himself to the Father as the Atoning Lamb. Thus are they compelled to undertake works of catechesis so that all peoples may find in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the wellspring of salvation, life, and resurrection.
They observe Anna, the Daughter of Phanuel, who gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Israel; strengthened by holy Anna's courage and zeal, they will devote themselves to a missionary outreach to "those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death," to apostolic works of evangelization, to the consolidation of family life, and to the promotion of a Catholic culture of goodness, beauty, truth, and life.
New foundations of consecrated life are fragile undertakings; they must welcome the wisdom of past generations with humility and gratitude, learning from the teaching and example of the saints who never grow old. It is by a sure and praiseworthy instinct, then, that the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope, have chosen to graft their tender shoot onto the age-old tree of the Benedictine tradition.
From the time of Saint Lioba, one of the evangelizers of Northern Europe in the eighth century, Benedictine missionary women have brought the love of learning and the desire for God to peoples in bondage to ignorance and idolatry. In the fifteenth century Saint Frances of Rome found in the Rule of Saint Benedict a powerful stimulus for her service of the poor, the sick, and the lonely. Since that time, a number of flourishing missionary Institutes of Sisters, dedicated to the active works of the apostolate, have found in the Rule of Saint Benedict the strong support needed by those who would labor as humble servants in the vineyard of the Lord.
For this reason, it pleases me to confirm and approve the Rule of Saint Benedict as the fundamental pattern of the life of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope. Their life will be further governed by the Constitutions here appended, which I hereby approve and promulgate.
Therefore, with these noble ends in mind, and for the greater joy of the Church of Tulsa that is entrusted to my care, by this Decree, I hereby erect and establish the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel's Hope as a Public Association of the Faithful in accordance with Canon 312, in view of being established later as a religious Institute of Diocesan Right.
In accord with the aforementioned Constitutions, I appoint Rosalind Moss, in religion, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, prioress of the Community, and authorize the opening of their residence in the Diocese of Tulsa as the Priory of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Given in Tulsa, in the Year of Our Lord 2011, on this 8th day of September, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.