29 March 2012

Meatless Friday Thursday: Whit Stillman Update Edition

Like all traditional Catholics, I am sure you have been anxiously awaiting news of the latest Whit Stillman film, Damsels in Distress. Well, it is set to open in New York and LA (of course) on April 6.  When or if it hits St. Louis, I will organize a field trip.

I happened upon a nice article at Grantland about Stillman, and that clued me in on the release date.  Oh, baby.

Of course, admiring the work of a film genius opens one up to the facile ridicule of half-wits.  Witness these observations by my brother:

"He didn't go out of his way and mess up the formula on this one by having a plot, did he?"

and this one:

"I'm riveted.  I don't know how I'm going to sleep at night.  I can't believe I have to wait a whole week for this film to come out.  Can't it be now?!"

Just in case you are one of the very, very, very few many that haven't heard of Stillman, this little primer is just the thing to read.  It contains the clips I include below from his three fantastic films:


"Is our language so impoverished that we have to use acronyms of French phrases to be understood?"  



"I was reducing everything to ant scale."

Last Days of Disco

"A self-confessed chicken thief and all-around sleazeball."

Even Fidel Castro Knows the Liturgical Changes Were Disastrous

Are Vatican II and the Novus Ordo responsible for Fidel Castro's loss of faith?

This link is from Catholic Free Press, scroll down to the second article.  It contains this excerpt about the Pope's recent meeting with Castro:

The pope said Castro, who was raised a Catholic, asked about the reasons for the changes in the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, about the role of the pope and about the pope’s thinking about the larger philosophical questions weighing on the minds of people today.

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes, Father Lombardi said, and the questions were an indication that “now his life is one dedicated to reflection and writing.”

On the liturgy, the pope said Castro told him, “It’s not the Mass I knew in my youth.”

The more philosophical topics included Castro’s curiosity about how the church is handling the ethical challenges posed by scientific and technological developments and the relationship between faith and reason, as well as the pope’s concerns about a growing number of people who don’t believe in God or act as if God does not exist, Father Lombardi said.

“In the end, Commandante Fidel asked the pope to send him a few books” dealing with the questions he had, the spokesman said.

You know it's bad when even Castro pans it.

Castro, the SSPX, Saint Louis Catholic... talk about convergence. 


Thanks to reader Ken for this little gem.

Link to the Sermon Series on the Beatitudes

I received so many positive comments, via email, combox and in person, about the series of sermons delivered by Canons of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in St. Louis on the Beatitudes that I am going to provide a single link to them on the side bar to the right under My Favorite Posts.  At the moment, I do not have the text to one of them, but it will appear when I have it.

Thanks to the Institute for their fervor and faithfulness!

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the Meek 

Blessed are They Who Mourn 

Blessed are They Who Hunger and Thirst after Justice

Blessed are the Merciful

Blessed are the Pure of Heart 

Blessed are the Persecuted

28 March 2012

Vandals Strike Chapel of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

From California Catholic Daily comes the sad news of an assault on a statue of Our Lord and Lady:

“Unknown substance”

Vandals deface statue in front of chapel dedicated to celebrating traditional Latin Mass

A small Santa Clara chapel dedicated to offering the traditional Latin Mass was the target of vandals over the weekend.

Sometime between Friday evening, March 23, and Sunday morning, March 25, vandals defaced a statue of Madonna and Child in front of the Oratory of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel, 1298 Homestead Road, in Santa Clara.

The vandals applied “an unknown substance” to the faces of both Madonna and Child, according to a report from a parishioner. The incident was reported to the Santa Clara Police Department.

"When I arrived Sunday morning several parishioners were gathered around the statue discussing and taking pictures," said one witness in an email to California Catholic Daily. "We are not sure what was applied but it was most likely spray painted."

Since 2007, when San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath designated the oratory chapel as an approved location for “the celebration of the Mass in Latin according to the Missal of 1962,” priests approved by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest have been offering the Latin Mass there.

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is a religious order specifically dedicated to the celebration of the traditional Mass.

The Pope in the New World

I don't often take the time to read all of the speeches the Pope makes on his various apostolic journeys, but the words of Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Mexico and Cuba have been incredibly poignant and timely.  Rorate Caeli has been keeping an ongoing account; just follow the link and scroll down.

News Roundup of the Freedom of Conscience Rally

The answer to the question, how many people were there?, depends upon the source.  As I said yesterday, I can't tell, but I would be greatly surprised if it was fewer than 5,000.  Then again, I always lose those "guess how many jelly beans are in the jar" contests:

St. Louis Review
Columbia Tribune

27 March 2012

Liveblogging the Rally for Religious Liberty

In a dangerous bit of technological ambition, here I am at the Rally for Religious Liberty at the State Capitol in Jefferson City. I can't begin to estimate the size of the crowd-- it is simply enormous. There are supporters, mostly but not exclusively Catholic, nearly all decked out in red pouring in and out of every nook and cranny in the building. The crowd encircles the rotunda on three levels. 

The Missouri Catholic Conference has assisted with cards for people to fill out and give to their representatives, senators and the governor. 

Archbishop Carlson received a huge ovation when introduced, but has yet to speak.

I saw some that I knew among the throng. It is good to see so many turn out when things look bleak. Not exactly popular to be Catholic these days, but then again, when has it been?

Some quick photos below. You may be able to enlarge them if you click on them.

Blessed Are the Persecuted

This final installment in the series of sermons on the Beatitudes was delivered on Passion Sunday by Canon Michael Wiener, Rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory:


The Beatitudes describe true happiness in this life and in the life to come. They are perfections of the Christian soul, given to us through our union with Christ. During the series of sermons on the beatitudes, we have learnt that each of them corresponds to a meritorious act of perfect virtues, performed with the assistance of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

St. Thomas enlightens our understanding of the beatitudes by explaining their ascending and dynamic order as Our Lord preaches them in the 5th Chapter of the gospel according to St. Matthew: Beginning with the detachment from sin in the first three beatitudes (“purgative way”) over the active life of the Christian who not only avoids sin but strives to do good – described in the next two beatitudes (“proficient stage”) - to the last three beatitudes of the contemplative life which allow and provide a union with God in knowledge and love.

The beatitudes are acts which are so perfect that they become “the pledge, the meritorious cause and … the first fruits of perfect beatitude” (Garrigou-Lagrange).

The last beatitude – “blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – is a synopsis of all the other seven and their highest perfection: When virtue is firmly established in us, we will not easily renounce the author of all the gifts we have received. “Virtue consists in the … imitation of God. Every virtue, like every other thing, has its type or pattern in God”, says St. Thomas Aquinas (ST I-II, 61, 4).

God’s holiness became visible in Christ whose perfect virtue is made a shining example and source for all of us in the moment of persecution and death: “Blessed are ye when
they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for My sake. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.”

And: “The servant is not greater than his master” (John 15, 20).

The European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg ruled last Thursday that if same-sex unions are lawful in one the member-states which signed the European Convention on Human Rights, any church that refuses to marry gay couples could be charged with discrimination.

Also in this country the government attempts to infringe every Catholic’s right of “conscientious objection … with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices” (Pope Benedict XVI. to US Bishops on January 19, 2012 in Rome), a legislation which seriously threatens the rights of the Church.
“And who is it but Christ Himself Who alone is all-powerful, who brings it about that every persecution which is launched against the faithful should react to the lasting benefit of the Church?”, writes Pope Pius XI. in the face of the persecution of the Church in Mexico in 1926 (Encyclical “Iniquis Afflictisque”), quoting St. Hilary of Poitiers:

“It is a prerogative of the Church that she is the vanquisher when she is persecuted, that she captures our intellects when her doctrines are questioned, that she conquers all at the very moment when she is abandoned by all." (St. Hilary of Poitiers De Trinitate, Bk. VII, No. 4).

"He who seeks only the glory of God is not afraid of being defeated in the sight of men" (St. John Chrysostom).

St. Francis de Sales calls those foolish who “waste time in desiring to be martyred in far countries, but do not apply themselves in their state of life.” Heroic martyrdom of the
daily life is – here and now – to be generous in all spheres of life, in our families, at the work place or on the baseball field. Here and now we are called to live up to our state in life as Catholics who were configured to Christ in baptism.

Those who want to act well by giving witness to Christ, by giving a good example in obedience, humility and simplicity to the precepts of Christ will suffer and encounter opposition. Martyrdom in the strict sense by giving one’s life might never be asked of us; the martyrdom of every day life’s persecutions is expected of us.

In this we have to grow by acquiring all virtues in fullness and embracing the gifts the Holy Ghost offers to us.

“All the saints have not been martyrs, but they have, in varying degrees, suffered persecution for justice' sake, and they have known something of that martyrdom of the heart which made Mary the Mother of Sorrows”, says Father Garrigou-Lagrange. “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice' sake”, because they have been made similar to Christ, carrying “the image of Jesus crucified”.

Those who remain in unity with Christ while being persecuted have remained humble, patient, merciful and virtuous in all domains of life already before persecution began. It is therefore necessary to strive for perfection and to ask the Lord to give us strength and courage even in the moment of violent trials.

Pope Benedict XVI. told the US bishops on the occasion of their ad limina visit in Rome this past January: “There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole” (Pope Benedict XVI. to US Bishops on January 19, 2012 in Rome).

Our most important contribution is, and always was, to strive for the perfections of the beatitudes.


26 March 2012

Rally for Religious Freedom Tomorrow in Jefferson City

There will be a rally for freedom of conscience at the State Capitol in Jefferson City tomorrow at high noon.

Now is the time to stand up for the faith in the face of government attack.  It would be great, obviously, if the place was packed.  Take off work, and go.  Cancel homeschool, or pull the kids, and go.  Just go. 

The St. Louis Review has some tips for those who go.

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Because the 25th fell on Passion Sunday, today marks the celebration of the Annunciation-- the great turning point in human history, when God became man.

This great feast of the Virgin celebrates her profound humility and her exalted status as the Mother of God. 

From Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen:

[T]he Angel communicates to her his great message: God wishes her to become the Mother of the Redeemer.  Mary had always lived under the continual direction of the Holy Spirit and under His inspiration had made a vow a virginity; therefore, she was convinced that she should remain a virgin and that this was God's will.  But now God lets her know that He has chosen her to be the Mother of His Son, and she, humble handmaid that she is, is ready to adhere to the divine plan.  However, she does not yet understand how she can be at the same time a mother and a virgin, and she questions the Angel on this point: "How shall this be done?"  The Angel explains: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee."  Her maternity will be the direct work of the Holy Spirit and will respect her virginity.


The Angel's explanation does not prevent many future events and circumstances from remaining hidden and obscure to Mary.  She finds herself face to face with a mystery, a mystery which she knows intuitively to be rich in suffering; for she has learned from the Sacred Scriptures that the Redeemer will be a man of sorrows, sacrificed for the salvation of mankind.  Therefore, the ineffable joy of the divine maternity is presented to her wrapped in a mystery of sorrow: to be willing to be the Mother of the Son of God means consenting to be the Mother of one condemned to death.  Yet Mary accepts everything in her fiat: in the joy, as well as in the sorrow of the mystery, she has but one simple answer: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."  By this acceptance, the Blessed Virgin becomes intimately associated with the life of suffering of her Son Jesus, and, therefore, with His work of Redemption, thus becoming the spiritual Mother of the human race.  This is the divine plan for her, and Mary accepts it wholly, without reserve, precisely because her will is wholly united to the will of God.

23 March 2012

The Administration's Outreach to Catholics: "The aim is to isolate rather than destroy."

My brother tipped me off to this excellent article at Crisis Magazine, comparing (I didn't say contrasting) the policies of Fidel Castro and his fellow traveler in the White House towards Holy Mother Church.  Emphases and comments of my own added:

To Isolate and Marginalize: Obama takes Cue from Castro

by Christian Tappe

Next week, Pope Benedict XVI will visit Cuba in an effort to repair relations between the country and the Church. Perhaps he should pay a visit to the United States as well.
As the Papal visit draws near, there is cautiously brimming hope that the Church will be able to make further strides in Cuba. There have even been whispers of the impending conversion (or reversion) of Fidel Castro, who was excommunicated in 1962.


Such is the state of a country that has actively rejected and persecuted the Church for fifty years.

There is, to be sure, a real and vicious persecution of the Church in Cuba, but it wasn’t always so egregious, or at least it didn’t seem that way at the beginning of Castro’s regime. American Catholics would do well to take note.

A 1960 article by London Observer correspondent George Sherman (here printed in the August 6, 1960, edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) details Fidel Castro’s strategy for the Church just a year after he became Prime Minister:

“The Castro government has moved carefully so as not to gain the Church sympathy it does not have. The aim is to isolate rather than destroy. While upholding the right to worship, the Government has clamped down on all the Church’s outlets in secular society.”

To isolate rather than destroy. To allow worship…and nothing else. Sound familiar? It should.

President Obama began using the term “freedom to worship” in his speech at Fort Hood in 2009, less than a year into his presidency. And he and his administration have notably continued to use this language—as opposed to “freedom of religion”—a significant difference in terms.

Furthermore, unless the new HHS mandate changes, many Catholic hospitals (and possibly colleges) will either have to compromise the very beliefs that make them Catholic hospitals (or colleges) or shut down. Or serve only Catholics, thus accomplishing a major step toward Catholic “isolation.”

In his piece from fifty years ago, Sherman noted, significantly: “Priests are the first to admit that large sections of the population have little religious training.” In other words, Castro pounced when the Church was already weak. Many so-called Catholics likely didn’t notice any changes. They likely agreed with Castro over the Church on certain policies. And the faithful? Well the faithful, recognizing their reduced numbers and the potential dangers the Castro regime brought, were concerned . . . yet happy they were “allowed” to worship.

And, just like that, the Catholic Church in Cuba was reduced to a bunch of harmless, pious old church ladies. Catholics could still worship, sure. But the hospitals, orphanages, schools, etc. that were run by the Church were taken over by the state. Soon after, Christians were barred from participating in government.

Sound familiar?

The Church in America is weak. Secularism has been chipping away at it for decades. (This of course is true, but sidesteps the unpleasant task of identifying the real villains within the Church who destroyed the liturgy, doctrine and discipline.)  In recent years, many Catholic orphanages have closed after being cut off from public funds because they would not promote abortion, contraception, and the like. And we already know the precarious state of Catholic hospitals and colleges.


Sherman’s observation was dire, terrifying, and prescient . . . and it still applies today. Perhaps the Church is stronger now in the United States than it was then in Cuba, but not exponentially so (and this only if measured by organization-- for the faith is undoubtedly weaker). The Church here is indeed struggling. The bishops, led by Cardinal Dolan, have spoken out, but then again, as Sherman tells us, two of the leading archbishops in Cuba “demonstrated publicly against Soviet influence.”

For the Obama administration, just like in Castro’s fledgling Cuba, it is merely a matter of tactics. How to isolate the Church without inciting a riot. [...]

Modern liberalism relies on a secular society, and a Church that is active in the world throws a wrench into the liberal plan. Castro recognized this and moved to “isolate” Catholics and Catholicism, allowing them to worship, but nothing more. Christians were barred from participating in politics. Christmas was even cancelled.

Now, in a series of moves eerily similar, if not in actual implementation then in spirit, to those of the Castro regime, Catholics in America are facing the same isolation that Cuban Catholics experienced fifty years ago. It started slowly and somewhat innocuously. A token acknowledgment of the “freedom to worship,” or some such meaningless phrase, and then it came quickly and relentlessly. A weak Church subsumed and subjugated by a powerful government (the vaunted "fruits of Vatican II"). And the people were powerless against it.

It won’t move as quickly as it did in Cuba (I respectfully disagree; when the action comes, you will see tissue-thin resistance and all is weakness)—the American political process doesn’t allow for such swift action—but it can still happen fast (remember, the HHS mandate, promulgated by executive fiat will go into effect in August). And there could be some more resistance considering that the Church is a bit stronger here than it was in Cuba in 1960, but not much.

And where Castro attacked the Catholic Church, Obama and other liberals aren’t targeting the Church per se…just its tenants, members, and institutions, while including other Christians in the mix.
But make no mistake. This is happening. It’s the blueprint. Certain aspects of the design have changed over the years, but it is largely the same: Isolate, and then marginalize. And it works. Today, though 60 percent of Cubans are Catholic, only about 5 percent go to Mass.

We Catholics need to fight back, and we need to fight back now. If we don’t, we risk suffering a fate similar to Cuban Catholics.


A recent piece in USA Today discussing the bishops’ latest rejection of the HHS mandate noted what the bishops did not say: they did not accuse the Obama administration of “waging a war on religion” or acknowledge that Republicans have abandoned the cause. And, significantly, “There is no talk of civil disobedience or canceling health insurance . . . if they do not get their way.”

At the end of his piece in 1960, Sherman quoted a prominent (and downtrodden) member of Catholic Action: “Nothing can be done without force, and we do not have that force.”

We have the benefit of history. We cannot make the same mistake. We cannot sit back, hoping for the best, putting our faith in politicians. We must strike back—all of us—with the full force of God and His Church.

Before it’s too late.

I am convinced that only the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, foretold at Fatima, can end the persecution we have justly earned.  Pray for the Holy Father to consecrate Russia to Mary's Immaculate Heart, in union with all the world's bishops.  This is what Our Lady asked for, and this remains to be done.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

22 March 2012

Rally against Government Persecution of Religion Tomorrow

This version of the announcement comes from Saint Louis Crusade:

The Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom is being held Friday, March 23 at noon, local time, outside federal buildings, Congressional offices and historic sites across the country. The theme for the Rally is “Stand Up for Religious Freedom—Stop the HHS Mandate!”
Thousands of Americans will be participating in these peaceful rallies, organized by the Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society to oppose the new mandate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that requires all employers provide free contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans, even in violation of their consciences.
The location in St. Louis is here:
St. Louis
Office of Senator Claire McCaskill
5850 Delmar Boulevard (Map)
E-mail the Rally Captain
You are also encouraged to join the Jefferson City Rally March 27!

A Beautiful Exhortation to the SSPX

I haven't written much about, well, anything, really -- but in particular I have left the discussion of recent SSPX/Rome developments to other, more knowledgeable sites.

One of those sites, Rorate Caeli, recently published a letter of the well-known priest Fr. Nicola Bux to Bishop Fellay and all the priests of the SSPX.  I thought it was a very moving plea, and wanted to share it here.  It lays out the crux of the problem, and of the solution, very nicely.  

Of course the Church is in a mess, but waiting for every priest, prelate and layman to get their act together before accepting canonical recognition is not the answer.  All that is required is that the Society be allowed to function without threat from the pushers of heterodoxy -- then it can join in the effort to defeat that heterodoxy from a place of unquestionable legitimacy, removing a shadow (deserved or not) that damages its efforts.  The time has come.  More than come:

To His Excellency, Bishop Bernard Fellay, and to the Priests of the Society of Saint Pius X

Your Excellency,
Most dear Brothers,

Christian brotherhood is stronger than flesh and blood because it offers us, thanks to the divine Eucharist, a foretaste of heaven.

Christ invited us to experience communion, this is what our "I" is made of. Communion means loving one's neighbor a priori, because we have the one Savior in common with him. Based on this fact, communion is ready for every sacrifice in the name of unity; and this unity must be visible, as the last petition addressed by Our Lord to his Father teaches us - "ut unum sint, ut credat mundus" -, because this is the decisive testimony of Christ's friends.

It is undeniable that numerous facts of Vatican II and of the period that followed it, related to the human dimension of this event, have represented true calamities and have caused intense pain to many great Churchmen. But God does not allow His Holy Church to reach self-destruction.

We cannot consider the severity of the human factor without having confidence in the divine factor, that is to say, in Providence, who guides history and, in particular, the history of the Church, while respecting human freedom.

The Church is at once a divine institution, divinely protected, and a product of men. Her divine aspect does not deny her human one - personality and freedom - and does not necessarily hinder it; her human aspect, while remaining whole and even compromising, never denies her divine one.

For reasons of Faith, but also due to the confirmations, albeit slow ones, that we are able observe at the historical level, we believe that God has prepared and continues to prepare, throughout these years, men who are worthy of rectifying the errors and the ommissions we all deplore. Holy works already exist, and will appear in still greater numbers, that are isolated ones from the others but that a divine strategy links at a distance and whose actions add up to a well-ordered design, as it miraculously happened at the time of the painful Lutheran rebellion.

These divine interventions seem to grow in proportion to the complexity of the facts. The future will make it clear, as we are convinced, and it seems dawn is almost at hand.

During some moments, the uncertain dawn struggles with darkness, which fades slowly, but when it appears we know that the sun is there, and that it will invariably pursue its course in the heavens.

With Saint Catherine of Siena, we wish to say: "Come to Rome in complete safety," next to the house of the common Father who was given to us as the visible and perpetual principle and foundation of Catholic unity.

Come take part in this blessed future in which we can already foresee dawn, despite the persistent darkness. Your refusal would increase darkness, not light. And yet the sparks of light we can already admire are numerous, beginning with those of the great liturgical restoration effected by the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum". It stirs up, throughout the whole world, a large movement of adherence from all those who wish to increase the worship of God, particularly the young.

How to ignore the other concrete gestures, full of meaning, of the Holy Father, such as the lifting of the excommunications of the bishops ordained by Abp. Lefebvre, the opening of a public debate on the interpretation of Vatican II in light of Tradition, and, for this purpose, the renewal of the Ecclesia Dei Commission?

Perplexities certainly remain, points to be deepened or detailed, as those regarding ecumenism and interreligious dialogue (which has been, for that matter, already the object of an important clarification given by the declaration Dominus Iesus, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of August 6, 2000), or regarding the way in which religious liberty is to be understood.

Also on these matters, your canonically assured presence within the Church will help bring more light.

How not to think of the contribution you could give to the welfare of the whole Church, thanks to your pastoral and doctrinal resources, your capabilities and your sensibility?

This is the appropriate moment, the favorable time to come. Timete Dominum transeuntem: let not the occasion of grace the Lord offers you pass by, let it not pass by your side without recognizing it.

Will the Lord grant another one? Will not we all one day appear before His Court and answer not only for the evil we have done, but above all for the good we might have accomplished but did not?

The Holy Father's heart trembles: he awaits you anxiously because he loves you, because the Church needs you for a common profession of faith before a world that is each day more secularized and that seems to turn its back to its Creator and Savior hopelessly.

In the full ecclesial communion with the great family that is the Catholic Church, your voice will no longer be stifled, your contribution will be neither ignorable nor ignored, but will be able to bring forth, with that of so many others, abundant fruits which would otherwise go to waste.

The Immaculate teaches us that too many graces are lost because they are not asked for; we are convinced that, by answering the offer of the Holy Father favorably, the Society of Saint Pius X will become an instrument to enkindle new rays from the fingers of our Heavenly Mother.

On this day dedicated to him, may Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patron of the Universal Church, inspire and sustain your resolutions: "Come to Rome in all safety".

Rome, March 19, 2012.
Feast of Saint Joseph

d. Nicola Bux

21 March 2012

Feast of St. Benedict

Today is the feast of the great founder of Western monasticism, preserver of culture, and co-patron of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Faithful who assist at Mass today at any Institute apostolate may receive a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.

St. Francis de Sales Oratory will have low Masses at 8 am and 12:15 pm, and Solemn High Mass at 6:30 pm.

St. Benedict, pray for us!

20 March 2012

Notes from the Bowl: Strong Words from the Pope on the Modern World-- "...a congealed mass of all filth."

"We speak of the things which you see with your own eyes, which We both bemoan. Depravity exults; science is impudent; liberty, dissolute. The holiness of the sacred is despised; the majesty of divine worship is not only disapproved by evil men, but defiled and held up to ridicule. Hence sound doctrine is perverted and errors of all kinds spread boldly. The laws of the sacred, the rights, institutions, and discipline -- none are safe from the audacity of those speaking evil. Our Roman See is harassed violently and the bonds of unity are daily loosened and severed. The divine authority of the Church is opposed and her rights shorn off. She is subjected to human reason and with the greatest injustice exposed to the hatred of the people and reduced to vile servitude. The obedience due bishops is denied and their rights are trampled underfoot. Furthermore, academies and schools resound with new, monstrous opinions, which openly attack the Catholic faith; this horrible and nefarious war is openly and even publicly waged. Thus, by institutions and by the example of teachers, the minds of the youth are corrupted and a tremendous blow is dealt to religion and the perversion of morals is spread. So the restraints of religion are thrown off, by which alone kingdoms stand. We see the destruction of public order, the fall of principalities, and the overturning of all legitimate power approaching. Indeed this great mass of calamities had its inception in the heretical societies and sects in which all that is sacrilegious, infamous, and blasphemous has gathered as bilge water in a ship's hold, a congealed mass of all filth."

-- from Mirari Vos, Pope Gregory XVI, 1832

A Good Analysis of the Betrayal of Fr. Guarnizo by His Archdiocese

Over at Saint Louis Crusade.

19 March 2012

Another Supreme Reason to Appeal the St. Stan's Farce

The Supreme Court case in Mount Tabor should already have provided the circuit court the proper boundary to prevent it from overstepping its jurisdiction.  

Now, the Supreme Court has denied cert to another case, this time involving the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and thus has upheld the proper sphere of authority of the Church.

As an aside, do you want to know my favorite cringeworthy line from the St. Stan's decision?  One that really shows a subtle understanding of the essence of the Church -- "The Archbishop may own the souls of wayward St. Stanislaus parishioners, but the St. Stanislaus Parish Corporation owns its own property."

If, and I say if, there is any justice, the Missouri Court of Appeals should be applying a rolled-up newspaper to the trial court fairly quickly.

Feast of St. Joseph

"I do not know how anyone can think of the Queen of Angels during the time that she suffered so much with the Child Jesus, without giving thanks to you, O glorious St. Joseph, for the way you helped them.  For this reason it seems to me that those who practice prayer should have a special affection for you always.

"I wish I could persuade everyone to be devoted to you, for I have great experience of the blessings which you obtain from God.  I have never known anyone to be truly devoted to you and render you particular services who did not notably advance in virtue, for you give very real help to souls who commend themselves to you.  I have clearly seen that your help has always been greater than I could have hoped for.  I do not remember that I have ever asked anything of you which you failed to grant.  The Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to you on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, you could command Him), just so in Heaven He still does all that you ask."

--St. Teresa of Avila

St. Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us!

16 March 2012

Monday Morning Quarterbacking the St. Stan's Trial

The aftermath of the Circuit Court decision in the Archdiocese's lawsuit against the the St. Stan's board is, in a sense, settled. The Archbishop has announced that he will appeal the decision to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Mr. Bozek has reemerged as a local media darling with all the girlish glee of which he is capable, and local anti-Catholics get to add to their already-full plates a heaping helping of schadenfreude.

But this is only part of the picture.

They say hindsight is 20/20, but I was on record from the beginning (beginning paragraph 4) that this civil lawsuit, the object of which was, in effect, to ask a secular Court to determine whether St. Stan's was a Catholic parish, was a dangerous strategy. This determination is beyond the competence of a civil Court, and puts it, at least in appearance, in the position of superiority to the Church. It isn't superior-- at best it is equal, with its own sphere of jurisdiction, and in matters of faith and morals it is inferior. Moreover, the decision about which matters are proper for the Church to decide and which aren't is also the Church's sphere.

There is also the practical observation, which the bishops are perhaps at last beginning to understand regarding the abortion drug mandate, that the deck is most certainly stacked against the Church in the civil legal realm.

By making the fight one for control of the former parish, the Archdiocese put its credibility in this dispute before the Court, and as it would have used it if it had won, it suffers from a diminishment now it has lost.

Under these circumstances, I agree with the decision to appeal the ruling. There is so much error in this decision-- precisely on those matters of ecclesiastical law and internal Church governance that are precisely those beyond the Court's competence-- that they cannot go unappealed.

With respect, I suggest that such reasoning certainly confirms that the judge in this case (as the media uniformly trumpets) is the product of Catholic education in the last fifty years. Yet another poster for Catholic schools week down the drain, I guess. In addition to seeking the recusal of homosexual judges in civil suits, dioceses may wish to ask any judge who was graduated from a Catholic school after 1958 to recuse himself.

The struggle for St. Stan's is twofold. For the Archdiocese, it is about safeguarding souls. That is why the remedies imposed by then-Archbishop Burke were spiritual ones. These included suppression of the parish (which, by the way, should have settled the matter for any civil Court), degrading Bozek from the clerical state, excommunications of Bozek and Board members, a new Polish parish, etc. These remedies produced some positive results. Many Board members were reconciled with the Church.  Polish Catholics in St. Louis were provided with another apostolate.  Catholics of good will were put on notice that St. Stanislaus is not Catholic.  Bozek and the unrepentant Board members are on notice that their souls are in jeopardy.  The momentum, for a time, seemed to be on the Church's side, and there was an unsuccessful attempt to oust Bozek and his tow-truck allies on the Board.

On the financial and civil side, this is really a dispute between current and former St. Stan's Board members over the (mis-) management of the money.  As I suggested before, the best way to go about addressing that issue would have been for a current or former Board member to sue for an accounting in civil Court.  This, if successful, would have required the Board to open the books to Court, and thus public, scrutiny.  I have a hunch they would have been most unwilling to do this, and then, just maybe, they might have been willing to oust Bozek and settle with the Archdiocese.  This kind of action can still be attempted, but the victors of the current suit may not be as likely to settle, being flush with success.

So, anyway, that's the way I see it.  When I have a complete copy of Judge Hettenbach's ruling I might post an analysis.

Let's hope the Archdiocese wins this appeal.  Or else, to paraphrase my favorite Bozek quote:  "Despair, St. Louis, beware, rest of world."

15 March 2012

Archdiocese Will Appeal St. Stan Ruling

Says CBS.

Boguslaw Alert: St. Louis Judge Rules in Favor of St. Stanislaus

STLToday is just reporting.  I will review and post with analysis this afternoon.  Ol' Marek will be tough to live with now. 

A Brief Reflection on the Bishops v. SNAP

I have finally succumbed. I have grudgingly entered the 21st Century and am blogging to you today from an iPad. Blame my brother-- ironically the same one who said my blog jumped the shark long ago.

The SNAP follies have been the current "thing" lately. The bishops, or at least their lawyers, have shown a surprising new vitality in using the available tools in a hostile legal system to push back against the agents of death-by-lawsuit. The outcome of the effort to force SNAP to comply with Court-ordered document production may slow down the machine a little. It isn't surprising that it took the bishops so long; in addition to the usual reasons, it is useful to remember that lots of reprehensible acts did in fact occur at the hands of priests who too often were sheltered by the bishops. The mind reels at this, and it is understandable that mounting an aggressive defense against those who would use this for personal gain and to destroy the very inconvenient Church (and I am not talking about real victims here but the false accusers and their parasite allies) might appear, well, unseemly.

On the other hand, it has to be remembered by the bishops that the Church herself is indefectible, is true, and is the ordinary means of salvation. They must defend her. Horror of the past cannot freeze them into inaction.

And then there is SNAP. They wish to be shielded from scrutiny of their motives and methods. Well, sure. But hypocrisy is not pretty, and even those who are sympathetic to them can't get behind this idea of noble secrecy. My sometime correspondent, David Clohessy, sent me this link to a New York Times editorial parroting the SNAP line that allowing the Church due process rights "hurts the victims" of abuse. This begs the question, of course, of whether any litigant is a "victim". This is what the Court must decide.

Sorry, we're not quite at that point yet, Mr. Clohessy. Give it a few months more.

14 March 2012

Blessed Are the Pure of Heart

This installment in the ongoing series on the Beatitudes was delivered last Sunday by Canon William Avis of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest:


In the conclusion of today’s gospel [Luke 11: 27-28], a woman in the crowd praised the Mother of Our Lord.  “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the breasts that nursed Thee.”  To this Christ replied, “Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.”  Many who lack understanding have interpreted this reaction of our Lord as a denigration of the Blessed Virgin.  How far from the truth! For if there be anyone who has heard God’s word and kept it to the utmost, it is Mary, who even before conceiving the Word Incarnate in her blessed womb, conceived in her heart God’s Word and fulfilled the commandments. From her unspotted purity came the greatest fecundity—the salvation of the world. And for that she is evermore blessed, because she is pure of heart and does see God. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” [Matthew 5:8]

What does Christ mean when He says “pure of heart?” Saint John Chrysostom, a father of the Church, has given an explanation: “Now He here calls pure, either those who have attained unto all virtue, and are not conscious to themselves of any evil; or those who live in temperance. For there is nothing which we need so much in order to see God as this last virtue.” [Homily 15 on Saint Matthew]  It is in temperance that we find the virtue of chastity whose aim “is to check whatever is inordinate in voluptuous pleasures.  These pleasures have for their principal end the perpetuation of the human race through the right use of marriage.  They are lawful only between married persons, and then only when they further or at least do not interfere with the primary end of marriage which is the procreation of children.” (Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, no 1100) All the virtues have as their goal that we act according to right reason. It is most reasonable to reserve within marriage the conjugal act which by its own nature is apt for the begetting of humans, whose dignity greatly surpasses that of the rest of the material universe, so in that stable and permanent relationship of father and mother, the child may receive what is necessary for his physical, mental and spiritual well-being.  It is chastity of the body that holds in check the concupiscence of the flesh that we may act justly and reasonably.

In this beatitude however our Lord asks not just for the purity of the body, a mere external conformity with the natural moral law, but that we be pure in heart.  That is, not only with the body, but also in our thoughts and desires, we be chaste and honest. “For which cause,” expounded Saint Augustine, “Our Lord Himself also with His own mouth says, ‘Cleanse what are within, and what are without will be clean.’ [...]The inner man has an inner mouth, and this the inner ear discerns: what things go forth from this mouth, go out of the heart, and they defile the man. Then having left the term mouth, which may be understood also of the body, He shows more openly what He is saying. ‘For from the heart go out,’ says He, ‘evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are what defile the man.’ There is surely no one of those evils, which can be committed also by the members of the body, but that the evil thoughts go before and defile the man, although something hinder the sinful and wicked deeds of the body from following. For if, because power is not given, the hand is free from the murder of a man, is the heart of the murderer forsooth therefore clean from sin?” [On Continence, #3]

A heart attached to iniquity finds itself at odds with God, whereas a heart purified from such wickedness allows the light of God’s grace to shine therein. “A heart which is free from thoughts and affections alien to God” says Saint Thomas Aquinas, “is like a temple consecrated to the Lord, in which we can contemplate Him even in this world.” [Commentary on St. Matthew] The pure of heart are truly blessed because even in this world they are able to penetrate the divine mysteries which give a foretaste of heaven.  Their intellects are not bound by base considerations or shaken by the violent movements of passion, which often cloud the mind and darken the understanding. Their minds are free to ascend to the heights.  “To Thee I lifted up my eyes, Who dwellest in heaven [Ps. 122:1],” they sing.  With hearts totally given to God, they are given an abundance of divine grace and consolation. It is purity that make men resemble the angels in heaven, as Saint Francis de Sales once said, “Purity is the lily among virtues—by it men approach to the Angels.  There is no beauty without purity, and human purity is chastity. [Introduction to the Devout Life, part 3 chapter 12]” Being already angelic here on earth, when these blessed souls leave here for the hereafter they will enjoy the Beatific Vision in heaven.  Like the clearest crystal hit by a ray of light, these souls glow with the greatest splendor.  “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.”

What a disparity between the blessedness promised by the ever-Truthful God and the false pleasures offered by this faithless world?  Everywhere it seems vice is extolled and virtue ridiculed.  The world laughs at honor and reveres cowardice.  Self-control is derided, and decadence indulged.  Even those whose charge is the common good use abusively their power to compel others to participate in evil, heaping abominations upon abominations.  What sadness to see also some redeemed by Christ in holy Baptism who go along with this.  They are like the Hebrews of old, being delivered from Egypt’s bondage, who throw themselves down in adoration of a golden calf [cf. Exodus, chapter 32], who “exchange their glory for the semblance of a calf which eateth grass. [Ps. 105: 20]” It should be no surprise to us if they should lose the Faith for of the ugly daughters of lust are named blindness of mind and hatred of God [cf. Saint Gregory the Great, Morales, XXXI, 45. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, IIa IIæ q. 153 a. 5].  This vice weakens their minds to ignore the truth of the evil they do. Eventually their lust will make them despise God for He is Holy.  And then as many a case will prove, they abandon the Faith preferring debasement by sin than elevation by grace.

Living in the world as we must, let us keep ever in our hearing the words of today’s epistle: [Ephesians 5: 1-9] “But immorality and every uncleanness..., let it not even be named among you... For know this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one... has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one lead you astray with empty words; for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience. Do not, then, become partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk, then, as children of light.”

Let us safeguard the virtue of chastity, and this by four things [cf. Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life, nos 1104-1126]:

Distrust of self—do not throw yourselves into dangerous situations and temptations; do not think yourself too strong as not to fall; be humble.

Mortification of the senses both exterior and interior—flee from looks, hearing, or touches that are impure; expel unwholesome imaginations and memories from the on-set.

Apply ourselves well to our state of life—idleness is the devil’s playground.  It is most often when we are not about that which we must do, that the devil finds us ever ready to listen to his evil suggestions.

Ardent love for Jesus and His blessed Mother—we are moved by love more than anything else, and so our love must be well-ordered and not dysfunctional.  God has the primary place. For us to be pure of heart so that we may reach heaven, we must have a strong love of God, desiring Him above all else.  We must clear out from our affections all that would lead us astray.   True Devotion to our Lady helps us grow in that love of God. Let us implore the most Blessed Virgin Mary to assist us.  May she lift us up should we fall, catch us if we stumble, guide us through the true path to happiness, so that we too may be blessed hearing the word of God and keeping it in a pure heart.  

 “Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord: or who shall stand in his holy place?  The innocent in hands, and clean of heart, who has not taken his soul in vain...  He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Savior.” [Ps. 23:3-5]  Amen.