28 November 2013

The Mystery of Advent

As we approach the great season this Sunday, I return to Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year for occasional reflections. Today from his entry on the Mystery of Advent:

If, now that we have described the characteristic features of Advent which distinguish it from the rest of the year, we would penetrate into the profound mystery which occupies the mind of the Church during this season, we find that this mystery of the coming, or Advent, of Jesus is at once simple and threefold. It is simple, for it is the one same Son of God that is coining; it is threefold, because He comes at three different times and in three different ways.

‘In the first coming,’ says St. Bernard, ‘He comes in the flesh and in weakness; in the second, He comes in spirit and in power; in the third, He comes in glory and in majesty; and the second coming is the means whereby we pass from the first to the third.’ [Fifth sermon for Advent].

This, then, is the mystery of Advent. Let us now listen to the explanation of this threefold visit of Christ, given to us by Peter of Blois, in his third Sermon de Adventu: ‘There are three comings of our Lord; the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at the judgement. The first was at midnight, according to those words of the Gospel: At midnight there was a cry made, Lo the Bridegroom cometh! But this first coming is long since past, for Christ has been seen on the earth and has conversed among men. We are now in the second coming, provided only we are such as that He may thus come to us; for He has said that if we love him, He will come unto us and will take up His abode with us. So that this second coming is full of uncertainty to us; for who, save the Spirit of God, knows them that are of God? They that are raised out of themselves by the desire of heavenly things, know indeed when He comes; but whence He cometh, or whither He goeth, they know not. As for the third coming, it is most certain that it will be, most uncertain when it will be; for nothing is more sure than death, and nothing less sure than the hour of death. When they shall say, peace and security, says the apostle, then shall sudden destruction come upon them, as the pains upon her that is with child, and they shall not escape. So that the first coming was humble and hidden, the second is mysterious and full of love, the third will be majestic and terrible. In His first coming, Christ was judged by men unjustly; in His second, He renders us just by His grace; in His third, He will judge all things with justice. In His first, a lamb; in His last, a lion; in the one between the two, the tenderest of friends.’ [De Adventu, Sermon III.]

The holy Church, therefore, during Advent, awaits in tears and with ardour the arrival of her Jesus in His first coming. For this, she borrows the fervid expressions of the prophets, to which she joins her own supplications. These longings for the Messias expressed by the Church, are not a mere commemoration of the desires of the ancient Jewish people; they have a reality and efficacy of their own, an influence in the great act of God’s munificence, whereby He gave us His own Son. From all eternity, the prayers of the ancient Jewish people and the prayers of the Christian Church ascended together to the prescient hearing of God; and it was after receiving and granting them, that He sent, in the appointed time, that blessed Dew upon the earth, which made it bud forth the Saviour.

The Church aspires also to the second coming, the consequence of the first, which consists, as we have just seen, in the visit of the Bridegroom to the bride. This coming takes place, each year, at the feast of Christmas, when the new birth of the Son of God delivers the faithful from that yoke of bondage, under which the enemy would oppress them. [Collect for Christmas day]. The Church, therefore, during Advent, prays that she may be visited by Him who is her Head and her Spouse; visited in her hierarchy; visited in her members, of whom some are living, and some are dead, but may come to life again; visited, lastly, in those who are not in communion with her, and even in the very infidels, that so they may be converted to the true light, which shines even for them. The expressions of the liturgy which the Church makes use of to ask for this loving and invisible coming, are those which she employs when begging for the coming of Jesus in the flesh; for the two visits are for the same object. In vain would the Son of God have come, nineteen hundred years ago, to visit and save mankind, unless He came again for each one of us and at every moment of our lives, bringing to us and cherishing within us that supernatural life, of which He and His holy Spirit are the sole principle.

But this annual visit of the Spouse does not content the Church; she aspires after a third coming, which will complete all things by opening the gates of eternity. She has caught up the last words of her Spouse, ‘Surely I am coming quickly’ [Apoc. xxii. 20]; and she cries out to Him, ‘Ah! Lord Jesus! come!’ [Ibid.]. She is impatient to be loosed from her present temporal state; she longs for the number of the elect to be filled up, and to see appear, in the clouds of heaven, the sign of her Deliverer and her Spouse. Her desires, expressed by her Advent liturgy, go even as far as this; and here we have the explanation of these words of the beloved disciple in his prophecy: ‘The nuptials of the Lamb are come, and His wife hath prepared herself.’ [Ibid. xix. 7].

But the day of this His last coming to her will be a day of terror. The Church frequently trembles at the very thought of that awful judgement, in which all mankind is to be tried. She calls it ‘a day of wrath, on which, as David and the Sibyl have foretold, the world will be reduced to ashes; a day of weeping and of fear.’ Not that she fears for herself, since she knows that this day will for ever secure for her the crown, as being the bride of Jesus; but her maternal heart is troubled at the thought that, on the same day, so many of her children will be on the left hand of the Judge, and, having no share with the elect, will be bound hand and foot, and cast into the darkness, where there shall be everlasting weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is the reason why the Church, in the liturgy of Advent, so frequently speaks of the coming of Christ as a terrible coming, and selects from the Scriptures those passages which are most calculated to awaken a salutary fear in the mind of such of her children as may be sleeping the sleep of sin.

27 November 2013

Meatless Friday Wednesday: Movie Review Edition

See, this is the sort of thing that keeps me going. From Steve Sailor's full review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire--

Like the Twilight series, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games young-adult novels are aimed at 12-year-old female readers. This puts the movies squarely in the intellectual wheelhouse of average Americans, a sizable fraction of whom don’t read much at all.

Unlike the phenomenally girly Twilight, however, The Hunger Games concerns itself with traditionally male topics such as sports, violence, politics, and war. The downside of this is that Ms. Collins hasn’t thought much about her main topics (subjects that appealed more to her military historian father), and thus the movies tend to be direly unclever. The lack of effective satire in The Hunger Games series simply wears me down (although many in the audience seemed to find parts of the new movie’s second half amusing).

The upside is that the purity and intensity of Collins’s disapproval of the harm men do to each other is never seduced by any sporting interest in tactics.
The Hunger Games is relentless in its condemnation of children slaughtering each other on live TV.

Statement of Saint Louis Catholic

CREDO in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.

Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omnia facta sunt.

Qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.

Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris.

Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuos, cuius regni non erit finis.

Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit.

Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas.

Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam.

Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

26 November 2013

Shutting Down the Blog

93. Spiritual worldliness, which hides behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church, consists in seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and personal well-being. It is what the Lord reprimanded the Pharisees for: “How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (Jn 5:44). It is a subtle way of seeking one’s “own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil 2:21). It takes on many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups into which it seeps. Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything appears as it should be. But if it were to seep into the Church, “it would be infinitely more disastrous than any other worldliness which is simply moral”.[71]

94. This worldliness can be fuelled in two deeply interrelated ways. One is the attraction of gnosticism, a purely subjective faith whose only interest is a certain experience or a set of ideas and bits of information which are meant to console and enlighten, but which ultimately keep one imprisoned in his or her own thoughts and feelings. The other is the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. In neither case is one really concerned about Jesus Christ or others. These are manifestations of an anthropocentric immanentism. It is impossible to think that a genuine evangelizing thrust could emerge from these adulterated forms of Christianity.

95. This insidious worldliness is evident in a number of attitudes which appear opposed, yet all have the same pretence of “taking over the space of the Church”. In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few. In others, this spiritual worldliness lurks behind a fascination with social and political gain, or pride in their ability to manage practical affairs, or an obsession with programmes of self-help and self-realization. It can also translate into a concern to be seen, into a social life full of appearances, meetings, dinners and receptions. It can also lead to a business mentality, caught up with management, statistics, plans and evaluations whose principal beneficiary is not God’s people but the Church as an institution. The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. Evangelical fervour is replaced by the empty pleasure of complacency and self-indulgence.

96. This way of thinking also feeds the vainglory of those who are content to have a modicum of power and would rather be the general of a defeated army than a mere private in a unit which continues to fight. How often we dream up vast apostolic projects, meticulously planned, just like defeated generals! But this is to deny our history as a Church, which is glorious precisely because it is a history of sacrifice, of hopes and daily struggles, of lives spent in service and fidelity to work, tiring as it may be, for all work is “the sweat of our brow”. Instead, we waste time talking about “what needs to be done” – in Spanish we call this the sin of “habriaqueísmo” – like spiritual masters and pastoral experts who give instructions from on high. We indulge in endless fantasies and we lose contact with the real lives and difficulties of our people.

97. Those who have fallen into this worldliness look on from above and afar, they reject the prophecy of their brothers and sisters, they discredit those who raise questions, they constantly point out the mistakes of others and they are obsessed by appearances. Their hearts are open only to the limited horizon of their own immanence and interests, and as a consequence they neither learn from their sins nor are they genuinely open to forgiveness. This is a tremendous corruption disguised as a good. We need to avoid it by making the Church constantly go out from herself, keeping her mission focused on Jesus Christ, and her commitment to the poor. God save us from a worldly Church with superficial spiritual and pastoral trappings! This stifling worldliness can only be healed by breathing in the pure air of the Holy Spirit who frees us from self-centredness cloaked in an outward religiosity bereft of God. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the Gospel!

--Franciscus, Evangelii Gaudium, 2013

25 November 2013

22 November 2013

Warning on Fraudulent Typhoon Relief Fundraising

I pass this along, although I know it couldn't possibly affect any of my readers-- you know, you evil trads who can't stand the poor and distressed, and who would never have any compassion for them. In fact, from reading the internet, I learned that you don't like to even have any contact with them unless you can step on them and steal their lunch money. But, anyway, here goes nothing.

From the Archdiocese:

Archdiocesan warning regarding possible fraudulent donation solicitations for Typhoon Haiyan

It has been reported to the Archdiocese of St. Louis that an alleged fraudulent solicitation of funds for Typhoon Haiyan relief was made over the phone using the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ name. During this alleged incident the caller asked for a credit card number.

At this time we wish to make the public aware that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is not soliciting donations over the phone for this purpose and any call regarding donations for typhoon relief did not originate with us. We are accepting donations for typhoon relief through special collections at Sunday Masses; we are also accepting donations by mail to the following address:

Archdiocesan Finance Office
Attention: Catholic Relief Services—Typhoon Haiyan Disaster Relief
20 Archbishop May Drive
St. Louis, MO 63119

All donations collected by the Archdiocese of St. Louis will be directly turned over to Catholic Relief Services.

November 22, 1963

19 November 2013

What Hath Bob Wrought?

A few notes before you dare to view this video:

1.  It isn't a real Mass, no matter what the caption.  But you knew that.
2.  It isn't Bob's fault that he's awesome; it's the fault of the abusers.
3.  You could easily envision this at the n.o., couldn't you?  Right, Cat Stevens? In fact, I would say that but for the pretend priestess, it appears nearly indistinguishable from the n.o.-- but the sanctuary is actually considerably more beautiful than most parish sanctuaries, and the congregation kneels for communion.

P.S. check out the prayer at 9:19.  Make it your own.

Pontifical Mass at Karlskirche

Rorate Caeli tipped me to this page, with photos of a Pontifical Mass on November 4, 2013 at the church of St. Charles Borromeo in Vienna, Austria.  I post it for my lovely wife, mostly, as the Karlskirche was the first church in Europe at which we ever assisted at Mass.  This was back in our carefree, 2 child days.

Now, the Mass we attended did not match the beauty of this one.  Instead, we got to experience the glories of the Novus Ordo in German, along with the other thirteen members of the lumpen-proletariat that still go to Mass in Austria.  Oh well.  Every traditional Mass celebrated anywhere brings restoration closer, right? Especially in such a venue.  Right?

And of course the Institute was represented. God bless them!

Still, we do what we can. We keep off strangers and the foolhardy; and we train and we teach, we walk and we weed. (Treebeard)

A Peek behind the Curtain

People ask me, "How do you write such wonderful things?  I wish I could be there when you create such genius!"  Then, they usually add, "And when I'm there, I want to have outrageous eyebrows and pointy ears."  Weird, but true.

I found the above video at Hilary White's blog; she could use prayers, as she is going through some difficult health issues.

18 November 2013

One of the Best Articles I've Ever Read on the Novus Ordo

Anthony Esolen over at Crisis Magazine looks at an historical disaster and gives great insight. Excerpts:

...So, then, what does Prohibition teach us?

That amendment inserted into the Constitution a law that neither protected fundamental rights nor adjusted the mechanics of governance. It was a radical break from tradition. It is crucial to understand this. It took a juridical break from tradition to obliterate the customs, the lived traditions, of the American people and their forebears.


The need to enforce Prohibition gave rise to two things, both bad. One was a vast network of organized crime, because, although most people obeyed the law, many did not. The other was a vast network of organized police forces to fight the crime. Both have long survived the repeal of Prohibition. All organizations are, in one respect, like natural organisms. Their prime directive is to survive. Here the crime fighters had a big advantage over the criminals. Crime families reproduce; but bureaucracies metastasize. Each new crime family is a rival to the others, but each new federal agency is a tentacle and a feeder of the others. During Prohibition, Al Capone was a match for Eliot Ness, in power and in numbers. Now, a John Gotti is but a flea on the elephant’s hide. The average person suffers far greater encroachment upon his liberty, and far greater extortion of his earnings, from the elephant than from the flea.

So, Prohibition was a bad law because it was just what one of its supporters, Herbert Hoover, said it was: “A noble experiment.” It parted from American tradition. It nullified local customs and ordinances. It cleared a gravel path from the hearth to the Capitol—and began to pave a twelve-lane superhighway from the Capitol to the hearth, for that is the direction of most of the traffic. It was a bad law because of its immediate and dreadful unintended consequences.

And it was a bad law for the most obvious reason of all. It appealed to public welfare to outlaw something that was, in itself, not evil. Why do people miss this? Most people agree that drunkenness is an evil; but wine “gladdens the heart,” says the Psalmist, and Jesus at Cana did not turn wine into water. People would take a drink not to get drunk, but for conviviality and ease. What was so wrong with that?


We have, then, the worst of both worlds. We have a Prohibitionary State that gives license to all kinds of evil, but that regulates and restricts actions that are not evil, to manage the chaos that results from the license. This is done without a glance at the Constitution, which was not a dead letter in the days of the Volstead Act, but is now.

Also, this article is an excellent analysis of the real problems with the Eighteenth Amendment.

Meatless Friday Monday: TV Edition

This week we will be bombarded with JFK assassination retrospectives. Of course, as this event might just be THE seminal event in the overthrow of the Republic, it deserves such coverage. It would be nice, though, if any of the coverage was based on reality. Instead, you'll get the usual gloss.

Aaaaanyway, for your reading enjoyment, this article by Jim Goad surveys the -ahem- somewhat different bills of fare appearing on your telescreens from then to now. Note, there is one somewhat coarse expression in the article.

An excerpt:

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

Putting that aside, the most important question for the average American would be: How does the modern primetime network TV lineup differ from that of 50 years ago?

The main impression one gets from skimming the 1963 TV lineup is that the United States was still an empire in the exuberant process of expanding rather than apologizing. This was right before the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the subsequent humiliation in Vietnam, and shows such as Combat! and The Lieutenant portrayed servicemen more interested in winning wars than in appeasing the transgendered. And there were no lesbians in McHale’s Navy.

Judging solely from television lineups, the biggest cultural shift since 50 years ago has been the obliteration of the nuclear American family. In 1963, the only anomalous TV families seemed to be those helmed by straight-as-an-arrow single dads (My Three Sons, Andy Griffith), and I always assumed the mom had died in a tragic accident. I don’t know if either program ever explained what happened to the mommy, and it seemed silently understood that it would have been impolite to ask.

There are certainly no heroic cowboys anymore, only bumbling white dads who are purposely made the butt of every joke.

At least symbolically, JFK’s assassination marked the beginning of what would commonly come to be understood as “the sixties.” What followed is known in many quarters as “progress,” although to me it seems like an ongoing process of deconstruction and outright destruction. I doubt that today’s culture-busters have any idea what they intend to build, but they’re finely attuned to what they’re trying to destroy. And that’s probably the main reason I don’t have a TV anymore

15 November 2013

Three Items for Reflection and Prayer

The Holy Father needs and deserves our prayers.  He has the right to expect them of every Catholic.  And we should always pray for the triumph of the Church, Christ's Mystical Body.

It is in this context that I wish to post about three items appearing on the web this week, three items that highlight the current mess in which the Church finds herself.  A mess, unfortunately, that the words and actions of the Holy Father (intentional or not, misused or not) have brought about or made worse. 

Item 1: The above video is the the latest, but I want to lead with it.  Recall that Italy is a nation founded by freemasonic revolution, which, in direct opposition to the Pope, in defiance of the rights of the Church, and in an act of unjust appropriation of Papal lands, virtually imprisoned the Pope in the Vatican before Mussolini, of all people, signed the Lateran Treaty of 1929, recognizing the Papal right to the minimal territory it holds today.  The Holy Father made a state visit to Italy yesterday, and the President of Italy made what he probably considered a glowing compliment to the Pope thusly:

"You have impressed us with the absence of any dogmatism, keeping your distance from positions that exclude all uncertainty, and by your call to leave room for doubt in that characteristic way of the great leaders of the people of God.

"We have heard your words vibrate with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council as the re-reading of the Gospel in the light of modern culture..."

This is a very practical example of how the modern world hears the words of the Pope as reported by the media.  It is what they want to hear, of course.  You can read them and decide which way is the likely message, or wait for Mark Shea to tell you what the Pope really meant.  No matter. What effect do they have?  Do they edify the faithful and call nonbelievers to conversion, or do they dismay the faithful and embolden the enemies of Christ?

Which leads directly to Item 2:

Illinois is the latest state to legally equate repeated sodomy with the institution of marriage.  OK, yawn.  This is so commonplace it is hard to get too worked up about it.  But one thing is a bit disturbing.  The proponents of sodomy--nominal Catholics, too-- in explaining their actions, cited favorably the reported words of Pope Francis.  Apparently, they didn't wait for Mark Shea to tell them what he really meant: 

The papal comments at issue came in an interview with reporters in July on Pope Francis’ flight back from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?" the pope said.

According to the Tribune, those comments “sparked a wave of soul-searching by several Catholic lawmakers who had battled to reconcile their religious beliefs with their sworn duty to represent their constituents who were increasingly supportive of gay rights even as Cardinal Francis George remained opposed.”

Rep. Chapa LaVia said: "As a Catholic follower of Jesus and the pope, Pope Francis, I am clear that our Catholic religious doctrine has at its core love, compassion and justice for all people.”

Speaker Madigan did not name the pope, but made a clear reference to his comments. "For those that just happen to be gay — living in a very harmonious, productive relationship but illegal — who am I to judge that they should be illegal?" he said.

Actions have consequences whether they are intended or not.  The public comments of the most important leader in the world will have consequences.

Finally, Item 3, from Pat Buchanan:

Buchanan has a fine article today addressing the very real consequences of a Pope who essentially has ceded the field in public morals to the zeitgeist of the day.  The whole article should be read, but here are a few gems:

After noting the words of Bishop Cupich of Spokane that Pope Francis doesn't want 'cultural warriors', Buchanan writes: ... here is further confirmation His Holiness seeks to move the Catholic Church to a stance of non-belligerence, if not neutrality, in the culture war for the soul of the West.

There is a small problem with neutrality. As Trotsky observed, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” For the church to absent itself from the culture war is to not to end that war, but to lose it.


Goodstein quotes the Holy Father as listing among the “most serious of the evils” today “youth unemployment.” And he calls upon Catholics not to be “obsessed” with abortion or same-sex marriage.

But is teenage unemployment really a graver moral evil than the slaughter of 3,500 unborn every day in a land we used to call “God’s Country”?


The cultural revolution preached by Marxist Antonio Gramsci is continuing its “long march” through the institutions of the West and succeeding where the violent revolutions of Lenin and Mao failed.

It is effecting a transvaluation of all values. And it is not interested in a truce with the church of Pope Francis, but a triumph over that church which it reviles as the great enemy in its struggle.
Indeed, after decades of culture war waged against Christianity, the Vatican might consider the state of the Faith.

Our civilization is being de-Christianized. Popular culture is a running sewer. Promiscuity and pornography are pandemic. In Europe, the churches empty out as the mosques fill up. In America, Bible reading and prayer are outlawed in schools, as Christian displays are purged from public squares. Officially, Christmas and Easter do not exist.

The pope, says Goodstein, refers to proselytizing as “solemn nonsense.” But to proselytize is to convert nonbelievers.

And when Christ admonished his apostles, “Go forth and teach all nations,” and ten of his twelve were martyred doing so, were they not engaged in the Church’s true commission — to bring souls to Christ.


“Who am I to judge,” Pope Francis says of homosexuals.

Well, he is pope. And even the lowliest parish priest has to deliver moral judgments in a confessional.

“[S]ince he became pope,” writes Goodstein, Francis’ “approval numbers are skyrocketing. Even atheists are applauding.”

Especially the atheists, one imagines.

While Pope Francis has not altered any Catholic doctrines in his interviews and disquisitions, he is sowing seeds of confusion among the faithful, a high price to pay, even for “skyrocketing” poll numbers.

David Werthing at Ars Orandi has a more indepth analysis of the Buchanan article, and is worth a read here.

Troubling times indeed. 
Pray for the Holy Father and the Church!

Got to Approve of the Sentiment, Anyway

From STLToday:

Illinois bishop to perform ‘exorcism’ on day same-sex marriage becomes law

CHICAGO • Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said he will offer prayers for “exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage” at the same time Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the same-sex marriage bill next week.

Paprocki said he will offer the prayers intended to cast out evil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the state’s capital Wednesday.

“It is scandalous that so many Catholic politicians are responsible for enabling the passage of this legislation and even twisting the words of the pope to rationalize their actions despite the clear teaching of the church,” Paprocki said in a statement.

Earlier this month, House Speaker Michael Madigan cited the pope’s renowned “Who am I to judge?” phrase to explain the politician’s support for same-sex marriage on the House floor. Pope Francis’ remark — “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” — referred to gay men who seek to become priests, not to gay marriage.

In fact, during Argentina’s debate over same-sex marriage in 2010, Pope Francis, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, called it a “‘move’ of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

“Pope Francis is saying that same-sex ‘marriage’ comes from the devil and should be condemned as such,” Paprocki said.

An exorcism, which often refers to a rite performed on an individual, is applicable in the case of same-sex marriage because the devil can appear “in various forms of opposition to and persecution of the church,” the diocese of Springfield said in statement.

“All politicians now have the moral obligation to work for the repeal of this sinful and objectionable legislation,” Paprocki said. “We must pray for deliverance from this evil which has penetrated our state and our church.”


The French Warn about Mound City

The Washington Post has run a story about travel warnings issued by the French government to its citizens about certain U.S. cities.  Included is this entry for our town:

St. Louis: “Eviter le quartier nord entre l’aéroport et le centre-ville, mais la navette reliant l’aéroport est sûre.” Translation: Avoid northern area between the airport and the city center, but the airport shuttle is safe (Hat tip to our friend Chris Good, of ABC News, for spotting that nugget).

Just an FYI for you!

Will Our Regime Follow Suit?

From The Wall Street Journal:

China to Ease One-Child Policy Leaders Will Also Abolish Re-Education Through Labor

14 November 2013

Urgent Appeal from Fisher More College

I was going to post about Michael Voris' recent Vortex report on the college, but this item I just found at the Ars Orandi blog. The financial situation is apparently very serious.

Due to my technological failings, I will simply refer you to the post at Ars Orandi, in which the Vortex episode is also linked.

Please check it out.

From the Mouths of Babes

"But the Emperor has nothing at all on!" said a little child.

-- Hans Christian Andersen

Prayer Request

In your charity could you please offer prayers for a St. Louis family whose five-week infant remains in the ICU following surgery? Thank you!

12 November 2013

Tickets on Sale Soon for the Gaudete Gala

The Third Annual Gaudete Gala to benefit the sacred music program at St. Francis de Sales Oratory will take place Saturday, December 14, 2013 at the Millenium Hotel (note the venue change), beginning at 6 pm.

Tickets will go on sale November 17.  Details about the event, and how to purchase tickets, are on the flyer images above (click to greatly enlarge).

The event is a Christmas season must-go, and the tickets will sell quickly.  An evening of fun, great food and drink, and beautiful music.  And all for a great cause.

Don't blame me if you wait too long!

"The Only Glass that Would Not Break with that Unbearable Light"

To brighten your Tuesday, a lovely homage to Our Mother:

A Little Litany
by G.K. Chesterton

When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven--and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In that strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment's hem
God, grown adventurous from all time's repose,
Or your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

11 November 2013

Gratitutde as the Practical Course of Action

Events proceed in the Catholic world, and confusion and dismay abound.

I have been contemplating a post for some time now on the strategy, or better yet, the attitude, of a Catholic trying to make sense of the current turmoil.  Something about the duty of daily duties as a substitute for dramatic and immediate successes.  The way things are going, I thought it a bit ambitious to discuss the "joy" of daily duties.

But Canon Wiener's sermon on Sunday has me thinking about a discussion of the duty of daily joys.

In discussing with a friend the other day the lack of support for a traditionally-minded Catholic family coming from the top of the hierarchy of the Church, I tried to articulate my feeling that what is happening to canonically-regular Catholics who actually believe the faith is the worst sort of persecution: the persecution of neglect.

Consider, the SSPX and those beyond them-- they are used to the current state.  I won't speak for them, but guess that the current confusion and environment of novelty is something they would maintain has existed almost unabated for fifty years.  Perhaps the last pontificate would be considered a breather from that.  Perhaps.  They feel actively persecuted for the faith.

The heretics who consider themselves "progressives" within the Church feel vindicated.  To them, they must feel that again (after a brief and bitter persecution of someone actually expressing an opposite opinion) they are on the right side of history, along with Marx, Boff, Jesus and all the other revolutionaries.  They feel no persecution except from the 1%, however they define it.

The professional Middles are good either way, of course.  They are never persecuted within the Church, though sometimes outside it.  They read the latest press reports of what the Pope says and claim they agree with that.  Always did, always will.  They are always on the side of the moment.  We have always been at war with East Asia. 

The "canonically regular", or "Ecclesia Dei" communities, what once would have been called by some the "indult communities", well, pardon me if I speak about them.  I am most familiar with them.  We are in a situation that previously existed roughly from 1988-2005.  And while that situation is not new, remember that these communities have seen rapid growth, especially in the last 8 years or so.  So much that many of the faithful who belong to these communities are now experiencing for the first time the sensation of not being in favorite status in Rome, of not being on the cutting edge of restoration, of not being particularly welcome away from the crazy table anymore.  Not aggressively curtailed yet (if one is not a Franciscan of the Immaculate, anyway), but more like just being ignored.  Neglected.  We are irrelevant.

Obviously, not being persecuted is a pleasant feeling.  On the other hand, being aggressively persecuted can feel the next best thing. You KNOW you are being persecuted, you KNOW it is for Christ, and it pulls you through.  You can glory in it, in a sense--which is the great danger, because the devil can tempt us even as he kills us, if you get my drift.

But being ignored or suffering benign neglect has none of the pleasant sensations of either.  There is little glory in it, though it requires the perseverance of the persecuted.  Those who lived through any portion of 1970-2005 while trying to preserve the traditional understanding and practice of the faith know this state.  But, like I said, many are now getting this for the first time, and want to be reassured.

Why?  Why is this happening?  Am I in the right place?  What was Pope Benedict thinking?  There must be a PLAN behind all this. Right?

Which leads me to Canon Wiener's sermon.  The topic was Gratitude.  It struck me that gratitude provides the glue, the reason, the motivation we need at this time.

I think it is in being actively grateful to God that we can best steer through the current doldrums and do His will.  It is in being grateful that we will find the daily joy of our duties.  We have been given so much.  It is pride to look to outsmart the daily grind.  We must be patient, and wait on the Lord.

Though problems obviously remain, it is undeniable that access to the Mass has increased around the world, especially in this country.  In St. Louis, there are at least three places where the Mass is celebrated in the ancient rite every single day.  And if you are so blessed as to have St. Francis de Sales Oratory, so ably manned by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, how can you not be grateful?

The best way to secure future blessings is to be grateful for those that God has already given us.

St. Francis de Sales says it well, as usual.  I leave you with this prayer because this great saint speaks to us, right now, on how to handle all of this.  In gratitude we can find peace and joy: 

The Prayer of St. Francis DeSales

For Complete Trust in God

Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence as they arise. God has guided you thus far in life. If you hold fast to God’s hand, you will be led safely through all trials. Whenever you cannot stand, God will carry you lovingly in his arms.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same eternal father who takes care of you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day of your life. Either God will shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations. Amen.

08 November 2013

Another Two Bite the Dust

From STLToday: Two south St. Louis Catholic schools to close

Two south St. Louis parish schools will close after this academic year.

The decision to shutter St. John the Baptist and Immaculate Heart of Mary comes as leaders of nine parishes on the city's south side continue looking at ways to address declining enrollment and rising costs.

The collaborative agreed that all seven other schools involved in the discussions will remain open at least through the 2014-15 school year.

The decision to close the two schools was not a surprise. St. John the Baptist Elementary School raised more than $240,000 in the past year to remain open. And in January, Principal Melissa Langevin of Immaculate Heart of Mary told the Post-Dispatch that the school had just enough finances to remain open for this school year.

In the past 15 years, enrollment at the school dropped to fewer than 150 from nearly 400 students.

Representatives from the two schools slated for closing will remain involved in future meetings "to ensure that the students of their schools have a long-term option for continuing their Catholic education," states a news release from the St. Louis Archdiocese.

Monsignor Michael Turek, pastor at St. Joan of Arc, said discussion among the parish leaders will continue. The group had hoped to have a long-term solution in place by the beginning of 2014.

"We bit off more than we could chew. That was an aggressive timeline to deal with the complexity of the issues," Turek said of the meetings that began about a year ago.

"What we don't want to do is put a Band-Aid on the problem."


Beyond St. John the Baptist and Immaculate Heart, the other parishes involved in the collaboration include: Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Ambrose, St. James the Greater, St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Raphael the Archangel, St. Joan of Arc and St. Stephen Protomartyr.

In the 2012-13 school year, there were 2,592 students enrolled in elementary schools in the South City Deanery, according to the St. Louis Archdiocese. That is a drop of more than 1,500 students in a decade.

The Hippopotamus

The broad-backed hippopotamus
Rests on his belly in the mud;
Although he seems so firm to us
He is merely flesh and blood.

Flesh-and-blood is weak and frail,
Susceptible to nervous shock;
While the True Church can never fail
For it is based upon a rock.

The hippo's feeble steps may err
In compassing material ends,
While the True Church need never stir
To gather in its dividends.

The 'potamus can never reach
The mango on the mango-tree;
But fruits of pomegranate and peach
Refresh the Church from over sea.

At mating time the hippo's voice
Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd,
But every week we hear rejoice
The Church, at being one with God.

The hippopotamus's day
Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
God works in a mysterious way--
The Church can sleep and feed at once.

I saw the 'potamus take wing
Ascending from the damp savannas,
And quiring angels round him sing
The praise of God, in loud hosannas.

Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
Among the saints he shall be seen
Performing on a harp of gold.

He shall be washed as white as snow,
By all the martyr'd virgins kist,
While the True Church remains below
Wrapt in the old miasmal mist.

-- T.S. Eliot

Reader Prayer Request

This one moved me, and I post it as I received it:

I humbly request that you ask your readers offer their prayers, through the Infant of Prague, for my 16 year old granddaughter who was raped by two adult men and for my beloved mother who is approaching the end of Life. We also thank Jesus for a return to health of my wife.

06 November 2013

Is There Anything Bob Doesn't Know?

In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
Where wisdom grows up in strife
My bewilderin' brain, toils in vain
Through the darkness on the pathways of life

Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
Tomorrow keeps turnin' around
We live and we die, we know not why
But I'll be with you when the deal goes down

We eat and we drink, we feel and we think
Far down the street we stray
I laugh and I cry, and I'm haunted by
Things I never meant nor wished to say

The midnight rain follows the train
We all wear the same thorny crown
Soul to soul, our shadows roll
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

Well, the moon gives light and it shines by night
When I scarcely feel the glow
We learn to live and then we forgive
O'er the road we're bound to go

More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours
That keep us so tightly bound
You come to my eyes like a vision from the skies
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

Well, I picked up a rose and it poked through my clothes
I followed that winding stream
I heard the deafening noise, I felt transient joys
I know they're not what they seem

In this earthly domain, full of disappointment and pain
You'll never see me frown
I owe my heart to you and that's sayin' it true
And I'll be with you when the deal goes down

--Bob Dylan - When The Deal Goes Down

05 November 2013

What You Will

"For my own part," said he, "I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me and be happy.  I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage.  My friend Lord Courtland came to me the other day on purpose to ask my advice, and laid before me three different plans of Bonomi's.  I was to decide on the best of them.  'My dear Courtland,' said I, immediately throwing them all into the fire, 'do not adopt either of them, but by all means build a cottage.'  And that, I fancy, will be the end of it. Some people imagine that there can be no accommodations, no space in a cottage; but this is all a mistake.  I was last month at my friend Elliott's near Dartford.  Lady Elliott wished to give a dance. 'But how can it be done?' said she; 'my dear Ferrars, do tell me how it is to be managed.  There is not a room in this cottage that will hold ten couple, and where can the supper be?'  I immediately saw that there could be no difficulty in it, so I said, 'My dear Lady Elliott, do not be uneasy.  The dining parlour will admit eighteen couple with ease; card-tables may be placed in the drawing-room; the library may be open for tea and other refreshments; and let the supper be set out in the saloon.'  Lady Elliott was delighted with the thought.  We measured the dining room, and found it would hold exactly eighteen couples, and the affair was arranged precisely after my plan.  So that in fact, you see, if people do but know how to set about it, every comfort may be as well enjoyed in a cottage as in the most spacious dwelling."

Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.

-- Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

~To Sharon~

04 November 2013

An Encouraging Move that Deserves to be Imitated: St. Raphael School Institues Daily Mass Attendance for its Students

photo by Lisa Johnston
In Friday's edition of the St. Louis Review, Jennifer Brinker writes about some very good news that gives hope for Catholic education in this Archdiocese.  St. Raphael School in St. Louis Hills, under the leadership of Monsignor Henry Breier, has implemented the practice of daily Mass attendance for all students at the school.

Certainly, there is much to lament in the state of Catholic education throughout the world, and particularly in this country, where the slide has been well-documented in terms of catechesis, retention of faith, Mass attendance, etc.  Any initiative, such as this one, that aims to increase the Catholicity of the school, and to make the sacraments more widely available, is worthy of praise.

Daily Mass seems like a natural and easy thing to do, but as the story points out, there is opposition to the practice, and it can take some logistical planning to accommodate it within the school day.  An excerpt from the full story:

Students at St. Raphael School see fruits of attending daily Mass

When Caroline Cyr started going to Mass with her classmates, she seized the opportunity to pray for her family. She also thought it couldn't hurt if she said a few little prayers for her upcoming tests at school.
The eighth-grader at St. Raphael School in south St. Louis is enjoying something new at her school this year -- going to daily Mass. Since the start of the school year in mid-August, students have been attending daily Mass as a required part of the school day. Previously, the students had been going once a week.

"I really like going to Mass because I feel like we get to start each day with God, and we get to carry that grace with us throughout the school day," said Caroline.

The effort to change from a weekly to a daily Mass came after months of discussion and preparation among students, teachers and parents. The effort was led by pastor Msgr. Henry Breier and the school principal, Kim Vangel. In order to accommodate the academic schedule, an extra 20 minutes was added on to each day to allow students to attend Mass. On most days, first- through eighth-graders attend the regularly scheduled 8 a.m. Mass, which lasts about 25 minutes. On special feast days, all students (including kindergarten and on occasion preschoolers) go to a slightly longer Mass, where students participate as readers, gift bearers, the choir and in other roles. There are about 190 students in kindergarten through eighth grade and 50 in the preschool.


Vangel noted that some families outside of the parish boundaries -- including one family from Ballwin -- are choosing to send their children to St. Raphael specifically because of daily Mass. Frank Hogrebe, a parent of six children, three of whom are students at St. Raphael, counts himself among those who are grateful for the change.

"It's something we have always wondered about why all (Catholic schools) didn't have daily Mass," said Hogrebe. "Mass is the centerpiece of our faith, so it's great the kids at an early age are being made aware of that." [...]

In the sidebar story, Ms. Brinker writes about other schools who have this practice and gets a take from the Archdiocese's Office of Worship.  In the story, she notes that the Directory for Masses with Children, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1973 (yes, that 1973) actually discourages daily Mass attendance for children.  You read that right:

"weekday Mass in which children participate can certainly be celebrated with greater effect and less danger of boredom if it does not take place every day" (DMC No. 27).

Let that statement, written by the Vatican Congregation in charge of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, sink in.  Ask yourself: Can the Mass really be celebrated with greater effect if it does not take place every day?  Does it matter if children are there?  Does it matter if they are bored? 

Sorry, the Mass is effective because it is the propitiatory sacrifice of the Lamb of God.  It "works" whether or not we are there, and whether or not we care.  It is the action of Jesus Christ, through the priest acting in persona Christi capitis.

That statement from the Directory betrays a mindset that might be best described as a departure from the Catholic understanding of the Mass.  It exhibits a mindset, so common today and directly related to the destruction of the Mass following a certain Council, that sees the Mass as only "effective" if we all "participate" somehow.  Not "actual participation" as noted in Sacrosanctum Concilium, but the misunderstood "active participation" as deemed by the liturgical experts whose revolution emptied the parishes when it denuded the Mass.

Keep that in mind when you read this excerpt:

Msgr. William McCumber, director of the archdiocesan Office of Sacred Worship, noted that while offering daily Mass for school children is not an easy accomplishment, it can be done, with thoughtful preparation and the dedication of the school community.

"Anytime you're dealing with young children, there's always that possibility that this could become repetitious or rote for them," he said. "The directory is written from a precautionary standpoint of taking in consideration the entire child. It does not forbid (daily Mass) but certainly implies that done correctly, it's going to require work and the cooperation of everyone -- not only the students, but the parents and the school staff. No one can walk into school and say the next month we're going to start doing this."

With all due respect, and acknowledging that the basics of scheduling have to be arranged, I disagree.  We can just do it.  Tomorrow. Mass is already being celebrated daily.  Take the children to it.  It isn't a performance that needs to be orchestrated for their enjoyment.  It is Mass.

This quote from a priest at another parish that has daily Mass for children highlights this:

The priest said he believes that going to Mass frequently can have a very positive effect on children, but there's also a big responsibility on the priest to make sure the experience is one that they can appreciate.

"When they have invested five days a week (at Mass) for eight years in this school, it would be harder for them to walk away from something they have invested in," he said. "You're not there to be an entertainer, but want it to be meaningful to them so that it is a positive experience when they walk away."

Yes.  I agree there is a big responsibility on the priest-- and that he is not there to be an entertainer.  The way to do this is to celebrate the Mass according to the rubrics without regard for time, place, or who assists.

Finally, kudos to the Review's editorial staff for publishing this editorial calling for daily Mass attendance at all Catholic schools; certainly it is in line with Archbishop Carlson's effort to revitalize the educational system of the Archdiocese.  An excerpt:

...The centerpiece of our Catholic faith is the Eucharist. It's what defines us and gives us our strength to serve as witnesses to Christ's love for others. Mass is the place from which everything else flows -- our prayers, our service, our spirituality. Perhaps, then, more schools could consider daily Mass as part of their culture, their core Catholic identity. Childhood is a prime time in which Catholic parents and educators must offer proper faith formation, to help them better understand our faith through the prayers of the Mass....

The restoration must begin somewhere.  What better place than with our Catholic children?