31 July 2013

BREAKING: Pope Francis Appoints Special Administrator for the Jesuits; Priests Are Ordered to Strictly Adhere to the Rubrics of the Ordinary Form and to Have Regular Recourse to Extraordinary Form

In a strongly worded decree from the Congregation for Religious (like the Decree concerning the Franciscans of the Immaculate, approved in forma specifica by His Holiness), the Jesuits have been instructed to--


Who am I kidding?

That would NEVER happen.

(Sorry if I got you excited). ;-)

Vexilla Regis Mottram Prodeunt


Shame on me for taking the bait, but the Rex Mottrams of the blog world are at it again.  Yet again, we see the brave hunters of the evil Rad Trad letting us know that no matter what outrages traditionally-minded Catholics might suffer, it is always, ALWAYS, their own fault.

How dare you want the traditional Mass!  How dare you pursue your rights under the laws of the Church!  How dare you take a stand for the moral law!  Relax and don't mention anything unpleasant!

This time we have Taylor Marshall giving us his take on the decision to prohibit the traditional Mass, without prior permission, to the Franciscans of the Immaculate.  He refers to what he says is the opinion of one of the priests in the minority camp of the Franciscans-- one who preferred the novus ordo:  You see, the FIs were "sipping from the radical traditionalist cool aid".

 And then he goes on to give the reader a "snap shot" of just what is a radical traditionalist:

a) the denial of the Jewish holocaust
b) the outright denial of Vatican 2 as a valid council
c) rhetorical style of the Rorate Caeli blog
d) the embrace of isolationist sub-culture of Catholicism or “Amish Catholicism”
e) the denial the charismatic gifts and the charistmatic movement
f) sympathy for the Bp Williamson’s style of traditionalism
g) disdain for Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis
h) the belief that Latin Mass Catholics are “A Team” and Novus Ordo Catholics are “B Team”
i) Gnostic ecclesiology – that “traditionalists” form the one true invisible Catholic Church

The Straw Man Cometh.  Marshall adds as a disclaimer that he doesn't think that "most" of the people who attend the traditional Mass "are all that close" to this snapshot.  So why bring it up?  Are "most" Franciscans RadTrads?  No?  Then what is the point of all this except to warn everyone that though "most" traditionalists aren't this way, you see, well, maybe they are? wink, wink!

You see, the point to be made to other bloggers is that he's one of the good ones.

I posted this comment:

Oh. Yes. The rad trads. Scary. I'm surprised you don't have some grainy, 8mm footage of one lurking in the distance to prove they exist. 

Not only do I agree with your disclaimer that "most people" attending the TLM don't meet your criteria, I doubt you could produce a single one.

Back before total frustration with this tactic set in, I would write ad nauseam to Mark Shea and others, begging the dropping of labels like rad trad and neo-catholic etc.  I am one of those trads who very much think that "conservatives" and "trads" have common cause and should work together.  I know you have seen me use these terms lately as a shorthand descriptor, but would gladly, gladly drop the whole sorry thing.

I am tired of the smug mudslinging of the self-appointed blog betters who tell me to take my medicine and call it delicious.  To them, I simply say that charity does not mean total self-delusion.  One is not required to lie to serve charity.  Bearing unpleasant facts-- yes, that may sometimes be required by charity.  Lying about facts-- that never is charity's demand.

Adherents to the philosophy of thisPope (tm) would do well to keep this in mind.

Anyway, to end on a bright note of charity, a better Catholic than myself posted this comment on the Marshall post:

Dr. Marshall,

I admire you as a Catholic intellectual and father and am an ardent supporter of Fisher More College. I am, however, disappointed in this analysis. While I agree with the counsel that we should remain calm and follow the instruction of St. Paul in Phil 2:14-15, I think you fall into the common trap of blaming Traditionalists first whenever something unfortunate befalls them. 

It goes something like this: Yes, the Bishop has disbanded the Latin Mass Community in his Diocese, but it's really the traditionalists fault because they're jerks; stubborn and difficult people. Some of them are even anti-semites and closet sedevacantists. I can't really name who they are, but trust me they are there. If only they'd become active in the Diocese - you know - participate in the ecumenical prayer services and help with RCIA. Then everything would be okay.

I always shake my head when I read lists like you put together in this post. It seems like the desire to be seen as mainstream always forces people to trot out these tendentious lists of supposed traditionalist faults. I'm curious where all these people are. Which people specifically at Mater Dei Parish in Irving are anti semites? I want to know. I keep hearing these claims and quite frankly I don't believe the problem exists like so many "mainstream" Catholics say. 

As someone that only learned of the Traditional Mass after SP, I've become appalled at how Traditional Catholics are treated. I've seen this first hand. I've seen them belittled and treated as second class citizens by priests and bishops. And, instead of sympathy from mainstream conservative Catholics they are blamed for what befalls them. It's baffling.

Meatless Friday Thursday: Chicken Edition

"Although I now eschew his chicken for dietary reasons, I still love the Colonel. But then, I love America. I love tradition. And I love heroes. Alas, is there anything more anachronistic in these New United States?"

--A Rebel Yell for the Colonel, by Guy Somerset

30 July 2013

Dancing Bishops, Conservative Spin, and the Night of the Long Blogs

The circular firing squad of Catholic blogdom is in full frenzy this week.  The immediate global situation for Catholics who still care about the Church is not so great.  Of course, we are on the cusp of The Great Victory, whenever Our Lord returns.  So, in a way, this is all very little in terms of the big picture.  But in terms of the health of the visible institution of the Church Christ founded on Peter and entrusted to his successors, well, we are in a bit of a bad way.

The purpose of this post is to just point out some of the more memorable blog posts of the past week and give my own take.  There were several good ones, but I will focus on three Catholic opinionators of note.  Read on, if you dare.

Michael Voris, Fr. Zuhlsdorf,  and Mark Shea on the Dancing Bishops

I thought Voris just nailed the dancing bishops debacle.  Is it a doctrinal rebuke?  Of course not.  But that's not the point, is it?

Fr. Z added his own take, which to me was very mild.  His post has been edited due the response, below.

However, Fr. Z's continued Quixotic quest to appease the so-called conservative Catholic followers of thisPope drew the ire of Mark Shea.  Shea responded with the following commentary:  "Ad-hominem-ad-hominem-ad-hominem-ad-hominem-ad-hominem-ad-hominem."

OK, that doesn't really narrow it down, as that describes the content of 99.9% of Shea's posts about traditional Catholics. 

Other neo-Cath types on Patheos took it further-- they flat-out accused Fr. Z of playing the Nazi card.  See the one thing bloggers with some books to sell hate is Nazi analogies, unless, that is,  they're slinging them against traditional Catholics.

After the Pope Francis Canonizes 40 Gay Pride Marchers for the Environment story broke, Shea took the time to condescend to praise Fr. Z for Fr. Z's continued Quixotic quest to appease traditional Catholics fed up with conservative casuistic spin.  Wrote Shea: "Slightly-more-gentle-ad-hominem-but-here's-a-cookie-now-be-good-or-else-you-know-what-follows." 

OK, that doesn't really help since it describes the content of 99.9% of Shea's posts about trad self-flagellation.

What I find interesting in the Shea-Fr. Z exchanges is something my brother pointed out to me today:

The fact that a "conservative" Catholic blogger would so-publicly take on Fr. Z says volumes about both the conservatives themselves and also the reform-of-reform/Benedictine camp of Catholics. 

1) We already knew that the conservatives had to hold their noses and tolerate Catholic tradition, traditionalists, and the traditional Mass for, oh, about 8 years.  As I said before, that was because thatPope wanted tradition.  But when thatPope became thisPope, that all went out the window. You could almost hear the squeals of glee.  Happily, they wheeled Uncle Crazytrad back to the crazy table.

But, but.... as long as the Pope Emeritus had any caché, they still had to tolerate the reform of the reform movement.  That ship sure seems to have now sailed as well, so hey, open season on them, too.  Nothing can stand in the way of book sales.

2) Fr. Z has many fans, though I am not one.  However, he is an important opinon leader on the web for Catholics who care about the faith and the liturgy.  He has done some good work, and at times I think he is a bit heavy handed.  I think at his best he is a very helpful bridge figure, promoting a more traditional Catholic praxis to the greater mass of conservative Catholics.  That's a good thing for anyone who wants to "evangelize" the traditional Mass.  When I have disagreed with his position or his tone I have avoided taking him on.  Mostly, because I am a nobody.  But also because I just chalk it up to the fact that people of good will can disagree and yet be in the same ballpark, so why not work together.

The latest inanity from Shea will, I pray, provide Fr. Z, other bloggers like him, and their readers to understand that conservatives don't (by and large) want common cause with traditional Catholics.  We embarrass them. We challenge them.  It's awkward, really.

Yes it is a shame.  But it is reality.  The sooner Catholics quit trying to accomodate liberals who take all efforts at compromise as a sign to increase the attack, the better it will be for the Church.

Thus, with the abdication of Pope Benedict really comes, in a tangible way, the abdication of the reform of the reform movement.  It did much good, and brought some to tradition while bringing some traditionalists to a more outgoing, evangelizing brand of tradition.

At the time of the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, some writers fretted that the Pope wanted to use the TLM to really just reform the Novus Ordo, and not to allow it to continue in the future as it is.  I said then and will say now that it doesn't matter.  The availability of the traditional Mass will itself ensure it survives and flourishes.  It is a matter of time.  Forces have been unleashed that cannot be controlled by policy.  Whatever the intent of Pope Benedict behind the motu proprio, it will do its work.  The traditional Mass will win out, without a doubt.

Until then, pray, and enjoy the ride.

Matthew 7:29

We must repeat with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker - the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants. OMNIA INSTAURARE IN CHRISTO.


The same applies to the notion of Fraternity which they found on the love of common interest or, beyond all philosophies and religions, on the mere notion of humanity, thus embracing with an equal love and tolerance all human beings and their miseries, whether these are intellectual, moral, or physical and temporal. But Catholic doctrine tells us that the primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas, however sincere they may be, nor in the theoretical or practical indifference towards the errors and vices in which we see our brethren plunged, but in the zeal for their intellectual and moral improvement as well as for their material well-being. Catholic doctrine further tells us that love for our neighbor flows from our love for God, Who is Father to all, and goal of the whole human family; and in Jesus Christ whose members we are, to the point that in doing good to others we are doing good to Jesus Christ Himself. Any other kind of love is sheer illusion, sterile and fleeting.


...as if everything that benefited the Church did not benefit the whole human race! A curious reversal of notions! The Church might benefit from social action! As if the greatest economists had not recognized and proved that it is social action alone which, if serious and fruitful, must benefit the Church! But stranger still, alarming and saddening at the same time, are the audacity and frivolity of men who call themselves Catholics and dream of re-shaping society under such conditions, and of establishing on earth, over and beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, "the reign of love and justice" with workers coming from everywhere, of all religions and of no religion, with or without beliefs, so long as they forego what might divide them - their religious and philosophical convictions, and so long as they share what unites them - a "generous idealism and moral forces drawn from whence they can" When we consider the forces, knowledge, and supernatural virtues which are necessary to establish the Christian City, and the sufferings of millions of martyrs, and the light given by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the self-sacrifice of all the heroes of charity, and a powerful hierarchy ordained in heaven, and the streams of Divine Grace - the whole having been built up, bound together, and impregnated by the life and spirit of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, the Word made man - when we think, I say, of all this, it is frightening to behold new apostles eagerly attempting to do better by a common interchange of vague idealism and civic virtues. What are they going to produce? What is to come of this collaboration? A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity. It will be a tumultuous agitation, sterile for the end proposed, but which will benefit the less Utopian exploiters of the people. Yes, we can truly say that the Sillon, its eyes fixed on a chimera, brings Socialism in its train.

We fear that worse is to come: the end result of this developing promiscuousness, the beneficiary of this cosmopolitan social action, can only be a Democracy which will be neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Jewish. It will be a religion (for Sillonism, so the leaders have said, is a religion) more universal than the Catholic Church, uniting all men become brothers and comrades at last in the "Kingdom of God". - "We do not work for the Church, we work for mankind."


We wish to draw your attention, Venerable Brethren, to this distortion of the Gospel and to the sacred character of Our Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, prevailing within the Sillon and elsewhere. As soon as the social question is being approached, it is the fashion in some quarters to first put aside the divinity of Jesus Christ, and then to mention only His unlimited clemency, His compassion for all human miseries, and His pressing exhortations to the love of our neighbor and to the brotherhood of men. True, Jesus has loved us with an immense, infinite love, and He came on earth to suffer and die so that, gathered around Him in justice and love, motivated by the same sentiments of mutual charity, all men might live in peace and happiness. But for the realization of this temporal and eternal happiness, He has laid down with supreme authority the condition that we must belong to His Flock, that we must accept His doctrine, that we must practice virtue, and that we must accept the teaching and guidance of Peter and his successors. Further, whilst Jesus was kind to sinners and to those who went astray, He did not respect their false ideas, however sincere they might have appeared. He loved them all, but He instructed them in order to convert them and save them. Whilst He called to Himself in order to comfort them, those who toiled and suffered, it was not to preach to them the jealousy of a chimerical equality. Whilst He lifted up the lowly, it was not to instill in them the sentiment of a dignity independent from, and rebellious against, the duty of obedience. Whilst His heart overflowed with gentleness for the souls of good-will, He could also arm Himself with holy indignation against the profaners of the House of God, against the wretched men who scandalized the little ones, against the authorities who crush the people with the weight of heavy burdens without putting out a hand to lift them. He was as strong as he was gentle. He reproved, threatened, chastised, knowing, and teaching us that fear is the beginning of wisdom, and that it is sometimes proper for a man to cut off an offending limb to save his body. Finally, He did not announce for future society the reign of an ideal happiness from which suffering would be banished; but, by His lessons and by His example, He traced the path of the happiness which is possible on earth and of the perfect happiness in heaven: the royal way of the Cross. These are teachings that it would be wrong to apply only to one's personal life in order to win eternal salvation; these are eminently social teachings, and they show in Our Lord Jesus Christ something quite different from an inconsistent and impotent humanitarianism.

-- Pope St. Pius X, "Our Apostolic Mandate", Letter regarding the Sillon, 1910

29 July 2013

'Great' Papal News Day

Well, not so much.  As in, not.

I had business to attend to earlier today, so by the time I type this the usual spin doctors of damage control (principally neo-Catholic varietals) and damage exploiters (principally sodomy-enablers) have parsed the Pope's "off-the-cuff" remarks of today.

What did he say?  Well, it goes without saying that His Holiness cannot, and did not, change any Church teaching on the grave immorality of sodomy, or habitual sodomy. He reaffirmed this teaching.  But he unfortunately did give fodder to the Church's enemies by inexact language.

He is quoted as having said, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?"  Well, of course if this is understood in a certain way, it makes sense.  The problem is that every person who would in fact understand this remark in the correct sense doesn't need to be told it, yet so many-- the vast majority, in fact-- who hear or read this will take it as an indication that the teaching on sodomy has changed or will change or can change.

It can confirm persons in sin; it tends to discourage the faithful under increasing attack from the world.  Particularly, it can discourage those persons with temptations to that particular sin to wonder whether they need to continue to resist.  Already the story is reported that the Pope won't judge "gay people", and some are reporting it as "gay priests".

Thus, these comments seem quite inopportune.  The only real question is whether the Pope made them innocently, or intentionally.  I don't know which is worse.  Popes and airplane press conferences don't seem to go together.

But wait!  There's more...

Francis also commented that the role of women in the Church can't be limited to just being altar girls... "there must be more."  Terrific.  I guess we won't see the end of altar girls soon.  Maybe when the novus ordo finally bites the dust.  We can only pray we don't see the foisting of deaconesses on the Church; the Church is already effeminized enough.

But wait!  There's still more...

Into all of this mix is the stunning decision of the Congregation for Institutes of Religious Life, approved in forma specifica by Pope Francis, greatly limiting the right of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to celebrate the traditional Mass.  Rorate has the story, and frankly, does a fine job of giving the facts, the text of the decree, and the spin-doctoring surrounding it as well.  All told, it does not bode well at all.  Of course, one can limit this decision to its facts-- that hardly seems the point.  It speaks to the mind of the Holy Father, or at least as to the power of those within the Curia who hate the Mass.  Read and pray.

From the full post:
The decree installs an apostolic commissioner - in the person of the Capuchin Fidenzio Volpi - at the head of all the communities of the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

And this in itself is cause for astonishment. Because the Franciscans of the Immaculate are one of the most flourishing religious communities born in the Catholic Church in recent decades, with male and female branches, with many young vocations, spread over several continents and with a mission in Argentina as well.

They want to be faithful to tradition, in full respect for the magisterium of the Church. So much so that in their communities they celebrate Masses both in the ancient rite and in the modern rite, as moreover do hundreds of religious communities around the world - the Benedictines of Norcia, to give just one example - applying the spirit and the letter of the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum" of Benedict XVI.

But precisely this was contested by a core group of internal dissidents, who appealed to the Vatican authorities complaining of the excessive propensity of their congregation to celebrate the Mass in the ancient rite, with the effect of creating exclusion and opposition within the communities, of undermining internal unity and, worse, of weakening the more general "sentire cum Ecclesia."

The Vatican authorities responded by sending an apostolic visitor one year ago. And now comes the appointment of the commissioner.

But what is most astonishing are the last five lines of the decree of July 11:

"In addition to the above, the Holy Father Francis has directed that every religious of the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is required to celebrate the liturgy according to the ordinary rite and that, if the occasion should arise, the use of the extraordinary form (Vetus Ordo) must be explicitly authorized by the competent authorities, for every religious and/or community that makes the request.”

What should be noted is that it matters not to the enemies of the Mass that the order is flourishing and growing.  It matters not that the order attracts vocations.  It doesn't matter that the order is successful.  Actually, that's all that matters.  Flourishing Catholic groups are not wanted.

27 July 2013

So Wrote H.L Mencken

"The whole history of the country has been a history of melodramatic pursuits of horrendous monsters, most of them imaginary : the red-coats, the Hessians, the monocrats, again the red-coats, the Bank, the Catholics, Simon Legree, the Slave Power, Jeff Davis, Mormonism, Wall Street, the rum demon, John Bull, the hell-hounds of plutocracy, the trusts, General Weyler, Pancho Villa, German spies, hyphenates, the Kaiser, Bolshevism. The list might be lengthened indefinitely; a complete chronicle of the Republic could be written in terms of it, and without omitting a single important episode."

-- Notes on Democracy (h/t lewrockwell.com)

26 July 2013

A Day in the Life of a Seminarian

I came across this video from last year chronicling a day in the life of a seminarian at the Seminary of St. Philip Neri-- Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest-- in Gricigliano, Italy.

I post it now mostly because it is a beautiful reminder to pray for these and all seminarians.  At the end of this video (which was first developed as part of the Seminary Society appeal), there is a link to donate or to sponsor a seminarian.  This link is not functional, apparently, now.  But I am sure that the Institute will be happy to accept any assistance at their website: institute-christ-king.org.

Ask the Blogger

It's time again to clear out the ol' mailbox.  It really clogs up after a while. Thanks to all who wrote for all the great questions:

Dear Blogger,

Why is Francis considered so humble, when his humility is the fodder for constant fawning publicity?  Why is it that all I hear about is his humility?  What gives?  Did shoes, suitcases, apartments, and cars suddenly acquire human characteristics?
-- Said a Pay Contest

Dear Said,

At first, I was mystified as you are.  But his trip to Brasil has made it all clear. Mary is the model of humility-- and the pope was seen driving around in her Fiat.

-- thetimman 

Dear Blogger,

I recently read that Pope Francis said we need to eliminate the 'mundane' from the Church.  What does he possibly mean by that?

-- Comfortably Numb

Dear Comfortably Numb,

I think he is preparing a motu proprio suppressing the novus ordo.  I can think of no other explanation.


Dear Blogger,

Did I just see that you posted a photo of what you had to eat?  Has it really come to this?

--Remembering Past Glories

Dear Remembering,

Yes. Yes it has.

-- thetimman

Dear Tin Man,

Why the silence on brother Francis' call to end clericalism?  Hmmm?  Cat got your tongue?  

--Short Pants

P.S. I just love this Pope so much!  It makes me almost want to comply with a Papal edict.  Almost, that is.  Well, maybe if he wrote a nice letter on recycled paper suggesting something-- not demanding it out of obedience, but really just as a recommendation from the central committee to displaced persons of color and ambiguous sexuality.  Then, OK.  I can validate that.  Wait, I'm rambling-- JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION!

Dear Short Pants,

As clericalism is defined as the undue influence of the clergy in matters of politics, and since he is trying to influence political leaders in lots of countries on several matters of politics, principally in economic matters, I would say that quote was a typo, mistranslation or taken out of context.

If, on the other hand, he means clergy who think they know everything and foist poor religion on the hapless flock, then I think he is referring to his upcoming motu proprio suppressing the novus ordo (see above).  I can think of no other explanation.


Dear Blogger,

I saw you recently posted a link to the blog of the St. Louis Review.  Their masthead photo looks a lot like your trial masthead for the proposed Wordpress site you floated just before then.  Cool.  I wonder though, why did they use such a hard-to-pronounce name for their blog?

-- Observant

Dear Observant,

Because Saint Louis Catholic was taken.


Dear Blogger,

I find you insufferable.  You think you are the most Catholic Catholic around.  You sicken me.  Whenever I read your vanity blog a part of me dies. I want to punch your fat, pimply face.

-- A Faithful Reader

Dear Faithful,

Is there a question in there?


P.S. Thanks for reading!

Dear Blogger,

I hear all you trads are massive doomsday preppers.  Where is the best place to ride out the Apocalypse?  And how many gallons of water will I need?


Dear Practical,

First of all, you heard wrong.  Most trads I know live in urban centers with 1.2 children, toy dogs, a multi-media room, a subscription to The New Yorker, and no worries.  As for where to ride out the Apocalypse, I suppose the best plan is to die in a state of grace before it gets here.  If not, you'll need more water than you can imagine.


Dear Blogger,

My daughter's high school is stuck, and can't come up with a theme for their senior prom.  Any suggestions?

--Burrowing for Ideas

Dear Burrowing,

How about this one:  A Night in Hell


25 July 2013

Pilgrimage on a Plate

I don't want to go all "Fr. Z" on you, but on this Feast of St. James, Sharon and I are enjoying our own Spanish feast of chorizo and Manchego cheese.
The bourbon, admittedly, is out of place. But, hey, it's bourbon.

Feast of Santiago

With prayers for those who died yesterday.

49For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death. We are made a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men.puto enim Deus nos apostolos novissimos ostendit tamquam morti destinatos quia spectaculum facti sumus mundo et angelis et hominibus
410We are fools for Christs sake, but you are wise in Christ: we are weak, but you are strong: you are honourable, but we without honour.nos stulti propter Christum vos autem prudentes in Christo nos infirmi vos autem fortes vos nobiles nos autem ignobiles
411Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst and are naked and are buffeted and have no fixed abode.usque in hanc horam et esurimus et sitimus et nudi sumus et colaphis caedimur et instabiles sumus
412And we labour, working with our own hands. We are reviled: and we bless. We are persecuted: and we suffer it.et laboramus operantes manibus nostris maledicimur et benedicimus persecutionem patimur et sustinemus
413We are blasphemed: and we entreat. We are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all, even until now.blasphemamur et obsecramus tamquam purgamenta huius mundi facti sumus omnium peripsima usque adhuc
414I write not these things to confound you: but I admonish you as my dearest children.non ut confundam vos haec scribo sed ut filios meos carissimos moneo
415For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.nam si decem milia pedagogorum habeatis in Christo sed non multos patres nam in Christo Iesu per evangelium ego vos genui

24 July 2013

“God doesn’t care what I’m wearing as long as I’m at church!” Um, Not.

Read this very funny post by Elizabeth Westhoff on the subject of Mass-sloppitude.

Deadly Train Derailment and Crash Near Santiago de Compostela on the Eve of the Feast of St. James

At least 56 people are dead in a train crash near Santiago which occurred on the eve of tomorrow's great feast day. I certainly do not know the cause of the crash. Some witnesses did state they heard an explosion before the train derailed.

I hope it is merely an accident, and not sabotage. The reason it comes to mind at all is that the train was carrying many people heading to Santiago for the celebration of St. James, who is known in Spain by the title Santiago Matamoros-- St. James the Moorslayer.

May the dead rest in peace. St. James, pray for us.

Mary and the Scapular

The Blessed Virgin is a Mother who clothes us with grace and takes our supernatural life under her protection, in order to bring it to its full flowering in eternal life.  She the Immaculate, full of grace from the first moment of her conception, takes our souls stained by sin, and with a maternal gesture, cleanses them in the Blood of Christ and clothes them with grace, which, together with Him, she has merited for us.  We can truly say that the garment of grace was woven by the blessed hands of Mary, who day by day, moment by moment, gave herself entirely, in union with her Son, for our salvation.  Legend tells us of the seamless robe which the Blessed Virgin wove for Jesus; but, for us-- and in reality-- she has done much more.  She has cooperated in obtaining the garment of our eternal salvation, the wedding garment in which we shall enter the banquet hall of heaven.  How she longs that this robe be imperishable!  From the moment we received it, Mary has never ceased to follow us with her maternal gaze, to safeguard within us the life of grace.  Each time we are converted and return to God or rise again after falling into sin-- be it great or small-- each time we increase in grace, all, everything, is effected through Mary's mediation.  The scapular, the little habit, that our Lady of Mount Carmel offers us, is only the external symbol of her unceasing, maternal care: the symbol, but also the sign, the pledge of eternal salvation.  "My beloved son," Mary said to St. Simon Stock, "take this scapular... whoever dies clothed in it will not suffer eternal fire."  The Blessed Virgin gives the assurance of the supreme grace of final perseverance to all who wear worthily her little habit.

"Those who wear the scapular," said Pius XII, "profess to belong to Our Lady."  Because we belong to Mary she takes special care of our souls.  One who belongs to her cannot be lost or be touched by eternal fire.  Her powerful maternal intercession gives her the right to repeat, for her children, the words of Jesus: "Holy Father... those whom thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost" (Jn 17, 12).

--from Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD

23 July 2013

Loss of Fertility Not Just a First World Issue

...many people still believe that "overpopulation" is a looming problem.  But in reality, from Africa to Asia, from South America to Eastern Europe, and from Third World jungles to the wealthy desert petro-kingdoms, nearly every country in every region is experiencing declines in fertility.  In 1979, the world's fertility rate was 6.0; today it's 2.52.  From a current population of 6.9 billion, the United Nations and others predict that world population will peak somewhere between 10 billion and 12 billion in the next 85 years and then begin the long, inexorable process of shrinking back down.  The reason for these predictions is that all but a handful of countries are already experiencing long-term declines in their fertility rates.  All First World countries are already below the 2.1 line.  [SLC Note:  2.1 is the minimum rate of fertility to ensure "replacement", i.e., a stable population size].  And while the fertility rates in many parts of the developing world are still above the 2.1 mark, their rates of decline are, in most cases, even steeper than in the First World.

--from What to Expect When No One's Expecting, by Jonathan Last

22 July 2013

Some Perspective on the Fertility Decline

A country can have a one-child policy by governmental coercion; it can also have one by living a particular lifestyle so insistently, by making many small choices, that the decision is "voluntary":

From What to Expect When No One's Expecting, by Jonathan Last:

...let's put America's fertility problem into the starkest relief possible.  China is famous for its One-Child Policy.  Instituted in 1979, One-Child decimated the country's fertility, driving the Total Fertility Rate downward and preventing, over the course of 30 years, somewhere between 100 million and 400 million births.  The One-Child Policy employs an array of coercive measures to prevent couples from having babies-- violators are often taxed or fired from their jobs; there are forced sterilizations and forced abortions; sometimes their homes are razed as punishment.  As a result of One-Child, the fertility rate in China is roughly 1.54.  In America, the fertility rate for white, college-educated women-- we'll use them because they are a fair proxy for our middle class-- is 1.6.  In other words, America has created its very own One-Child policy.  It's soft and unintentional, the result of accidents of history and thousands of little choices.  But it has been just as effective.

This is the kind of situation Paul VI warned about in Humanae Vitae.  

This book is devastatingly good, and I might come back to post excerpts again.  The demographic problem is known to most, especially those who read this blog.  But what I like about the book is that it not only goes into causation, but it is exhaustively researched and footnoted and documented.  Furthermore, it goes into the mathematics of a country's death spiral and shows that there is a tipping point beyond which even an unexpected upturn in fertility rates would be impossible to reverse.  It addresses the sensitive but related factors of demographics that affect, and are affected by, population growth or loss, such as immigration, race, economics, education, contraception, abortion, social safety nets and religion. 

19 July 2013

"Hogtied and dragged at gun point by my wife, her sister and her mom," or, Why Most Guys See a Musical

My darling eldest daughter received a copy of Les Miserables for her birthday.  She wanted to watch it last night, after a birthday mother/daughter shopping/conversation evening out.

O.K.  I can always use more sleep anyway.

But the thing is, she really wanted me to watch it, too, and even tried to foist this whole "It's really Catholic" angle on me.  I knew better, but she is my first born.

So, though I HATE musicals with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns, I remained in the room with them.

I won't bother you with my own take on the event, as my brother may or may not have, depending on his mood, found the perfect movie review online by Matt Walsh.  Utter perfection.  God bless you, Mr. Walsh.


Les Miserables Taught Me How to Hate Again
by Matt Walsh

Last night I went to a showing of Les Miserables. And when I say “went to” I mean “hogtied and dragged at gun point by my wife, her sister and her mom”. By the looks of many of the other men in that crowded overheated theater, I was not the only hostage victim in attendance. In fact I saw one dude commit Hara-kiri while shouting “death before dishonor” in the parking lot prior to the screening. At first I thought he was slightly overreacting. And then the movie started.

I have to say, after watching the entire film, it was actually a thousand times worse than I could have imagined. Les Miserables will stand forever as the most miserable cinematic experience I’ve ever suffered through. And this is coming from a guy who saw Christmas with the Kranks in theaters, so that should tell you something.

Let me run through a few points about this excruciating horror show for anyone, especially any man, who has not yet been forced to endure it.

Les Miserables apparently holds the Guinness world record for longest musical about a minor parole violation. It tells the utterly pointless tale of an ex-con as he tries to elude a bumbling parole officer for 20 years. This is also, it should be mentioned, the first film to show two decades pass by in real time. So if you’re heading to the theater tonight make sure to pack a change of clothes. My wife told me afterward that the movie, despite its torturous running time, actually CUT OUT several scenes from the original play. Too bad they didn’t cut out more scenes. Like every scene. Of course it didn’t have to be that long. Hugh Jackman, the criminal guy, could have just, you know, MOVED OUT OF THE FREAKING CITY IF HE DIDN’T WANT TO BE CAUGHT. Instead this whole game of cat-and-mouse between Jackman and Russell Crowe takes place in one neighborhood. The dumbest criminal of the millennium vs. a law enforcement officer that makes every Leslie Nielsen character look like Sherlock Holmes in comparison.

Oh. But it gets worse. Much worse. They sing. Dear God do they sing. They sing EVERYTHING. Look, I know it’s a musical. I get it. I’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music and West Side Story. They sing in those films/plays also. But then they break up the musical numbers with normal dialogue. But that’s just too simple and not nearly irritating enough, according to the maniac who wrote this tornado of crap. Every single line in the movie is sung. It doesn’t matter how pedestrian the dialogue, they have to put it to music: “Pass the salt”, “Hang on I gotta take a leak”, etc. All put to song. My sister-in-law cried throughout the whole movie. I cried tears of blissful joy when Russell Crowe threw himself off a bridge at the end because it meant he’d finally stop singing. BUT EVEN THAT DIDN’T STOP HIM. All the dead people had to come back before the credits for one last encore. By the way, Crowe, you’re the guy who played the gladiator but now you will live in infamy as the most awkward casting decision in Hollywood history. You reminded me of someone’s dad who was tossed into the school play at the last minute after his son came down with laryngitis on opening night.
But let’s talk about the “big” musical numbers. You don’t need to buy the soundtrack. I’ll sum up every song in the movie. Here you go: “I’m so lonely, I’m so alone, look at me my life is hard, I’m alone, I’m on my own, there’s this empty chair here, it’s empty because I’m alone, I’m lonely, all this bad stuff has happened to me because of my inexcusably stupid life choices, I’m alone, I feel so alone, on my own, on my own, on my own, did I mention I’m on my oooooowwwwwn?”

Not a dry eye in the house after we heard that one. For the 40th time.

Vapid, shallow, predictable, self indulgent and emotionally manipulative. “BUT IT’S A CLASSIC!” No. No it’s not. Who cares if the play has been around for a while? Malaria has been around for a while. Just because something is old doesn’t make it a “classic”.

And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that half the characters in this flick– which is set in France — have an inexplicable limey British chimney sweep accent. That would make sense for Mary Poppins but not this. Incidentally THAT’S a musical I’d sooner watch 5 times in a row before being subjected to another 3 minutes of Les Miserables.

Then, two thirds of the way through the movie, we get the obligatory tragic love story. Here’s how it goes: a young French revolutionary spots a blonde chick across the street. The two lock eyes and literally THAT NIGHT the dumb desperate loser is singing about how he’d “die for her”. Really? And I’m supposed to become psychologically invested in a plot device that has just reduced the beauty, joy, pain and sacrifice of romantic love to something you can catch like a cold or fall into like a puddle? I know Hollywood has been peddling that nonsense for ages but this was simply too much to cope with.

To make matters worse we’re all supposed to be super impressed because the songs (and by “songs” I mean “every single word uttered during the course of the entire picture”) are performed live instead of being recorded in a studio and dubbed into the film. “GEE WOW I’M SO ENAMORED WITH YOUR ARTISTIC INTEGRITY”. Is that the reaction I’m supposed to have? I don’t know because my initial reaction was something like “Man, this sounds awful”. Instead of lip syncing pre-recorded songs, the actors sputtered out of key while choking back tears and gasping for breath. It was like listening to someone sing karaoke while being chased by a swarm of African killer bees. Coincidentally, that is the actual premise of a reality show on TruTV. Except that show likely has more depth and intelligence. I don’t care if the “let’s do it live” move was “revolutionary”. Not all revolutions are good. Just ask France.

I could go on. But I won’t. I hated Les Miserables with a violent passion. Let’s leave it at that.
And at this: my wife now has to watch four mob movies, three war movies and two History Channel documentaries with me.

That’s the exchange rate.

Sorry, honey, I don’t make the rules. But I will enforce them.

St. Peter Canisius on the Blessed Virgin Mary

On the Incomparable Virgin Mary, Mother of God,
book 15, chapter 13
If we follow St. John Damascene, St. Athanasius, and others, are we not forced to call Mary "Queen," since her father David receives the highest praise in Scripture as a renowned king, and her Son as the King of kings and Lord of lords, reigning forever? She is Queen moreover when compared with the saints who reign like kings in the heavenly kingdom, co-heirs with Christ, the great King, placed on the same throne with Him, as the Scripture says. And as Queen she is second to none of the elect, but in dignity is raised so high above both Angels and men that nothing can be higher or holier than she, who alone has the same Son as God the Father, and who sees above her only God and Christ, and below her all creatures other than herself. 

The great Athanasius said clearly: Mary is not only the Mother of God, but also can be properly and truly called Queen and Lady, since in fact the Christ who was born of the Virgin Mother is God and Lord and also King. It is to this queen, therefore, that the Psalmists words are applied, "The Queen takes her place at Thy right hand in garments of Gold." Thus Mary is rightly called Queen, not only of heaven, but also of the heavens, as the Mother of the King of Angels, and as the Bride and beloved of the King of Heavens. O Mary, most august Queen and faithful Mother, to whom no one prays in vain who prays devoutly, and to whom all mortal men are bound by the enduring memory of so many benefits, again and again reverently I beseech thee to accept and be pleased with every evidence of my devotion to thee, to value the poor gift I offer according to the zeal with which it is offered, and to recommend it to thine all-powerful Son.

18 July 2013

How John Paul II Led Me to the Traditional Mass, Vol. 2

I grew up with the novus ordo, though I knew about the traditional Mass as a mere historical fact since a very young age.  As a child, I equated what I called a good Mass with one that didn't have a bunch of pop singing.  After I was married and grew more faithful to the Church and her teachings (thanks mostly to finding an excellent wife), I deplored the usual liturgical abuses one sees in most parishes.  

Of course, such a call is completely relative because, due to the sheer number and omnipresence of abuses, we tend not to notice typical abuses as abuses at all.  It all becomes a matter of ad hoc style, anyway.  Responsorial Psalms versus picking the same hymn each week is the thing, for instance-- and not that we are missing a gradual. That ad orientem worship and the retention of Latin were the demands of Sacrosanctum Concilium would never have made my radar.

Anyway, I was soft and comfortable, thinking I was smack dab in the firm center of things, while never considering that I was an unreflective pile of mush.  The Catholic faith was a set of intellectual propositions to which I had to assent, and the liturgy was just this other thing way over here that didn't have the slightest connection to those propositions.  Of course I wouldn't have phrased it that way then, but it was the reality of how I lived.

In college, a girl I knew who attended an SSPX chapel gave me a copy of a 1958 St. Joseph Daily Missal (I often pray for this person today, because she ended up marrying a non-Christian  and left the faith. I know-- let that sink in a moment.).  Anyway, it didn't take a Catholic rocket scientist to see that the prayers of the "old" Mass were way better, way more beautiful, and way more theologically Catholic than those of the "new" one.  

Though I did not know of any place that offered the traditional Mass, I began to be intrigued.

Years later, in my professional life, I came to know another traditional Catholic who took the time to belittle and scorn me into tradition.  He comments here occasionally.  The pattern was usually the same:  1) I would say something I thought true, deep, insightful or whatever; 2) He would laugh and point out I was clueless; 3) His words would shock me, and I would think he was nuts;  4) Later, I thought about things and decided he had a point; and,  5)  He would graciously make fun of me some more.

And on it went, wearying for him but fun for me.

Based on that cycle, when I learned that the Archdiocese had an "indult" traditional Mass at St. Agatha's parish, I checked it out.  Like George Costanza's shower, it "didn't take".  I went once more some months later with the same result.

And so I went on, plugged into ordinary Catholic parish life as it exists these days, being married and raising children.

So, what does this have to do with John Paul II?  Now we come to it:

As part of the ongoing deeper conversion God granted me over time, when I was still far afield, John Paul II was a factor in taking my faith seriously, for all the reasons he influenced so many others.  Now, as I said in the first post on this subject, I see a bunch of problems with his pontificate that I never saw then.  I also see some of his actions and writings in a far different light than I did then.  But facts are facts.  

When he died, it was a time of great sadness in our house.  Like many other Catholics, my wife and I woke early to watch his funeral Mass live on television.  

As an aside, some observers aren't impressed with the nature of the attributed miracles that led to his canonization.  I intentionally make no comment about this.  That day, however, April 8, 2005, John Paul II might have worked his first miracle:  he convinced me to seek out the traditional Mass.  I'm sure the irony is not lost on him, God rest his soul.

The funeral Mass was held in St. Peter's Square, due to the size of the crowd, but large outdoor Masses weren't unusual in his reign.  What was unusual was that here, in a large public Mass with the whole world watching, the Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Ratzinger, conducted largely in Latin, with Gregorian chant, polyphonic sacred music, great dignity and decorum, and with a beautiful homily from the soon-to-be next Holy Father.

Following the homily, the Nicene Creed, that great unifying expression of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, was sung in that great, unifying, timeless language, Latin.  It was sung in the official language of the Church.  It was expressed in the language deemed so "un" understandable by modernists yet the meaning of which was so easily understandable by those who knew the Creed in any human tongue.

At this moment, I turned to my wife and exclaimed, "They've robbed us of our patrimony!"  Yes, I guess that's the answer to the question, "Who talks that way?"  But so it was. 

I was upset, and I wanted to try to reclaim some of that patrimony.  So then and there I decided that the next week I would attend morning Mass at St. Agatha (now under the care of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) every single day.  I figured that if I gave it a week I would either take to it or give it up for good.  

Just your basic low Mass.   

Monday. Nothing.
Tuesday. Nothing.

Wednesday.  Damascus Road.

God's grace hit me like a ton of bricks, and I am not ashamed to say that I wept openly.  It felt as though I had finally tapped into the Vine that contains all graces.  I had found the pearl of great price, and would sell everything I owned to possess it.  

Before the Institute moved to St. Francis de Sales Oratory in July, my family was with me for most Sunday Masses.  The ultimate transition of wife and children from the parish they had known to the way of Catholic tradition took some time, but far less than I would have thought. The truly surprising thing for me was that the movement was given great momentum by our children.  They instinctively gravitated toward the beauty and truth of the traditional Mass, and were not satisfied with the alternative available at the local parish.

Thinking back on that Wednesday Mass 8 years ago, I cannot distinguish anything about the particulars of its celebration that would distinguish it from the hundreds of other low Masses celebrated by Canon Lenhardt, or even by most other celebrants, that would affect me so deeply.  It was truly the grace of God.

Also, though I am aware that John Paul's funeral Mass serves as an example of that elusive, "reverently celebrated" novus ordo, I am saying there is more to the power of the traditional Mass than its mere "reverence", as though aesthetics were everything.  John Paul II's funeral Mass was a bridge to something better, an impetus.  A bridge is not a place on which to live.  It can get you home, but home is where you can rest.

After committing to the traditional Mass, I noticed spiritual progress in overcoming certain habitual faults that had plagued me forever. As anyone who knows me can readily attest, it is an ongoing project. But there is no avoiding that certain behaviors are inconsistent with assisting at this Mass.  Christ's expiatory Sacrifice is always before you.  It demands a response of faith, hope and love. 

I am grateful to God for His kindness to me.  I add nothing to the Mass-- but it has the power to sanctify me.  Mass is the worship owed to God as a matter of simple justice, and the sacrifice of Christ is the satisfaction for our sins.  It is beautiful and terrible.  In a sense, it doesn't matter whether I "get anything out of it", but I always do.  

The Mass is the only thing on Earth that gives us some foretaste of the inexhaustible depths of God Himself.  I could contemplate the Mass for my whole life and never plumb the depths completely.  This Mass informs the faith, safeguards the faith, and reflects the faith in a way that the novus ordo cannot do-- though the substance of the Sacrifice is the same, the novus ordo has been denuded of much of the beauty in its accidents and has stripped itself of history in a jarringly inorganic way.  To me it is as plain as day.  The traditional Mass is the gift of the Holy Ghost to us, lovingly handed down over the centuries, fully embodying the faith of the Church in its ever ancient, yet ever new ritual.

And John Paul II led me to it.  Really, though it seems ironic, I  mean it when I say that I believe he had a part in it.  God will use all things unto good for our sanctification if we will but let Him.  If and when the canonization is official, I will again thank John Paul II for this "first miracle".  In Heaven, he no doubt will pray for the restoration of Catholic Tradition as much as anyone.

What's Old is New Again

Happy Birthday!

Smems.  She's real old.

16 July 2013

As the Sun Sets...

As a bit of historical role-playing, I don't think I'm alone in having wondered if the Romans of the Fifth Century knew the Empire was about to fall, and if so, how they felt about it.  Michael Voris muses on the end of the American Empire in the same vein.

15 July 2013

How John Paul II Led Me to the Traditional Mass, Vol. 1

The title of this post is not a misprint, though it is intentionally provocative.  In a certain sense, John Paul II made me a traditional Catholic.  I have told friends this story before, but have not posted it here.  The recent canonization announcement is enough of an impetus for me to do so now.

And it may come as no surprise that what was intended as a single post became, as I wrote it, too long for a single post.  So, first up, some of my thoughts on the canonization itself.  Next installment will be my own tradversion account.

For faithful Catholics, the announced canonization of John Paul II produces feelings of joy in some, outrage in others, and perplexity in the rest.  I understand each reaction.  Let me explain:

Certainly, the late Pope did, and allowed, much that was scandalous in his reign.  Some of these things are so infamous as to be summed up in simple slogans-- e.g., Assisi, kissing the Koran, altar girls.  Loads of disastrous episcopal and cardinalatial appointments.  And the devastating clerical abuse of minors regime occurred on his watch, with scant evidence of any effective correction taken.

Certainly, he also did much good, principally by being a tireless advocate of what he called the Gospel of Life, and by standing against the tide of Communism. 

Then there are actions that, like so much of the modern history of the Church, could be seen as good or bad depending on the viewpoint of the observer.  He issued two indults that allowed the traditional Mass to be said-- one in 1984, one in 1988.  Both were largely ignored, especially the first one.  And as Pope Benedict would later make clear, no indult was needed to say a Mass that had never been abrogated.  And of course in the background of all of this were relations with the SSPX that ended with the excommunication of six prelates in 1988.  This rift may have been avoided and it remains a block to a true restoration of liturgical and doctrinal affairs.  He issued an encyclical to say that the ordination of women to the priesthood was not possible, and described it as being infallibly defined by the ordinary magisterium of the Church, yet refused to solemnly define it himself.  He developed the Theology of the Body, which imposes a personalist philosophy on traditional Catholic formulations of marriage and procreation.  This approach has attracted many who were stuck in modernism back to Catholic practice, yet has also been something of a novelty that clouds and (some say) inverts the primary and secondary ends of marriage.

And Mary.  

First, Fatima.  This most Marian of Popes allowed what can only be called a whitewash of the Third Secret to be released, with much fanfare, in 2000.  This partial revelation has not clarified, and has done much to obscure, the message of Our Lady as to the conflict in our times.  

Secondly, the Rosary.  John Paul II wrote much of Our Lady, and wrote so beautifully.  He advocated the Rosary.  He relied on Our Lady's help.  And yet he tinkered with the Rosary as given by Our Lady, and added five new mysteries.  No longer is the Rosary the 153 fishes of the Gospel of John.  No longer is it the Psalmody of 150 Aves.  The Pope just sort of tacked on these mysteries to a formulation that was 800 years old, and which tradition ascribes to Mary herself, who gave it to St. Dominic.  So what?, some would ask.  The answer to that kind of question is the sort of thing that divides the self-described traditionalists from the self-described conservatives.  Kind of a microcosm of the whole deal, in a way.

Other examples of good-or-bad-depending-on-point-of-view items could be cited, which is not surprising in a pontificate of such a length.

In fact, due to the length of his pontificate, its recency, and the undeniable force of personality of John Paul himself, it is almost impossible to adequately consider it.  It is way too soon to make the judgment call of canonization, in my opinion, though of course no one asked for it.  To me, we are standing in this giant footprint, and can see all sorts of good and bad.  But by analogy, this pontificate, as it appears to God, may be like a crop circle that seems like a bunch of smushed corn to the farmer, but in the air spells out a pattern those on the ground cannot comprehend.

The reason for this lengthy introduction is that the upcoming canonization is not without controversy.  Many traditional Catholics worry, because they can see the negatives of his pontificate, and because canonization is typically seen as an exercise of infallibility itself.  Therefore, some are faced with a decision of conscience, in that if the Church canonizes John Paul II it may mean that something is wrong with their understanding of the Church, and/or canonization, and/or John Paul II.  

And by canonizing John XXIII and John Paul II, it seems that an effort is being made to "canonize" Vatican II, which (choose one): 1) was a complete disaster; 2) was minimally OK but was turned into a complete disaster by wayward Catholics in the clergy and laity; or 3) wasn't actually a disaster but only because we want a more "mature" faith where no one goes to Church, no one believes anything, no one has a religious vocation, and we're all Protestants anyway so yippee!

I am no theologian, as you have undoubtedly noticed.  But to me, I try to keep it all very simple.  In my view, 1) judging a pope is beyond my pay grade; 2) if canonizations are an exercise of the Church's infallibility, then all that a canonization "defines" is that the saint is in fact in Heaven.  If that means he is in Heaven because of, or despite, his more publicly known actions, it doesn't matter for purposes of the definition.  Of course, a canonization may be prudent or imprudent.  Does it matter if I think a canonization is imprudent?

Next post: on to our story.

12 July 2013

But They'll Take Your Kids Away If You Won't Vaccinate Them

Family Services will have zero interest in stopping these parents from ruining their child's life.

Sermon from the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

From Canon Raphael Ueda, ICRSS:

Today’s Liturgy speaks of the true fruit of Catholic life and invites us to ask ourselves what fruit we have produced so far and what fruits we are expecting to have in the future.

St. Paul says in Today’s Epistle, "When you were the servants of sin, you brought forth the fruit of death, but now, being made free from sin and become servants of God, you have your fruit unto your sanctification."

So our sanctification should be the fruit of our Christian life. And it is good to examine ourselves on this point. What progress are we making in our spiritual life? 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus directs our attention to the false prophets who appear in the clothing of sheep but inwardly are wolves. And there are many who claim to be teachers in spiritual or moral matters. And sometimes false doctrines are offered to us even though they may not seem false at first because they have always the appearance of truth. It happens sometimes that a teacher who was known as a good teacher is completely ignored at his death.

Thus the discernment between a good and a false teacher is sometimes so difficult. How can we discern between true and false?

The Gospel of St. Matthew gives us a simple key to solve this very subtle question.

"So, Teacher, what good shall I do?"

This dialogue of Jesus with the young man could serve as a useful illustration for discerning between a true and a false teacher. A young man said to Jesus, “Good Master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?” 

Jesus said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One is good, God. But if you wish to enter into life keep the commandments, the laws of God.”

Here it is very useful to understand the meaning of the word “law” because in history many philosophers have said that the law exists only to violate it.

Law in the widest sense is understood as that exact guide, rule or standard by which a thing or person is moved to action or held back from it.

Our daily experiences show us that all things are driven by their own nature take a determinate and constant attitude.

The laws which govern light, heat, and electricity are well known today. For example in the natural sciences Newton discovered the law of gravitation by which all bodies attract in direct proportion to their mass. The law of nature is nothing but the forces and tendencies to a determinate and constant method of activity implanted by God in the nature of thing. On the natural level it is easy to discern between a true and a false teacher, because we can see, touch, measure and calculate the data. Now humanity has a marvelous instrument to observe the universe. Thus in our days no one says that the planet is flat even though it was once believed to be so.

But once we enter into the moral law of our actions, it is not so easy to discern between a true and a false teacher. This is so because the cause of our actions is often hidden, even to ourselves.

St. Thomas defines law as “A regulation in accordance with reason promulgated by the head of a community for the sake of the common welfare.”

Law is first a regulation, which aims at ordering the action of the members of the community, and the law is a binding rule and draws its force from the authority of the superior. Human authority is only a participation in the supreme power of Divine Providence. Moreover, law must promote the common good. And it is impossible that God could give the human community the right to issue laws that are unreasonable and in contradiction of His Will. God only permits such things to happen in history-- and history shows us that human laws which contradict Divine law finish by falling by themselves.

The glory of God the Father is the final goal of the Divine Providence and His laws. And God desires to attain this glory by the happiness of mankind and our sanctification.

Here lies a deep mystery of the suffering of the just, the existence of evil and the value of sanctification. This is the constant question, “Why does God permit the evil to prosper and the just to suffer?”

The Cross of Jesus is the most direct answer to this perpetual question. All the martyrs who suffered for the faith by keeping the commandments and the laws of God give us the testimony of the Cross of Jesus.

The observance of the Moral Law should guide us to discover the great value of faith which is worthy of giving one’s life for love.

Indeed St. Paul says that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Because faith is the foundation of our relationship with Him. And for the man without faith, God has neither meaning, nor value, nor place in his life. But we Catholics live by faith. The more lively our faith is, the more God enters into our life until finally He becomes our all, the one great reality for which we live and the one for whom we can face sorrow and even death.

Indeed, we do not lack faith, but it is not sufficiently alive and practical to make us see God in everything and over everything.
Faith does not depend upon the data received through the senses, on what we can see and touch like natural science.

For faith is a supernatural virtue. And it is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it.

The time in which we live is not easy. Dear faithful, let us pray for the grace of a lively faith so that we can fulfill God’s Will in the midst of contradictions. Amen.