31

Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

General William S. Rosecrans

My avatar when I blog and when I comment on blogs is Major General William Rosecrans.  As my personal motto for the coming year I will adopt one of his sayings:  Make the Sign of the Cross and Go In!

Outside of his family, General William S. Rosecrans had three great passions in his life:  His religion, Roman Catholicism, to which he had converted as a cadet at West Point, the Army and the Union.  In the Civil War all three passions coincided.  Rising to the rank of Major General and achieving command of the Army of the Cumberland, until he was removed in the aftermath of the Union defeat at Chickamauga, Rosecrans conducted himself in the field as if he were a Crusader knight of old.

Raised a Methodist, Rosecrans’ conversion was a life long turning point for him.  He wrote to his family with such zeal for his new-found faith that his brother Sylvester began to take instruction in the Faith.  Sylvester would convert, become a priest, and eventually be the first bishop of Columbus, Ohio.

His most precious possession was his Rosary and he said the Rosary at least once each day. In battle the Rosary would usually be in his hand as he gave commands.  He had a personal chaplain, Father Patrick Treacy, who said Mass for him each morning and would busy himself the rest of the day saying masses for the troops and helping with the wounded.  In battle he exposed himself to enemy fire ceaselessly as he rode behind the General.   Rosecrans, after military matters were taken care of, delighted in debating theology with his staff officers late into the evening.

As a general Rosecrans was in the forefront of Union commanders until his defeat at Chickamauga.  His removal from command following the battle was controversial at the time and has remained controversial, some historians seeing in it a continuation by Grant, who was placed in charge of Chattanooga following Chickamauga, of his long-standing feud with Rosecrans.  Certainly Rosecrans had already drafted the plan followed by Grant to reopen the lines of supply to the Union forces in Chickamauga.  Go here to read a spirited defense of General Rosecrans which appeared in issue 401 of The Catholic World in 1898.

Rosecrans resigned from the Army in 1867 and had a successful business career.  He served in Congress from 1881-1885.

He narrowly missed being the first Catholic president of the United States.  General James Garfield, an Ohio Republican Congressman and future president, who had served under him, telegraphed Rosecrans during the 1864 Republican Convention to see if the Democrat Rosecrans would serve as Veep on a Union ticket with Lincoln.  Rosecrans gave a cautiously positive reply but Garfield never received the telegram and the nomination went to Andrew Johnson.  Rosecrans suspected that the telegram had been intercepted by Rosecrans’ old nemesis, Secretary of War Stanton.

One hundred and fifty-one  years ago Rosecrans was fighting a huge battle at Stones River in Tennessee that would last from December 31, 1862-January 3, 1863.  He succeeded in defeating Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee and drove him from central Tennessee.  It was an important victory, a needed shot in the arm for the Union after the disaster of Fredericksburg.  Lincoln wrote to Rosecrans:

“You gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

During that battle he was a man on fire, constantly charging to points of danger, heedless of risks to himself, rallying his men, inspiring them and beating off Confederate charge after Confederate charge.  Rosecrans was in the maelstrom of particularly vicious fighting when his Chief of Staff,  Lieutenant Colonel Julius Garesche, a fellow Catholic who had been made a Knight of Saint Sylvester by Pope Pius IX,  warned him about risking himself to enemy fire.   “Never mind me, my boy, but make the sign of the cross and go in!” A moment later, a cannon shell careened into the general’s entourage, beheading Garesche and spraying his brains all over Rosecrans’ overcoat.  Rosecrans’ mourned his friend, as he mourned all his brave men who died in that fight, but that didn’t stop him an instant from leading his army to victory. Continue Reading

35

Keeping Wounded Vets Safe From Christmas Cards

Obama Deity

 

 

The madness and silliness that is the Obama administration continues apace.  Father Z gives us the details:

From FNC (where there is also video):

Boys and girls at Grace Academy in Prosper, Tex., spent most of last Friday making homemade Christmas cards for bedridden veterans at the VA hospital in Dallas. Fourth-grader Gracie Brown was especially proud of her card, hoping it would “make their day because their family might live far away, and they might not have somebody to celebrate Christmas with.” “I’d like them to know they’ve not been forgotten and somebody wanted to say thank you,” Gracie told Gracie’s card read, “Merry Christmas. Thank you for your service.” It also included an American flag. But the bedridden veterans at the VA hospital will never get to see Gracie’s card. Nor will they see the cards made by 51 other students. [Get this…] That’s because the Christmas cards violated VA policy. “It really didn’t occur to me there would be a problem with distributing Christmas cards,” said Susan Chapman, a math teacher at the academy. [Nor would most normal people think that children’s cards for Christmas were double-plus-ungood in the eyes of the Obama Administration.] She’s married to a veteran and volunteers with the American Legion and other veterans’ organizations. On Monday morning the boys and girls were planning on hand delivering the cards to the wounded veterans. [I’ll be the vets would have liked that.] Chapman called the hospital to make final arrangements and that’s when she learned there was a problem. “I told him my students made cards, we’d like to bring them down for the veterans,” Chapman told the television station. “And he said, ‘That’s great. We’re thrilled to have them, except the only thing is, we can’t accept anything that says ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘God bless you’ or any scriptural references because of all the red tape.’[VA: GOD NOT ALLOWED.] A VA official quoted the policy which is in the Veterans Health Administration handbook: “In order to be respectful of our veterans’ religious beliefs, all donated holiday cards are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff led by chaplaincy services and determined if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients. We regret this process was not fully explained to this group and apologize for any misunderstanding.” Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, said it was a new low “even for the Scrooges and Grinches at the VA.” “Targeting the benevolent work of little children for censorship is disgusting,” Sasser told me. “Do the Grinches in the administration of the VA really believe our bravest warriors need protection from the heartfelt well wishes of small children saying Merry Christmas?” [No, its the Obama mandarins who cannot bear that any views smacking of religion be permitted in the public square.  This is all of a piece.] Andrea Brown, Gracie’s mom, was dumbfounded by the news. “This wasn’t the country I grew up in, when you couldn’t say ‘Merry Christmas,’ you couldn’t say ‘God bless you’ or reference any scripture,” she told MyFoxDFW.com. She told the television station the boys and girls were heartbroken that the military personnel would not be able to receive their cards. “They couldn’t believe the people that these people they wanted to honor weren’t going to get the chance to see what they had done,” she said. The cards will not be thrown away — they are being shipped to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio and to a private facility for veterans in Louisiana. Sasser said at some point, “does the VA have no shame?” “Mr. Potter from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ wouldn’t even ban little children from wishing our veterans Merry Christmas,” Sasser said.  [But this is Mr. Obama’s VA.] Continue Reading

35

Predictions 2014

Crystal Ball Gazing

Well, it is time for me to go intrepidly where angels fear to tread.  My predictions for 2014.

1.   Elections 2014-The Republicans will gain 10-15 seats in the House and the GOP will take the Senate with at least a two seat advantage.

2.   Our fowl President-Obama’s lame duck status will be confirmed time and time again next year, with even Democrats in Congress considering him to be a spent force.

3.   ObamaCare Code Blue-ObamaCare will become an ever increasing debacle.  Legislation will be passed by June to largely gut ObamaCare which the President will veto.  The Republicans will be able to win an override vote in the House, but fail to do so in the Senate.

4.   Asia War-A high possibility of a naval or air clash between Japan and China.  I doubt if it would spiral out of control, but the old power relationships that maintained the peace since World War II are weakening around the globe, especially in Asia.

5.  Pope Francis and the Left-The bloom will be off the rose on the love affair that the left has with the Pontiff next year.  It will increasingly dawn on them that the Pope has no power over economies and that on social issues the teaching of the Church will not change. Continue Reading

3

State of the Union 1863

Abraham Lincoln

On December 8, 1863 Lincoln sent his annual message to Congress in which he reviewed the state of the country during the year that was coming to an end.  The message to Congress would have been read by a clerk.  We would call this today a state of the union address.  Washington had delivered his annual messages to Congress personally to joint sessions.  This custom was ended by Thomas Jefferson, who thought the President delivering a speech to Congress smacked of monarchy, too closely resembling the speech from the throne delivered by English monarchs at the opening of Parliament.  Thereafter president’s sent their annual messages to Congress in written form, until Wilson revived the custom of delivering the speech in person.

One aspect of Lincoln’s speech that surprised me when I first read it is the amount of it devoted to foreign affairs, almost half, if the portion dealing with foreign nationals in the United States is included.  Lincoln devotes less than a quarter of the speech to the War which is unsurprising.  The War news was a constant feature of life in the United States during the Civil War, and Lincoln probably looked upon the annual message as an opportunity to remind Congress and the people that the War was not the only thing occurring in the United States.  Lincoln ends his message with a general overview of his policy regarding Reconstruction.  Lincoln could hope now that ultimate victory might be on the horizon, and he realized that a substantial portion of the Republican members of Congress opposed any leniency to the South.  Lincoln was beginning his tight rope walk to both satisfy the demands of the Radical Republicans for civil rights for freedmen, and to deny them their desire to punish the South.  He would continue to walk that tightrope until the bullet of Booth brought his life to an end with consequences the nation is still living with.  Here is the annual address of President Abraham Lincoln for 1863: Continue Reading

12

Saint Thomas Becket, Sin and Contrition

(I originally posted this on December 29th last year.  I think it is worth a repost on December 29th this year.)

Today is the feast day of my confirmation saint, Saint Thomas Becket, the holy, blessed martyr.  His story tells us how foreign to our time the Middle Ages are.  Becket was a worldly cleric who had risen to be chancellor of England for Henry II.  Henry seized the opportunity to place his man, Becket, on the throne of Canterbury as Primate of England.  Becket had a sudden and complete religious conversion and fought Henry for the liberty of the Church for which Becket suffered exile and, ultimately, murder.  In penance for Becket’s murder Henry had himself beaten by the monks at Canterbury before the tomb of his former friend who, two years after his death, was canonized by the Pope.  For over three centuries his tomb became one of the major pilgrimage sites in Europe and inspired the immortal Canterbury Tales.

The Middle Ages were fully as immersed in sin as our own time, although with different mixtures of evil, but the sins of the Middle Ages were often followed by great penances and acts of contrition that brightened and inspired countless lives down through the centuries.  This we have lost and this we must regain.  G.K. Chesterton put what we lack in high relief when he wrote about Saint Thomas: Continue Reading

5

Please Cook the Crow Very, Very Well Done

Well the end of the year brings two annual events at TAC.  I make predictions about the coming year and I eat crow over my predictions made the prior year.  Here beginneth the crow eating post:

1.  No new gun control legislation-Whenever either party wins a presidential victory for a second term, they begin feeling their oats and tend to overestimate both their popularity and their power.  The Democrats are in that condition now, and I predict that the beginning of the path to what I anticipate will be a bad election year for Democrats in 2014 will be a bitter, and failed, attempt to pass new gun control legislation.

Absolutely 100 percent correct!  I love starting with a correct prediction!

2.  Recession-The Economy will slip back into a recession with the unemployment rate rising above nine percent by the end of the year.

Nope.  The economy is marginally better than a year ago, although still sluggish.  The official unemployment rate is 7% which, considering the drop of labor participation due to discouraged workers giving up on finding employment, is rather deceptive.

3.  Kerry seat-John Kerry will be confirmed as Secretary of State, God help us, and Scott Brown, the pinch hitter of the Senate, will win the special election for his seat in icy blue Massachusetts.

Nope.  Brown decided not to run and the Dems retained the seat.

4.  Virginia and New Jersey-The Republicans will retain the governorships in both New Jersey and Virginia.

Half right.  I suspect that if the Virginia election had been held a week later as the dimensions of the ObamaCare debacle became clearer, the prediction would have been entirely correct.

5.  Contraceptive Mandate-The contraceptive mandate will be ruled to be unconstituional on First Amendment religious freedom grounds.  Go here to the Becket Fund, which has been waging the court fights across the country in regard to the mandate, for the decision of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals which begins  setting the ground for ultimate Supreme Court review in 2014.

Hasn’t reached the Supreme Court yet, although numerous federal courts have declared it unconstitutional and a few have upheld it. Continue Reading

7

Review of the Hobbit Trilogy

(Language advisory for the video;   apparently the first film made the reviewer extra grumpy.)

The above video shall serve as a review for the entire Hobbit trilogy.  I saw part II last week and I was certain, perhaps in what felt like the fiftieth hour, that time had ceased and eternity begun.  You know a movie based on The Hobbit is bad, when by the end you are rooting for Smaug to be unleashed on Peter Jackson and his merry band of let’s-see-how-much-money-we-can-flog-out-of-this-dead- Hobbit!  Ah, well, we will always have The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Continue Reading

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Something for a Christmas weekend.   Hark the Herald Angels Sing.  Written by Charles Wesley in 1739, the hymn we enjoy today developed and changed over a century with input from many hands.  No hymn I think better exemplifies the sheer joy that the coming of Christ should awake in the hearts of all Christians. Continue Reading

52

The Gay Thought Police Lose One

 

A&E has caved and Phil Robertson will remain on Duck Dynasty:

 

As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.

That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.

But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.

So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.

We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.

Go here to read the rest.  If I may translate the above from the corporatese into English: Continue Reading

40

The Feast Day of Saint John the Apostle

 Saint John the Apostle

 

 

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1: 1-5

Saint John, the Apostle whom Christ loved, was the youngest of the Apostles.  Born perhaps around 6-15 AD he and his brother James, sons of Zebedee and Salome, were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee.  Called by Christ to follow Him, they were nicknamed by Him Boanerges, sons of thunder, perhaps because of their asking Christ to call down lightning on those who did not follow Him, or perhaps a playful jab at the disposition of old Zebedee.

The two brothers were ambitious, asking Christ to allow them to sit by His side.  He promised them only that they would drink from the cup He drank and be baptized in His Baptism.  John’s brother James became the first of the Apostles to die a martyr’s death.

John far outlived all the other apostles, dying in exile on Patmos circa 100 AD.  He witnessed the small defeated movement of the followers of Jesus after the Crucifixion swell into a mighty Church sweeping into every corner of the Roman Empire and beyond.  He was the last living link to Christ and he set down what he remembered in that theological masterpiece, the Gospel of John.  The other three Gospels give us Christ in unforgettable prose, the Gospel of John gives us Christ in lambent almost poetry, that has illuminated the humanity and the divinity of Christ  for countless Christians down through the long ages.  Through disciples like Saint Ignatius and Saint Polycarp he passed on to Christians who had never heard Christ the pure teaching of Christ that he had heard, and the love of Christ that burned within him. Continue Reading

19

Clowns Teaching at Catholic Colleges

 

 

Attention is often directed at the number of professors who teach at Catholic colleges and universities who have nothing but scorn for Church teaching.  However, too little attention is paid to the fact that many of the same individuals are politicized idiots.  Case in point Michael Eric Dyson who teaches sociology at Georgetown.  Dyson is a Baptist and on wife number three. The judgment of the man is demonstrated by his calling the scandal dogged Attorney General Eric Holder “the Moses of our time”.

In an outing this week on MSNBC, Dyson, in attacking Phil Robertson’s comments against homosexual conduct,  said that heterosexual Christian men might be viewed by some as  having an erotic attraction to Jesus Christ.  Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gives us the gory details of this blasphemy;

 

The Phil Robertson/A&E flap has produced some silly commentary, but perhaps none quite so silly as this exchange on MSNBC earlier this week. Joy Reid filled in for Ed Schultz on his show last Monday and invited Michael Eric Dyson to discuss the contretemps over Robertson’s comments on homosexuality and religion.  Dyson argues at the end of this clip that Robertson attempted to “us[e] Jesus in making Jesus co-sign all of this bigotry here,” and then almost in the same breath accused Christian men who profess love of Jesus as being, er … you know (via The Right Scoop and Truth Revolt):

 

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity and the rest of those folks ought to be ashamed of themselves. And gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people ought to speak up and link their own fate to African-American people because ultimately we’re in the thing together.

JOY REID, SUBSTITUTE HOST: But what do you think of this attempt to recruit essentially Rosa Parks?

DYSON: Oh my God.

REID: Because this is something that has been done before on the Right.

DYSON: Right. Right.

REID: Like in anytime that something they say is taking as offensive by African-Americans or taken as offensive by the LGBT community…

DYSON: Right.

REID: …you get, “Well, Martin Luther King, Jr. would’ve been on our side…

DYSON: Right.

REID: . …or Rosa Parks or, you know, Phil Robertson is the next Rosa Parks.” What do you think of that as a tactic?

DYSON: I mean it’s — well, first of all, it’s scurrilous, but it’s the same as using Jesus in making Jesus co-sign all of this bigotry here. Jesus was a Jew who, around whom a religion was made. So the anti-Semitism of many of the Christians is ironic to begin with. And then secondly, the gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual stuff – look through the Bible. There’s a lot of interesting things. The same men who will stand up in the church of all men. “I put my God, Jesus, over all women. I love him more than I love her.”

Hmmm. Do you really? That sounds interestingly homoerotic to people who are outside your religious traditions. I’m not suggesting it is but I’m suggesting that there are some very interesting, subtle, narrative tensions within the Bible itself and within Christianity beyond that.

I tried to get offended by this argument, and ended up laughing every time I tried. I mean, it takes a lot of effort to take this kind of trolling seriously, doesn’t it? According to Dyson’s CV, he’s a professor of sociology at Georgetown University, a Catholic university, but he must be the first professor at Georgetown to have never studied the difference between agape, philos, and eros.  Not all love is sexual, as even most people “outside your religious traditions” understand. Most normal people would scoff at the idea that a son’s love for his father would “sound interestingly homoerotic,” let alone that of sons for The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is the kind of commentary that only occurs in profoundly unserious circles, with MSNBC among the leading examples. I doubt that Dyson buys this schtick, which is just intended to tweak Christians who believe that Corinthians is scripture by using the “you guys are so gay!” insult, but it’s more an insult to his own audience. It’s the kind of ivory-tower sneering at those hoi polloi in the sticks that reveals more ignorance of the speaker than of anyone else. Exactly who does Dyson think would believe that professing a love of Jesus Christ equates to a homoerotic experience? Christians laugh at this, but perhaps it’s people “outside [our] religious tradition” who should be more insulted at Dyson’s assessment of their intelligence and common sense. Continue Reading

14

More on the Common Core: The nation’s Catholic bishops had better be very careful…

 

The Common Core?

“No problem!” many allegedly very savvy educators opine. “Only conservative, right-wing, nut jobs have problems with it.”

In this instance, it may very well be the case that the naysayers are absolutely correct in stating “Hold on before you enter into something you will end up regretting.”

The nation’s bishops ought to be extremely wary. Why? The Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII)—led by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) which has received more than $100k from the Gates Foundation to provide training for educators in the nation’s Catholic schools to implement the Common Core—is discovering that the Common Core’s curriculum is laden with problems…after the fact of promoting the Common Core for implementation in the nation’s Catholic schools. CCCII’s website states:

Catholic educators will never forget that our schools exist to bring our students to Christ. By adapting standards from the CCSS that are challenging, they are working to fulfill the promise of quality Catholic education that educates the whole child, mind and soul.

Really? That’s all well and good. But, let’s first consider some facts.

Over at Crisis magazine, Mary Jo Anderson has chronicled some problems, including ninth graders having to read Toni Morrison’s Bluest Eye, which has been banned from several school districts for its explicit depiction of rape, incest, sexual violence and pedophilia.  The pedophile, named “Soaphead Church,” claims God as his inspiration, “I work only through the Lord. He sometimes uses me to help people.”

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has gone one step further, taking a critical look at the Common Core curriculum and finding much that should cause the nation’s bishops to be wary.

According to CNS, its findings have forced the CCCII to remove three books from the first grade English Language Arts curriculum. The books celebrate family “diversity” which includes single parents, homosexual parents, mixed-race couples, grandparents and divorced parents.

Forget whether first graders in the nation’s Catholic schools should be reading books which have no preconceptions about what makes a family, a family. Doesn’t the Catholic Church already have a preconception about family and family life that it should boldly proclaim? And shouldn’t educators in its schools do the same?

How was it possible for CCCII to publish the following instructions for teachers first grade teachers in the nation’s Catholic schools? (the * indicates a book CCCII eventually removed)

Family -The teacher can choose any of the books below that relate to the theme:
The books listed are First Grade level unless otherwise noted.
The suggested books for the teacher to read aloud are noted.
Horton Hatches a Who (Seuss) – Grade level 2
*Who’s In a Family (Skutch)
*All Kinds of Families (Simon)
Blueberries for Sal (McCloskey) – Read aloud
*The Family Book (Parr)
The Story about Ping (Flack)
The Kissing Hand (Penn)
PurpleUmpkin (McCann)
Sam and the Firefly (Eastman)
Grandfather’s Journey (Say) – Read aloud

Did CCCII’s people even read the books before approving them?

What are CCCII and the NCEA up to? Had the folks at CNS not pushed the issue, CCCII’s approved curriculum was ready to be implemented in the nation’s Catholic elementary schools. And what about all of those other books Mary Jo Anderson has challenged? Is it the same for the nation’s Catholic secondary schools?

Previously, The Motley Monk labeled the Common Core a “train wreck coming for Catholic schools…” and a “threat to the nation’s Catholic elementary and secondary schools.”

Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

 

 

To read about the efforts on the part of CNS to question the Common Core, click on the following link:
http://www.cardinalnewmansociety.org/CatholicEducationDaily/DetailsPage/tabid/102/ArticleID/2793/Catholic-Common-Core-Removes-Books-Celebrating-Same-Sex-Parents-from-First-Grade-Unit-Plan.aspx

To read Mary Jo Anderson’s article in Crisis magazine, click on the following link:
http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/common-core-sexualizes-american-school-children

To view the CCCII’s original approved curriculum, click on the following link:
http://catholicschoolstandards.org/files/CCCII-Section3/CCCII-Unit-Grade1-World-Communities.pdf

To read The Motley Monk’s previous post about the Common Core at The American Catholic, click on the following link:
http://the-american-catholic.com/2013/12/14/the-common-core-a-train-wreck-coming-for-catholic-schools/

To read The Motley Monk’s previous post in Omnibus concerning the Common Core and the threat it presents to the nation’s Catholic schools, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/5/post/2013/12/the-common-core-a-threat-to-the-identity-of-us-catholic-elementary-and-secondary-education.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

5

Good King Wenceslaus, Saint Stephen and Martyrdom

But his deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; for, as is read in his Passion, no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

              Cosmas of Prague, writing in 1119 about Saint King Wenceslaus

It has always seemed appropriate to me that the hymn Good King Wenceslaus, written in 1853, ties together Saint Stephen and Saint King Wenceslaus.  Saint Stephen is the original martyr of Christ, the first of that glorious line of Christians who have testified to their Faith in the God who died for them by surrendering their own lives for Him.  The Apostles had cut poor figures indeed on the night when Christ was betrayed, and Saint Stephen heroically and unforgettably demonstrated a better example, that would be followed by the Apostles themselves who later died as martyrs.  Bravery in the face of a martyr’s death takes a great deal of courage and faith, and we Catholics have ever honored our martyrs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3pcIKNttLU

Wenceslaus was born in 907 into a turbulent time and place.  The eldest son of Duke Vratislaus I of Bohemia, Bohemia was a country that was only beginning to convert to Christianity and was riven by conflicts between pagans and Christians, Germans and Czechs.  His mother Drahomira was the daughter of a pagan tribal leader and had only converted at the time of her marriage.  His father’s father was a Christian convert.   

At the death of his father, in battle, in 921, his paternal grandmother, Ludmilla, briefly held the regency.  His mother, Drahomira, who was a real piece of work, remained a pagan at heart, and had Ludmilla strangled. (Ludmilla, who had always been noted for her charity and her strong Christian faith, was canonized shortly after her death.)  Wenceslaus was now under the control of his murderous mother.  In 924 or 925 Wenceslaus began to rule and exiled his mother, understandably enough. 

During his reign he was noted for his charity and the strong impetus he gave to the evangelization of Bohemia.  He placed great reliance on Catholic missionary priests from Germany and this stirred resentment not only among his pagan subjects, but among some Czechs.  Taking advantage of this opposition, his brother Boleslav had Wenceslaus murdered as he was walking to mass in 935.  From the instant of his death, Wenceslaus was hailed as a martyr and swiftly became the patron saint of Bohemia.  Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, bestowed the title of king upon him, posthumously.  His brother, who would reign for almost four decades, was remorseful for what he had done, helped spread Christianity throughout his kingdom during his reign and venerated the man he had murdered as a saint.  His feast day on September 28 is celebrated as a national holiday in the Czech Republic. Continue Reading

37

Larry’s First Christmas in Heaven

Larry McClarey

But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

I am choking back tears as I post this.  Some very kind anonymous person left a package on our porch that had a framed copy of a poem in it:

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below

With tiny lights like Heaven’s stars reflecting the snow.

The sight is so spectacular- please wipe away the tear

For I’m spending Christmas with Jesus this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear

But the sound of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here

I have no words to tell you the joys their voices bring

For it’s beyond description to hear the angels sing

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart

But I am not so far away, we really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me dear ones you know I hold you dear

And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift for my heavenly home above,

I sent you each a memory of my undying love.

After all love is a gift more precious than pure gold. I

t was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do.

For I can’t count the blessing of love he has for each of you.

So have a merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.

Remember I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

 The poem was written by Wanda Bencke.  Her 13 year old  daughter Lysandra Kay Bencke had cerebral palsy.  She had a seizure and went into a coma on Christmas Day, 1997, and died five days later.  During those awful five days her mother wrote the poem.

Continue Reading

4

One Solitary Life

All the armies that have ever marched

All the navies that have ever sailed

All the parliaments that have ever sat

All the kings that ever reigned put together

  Have not affected the life of mankind on earth

As powerfully as that one solitary life

From One Solitary Life

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

H. G. Wells Continue Reading

9

A Proclamation

 

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,

desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,

being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception,

was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh. Continue Reading

3

Saint Athanasius: On the Incarnation

His epitaph is Athanasius contra mundum, “Athanasius against the world.” We are proud that our own country has more than once stood against the world. Athanasius did the same. He stood for the Trinitarian doctrine, “whole and undefiled,” when it looked as if all the civilised world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius—into one of those “sensible” synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which, then as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen. It is his glory that he did not move with the times; it is his reward that he now remains when those times, as all times do, have moved away.

CS Lewis

I can think of nothing more appropriate for Christmas Eve than this passage from On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius:

 

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father’s Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.

1

General John Glover and His Marbleheaders

A good argument can be made that but for the presence of John Glover and his Marblehead Regiment in the American Revolution, the War might well have been lost.

Born on November 5, 1732, Glover grew up in poverty in Marblehead, Massachusetts, after the death of his carpenter father when Glover was 4 years old.  Glover became a cordwainer and rum trader, working his way up to become a merchant and a ship owner.  Elected to the Marblehead Committee of Correspondence following the Boston massacre, Glover’s political sympathies were firmly allied with the patriot cause.  A member of the  Marblehead militia since 1759, with the coming of the War Colonel Glover marched the Marblehead militia, Almost all fishermen, to the siege of Boston in April 1775.

While active on land in the fight for independence, Glover was also active on the sea.  General Washington commissioned Glover’s schooner Hannah, to raid British supply vessels.  The Hannah is considered to be the first ship of the US Navy.

The Marblehead militia regiment joined the Continental Army, becoming the 14th Continental regiment.

In 1776, Glover and his “amphibious regiment”, as it was called, saved the army after the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Long Island, by ferrying it to Manhattan in a nighttime operation.  On land throughout the New York campaign the regiment fought fiercely in every engagement.  It capped its service by ferrying the Army across the Delaware on Christmas 1776 to attack the Hessians at Trenton. Continue Reading

5

A Christmas Carol For Our Time

 

Brilliant article on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Jerry Bowyer at Forbes:

What was Dickens really doing when he wrote A Christmas Carol? Answer: He was weighing in on one of the central economic debates of his time, the one that raged between Thomas Malthus and one of the disciples of Adam Smith.

Malthus famously argued that in a world in which economies grew arithmetically and population grew geometrically, mass want would be inevitable. His Essay on Population created a school of thought which continues to this day under the banners of Zero Population Growth and Sustainability. The threat of a “population bomb” under which my generation lived was Paul Ehrlich’s modern rehashing of the Malthusian argument about the inability of productivity to keep pace with, let alone exceed, population growth.

Jean Baptiste Say, Smith’s most influential disciple, argued on the other hand, as had his mentor, that the gains from global population growth, spread over vast expanses of trading, trigger gains from a division of labor which exceed those ever thought possible before the rise of the market order.

Guess whose ideas Charles Dickens put into the mouth of his antagonist Ebenezer Scrooge.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation? … If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Later in the story, the Ghost of Christmas Present reminds Scrooge of his earlier words and then adds about Tiny Tim:

“What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.”

Interesting also, that Ehrlich was not an economist, agronomist or even demographer but rather an etymologist, an expert in insect biology. Malthusianism is, indeed, the philosophy of the bug heap, of man as devouring swarm rather than ennobling angel.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is the key to understanding Dickens’ political and economic philosophy. He is the symbol of abundance. He literally and figuratively holds a cornucopia, a horn of plenty. While he wears a scabbard at his side, it is bereft of sword and neglected in care. Peace and plenty. Continue Reading

19

Do We Have Free Speech?

I dislike mentioning the First Amendment when controversies like the Phil Robertson versus A&E brewhaha break out. After all, the First Amendment applies only to Congress (and the Supreme Court has ruled [incorrectly, if you ask me] that it applies to state governments via the 14th Amendment), and the actions of a cable network don’t really implicate the First Amendment. On the other hand, Ace of Spades makes a fairly compelling argument that this is too narrow an interpretation of what the First Amendment is all about.

It’s also untrue. Yes, the First Amendment, strictly speaking, applies only to the government. But there is a spirit of the First Amendment too, not just a restriction on government action.

 

And that spirit is this:

 

That we should have, to the extent compatible with ordered liberty, the maximum possible right to think and say and believe what we choose, and anyone who attempts to use force to coerce someone to think and say and believe something that is alien to them is acting contrary to the spirt of the First Amendment.

 

I’ve said this a dozen times:

 

The real, tangible threat to our right to think and speak as we will, as conscience, faith, or reason (or all three together) might impel us, is not from the government, but from our employers, and from the massively corporate media institutions that impose real penalties on people — fines, really, imposed by firings, suspensions, mandatory Thought Rehab and so forth — for daring to utter words other than the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

 

Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robinson. A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression.

 

Why does no one speak of that right? Sure, they have the right to act hostilely towards the spirit of the First Amendment and use coercive power to hammer people into only speaking the Officially Approved Institutional Corporate Slogans.

As I said, this is a very compelling argument, though I’m not sure I completely buy into it. In the case of employers firing people for expressing their free speech rights, true government coercion, it could be argued, would be actively prohibiting employers from firing employees for expressing unpopular opinions. Now, I personally think employers should give their employees wide latitude when it comes to expressing their opinions, and there are few examples I can think of where it would be acceptable to fire people for their political opinions.*

Which leads me to one of the most outrageous examples of over-reaction I’ve ever seen. Justine Sacco was a communications director for a firm called IAC – I say was because she was fired after tweeting the following:

Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!

The tweet was obviously a (really bad) attempt at mocking the concept of white privilege. It did not sit well with many of the purveyors of decency on the left, and within hours there was a social media firestorm. This woman with barely over 100 followers had become the locus of hate throughout the twitterverse, and soon her employers were compelled first to issue a statement of regret, and then to sack Sacco (sorry).

What was particularly heinous about the incident was how it revealed the true ugliness of social media, and I’m not referring to Sacco’s tweet. Her tweet was dumb, but clearly an example of poor humor and not racism or maliciousness. Yet this woman was hounded by the likes of Buzzfeed and other media outlets, and her tweet drew far, far, far more attention than it really merited. Like a pack of ravenous wolves, they descended on the metaphoric body of the tweet and made sure that not even a bone was left on the carcass. And why? Because of a really bad joke.

Now Sacco certainly deserves some share of the blame. After all, she was a communications director, and as such should have known better. And there’s something to be said about taking a more careful approach with social media. But are we really comfortable with getting a woman fired for a poor joke? Was her company’s bottom line really imperiled by Sacco’s crack? And of the millions of dumb tweets sent every day, why was hers one that merited such attention?

Sacco’s firing troubles me much more than Robertson’s suspension, which is not to say I wasn’t troubled by the latter. Robertson is a public figure, and he’ll be okay in the end. On the other hand, Sacco was fired because she tweeted something that offended certain people’s sensibilities. It had no bearing on her actual work with IAC, and it’s doubtful that her company’s reputation would have been damaged had they retained her. The social media pack mentality also does not speak well for our society as how many individuals mindlessly joined the herd without giving a second thought to what they were doing?

Most importantly I am just concerned about where we are headed culturally when we can’t make a public utterance without fearing the loss of our livelihoods. As Dale Price said, “If you say you believe in free speech but are routinely demanding “consequences” for speech you disagree with…you really don’t believe in free speech.” Sure we should be responsible for what we utter in public, but we need to have some perspective. I do not want to live in a country where it is acceptable to be easily fired for the flimsiest of comments.

For example, if the Chief of Public Relations for the Democratic National Committee suddenly took to twitter to rip into Harry Reid and Barack Obama, then it would most certainly not be inappropriate for the DNC to take action against that person. More seriously, I’m also thinking of teachers at Catholic schools who publicly dissent against Church teaching.

6

Patton’s Weather Prayer

 

 

“Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.”

 

The famous “weather prayer” of General Patton was written by a Catholic Chaplain, Colonel James H. O’Neill.  Here is his article on the incident written in 1950.  Unfortunately the famous weather prayer sequence from the film Patton is not available online. The trailer to this magnificent film biopic is at the top of this post.

If any of you have not seen this masterpiece, you should remedy that as soon as possible.

Weather Prayer

Patton was an interesting mixture of contradictions in his spiritual life.  Foul mouthed even by the standards of an army known for profanity, and much too fond of war for a Christian, he also read the Bible and prayed each day.  A firm Episcopalian, yet he also firmly believed in reincarnation.    While in command in Sicily he began attending mass, initially largely for political reasons to build a bridge to the Catholic population, but then found that he enjoyed worshipping at mass. Continue Reading

2

Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 35

 

 

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, which we began in Advent 2011 and continued last year, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here here, here, here, here and here we come to Isaiah 35:

 

 

[1] The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice, and shall flourish like the lily. [2] It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise: the glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Saron, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the beauty of our God. [3] Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees. [4] Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not: behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you. [5] Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

[6] Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. [7] And that which was dry land, shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the dens where dragons dwell before, shall rise up the verdure of the reed and the bulrush. [8] And a path and a way shall be there, and it shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it, and this shall be unto you a straight way, so that fools shall not err therein. [9] No lion shall be there, nor shall any mischievous beast go up by it, nor be found there: but they shall walk there that shall be delivered. [10] And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away

Saint Athanasius writes of this passage: Continue Reading

2

Sixty-Nine Years Ago

Sixty-nine years ago at Christmas the American and German armies were fighting it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

Patton’s Third Army fought its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather. The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle. Massively outnumbered, battle weary from already having done more than their share of fighting in Normandy and Operation Market Garden and short on food and ammo, they stopped the advancing Germans cold in their tracks.

On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101st troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops: Continue Reading

39

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Robert Bolt

 

 

From Richmond to Chelsea, a penny halfpenny . . . from Chelsea to Richmond, a penny halfpenny. From Richmond to Chelsea, it’s a quiet float downstream, from Chelsea to Richmond, it’s a hard pull upstream. And it’s a penny halfpenny either way. Whoever makes the regulations doesn’t row a boat.

Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

10

Quotes Suitable for Framing: William Graham Sumner

 

 

The type and formula of most schemes of philanthropy or humanitarianism is this: A and B put their heads together to decide what C shall be made to do for D.  The radical vice of all these schemes, from a sociological point of view, is that C is not allowed a voice in the matter,  and his position, character, and interests, as well as the ultimate effects on society through C’s interests, are entirely overlooked.  I call C the Forgotten Man.  For once let us look him up and consider his case, for the characteristic of all social doctors is, that they fix their minds on some man or group of men whose case appeals to the sympathies and the imagination, and they plan remedies addressed to the particular trouble; they do not understand that all the parts of society hold together, and that forces which are set in action act and react throughout the whole organism, until an equilibrium is produced by a re-adjustment of all interests and rights.  They therefore ignore entirely the source from which they must draw all the energy which they employ in their remedies, and they ignore all the effects on other members of society than the ones they have in view.  They are always under the dominion of the superstition of government, and, forgetting that a government produces nothing at all, they leave out of sight the first fact to be remembered in all social discussion – that the State cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it.  This latter is the Forgotten Man.

William Graham Sumner, The Forgotten Man

30

Why the Left Hates Duck Dynasty

The Left and the Family

 With the transformation of the means of production into collective property the monogamous family ceases to be the economic unit of society. The private household changes to a social industry. The care and educatlon of children become a public matter. Society cares equally well for all children, legal or illegal. This removes the care about the “consequences” which now forms the essential social factor—moral and economic—hindering a girl to surrender unconditionally to the beloved man. Will not this be sufficient cause for a gradual rise of a more unconventional intercourse of the sexes and a more lenient public opinion regarding virgin honor and female shame? And finally, did we not see that in the modern world monogamy and prostitution, though antitheses, are inseparable and poles of the same social condition? Can prostitution disappear without engulfing at the same time monogamy?

Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family

 

Adrienne Royer at The Federalist, nails it:

 

 

The appeal of the show comes from the surprising normalcy and likability of the family. The men might dress like the cast of Easy Rider, hunt almost daily, and make millions in their business, but the show emphasizes the Real America part of their lives rather than only focusing on the cast as developing celebrities. The conflicts on the show emerge from issues average Americans face: helping your parents with their will, teaching your kids to drive, losing weight for your high school reunion, sibling rivalry among brothers, and struggling to find the right Christmas present for your wife. Ask any fan why they love the show, and you’re likely to hear, “The Robertsons remind me of my own family.”

This is the odd thing about current reactions to the show from those who don’t typically watch it. While the Duggars preach and Sarah Palin shoots in the wilds of Alaska, their actions seem calculated to make a political or religious point. By comparison, the Robertson’s Christian faith is just one component of the show. Like many Americans, the lives of the Robertsons revolve around their church, kids’ activities, work and family get-togethers. Because of their honesty about struggles with alcoholism, drugs and overcoming poverty, the Robertsons demonstrate that it is possible to have a close, traditional family unit in modern times without relying on government handouts.

The threat of the Robertsons isn’t in Phil’s politically incorrect comments. The threat is that this family has figured out how right-wing politics and Evangelical Christianity can influence pop culture without being the punch line or the bad guy. While the left has spent decades making conservatives look like idiots and Christians look like bigots, Duck Dynasty reminds average Americans that these views are mainstream. The left is alerted but will those on the right take advantage of what the Robertsons have created? Continue Reading

5

Washington At Prayer

There is an old tradition that Washington prayed in the snow at Valley Forge on Christmas Day 1777.  Certainly the wretched condition of the Continental Army in December of 1777, with a hungry winter beginning, would have driven commanders less pious than Washington to their knees.  However, Washington was pious and prayed every day.

The tradition rests on this account of the Reverend Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, a Presbyterian Minister in Philadelphia who lived from 1770-1851 and who wrote the following: Continue Reading

2

Advent and Anti-Christ, Part IV

Deeds of the Antichrist

 

 

The fourth and final part of my presentation of the four sermons on the Anti-Christ delivered by John Henry Cardinal Newman before his conversion during Advent in 1835.  Part I is here, part II is here and Part III is here.

In this last sermon Newman speaks of the persecution that will attend the reign of the anti-Christ.  In Newman’s day, living memory could recall the savage persecution that the Church endured dring the initial years of the French Revolution.  In our time, we have the blood-stained last century when millions of Christians were martyred for their faith.  It is all too easy to suspect that those terrible persecutions were trial runs for the persecution of the Anti-Christ.  The last century brought to reality these words of Newman:  “Let us then apprehend and realize the idea, thus clearly brought before us, that, sheltered as the Church has been from persecution for 1500 years, yet a persecution awaits it, before the end, fierce and more perilous than any which occurred at its first rise.” Certainly all prior persecutions pale before what Christians experienced in the Terrible Twentieth.

This is an interesting passage from Newman’s sermon:  Again, another anxious sign at the present time is what appears in the approaching destruction of the Mahometan power. This too may outlive our day; still it tends visibly to annihilation, and as it crumbles, perchance the sands of the world’s life are running out.” I assume that Newman was thinking of the decline of the Ottoman Empire of his day, the sick man of Europe.  Freed from this adversary, perhaps Europe would unite behind one man, reform or revive the Roman Empire, and bring about the conditions for the Anti-Christ.  Small wonder that Hitler was frequently deemed the Anti-Christ during his lifetime.  Of course Hitler was not the Anti-Christ, but perhaps merely one of myriads of anti-Christs who have arisen and fallen in the centuries since the coming of Christ, or perhaps he is a precursor of the Anti-Christ.

In our secular age, when the Faith is so weak in so many regions of traditional strength, especially in Europe, these words of Newman ring home:  “It is his policy to split us up and divide us, to dislodge us gradually from our rock of strength. And if there is to be a persecution, perhaps it will be then; then, perhaps, when we are all of us in all parts of Christendom so divided, and so reduced, so full of schism, so close upon heresy. When we have cast ourselves upon the world and depend for protection upon it, and have given up our independence and our strength, then he may burst upon us in fury as far as God allows him. “

Newman ends with the hope that the knowledge of a coming persecution may cause us to act more like Christians:  “Surely with this thought before us, we cannot bear to give ourselves up to thoughts of ease and comfort, of making money, settling well, or rising in the world. Surely with this thought before us, we cannot but feel that we are, what all Christians really are in the best estate, (nay rather would wish to be had they their will, if they be Christians in heart) pilgrims, watchers waiting for the morning, waiting for the light, eagerly straining our eyes for the first dawn of day—looking out for our SAVIOUR’S coming, His glorious advent, when He will end the reign of sin and wickedness, accomplish the number of His elect, and perfect those who at present struggle with infirmity, yet in their hearts love and obey Him.”

The fourth and final sermon of Newman on the Anti-Christ: Continue Reading

18

So-called “homosexual marriage” and Catholic schools: Bigotry and homophobia?

 

So, the headmaster of a Catholic high school is a “bigot” and he’s also “homophobic” if a member of his faculty applies for a so-called “homosexual marriage” certificate and states that he will go through with the so-called “wedding ceremony”?

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the answer is “Yes” if you are State Senator Daylin Leach (D-PA).

The faculty member in question is Michael Griffin. The high school in question is Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, PA, sponsored by the Holy Ghost Fathers.

Griffin, an openly homosexual Holy Ghost alumnus and veteran foreign languages teacher of 12 years at the school, and his “partner” of 12 years, Vincent Gianetto, who reside in Mount Laurel, NJ, applied for a so-called “homosexual marriage” certificate in New Jersey. When Griffin sent an email informing the school’s principal that he might be a bit tardy to a teacher in-service because he was obtaining a “marriage license,” the principal evidently informed the school’s Headmaster, the Rev. James McCloskey, C.S.Sp., who met later with Griffin. After Griffin acknowledged his awareness of his contract’s provision that all faculty and staff follow the teachings of the Church as a condition of employment and, then, indicated he was going to proceed with the ceremony anyway, Fr. McCloskey terminated Griffin effective immediately.

Griffin is perplexed. He has brought his partner to school functions over the past 12 years with no problem. At last year’s annual charity auction, the duo was seated at the same table as the principal, Jeff Danilak, and his wife. Griffin asks: What about teachers who have been divorced and remarried? What about teachers who contracept?

In that restricted sense, Griffin is correct. There are many administrators, faculty, and staff serving in Catholic schools across the nation whose conduct is contrary to Church teaching. Moreover, no one at Holy Ghost Prep—not even Fr. McCloskey—evidently had any intention doing of anything about Griffin’s living arrangements. But Griffin made the fact of so-called “marriage” known in his email to the school’s principal.  At least that was one element of Fr. McCloskey’s rationale for terminating Griffin.

Administrators at Holy Ghost Prep have conducted themselves no differently than have administrators at many other Catholic schools across the United States. Call it the “Wink-and-Nod Policy.” That is, divorce and remarriage, practicing contraception, and openly homosexual faculty who live with their partners seem to be acceptable as long as those facts are kept private. However, should those facts be made public, the “contract clause” may be triggered. It’s one weapon in an administrator’s arsenal that can be implemented if and when moral issues involving administrators, faculty, and staff are believed to present a threat to a school’s Catholic identity and undermine it.

Griffin decided to publicize. He wanted his story to draw attention to the fact that while some municipalities within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have passed anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual orientation, the Commonwealth has not.

Which brings this narrative back to State Senator Daylin Leach, who is now attempting to change the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Senator Leach’s proposed law would protect sexual orientation, removing any school’s right to hire/fire based upon mission. Leach told Philly.com:

Being homophobic is the last legally legitimate form of bigotry. The thing we hear is that we don’t need this because it never happens. This is a perfect example of how it happened.

While some might hail Fr. McCloskey for upholding the school’s Catholic identity and having taken a strong stand concerning Michael Griffin’s conduct that runs contrary to his contractual obligations, The Motley Monk doesn’t. Griffin’s firing was necessary, yes. But, it was the consequence of 12 years of benign neglect. It appears administrators and faculty (at a minimum) knew all along about the Griffin’s living arrangements and were quite accepting of those arrangements. This long-term “Wink-and-Nod Policy” at Holy Ghost Prep included allowing the duo to be seated together at the principal’s table for the school’s annual fund raiser.

Like many other administrators, faculty, and staff serving in Catholic schools whose conduct is contrary to Church teaching, Griffin said:

I feel like I do lead a moral life. I’m far from perfect but I feel like I do it to the best of my ability.

So, despite what the school policy or Church teaching might dictate, Griffin is proud of the way he lives his life. Later this December, Griffin hopes to call his longtime partner his “husband.”

That makes Fr. McCloskey a bigot and homophobe? Quite the opposite, that is, until Griffin violated the terms of his contract.

 

 

To read the Philadelphia Daily News article, click on the following link:
http://articles.philly.com/2013-12-10/news/44993556_1_marriage-license-michael-griffin-mccloskey

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

 

 

8

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Strike Back

Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate

 

Rorate Caeli has a response by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate to Father Volpi’s letter:

 

 

It is with deep sadness and consternation we learn that in the circular letter of the 8th December, addressed to all the Friars of the Immaculate, the most Reverend Father Volpi, accuses some of the most prominent exponents of the Sisters of the Immaculate, “of having contributed to the creation of a ‘distorted mentality’ in the Friars, strongly influencing their lifestyle.”

21

PopeWatch: Phil Robertson

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

VATICAN–Just days after Pope Francis removed former La Crosse bishop Cardinal Raymond Burke from his seat on the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops,  Francis today removed Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty and founder of Duck Commander, meaning the conservative patriarch of the “Robertson Clan” will lose his influential role in appointing bishops in the United States. Burke’s removal came soon after he said that Pope Francis’ comments suggesting that church teaching on matters such as abortion and gay marriage didn’t need to be repeated were, “not altogether easy to interpret” and went on to say that, “we can never talk enough about the defense of human life.” Many analysts are now suggesting that the Robertson’s removal was due in part to similar comments he recently made to GQ magazine criticizing homosexuality. Among the many of the explicit comments made, Robertson told GQ that “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.  It’s not right.” The pope on Monday appointed Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl to the 18-member board to replace Burke and Robertson. Robertson, who was the consultant to the Congregation for Bishops, and seen by many in the Church as a conservative ally of Burke, will head back home to Louisiana. A spokesman for Robertson told EOTT that Robertson was sad to leave, and felt that both he and Burke were unfairly targeted for “preaching about the objective truths in the bible.” He went on to say that “In them cases where homo sex unions have been legally recognized or dun been given legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear ‘n emphatic opposition is a duty. We all gotta refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from cooperation on the level of their application and things like that. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.” Continue Reading

14

Paul Ryan and the Poor

There’s an interesting Buzzfeed article going around about Paul Ryan’s increasing focus on policies to help the poor, one apparently inspired by experiencing during the last election and fueled by his admiration for Pope Francis. A few parts of the article betray a bit of an editorial sneer towards conservatives, but in general it’s well written and fair.

Ryan was there for a meeting that the Romney campaign brain trust had seemed, for months, intent on stopping. Since joining the presidential ticket in August, the Wisconsin congressman had been lobbying to spend more time campaigning in diverse, low-income neighborhoods. Ryan, a protégé of the late, big-tent GOP visionary Jack Kemp, argued the visits would show the country that Republicans cared about the poor. The number-crunchers in Boston countered that every hour spent on inner-city photo ops was a lost opportunity to rally middle-class suburbanites who might actually vote for them. Eventually, they reached a compromise: Ryan could give one big speech about poverty in Ohio and hold an off-the-record roundtable with community leaders who work with the poor — but the campaign would have to vet them all.

And then, as Ryan prepared to leave to deliver his speech, a tattooed minister who had arrived at the meeting via motorcycle asked the congressman if he could lay hands on him to pray.

Ryan looked momentarily panicked, according to some who were in the room, but then he shrugged and smiled. “I’m Catholic, but I’m cool with that,” he responded. Continue Reading

71

Free Speech Isn’t Free

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Hattip to Dale Price at Dyspeptic Mutterings.  I have never watched Duck Dynasty on A&E, and before this week only had the vaguest idea that it is about a family that manufactures duck calls, is rich, rural and devout, with the men looking like a road crew for ZZ Top.  It became a mega hit, and this week the patriarch of the family was fired because of comments he made about homosexuality in a magazine interview.  Go here to read the interview in GQ.  The family has put out this statement:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support.  The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision.  We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word.  While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.  We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty.   Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

So far so predictable.  We live in a country which lauds freedom of speech in theory, but in practice if you deviate in your public sentiments a fraction of an inch from the PC cant of the day, the forces of love and tolerance will attempt to gut punch you if they can.  No more formidable practitioners of that art exists than the gay lobby, the “love” that dare not speak its name now being the “love” that wants to ensure that its critics dare not speak at all.

I am unsurprised that it is feminist lesbian Camille Paglia who on the Laura Ingraham show had the best commentary on this latest eruption of the gay thought police.  Paglia, who is an old time liberal who actually cherishes freedom for herself and also for those who disagree with her, has been outraging leftist pieties for decades.  Go here to listen to her appearance with Ingraham.

Robertson has been suspended from Duck Dynasty due to comments he made to GQ that have been deemed “anti-gay.” According to Paglia, the culture has become too politically correct.

“To express yourself in a magazine in an interview — this is the level of punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist, OK, that my liberal colleagues in the Democratic Party and on college campuses have supported and promoted over the last several decades,” Paglia said. “This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.”

Paglia went on to point out that while she is an atheist she respects religion and has been frustrated by the intolerance of gay activists.

“I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenility,” Paglia said. “This is not the mark of a true intellectual life. This is why there is no cultural life now in the U.S. Why nothing is of interest coming from the major media in terms of cultural criticism. Why the graduates of the Ivy League with their A, A, A+ grades are complete cultural illiterates, etc. is because they are not being educated in any way to give respect to opposing view points.”

“There is a dialogue going on human civilization, for heaven sakes. It’s not just this monologue coming from fanatics who have displaced the religious beliefs of their parents into a political movement,” she added. “And that is what happened to feminism, and that is what happened to gay activism, a fanaticism.” Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Vatican II-A Half Century Later

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Pope Francis has indicated that he wishes to complete the work of Vatican II.  This is an opportune moment to look at Vatican II which 50 years ago was close to its half way point.

 

As a practical matter, PopeWatch believes the Church as an earthly institution  has been in decline by most measurements, mass attendance, ordinations, numbers of nuns, sisters and brothers,  since 1965.    The decline is undeniable, but is it fair to blame Vatican II?  Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II?  PopeWatch doubts it.  The Church had thriven in the hostile environment of the first half of the Twentieth Century, when malevolent atheist ideologies, such as Nazism and Communism, had launched unceasing assaults on the Church.   Odd that the Church could so well weather this storm and then encounter such difficulties in the relatively calm seas of the latter Twentieth Century.  Plus, the collapse came on so rapidly after the Council that it is hard to resist the temptation to believe that there has to be some link.  It also didn’t help that Paul VI was a very good man, but also a very weak pope.

Of course much, although not all, of the difficulties of Vatican II are caused by misinterpretations of what the Council did and what the Council actually stated.  The “spirit of Vatican II” is often responsible for idiocies within the contemporary Church that most of the participants in Vatican II never, in their wildest nightmares, intended.  This misinterpretation of the Council started even while it was in progress:

PopeWatch would direct your attention to Time January 4, 1963 in the issue where Pope John XXIII was declared Man of the Year:

“By launching a reform whose goal is to make the Catholic Church sine macula et ruga (without spot or wrinkle), John set out to adapt his church’s whole life and stance to the revolutionary changes in science, economics, morals and politics that have swept the modern world: to make it, in short, more Catholic and less Roman.”

This statement PopeWatch finds truly hilarious from the Time article, in light of the experience of the last 50 years:  “The great majority of Protestant and Catholic clergymen and theologians—as well as many non-Christians—agree that Christianity is much stronger today than it was when World War II ended. Their reason is not the postwar “religious revival” (which many of them distrust as superficial) or the numerical strength of Christianity. It is that the Christian Church has finally recognized and faced the problems that have cut off much of its communication with the modern world. Says Notre Dame’s President Theodore Hesburgh: “We better understand the job that is before us. The challenge is to make religion relevant to relevant to real life.”’ Continue Reading

8

The stormy petrils sing their Siren song again at Santa Clara University…

 

The stormy petrils at Santa Clara University (SCU) once again are singing their Siren song, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed.

As The Motley Monk previously reported, SCU’s President, Rev. Michael Engh, SJ, informed SCU faculty and staff in October 2013 that SCU no longer would provide health insurance coverage for elective abortions. In the letter announcing his decision, Fr. Engh wrote:

Our commitments as a Catholic university are incompatible with the inclusion of elective abortion coverage in the university’s health care plans.

As was predictable, the stormy petrils protested mightily. They believe Fr. Engh’s decision was inherently flawed, potentially setting an unethical precedent. How so? The expected refrain: Engh “did not consult the faculty first.”

Those protests evidently had a bit of an impact, as Fr. Engh decided to delay the policy from taking effect for one year. In a November letter to faculty and staff, Engh stated that while the decision remains “final,” delaying its implementation until January 2015 would allow the Faculty Benefits Committee time to explore third-party coverage options for abortions. But, Engh was steadfast: SCU would not pay for that coverage.

Predictably, that wasn’t good enough.

SCU’s Faculty Senate voted to call the health insurance policy change “invalid.” About this vote, the Faculty Senate’s President, Juliana Chang, wrote in an email:

The term “invalid” refers to the process by which [Fr. Engh] made the decision. Faculty believe that our shared governance structure means that the president should consult the faculty prior to implementing major policy decisions.

Due to the absence of meaningful faculty input, the Faculty Senate later drafted a three-part resolution condemning the decision submitting it to the 627 eligible faculty members for a vote.

Well, voting ended last week. The results were that the policy section of the resolution to invalidate the new policy passed 215 to 89. That is:

  • a total of 48.5% of eligible faculty voted;
  • 32.4% of the eligible voters voted for the resolution; and,
  • 14.2% voted against it.

Professor Chang called the vote and turnout “unprecedented.”

Indeed, it was! The silent majority didn’t participate, rendering any conclusion about the vote’s significance “invalid.”

A professor of law and former Faculty Senate President, Margaret Russell, disagrees. Professor Russell wrote in an email:

I have a deep respect and regard for Santa Clara as a collegial and diverse intellectual and social justice community–which is one of the reasons why I think the Faculty Senate vote is so significant. (italics added) The vote shows that there is enormous disagreement with both the insurance decision itself and the peremptory manner in which it was reached and announced.

32.4%. “Enormous disagreement”?

Not allowing the negative poll results to dampen the minority’s spirits, one of the stormiest of the petrils, Professor Nancy Unger, sang her Siren again song in a recent San Jose Mercury News op ed:

Santa Clara faculty and staff are not members of a Catholic parish. They are employees of a large corporation. Many fear that this denial of comprehensive abortion coverage is part of a wider effort to allow private employers to impose their religious beliefs on employees, denying a raft of health care services from abortion and contraception to vaccines.

“Father knows best” is not a compelling argument here, especially when one man denies hundreds of women access to a procedure that he could never need. It’s also no principle on which to run a university.

The Motley Monk has heard this refrain so many times, it has become an earworm! If a president of a Catholic university or college upholds Church teaching in institutional policy matters, it’s denying women working at the institution their inalienable “rights” and, in this case, to “a raft of [so-called] health care services….”

Yet, all of this folderol at SCU may be rendered meaningless by the State of California.

According to an associate professor of law, Stephen Diamond, the new policy will be impossible to enforce under state law. Professor Diamond noted in an email:

HMOs in California are regulated by a statute which includes a multi-factor test for whether abortion is legally necessary. That test has long been interpreted to include all pre-viability abortions and so it is not possible for the university to institute the change the president has proposed.

The issue is far from resolved, irrespective of what Fr. Engh might hope or what song the SCU stormy petrils might sing.

 

 

To read the Inside Higher Ed article, click on the following link:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/18/santa-clara-u-faculty-object-change-health-plans-deny-abortion-coverage#ixzz2nq6mZrzv

To read The Motley Monk’s previous post, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/5/category/Santa%20Clara%20University/1.html

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
http://www.richard-jacobs-blog.com/omnibus.html

43

Rorate Caeli Responds to Catholic World Report on the Friars of the Immaculate

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Yesterday in the comboxes there was a link to an article in the Catholic World Report on the persecution of the Friars of the Immaculate which painted a fairly rose colored picture of the situation.  Rorate Caeli responds with a report from  what they describe as a very well-informed source:

 

 

Michael J. Miller, writing for Catholic World Report, wishes English-speaking readers to hear the “other side” of the Franciscans of the Immaculate controversy, namely, the Commissioner’s side. Unfortunately, he has done so by uncritically repeating arguments, some of which were answered months ago, and others more recently.

 
Perhaps the first point he makes that is worthy of comment is the matter of the survey or questionnaire that was apparently the principal means by which the Apostolic Visit was conducted. It is surprising that anyone would trot this out again three months after it was debunked, but there it is.
 
 
For those who missed this the first time, we summarize: the percentage of friars who chose each of the four possible responses was not presented in a straightforward way like A, B, C, D. Instead, the public was given A, B/(100%-A), (C+D)/(100%-A). The fairly obvious intent was to boost the apparent percentages of those who thought that there was some problem, and especially to associate as high a percentage as possible with option D (a Commissioner is needed). Despite requests by the public to have separate figures for C and D, and to know how many friars responded (since it was certainly not all the friars), no further information was forthcoming. Since it was not, we are unable to determine the total who responded A, B, or C, that is, those who thought that if there were problems, they could be resolved by the Institute itself in a General Chapter.
 
Releasing manipulated data was a PR disaster, as Fr. Alfonso M. Bruno implicitly recognized by distancing himself in a letter to La nuova Bussola Quotidiana published 28 September. He wrote: “It is of no importance, for the purpose of this evaluation [as to whether or not a Commissioner was necessary] what the proportion among the various responses was.” So why were the percentages published in the first place?  Continue Reading
12

PopeWatch: Rush

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PopeWatch assumes that Rush Limbaugh is viewed as the Devil Incarnate by many Pope Francis fans, for his criticisms of the economic portions of Evangelii Gaudium, but actually Rush has a much shrewder view of the Pope than the empty praise that the Pope is currently getting from many leftists who eagerly embrace the Pope as an unexpected ally.  From the Limbaugh show yesterday:

RUSH:  Back to the pope.  You’ll note that I didn’t spend any time in the first hour on this.  I am not striving to keep this alive.  I’m not striving to make this about me.  But the Drive-Bys won’t let it go.  They can’t turn this loose.  The latest, Piers Morgan on CNN last night on Piers Morgan Live.  He had the noted author and well known conservative raconteur, Ann Coulter.  And during his conversation with Coulter, he wanted to bring up me and Il Papa, Pope Francis.  And to set it up, this is what he said.

MORGAN:  Rush Limbaugh keeps whacking away at Pope Francis, which is, you know, it’s like watching the devil incarnate taking on Mother Teresa. But tell me why the right seemed to have some big issue with a man who appears to be non-bigoted, incredibly humble, a force for good, somebody perhaps revolutionizing an anachronistic church, dragging them kicking and screaming into the real world, why would this enrage the likes of Rush Limbaugh?

RUSH:  Okay, that’s the question.  The devil incarnate.  I am the devil incarnate.  The pope is Mother Teresa.  And you’ll note, folks, look, I don’t want to be subtle about this.  It’s Christmastime.  Can I take a little credit for something here? (interruption) What, you think you know what I’m gonna say?  Here is an avowed leftist who every other day of the week despises the Catholic Church, Piers Morgan.  And he’s no different than anybody else out there on the left.  Every other day of the week, they hate the Catholic Church. They don’t like the pope because of abortion, because of gays, gay marriage, because of no women priests, because of AIDS, you name it. They do not like the Catholic Church at all, except now since I, the devil incarnate, have entered the fray. These people that hate the Catholic Church are now its biggest advocates. 

Is that not amazing?  Is that not a wonder to behold?  I don’t care that he calls me the devil incarnate.  He’s speaking out positively about Christianity now.  He doesn’t know it.  He thinks the pope is modernizing the church in the way the left thinks it should be. See, to the left, a religion is nothing but a malleable, bendable, shapable, flakable, formable thing.  And like anything else, it ought to accommodate whatever the will of the people is at that moment.  So if the people are for abortion, the church ought to be, ’cause the church ought to relate to the people.  It’s a total lack of understanding of what a religion is, what a church is. 

For him to call the church anachronistic shows he has no understanding of religion whatsoever.  The church, Catholic Church, whatever church, is what it is.  And if you don’t like it, it’s your role to get out, not change it.  Christianity is Christianity.  The various denominations are what they are.  If you don’t like it, you move on.  It’s not up to the church to modernize. It’s not up to the church to be dragged kicking and screaming into the real world.  Yet that’s what he thinks Pope Francis is doing, and it’s not what Pope Francis doing. 

Pope Francis is as rock rigid anti-abortion as any pope ever has been.  The same thing on gay marriage, female priests, and all of this.  But I still think, folks, that it is a wondrous thing that because of little old me, the devil incarnate, leftists who would otherwise and do otherwise revile the Catholic Church are now singing its praises.  It is a beautiful thing.  But that whole sound bite is proof that Piers Morgan, incompetence incarnate, hasn’t the slightest idea, slightest understanding of religion.  Religion is timeless.  Continue Reading

15

The Bishop’s Wife

Continuing our look at Advent and Christmas movies:  The Bishop’s Wife from 1947.    David Niven is an Episcopalian Bishop of a struggling diocese;  Loretta Young (ironically one of the more devout Catholics in the Hollywood of her time) is his wife;  and Cary Grant is Dudley, one of the more unimportant angels in Heaven, sent by God to lend the Bishop a hand.  The film is a graceful comedy which effectively and quietly underlines the central importance of faith in God as we see in this little scene:

Continue Reading

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A Plea to the Pope

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Pat Archbold has been on fire lately.  I gladly join him in his plea to the Pope:

Dear Holy Father,

I urgently need your help and so do others. I have heard all you have been saying for months and I want to believe it is true. I want to believe the you want to decentralize the authority of the Church. I know that you don’t want us to be hung up rules that limit our worship to just one way of doing things, that you want to do away with arbitrary rigidity. I know that you are concerned about the little guy, those in the Church with no voice.

Well, this is where I need your help. Holy Father, there is a group within the Church that currently has no voice and is being abused by that arbitrary, rigid, and centralized Church that is so destructive of evangelization.

Holy Father, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate need your protection from that very Church. As you know, months ago you appointed Rev. Fidenzio Volpi as special commissioner to oversee the FFI after five priests complained about the traditional direction of the order, with Mass in the extraordinary form a particular concern.

At the time, their ability to say mass in the extraordinary form as guaranteed under Summorum Pontificum was suspended. We were assured at the time that this was simply to make sure that those in the order that did not prefer the EF did not have it unfairly forced upon them. While the move was shocking to me and to many in traditionalist circles, we understood the need for fairness for all in this matter and we took a wait and see approach.

We have waited and we have seen. What we have seen has frightened and scandalized us to no end.

In the past few weeks, Fr. Volpi “has closed the friars’ seminary and sent its students to other religious universities. He suspended the activities of the friars’ lay movement. He suspended ordinations of new priests for a year and required future priests to formally accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and its new liturgy or be kicked out. And he decreed that current priests must commit themselves in writing to following the existing mission of the order.”

Holy Father, we have rarely if ever seen such sanctions even against groups in open defiance of the Church and in open heresy. But why is the Church, this centralized authoritarian Church, dealing so severely with this group? There have been no public accusations of wrongdoing or heresy. Nothing like that.

Fr. Volpi himself has stated, in response to criticism, that the reason for such draconian and disproportionate measures is that “the founder and ex- MinisterGeneral, Father Stefano Maria Manelli, in January 2012, had already evaded constructive dialogue with the religious who had complained of a crypto-lefebvrian and definitely traditionalist drift.

Crypto-lefebrvrianism? A traditionalist drift?

Dear Holy Father, is faithful traditionalism within the Church now a crime? Is becoming more traditional a sign of deficiency within an order? Holy Father, that cannot be! Continue Reading

16

PopeWatch: Burke Out, Wuerl In

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If it wasn’t already clear the way the wind was blowing from the Vatican, the dumping of Cardinal Burke from the Congregation of Bishops this week was yet another indication:

Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has been bumped from the influential Congregation of Bishops — a post that gave him say in the selection of bishops.

Some observers of the Roman Catholic Church said the move by Pope Francis is yet another example of his effort to tone down highly publicized stances on divisive social issues such as gay marriage, contraception and abortion, on which Burke has made strong remarks.

The announcement came Monday from the Vatican as Francis reorganizes the Congregation, which has considerable power because it recommends bishop candidates to the pope when vacancies occur. New bishops shepherd their local flocks, but some of them will be promoted down the road to high-profile church leadership positions.

Also gone from the Congregation is another former archbishop from St. Louis, Justin Rigali — though that action was anticipated, because Rigali recently stepped down as archbishop in Philadelphia.

Asked for comment, the St. Louis Archdiocese issued a statement that said: “Although the tangible impact of the Congregation of Bishops to the local Archdiocese of St. Louis, as it relates to Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Rigali’s membership, is difficult to measure, it is without question that the spiritual fruits of their labor will be felt for many years to come throughout our universal Church.”

Catholic news reports have drawn contrasts between Francis and what many regard as the more conservative Burke.

Even so, Burke will retain his position as president of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court.

On the same day, Francis named Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who heads the Washington archdiocese, to the Congregation of Bishops, making him the only new member named from the United States.

National Catholic Reporter journalist John Allen said in an email that the “face-value reading” of the changes was that Francis wants more moderate bishops, fewer who are “heavily invested in culture wars.”

Even outside of Catholic bubbles, Burke became well known in 2004 when he said he would deny Communion — what Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ — to then-presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry for his stance on abortion.

Burke also dug in his heels over the control of finances at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, a Polish congregation in St. Louis, in a saga played up in national and international headlines.

More recently, Burke, in a radio report, seemed to disagree with Francis’ comments that Catholic dialogue has been too narrow.

“One gets the impression, or it’s interpreted this way in the media,” Burke said in the report, “that (Pope Francis) thinks we’re talking too much about abortion, too much about the integrity of marriage as between one man and one woman. But we can never talk enough about that.”

In September, Francis said: “We have to find a new balance. Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.” Continue Reading

We’re No Angels

What would Christmas be without Devil’s Island and escaped convicts?  This is probably a Christmas movie to avoid unless, like me, you are blessed\cursed with a quirky sense of humor.  On Christmas Eve 1895, three escaped convicts from Devil’s Island, portrayed by Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray, fall in with a family who run a store.  Initially planning on robbing and murdering them, the convicts instead end up helping the family and by the conclusion of the film decide to return to prison to serve out their sentences.  Hearing the plot, I am sure you are aware that a fair amount of suspension of disbelief is required while watching the film.

Continue Reading

4

Our Vicars of Bray

I have been roaming around Saint Blogs since 2003 and have become familiar with the work of most of the major Catholic bloggers.  Since the election of Pope Francis I have noticed a curious phenomenon, especially among Catholic bloggers who make their livelihood by hocking books, speaking before parishes, etc:    A  swift reversal of long held positions, combined with a sudden desire to denounce “reactionaries” and a new found respect for liberal Catholics.   No doubt such conversions are heartfelt and not merely time serving, transparent attempts to stay in lockstep with the powers that be.  However, if any such sudden conversions are not heartfelt, I dedicate this poem to them:

“In good King Charles’s golden days,

 When Loyalty no harm meant;

 A Furious High-Church man I was,

 And so I gain’d Preferment.

 Unto my Flock I daily Preach’d,

 Kings are by God appointed,

 And Damn’d are those who dare resist,

 Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.

 

And this is law, I will maintain

 Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

 That whatsoever King may reign,

 I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

When Royal James possest the crown,

 And popery grew in fashion;

 The Penal Law I shouted down,

 And read the Declaration:

 The Church of Rome I found would fit

 Full well my Constitution,

 And I had been a Jesuit,

 But for the Revolution. Continue Reading

8

What Oppression Does To People

This piece from Harpers about living thirty days as a Cuban is fascinating. The author went to Cuba determined to see if it was possible to live on a Cuban wage. According to the state pay scale, as a journalist his monthly pay should be $15, so that’s what he attempts to live on in Havana. Needless to say, the resulting experience makes the “food stamp diet” look like a walk in the park.

There wasn’t much of me left either. In mid-February I walked one last time to the Riviera, weighing myself in the gym. I was down eleven and a half pounds since my arrival. More than eleven pounds gone in thirty days. I’d missed about 40,000 calories. At this rate I would be as lean as a Cuban by spring. And dead by autumn.

I finished out with a few tiny meals—the last of the ugly rice, a last sweet potato, and the quarter of a cabbage. On the day before my departure I broke into my emergency stash, eat- ing the sesame sticks from the airplane (60 calories), and opening the can of fruit punch I’d smuggled in from the Bahamas (180). The taste of this red liquid was a shock: bitter with ascorbic acid, and flooded with sugar, to imitate the flavors of real juice. It was like drinking plastic.

My total expenditures on food were $15.08 for the month. By the end I’d read nine books, two of them about a thousand pages long, and written much of this article. I’d been living on the wages of a Cuban intellectual, and, indeed, I always write better, or at least faster, when I’m broke.

My final morning: no breakfast, on top of no dinner. I used the prostitute’s coin to catch a bus out toward the airport. I had to walk the last 45 minutes to my terminal, almost fainting on the way. There was a tragicomic moment when I was pulled out of line at the metal detectors by men in uniform because an immigration officer thought I had overstayed my thirty-day visa. It took three people, repeatedly counting it out on their fingers, to prove that I was still on day thirty.

One of the things that struck me most in reading it, however, was not just the hunger and desperation but the moral corrosion of living in an oppressive society. Continue Reading

7

Brother Orchid

Brother Superior: When the heart speaks, Brother Orchid, other hearts must listen.

Brother Orchid (1940)

Interested in seeing a screwball-comedy-film noir gangster-western-religious flick?  I am always on the lookout for oddball films for Advent and they don’t come odder, or more heart warming, than Brother Orchid (1940).  Starring Edward G. Robinson with a fantastic supporting cast including Humphrey Bogart, Ann Southern, Ralph Bellamy and Donald Crisp, it is a trip back to the Golden Age of Hollywood when literate, thoughtful films were considered mass entertainment.  It also is a fine exponent of a facet of the human condition that is not much commented upon today:  the seductive power of goodness.  A review of the film is below with the usual caveat as to spoilers. Continue Reading

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PopeWatch: Self-Absorbed Promethean Neopelagian

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Perhaps one reason we have never had a Jesuit pope before, is that so many Jesuits write in a jargon-laden fashion that is hard for non-Jesuits to figure out.  Case in point:  self-absorbed promethean neopelagian.  Pope Francis uses this baroque insult in Evangelii Gaudium:

 

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.

Now what does the Pope mean by this, other than he is really ticked off by people who do not believe that Vatican II is the be-all and end-all of Catholicism?  I’ll be hanged if I can figure it out.  Father Ray Blake at his blog thinks that he knows:

The term “Prometheism” was suggested by the Greek myth of Prometheus, whose gift of fire to mankind, in defiance of Zeus, came to symbolize enlightenment and resistance to despotic authority, it was the name of an early 20th century slightly anarchic Polish political movement but it drew its inspiration from the enlightenment which is perhaps significant here. Perhaps what the Pope is suggesting is something individualistic, something which is actually contrary to Catholic Tradition. It is the self-righteous or as the Pope would say, ‘self-referential’, pretentious Phariseeism that quotes documents and texts to condemn others but actually refuses to be converted by them.

“Neopelagianism” is an easier term, it excludes the necessity of Grace for salvation, again it is individualistic, again it excludes a dependence on God, which is at the heart of Francis’ preaching on ‘mercy’.
He links the whole phrase to those who, ‘observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past’. He has used ‘neopelagian’ previously to describe certain traditional Catholics, well actually the SSPX. I think what he is saying, which the whole of Evangelii Gaudium seems to be saying is that we have be absorbed into the wondrous life-changing joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than being curators of a museum or experimenters in a laboratory.

Uh huh.  Well moving right along, Father Z has decided to embrace the term:

Are you a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian?

I have just the thing for you!

I added a new section to my Z-Swag store at Cafepress.

There are bumper-stickers, car-magnets, coffee mugs, buttons and few other items.

Here is a view of the smaller coffee mug.  Picture yourself drinking your Mystic Monk Coffee or tea from this fine beverageware.

Don’t like coffee or tea… or Orange Fanta?  Get one anyway and put pencils in it.

You surely need a sticker or magnet for your car!  Imagine the puzzled looks you’ll get when you stop at a light, drive down the road, and then pull into your parish’s parking lot!

Having fun with impenetrably vague labels. Continue Reading

13

Being Annoyed by Something Doesn’t Justify Banning It

After years of study, the FCC has come to a conclusion regarding cell phones and airplanes that pretty much the rest of humanity had come to already: cell phone use poses no significant risk. As such, the the Commission voted 3-2 to consider removing the ban on cell phone use on flights.

Alas the potential of having passengers yacking into their phones during flights has spooked others in Washington. The Department of Transportation and some members of Congress have started to take action to ban cell phone use on airplanes. Is it because they have some greater understanding of the true safety risks involved with cell phone usage on airplanes? Of course not. No, you see, cell phone use on airplanes might annoy people. Representative Pete DeFazio (D-Ore.) represents a line of thinking typical for those leading the charge.

Rep. Pete DeFazio, D-Ore., the ranking Democrat on the Aviation Subcommittee, cheered Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s statement last week that his agency would consider regulations to ban cell phone chats on planes. “As I’ve been saying for years, allowing passengers to make in-flight phone calls would not only show a complete disregard for an American public that overwhelmingly opposes them, but would also pose serious safety issues for everyone in the cabin,” DeFazio said.

Safety issues, sure. Expect those who insist on a cell phone ban to cling to the safety talking point in much the same way that politicians who vote to install speed cameras do. In both cases, safety has nothing to do with why politicians back a proposed policy.

Look, I really don’t want to sit next to someone who chats away on their phone for the entire duration of a flight. I also don’t want to sit next to a crying baby, but my wife insists. And the people who sit behind my little hellions probably don’t appreciate it – I know, I see their looks of abject scorn and fear when we board – but should Congress ban us from flying? And a shrieking kid is a lot more annoying than someone carrying on a conversation.

As much as we hate cell phones, part of the reason is a weird psychological aversion to hearing one-sided conversations. Would we dream of banning conversations between two or more people on a plane? I recognize that people do tend to talk louder on phones, and there is that one-sided conversation factor, but the fact remains that it’s a tad irrational to pinpoint a behavior that has no safety concerns and yet say that it is perfectly acceptable for the federal government to ban the behavior simply because people find it annoying.

I have mixed feelings about cell phone bans on the road. At last in those cases there is a legitimate safety issue with people talking on phones while driving (though there are other dangerous driving behaviors that are as bad or even worse that we wouldn’t dream of prohibiting). Yet we’ve pretty conclusively determined that there are no safety concerns with people talking on their phones while flying – well, unless they happen to be the pilot, in which case we might want to insist that they put the phone down. Otherwise, those who support the ban are signalling that they are okay with government prohibiting something simply because they find it irritating.

As I commented on facebook, I am annoyed or irritated by other people roughly every five minutes. If I got Congress to ban behavior that I found irritating, there wouldn’t be a person in America not behind bars. That perfectly healthy person who gets on the elevator to go up one flight? One month in the slammer. Standing on the left on the subway escalator? In the slammer. Didn’t clear off all the snow on your car . . . wait, that actually is illegal, police just don’t enforce it. Maybe we just need to install snow-cameras that automatically give people tickets for that.

Even though this is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, it is these petty tyrannies that are the most troublesome, mainly because large segments of the population support them almost uncritically. But do we really want a federal government so big that it gets to outlaw being annoying?

 

3

Messianic Prophecies: Jeremiah 31: 15

 

The Slaying of the Holy Innocents

 

 

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, which we began in Advent 2011 and continued last year, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here here, here, here and here, we come to Jeremiah 31: 15:

Thus saith the Lord: A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not.

This passage was horribly fulfilled in the slaying of the Holy Innocents.  Saint John Chrysostom elucidates the passage for us: Continue Reading