As we close this year, one hundred and fifty years ago defeat loomed for the Confederacy. It is good to recall at this point in our almost four year examination of the Civil War the courage with which the Confederates maintained for four deadly years their lop-sided struggle for independence against a nascent world power. This courage is not better symbolized I think than by Conrad Wise Chapman’s Flag of Sumter. The son of a famous American painter, Chapman painted a series of 31 paintings of Charleston Harbor at the request of General Beauregard while Chapman was on duty as an enlisted man during the long siege of Charleston. This painting, with its lone Confederate sentry standing in the bombed out ruins of Fort Sumter under a proud but tattered Confederate banner, shows how Chapman perceived the War and how most Confederates viewed their fight. On the horizon of the painting we barely glimpse the Union fleet, its power so much greater than any force the Confederate defenders could hope to summon, but the will to resist remains in spite of the overwhelming odds. A majority of former Confederates in the decades after the War came to eventually accept that it had been good that the Union had been preserved and slavery abolished, but they always took great pride in the fight they had waged for a cause they thought a just one at the time. One cannot hope to truly understand our Civil War without understanding that pride, preserved forever by this painting. Continue Reading
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, — in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, — in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, — in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.
Edmund Burke, Letter to a Member of the National Assembly, 1791
Once again I boldly go where angels fear to tread and make predictions for the coming year:
1. The contraceptive mandate will be found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
2. A major component of ObamaCare will found to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
3. Obama will veto at least ten pieces of legislation during the coming year.
4. Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus will be perceived to be increasingly at odds.
5. A major development will be announced regarding the possibility of a warp drive. Continue Reading
Some good news to end the year:
A new survey conducted by Operation Rescue of all abortion facilities in the United States has confirmed that the abortion clinic closure trend continued strongly in 2014. Operation Rescue is the only pro-life organization that maintains a listing of abortion facilities and tracks clinic closures and its extensive research has provided the most accurate accounting of abortion facilities known to exist.
In all, 73 abortion facilities shut down for all or part of the year. The total number of all remaining abortion clinics in the US is currently 739. Surgical abortion facilities account for 551 of that total while the number of medication-only abortion facilities stands at 188.
Out of 60 surgical abortion clinic closures, 47 were permanent. This represents a 23% decline in surgical abortion facilities over the past five years.
Thirteen surgical facilities were allowed to reopen after initially closing, primarily due to court action that enjoined abortion safety laws that had shut down the substandard facilities.
Thirteen facilities that provided only medication abortions account for the remaining closures in 2014. That more than doubles the number of medication abortion facilities that closed in 2013 when six were shuttered.
While the abortion clinic closures did not eclipse the high water mark of 93 total closures in 2013, the 73 closures this year far exceeds the two dozen closures recorded in 2012.
The 2014 figures represent a net decrease of 31 surgical abortion facilities nationwide. even though the number of medication abortion facilities increased by 11 over 2013 numbers, they still remain below the high of 196 facilities in 2012.
“We are continuing to witness the implosion of the abortion cartel in America,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “The only things that are preventing total collapse are court injunctions that are blocking several state abortion safety laws from being enforced. Once those laws clear the courts, we expect to see even more dangerous abortion facilities close. This is great news for women and babies because when abortion clinics close, lives are saved.”
Like this pro-life news article? Please support LifeNews during our End of Year fundraising campaign with a donation!
The greatest number of closed facilities took place in Texas as the result of the 2013 abortion law known as HB2. Eleven surgical and three medication-only facilities shut down permanently over the course of 2014.
Closures far outpaced clinic openings. Fifteen facilities either added surgical abortions or opened for the first time. Thirteen clinics, primarily Planned Parenthood centers, added medication abortions to clinics that previously did not provide them. Eight clinics that formerly provided surgical abortions made the decision to halt those procedures, but continue to sell medication abortions.
“As new states laws add safety standards for surgical abortions, we are seeing the beginnings of a new trend. Abortion providers who cannot or will not comply with the higher standards have, in some cases, dropped surgical abortions in favor of medical abortions so they did not have to become licensed,” said Newman. “This allows incompetent abortionists to continue exploiting women for money while evading the need to increase patient safety.”
Some of the more notable abortion facility closures included:
• Outpatient Services for Women, Oklahoma City, OK: This surgical clinic shut down after the arrest on December 9 of clinic owner and operator Naresh Patel on charges of fraud and racketeering after Operation Rescue filed complaints. Patel had been caught selling abortion pills to women who were not pregnant.
• All Women’s Health, Chicago, IL: Clinic owner, abortionist Mandy Gittler, closed this facility after local activists protested there over the death of Tonya Reaves, which was killed by Gittler in 2012 at a Chicago Planned Parenthood clinic.
• Novi Laser and Aesthetic Center, Novi, Michigan: This facility shut down after being evicted from two locations this year. After the last eviction in November, owner Michael Arthur Roth had nowhere to go.
• Aid for Women, aka Central Family Medical, Kansas City, MO: Operation Rescue discovered evidence of multiple abortion abuses and lodged complaints. This facility was best known for suing in court for the right to stop reporting child sex abuse. Under pressure from the medical board and struggling for business, Aid for Women, finally shut down.
• Affiliated Women’s Services, Indianapolis, IN: This facility, associated with the infamous late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart shut down in July due to financial woes and a lack of demand for abortions.
• Femcare, Asheville, NC: Its shut down earlier this year for two dozen serious health and safety violations caused an outcry from abortion supporters since it was thought to be the only facility that could pass new safety standards. It reopened briefly before permanently closing after its abortionist, Lorraine Cummings, announced her retirement and placed the building for sale.
Anti-Catholic bigot, homosexual activist and Episcopalian minister Harry Knox is back in the news. Long time readers of this blog will recall that President Obama appointed Knox to his Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships back in 2009. Go here to read a post on that appointment.
Knox became the head of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice back in 2012. He had a post on the Huffington Post explaining why religious people should support the slaying of children in the womb, a post which proved, once again the truth of Socrates’ adage that an unexamined life is a tragedy.
Now, just in time for the Christmas season, Susan Michelle at Live Action News brings us up to speed on his latest antics:
The not very reverent Rev. Knox heads up the largest faith-based pro-abortion organization in the nation, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). Churches like the United Methodists, Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterian USA, and Episcopals, as well as a host of more well-known liberal churches, are the composite of this campaign for death in the name of the One who came to bring us life. The RCRC is a shame to the reality of Christianity as it manipulates the truth of the faith.
Knox sends many letters, all in an effort to campaign for abortion rights by asking people for money — echoing the letters of Planned Parenthood, who at least doesn’t use Jesus to fundraise, as Knox does. Earlier in December, he sent what was perhaps the most abhorrent letter of all. In it, he lamented that abortion access in the United States is so limited now that “it’s as if the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade didn’t happen.” Women don’t really have a choice, Knox says, when they can’t get to an abortion clinic easily. Sounds like Planned Parenthood, right? But wait! Knox wants you to know that true Christians support abortion. He says:
[T]he majority of people of faith, and the majority of Christians support legal access to abortion. And so they wrap their anti-choice ideology in something that sounds warm and fuzzy.
The Christian tradition says that Jesus advised his disciples to, ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. You will know them by their fruit.
Stunning words coming from a man who leads an organization advocating death of innocent children for any reason whatsoever. Indeed, Knox shows us what a false prophet actually looks like. RCRC and its members are the ones actually walking around with fuzzy sheep coats, but underneath the costume is a vacuum that sucks a living life from the womb of a mother who’s been led to believe that death is acceptable if she can’t see the baby, doesn’t want the baby. But no, Knox says, we are the real wolves. He continues:
These laws, and the anti-abortion legislators that promote them, are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They say one thing that sounds very nice, but we know them by their fruit. They want nothing more than to deny women the right to decide to have a child on her own terms.
They’re telling a lie. In biblical terms, they’re bearing false witness. Where I come from, that’s a sin.
These false prophets – these vicious wolves – are tearing women’s rights to shreds. And they need to be stopped.
Sometimes I read words that are difficult to take seriously. I wonder how anyone with a faith in Christ and a belief in the Bible could possibly be blind enough to read a letter like this and nod in agreement or click a link and donate money at Christmas to kill a baby.
The reality is that many believe this guy, the one actually bearing false witness. The witness of Christ is the purpose of His life. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:10-11, ESV)
The witness of Christ is the reality of giving His own life so that others may live. The witness of the enemy Knox mentions, whom Jesus addresses in this text, is destruction, such as that of abortion. This seems so obvious. Somehow, to these folks, it’s not. Somehow, they neglect to see that if Mary were carrying Jesus in today’s culture, many would suggest she abort her baby and go on with her life.
Knox ends his letter with a live link that says, “Click here and make a donation because the wolves are circling and we need your support today.” Continue Reading
Well it is that time of the year again for me to review predictions that I made last year and eat a little crow in the process:
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.
Correct! The Republicans gained 13 seats in the House and have a 54-46 advantage in the Senate.
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.
Correct! Even liberal Democrats like Senator Chuck Schumer (D.NY) are beginning to attack Obama on his focus on ObamaCare for example.
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.
Nope. No such legislation was passed, but the most onerous features of ObamaCare have yet to be implemented due to the Obama administration unilaterally postponing them. Wait until the employer mandate kicks in during 2015 for the feathers to truly hit the fan.
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.
Nope, although the situation remains dicey.
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.
Mixed. I see fewer paeans to Pope Francis on non-Catholic leftist sites, but Catholic leftist sites are still in seventh heaven over having a pope they perceive as on their side.
Examples of gross military incompetence were not rare in the Civil War. Perhaps the most outstanding example is the bungling of Major General Benjamin Butler in his handling of the first assault on Fort Fisher, the fort that guarded the last major port open in the Confederacy, Wilmington. Grant in his Personal Memoirs gives us the details:
I selected General Weitzel, of the Army of the James, to go with the expedition, but gave instructions through General Butler. He commanded the department within whose geographical limits Fort Fisher was situated, as well as Beaufort and other points on that coast held by our troops; he was, therefore, entitled to the right of fitting out the expedition against Fort Fisher.
General Butler conceived the idea that if a steamer loaded heavily with powder could be run up to near the shore under the fort and exploded, it would create great havoc and make the capture an easy matter. Admiral Porter, who was to command the naval squadron, seemed to fall in with the idea, and it was not disapproved of in Washington; the navy was therefore given the task of preparing the steamer for this purpose. I had no confidence in the success of the scheme, and so expressed myself; but as no serious harm could come of the experiment, and the authorities at Washington seemed desirous to have it tried, I permitted it. The steamer was sent to Beaufort, North Carolina, and was there loaded with powder and prepared for the part she was to play in the reduction of Fort Fisher.
General Butler chose to go in command of the expedition himself, and was all ready to sail by the 9th of December (1864). Very heavy storms prevailed, however, at that time along that part of the sea-coast, and prevented him from getting off until the 13th or 14th. His advance arrived off Fort Fisher on the 15th. The naval force had been already assembled, or was assembling, but they were obliged to run into Beaufort for munitions, coal, etc.; then, too, the powder-boat was not yet fully prepared. The fleet was ready to proceed on the 18th; but Butler, who had remained outside from the 15th up to that time, now found himself out of coal, fresh water, etc., and had to put into Beaufort to replenish. Another storm overtook him, and several days more were lost before the army and navy were both ready at the same time to co-operate.
On the night of the 23d the powder-boat was towed in by a gunboat as near to the fort as it was safe to run. She was then propelled by her own machinery to within about five hundred yards of the shore. There the clockwork, which was to explode her within a certain length of time, was set and she was abandoned. Everybody left, and even the vessels put out to sea to prevent the effect of the explosion upon them. At two o’clock in the morning the explosion took place—and produced no more effect on the fort, or anything else on land, than the bursting of a boiler anywhere on the Atlantic Ocean would have done. Indeed when the troops in Fort Fisher heard the explosion they supposed it was the bursting of a boiler in one of the Yankee gunboats.
Fort Fisher was situated upon a low, flat peninsula north of Cape Fear River. The soil is sandy. Back a little the peninsula is very heavily wooded, and covered with fresh-water swamps. The fort ran across this peninsula, about five hundred yards in width, and extended along the sea coast about thirteen hundred yards. The fort had an armament of 21 guns and 3 mortars on the land side, and 24 guns on the sea front. At that time it was only garrisoned by four companies of infantry, one light battery and the gunners at the heavy guns less than seven hundred men with a reserve of less than a thousand men five miles up the peninsula. General Whiting of the Confederate army was in command, and General Bragg was in command of the force at Wilmington. Both commenced calling for reinforcements the moment they saw our troops landing. The Governor of North Carolina called for everybody who could stand behind a parapet and shoot a gun, to join them. In this way they got two or three hundred additional men into Fort Fisher; and Hoke’s division, five or six thousand strong, was sent down from Richmond. A few of these troops arrived the very day that Butler was ready to advance.
On the 24th the fleet formed for an attack in arcs of concentric circles, their heavy iron-clads going in very close range, being nearest the shore, and leaving intervals or spaces so that the outer vessels could fire between them. Porter was thus enabled to throw one hundred and fifteen shells per minute. The damage done to the fort by these shells was very slight, only two or three cannon being disabled in the fort. But the firing silenced all the guns by making it too hot for the men to maintain their positions about them and compelling them to seek shelter in the bomb-proofs.
On the next day part of Butler’s troops under General Adelbert Ames effected a landing out of range of the fort without difficulty. This was accomplished under the protection of gunboats sent for the purpose, and under cover of a renewed attack upon the fort by the fleet. They formed a line across the peninsula and advanced, part going north and part toward the fort, covering themselves as they did so. Curtis pushed forward and came near to Fort Fisher, capturing the small garrison at what was called the Flag Pond Battery. Weitzel accompanied him to within a half a mile of the works. Here he saw that the fort had not been injured, and so reported to Butler, advising against an assault. Ames, who had gone north in his advance, captured 228 of the reserves. These prisoners reported to Butler that sixteen hundred of Hoke’s division of six thousand from Richmond had already arrived and the rest would soon be in his rear.
Upon these reports Butler determined to withdraw his troops from the peninsula and return to the fleet. At that time there had not been a man on our side injured except by one of the shells from the fleet. Curtis had got within a few yards of the works. Some of his men had snatched a flag from the parapet of the fort, and others had taken a horse from the inside of the stockade. At night Butler informed Porter of his withdrawal, giving the reasons above stated, and announced his purpose as soon as his men could embark to start for Hampton Roads. Porter represented to him that he had sent to Beaufort for more ammunition. He could fire much faster than he had been doing, and would keep the enemy from showing himself until our men were within twenty yards of the fort, and he begged that Butler would leave some brave fellows like those who had snatched the flag from the parapet and taken the horse from the fort.
The Holy InnocentsToday, dearest brethren, we celebrate the birthday of those children who were slaughtered, as the Gospel tells us, by that exceedingly cruel king, Herod. Let the earth, therefore, rejoice and the Church exult — she, the fruitful mother of so many heavenly champions and of such glorious virtues. Never, in fact, would that impious tyrant have been able to benefit these children by the sweetest kindness as much as he has done by his hatred. For as today’s feast reveals, in the measure with which malice in all its fury was poured out upon the holy children, did heaven’s blessing stream down upon them.
“Blessed are you, Bethlehem in the land of Judah! You suffered the inhumanity of King Herod in the murder of your babes and thereby have become worthy to offer to the Lord a pure host of infants. In full right do we celebrate the heavenly birthday of these children whom the world caused to be born unto an eternally blessed life rather than that from their mothers’ womb, for they attained the grace of everlasting life before the enjoyment of the present. The precious death of any martyr deserves high praise because of his heroic confession; the death of these children is precious in the sight of God because of the beatitude they gained so quickly. For already at the beginning of their lives they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory. These then, whom Herod’s cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers’ bosom, are justly hailed as “infant martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.
Saint Augustine pray for us as we do battle with those who would bring on a new cruel, cold winter of unbelief, replete with millions of new Holy Innocents. Continue Reading
“If I can take it, I can make it.”
Unbroken is the best picture that I have seen in many a year. Its themes are faith, patriotism and endurance in the face of seemingly overwhelming adversity. Everything about the film is superb. My review is below and the usual caveat as to spoilers is in effect. Continue Reading
Something for the weekend. I Saw the Light by Hank Williams. Written by him in 1948 at age 25, it coveys the hunger for salvation that was always a part of Williams’ brief and tragic life. Dead before he reached 30, Williams was a great talent, and he threw it all away with alcoholism and addiction to drugs, which shattered both his personal and professional life. His life typifies what Christ spoke of in this parable:
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
However, that is not all there is to say. This song has brought comfort to millions as they call upon Christ in this Vale of Tears. I hope it weighed heavily in the balance when Williams appeared before the God he clearly loved.
Hattip to Father Z. I defy any American Catholic above the age of reason not to find much to recognize in the above hilarious video!
 But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together:
 And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him:
 Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?
 Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.
 This is the greatest and the first commandment.
 And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
 On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.
Matthew 22: 34-40
(I originally posted this on December 26, 2012. It seems like a good post for the day after Christmas, so here it is again.)
Joe Carter at Catholic Education Resource Center has a wonderful post entitled The Fountainhead of Bedford Falls, which compares the fictional characters Howard Roark and George Bailey:
Not surprisingly, Roark has become something of a cult figure, especially among young nerdy males entering post-adolescence. Although Roark is artistically gifted and technically brilliant, he prefers to take a job breaking rocks in a quarry than sell out to The Man. He provides a model for the underemployed, misunderstood, twenty-something misfit by choice. These see themselves in the uncompromising sulker, believing it better to vandalize and destroy than allow society to co-opt their dreams.
Rand herself would have certainly envisioned things differently. She would have sneered in disgust at the idea that Roark was anything like the slacker working at Starbucks the populists marching at Tea Parties. Her hero was a cross between the modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the serial killer and child rapist William Hickman. Rand’s ideal was the nonconformist who exhibited sociopathic tendencies. She dreamed of the minority of brilliant, atheistic ubermensch who would “eventually trample society under its feet.” The vast majority of the people who read The Fountainhead might admire Roark, but they’d never emulate him.
Similarly, Capra’s audience flatters themselves by believing the message of Wonderful Life is that their own lives are just as worthy, just as noble, and just as wonderful’ as George Bailey’s. In a way, they are as delusional as the Randian Roark-worshippers. Despite the fact that they left their small-town communities for the city, put their parents in an assisted living facility and don’t know the names of their next door neighbors, they truly believe they are just like Capra’s hero.
Such delusions are the reason these characters have remained two of the most dominant archetypes of American individualism in pop culture. The pendulum of popularity is swinging back toward Rand but it’s Capra’s creation that should be our model for inspiration.
Roark is nihilistic, narrow-minded, and something of a bore. Bailey is far darker, more complex, and infinitely more interesting.
What makes George Bailey one of the most inspiring, emotionally complex characters in modern popular culture is that he continually chooses the needs of his family and community over his own self-interested ambitions and desires – and suffers immensely and repeatedly for his sacrifices.
Although sentimental, Capra’s movie is not a simplistic morality play. It’s true that the movie ends on a happy note late on Christmas Eve, when George is saved from ruin. But on Christmas Day he’ll wake to find that his life is not so different than it was when he wanted to commit suicide.
He will remain a frustrated artist who is scraping by on a meager salary and living in a drafty old house in a one-stoplight town. All that has really changed is that he has gained a deeper appreciation of the value of faith, friends, and community – and that this is worth more than his worldly ambitions. Capra’s underlying message is thus radically subversive: It is by serving our fellow man, even to the point of subordinating our dreams and ambitions, that we achieve both true greatness and lasting happiness. Continue Reading
Well, I trust that all of TAC’s contributors, commenters and readers had a Merry Christmas! I am keeping the law mines shut today and enjoying the day with my bride and kids, who are home from college and law school. We will be seeing the movie Unbroken which depicts the harrowing experiences of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete and Army Air Corps Captain, as a “guest” of the Emperor during World War II. A review to follow.
The usual open thread rules apply: be brief, be charitable and, above all, be entertaining.
Concluding our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, a series which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102 and 2013, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, and here, we come to Isaiah 40: 1-5:
 Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God.
 Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her: for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.
 The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God.
 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain.
 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.
As Saint Augustine notes, this is a clear reference to John the Baptist: Continue Reading
How wonderfully daffy the golden age of Radio tended to be. A broadcast on December 19, 1944 of the show This Is My Best: Norman Corwin’s comedic poem The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, a hilarious look at a plot by Hell to stop Christmas, with Orson Welles starring as Nero. Amazing the entertainment heights that could be reached without car chases, explosions, profanity, bathroom jokes and sex.
The above video is courtesy of the Pontifical Council on Culture. I truly hope this waste of money and time was a product of good old fashioned nepotism rather than anyone being confused enough to think this vanity-vamping-selfie serves any useful purpose except the obvious one of making the Pontifical Council on Culture appear truly absurd. Vatican Bureaucracy-a sure sign that God clearly protects an institution cursed by such fools.
Update December 28: The English version of the video has been yanked, although the Italian version is still up there. No doubt the Council pulled the English version after all the caustic comments on English speaking blogs. The fact that they left up the Italian version indicates that the powers that be on the council do not understand the criticism. Hattip to Patrick Madrid for preserving this monument to the cluelessness of the Vatican bureaucracy.
John Bergsma at The Sacred Page has a brilliant post in which he accurately describes the relationship between Christ and the Pharisees in regard to their teachings:
Finally, let us reflect for a moment on the fact that, in the Sermon on the Mount, Our Lord consistently raised the moral requirements of true discipleship vis-à-vis the Pharisees and contemporary Jewish practice, rather than lowering them.
The idea—which seems to be widespread—that Jesus’ morally teaching was somehow less demanding or more relaxed than that of the Pharisees is quite incorrect. It is true that Jesus did not endorse the plethora of ritual washings and other purity regulations practiced by the Pharisees, but on matters of moral law he was more, not less, stringent. Continue Reading
In 1944, seventy 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. Patton prayed the prayer, the scene from the movie Patton depicting this may be viewed below.
The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and a personal prayer he said on December 23, 1944, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle. On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst 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
When I was a boy, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was my second favorite television Christmas special. The conversion of the Grinch to the true meaning of Christmas at the end was a wonderful message, and still is. Boris Karloff was a good choice as narrator. Beginning in 1940, with zero publicity, he would dress up as Father Christmas and hand out presents to disabled kids at a Baltimore Hospital on Christmas Day.
One of the more obvious misinterpretations of the Pope is regarding him as some sort of jolly, smiling pontiff in the model of John XXIII. The reality, as Father Z tells us, is somewhat different:
Pope Francis listed 15 “ailments” of the Vatican Curia during his annual Christmas greetings to the cardinals, bishops, and priests who run the central administration of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. Here’s the list.
1) Feeling immortal, immune or indispensable. “A Curia that doesn’t criticize itself, that doesn’t update itself, that doesn’t seek to improve itself is a sick body.”
2) Working too hard. “Rest for those who have done their work is necessary, good and should be taken seriously.”
3) Becoming spiritually and mentally hardened. “It’s dangerous to lose that human sensibility that lets you cry with those who are crying, and celebrate those who are joyful.”
4) Planning too much. “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit, which is bigger and more generous than any human plan.”
5) Working without coordination, like an orchestra that produces noise. “When the foot tells the hand, ‘I don’t need you’ or the hand tells the head, ‘I’m in charge.’”
6) Having ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s.’ “We see it in the people who have forgotten their encounter with the Lord … in those who depend completely on their here and now, on their passions, whims and manias, in those who build walls around themselves and become enslaved to the idols that they have built with their own hands.”
7) Being rivals or boastful. “When one’s appearance, the color of one’s vestments or honorific titles become the primary objective of life.”
8) Suffering from ‘existential schizophrenia.’ “It’s the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of hypocrisy that is typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that academic degrees cannot fill. It’s a sickness that often affects those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic work, losing contact with reality and concrete people.”
9) Committing the ‘terrorism of gossip.’ “It’s the sickness of cowardly people who, not having the courage to speak directly, talk behind people’s backs.”
10) Glorifying one’s bosses. “It’s the sickness of those who court their superiors, hoping for their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, they honor people who aren’t God.”
11) Being indifferent to others. “When, out of jealousy or cunning, one finds joy in seeing another fall rather than helping him up and encouraging him.”
12) Having a ‘funereal face.’ “In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity. The apostle must be polite, serene, enthusiastic and happy and transmit joy wherever he goes.”
13) Wanting more. “When the apostle tries to fill an existential emptiness in his heart by accumulating material goods, not because he needs them but because he’ll feel more secure.”
14) Forming ‘closed circles’ that seek to be stronger than the whole. “This sickness always starts with good intentions but as time goes by, it enslaves its members by becoming a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body and causes so much bad — scandals — especially to our younger brothers.”
15) Seeking worldly profit and showing off. “It’s the sickness of those who insatiably try to multiply their powers and to do so are capable of calumny, defamation and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally to show themselves as being more capable than others.”
Sort of, “Merry Christmas, you vain, hypocritical, funeral faces!”
Mind you, these are just the bullet points. Every point was explained, with citations, in the address of over 3100 words, which took about 32 minutes. There are 20 footnotes. HERE
The Holy Father then went around the room to greet all the Cardinals present.
Veteran Vatican watcher John Allen reported:
“I have to say, I didn’t feel great walking out of that room today,” one senior Vatican official said, who had been in the Vatican’s Sala Clementina for the speech and who spoke on the condition he not be identified.
“I understand that the pope wants us to live up to our ideals, but you wonder sometimes if he has anything positive to say about us at all,” the official said, who’s been in Vatican service for more than two decades.
For the record, this was an official who describes himself as an “enthusiast” over the direction being set by Pope Francis.
The body language on Monday among the cardinals and archbishops who make up the Vatican’s power structure suggest that reaction wasn’t isolated. There were few smiles as the pope spoke and only mild applause; since Francis delivered the address in Italian, it wasn’t because his audience didn’t understand.
Having watched the video, I too thought that the reception of the speech and, afterward, of the Pope himself as he went around the room, was muted and even tense.
One can only guess what fruits this examination of conscience will produce. Time will tell. Continue Reading
In the case of Pacific Lutheran University and Service Employees International Union, Local 925 (Case 19–RC–102521), the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) ruled on December 16 that contingent (“adjunct”) faculty members at private colleges and universities can unionize.
This decision certainly has the potential to impact the nation’s Catholic institutions of higher education. But, of far greater importance is how the NLRB will require those institutions to demonstrate they are Catholic, that is, if they are to be excluded from the National Labor Relations Act.
Moving forward, the NLRB fully expects an institution to fulfill its religious mission—to make it promient in the classroom—through its faculty in the classrooms, while advising, and in conducting research. The key finding is found in the decision’s second paragraph:
After careful consideration of applicable case law, as well as the positions of the parties and amici, we have decided that we will not decline to exercise jurisdiction over faculty members at a college or university that claims to be a religious institution unless the college or university first demonstrates, as a threshold matter, that it holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment. Once that threshold requirement is met, the college or university must then show that it holds out the petitioned-for faculty members as performing a religious function. This requires a showing by the college or university that it holds out those faculty as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the university’s religious educational environment. (bold, italics added)
The case concerned the right of contingent faculty to unionize at a religious university. At issue was the institution’s claim that full-time contingent faculty members are “managerial employees” based upon the Yeshiva decision (444 U.S. 672 ). The NRLB rejected that claim, redefining “managerial status” and providing the thresholds bolded and italicized above. But, the NRLB went further, offering examples regarding how administrators can provide evidence that contingent faculty members meet the new thresholds.
- Concerning how an institution “holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment,” the NRLB states:
Appropriate evidence of how the university holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment would include, but by no means be limited to, handbooks, mission statements, corporate documents, course catalogs, and documents published on a school’s website. Press releases or other public statements by university officials could also be relevant. A university’s contemporary presentation of itself is likely to be more probative than its founding documents and historical tradition. (p. 6)
The NRLB is clearly not interested in making an “intrusive inquiry into the university’s beliefs or how it implements its religious mission.” What the NRLB is interested in, however, is that the institution presents itself as providing a “religious educational environment.” That phrase, ambiguous as it is, provides the minimal threshold for an institution to be excluded from the Act.
- Concerning how an institution “holds out the petitioned-for faculty members as performing a religious function,” the NRLB states:
The focus is on whether faculty members are held out as having such an obligation as part of their faculty responsibilities. Although we will not examine faculty members’ actual performance of their duties, we shall require that they be held out as performing a specific religious function. Generalized statements that faculty members are expected to, for example, support the goals or mission of the university are not alone sufficient. These types of representations do not communicate the message that the religious nature of the university affects faculty members’ job duties or requirements. They give no indication that faculty members are expected to incorporate religion into their teaching or research, that faculty members will have any religious requirements imposed on them, or that the religious nature of the university will have any impact at all on their employment. This is especially true when the university also asserts a commitment to diversity and academic freedom, further putting forth the message that religion has no bearing on faculty members’ job duties or responsibilities. Without a showing that faculty members are held out as performing a specific religious function, there is no basis on which to distinguish these employees from faculty members at nonreligious universities or to exclude them from coverage under the Act….
If the evidence shows that faculty members are required to serve a religious function, such as integrating the institution’s religious teachings into coursework, serving as religious advisors to students, propagating religious tenets, or engaging in religious indoctrination or religious training, we will decline jurisdiction. (pp. 8-9) (bold, italics added)
With this second threshold, the NRLB is clearly interested that an institution demonstrate how its faculty are fulfilling a management function by actively translating the institution’s religious doctrine into the experience of students. If an institution can demonstrate that its faculty meet this threshold, that institution is excluded from coverage under the provisions of the Act because its faculty are providing the “religious educational environment” for which the institution exists.
- Concerning how an institution “holds out those faculty as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the university’s religious educational environment,” the NRLB states:
Our minimal requirements do not, of course, preclude a party from presenting additional evidence that it believes is relevant to demonstrating that faculty members do or do not perform a religious function…. (fn. 13, p. 9)
….if the college or university holds itself out as requiring its faculty to conform to its religious doctrine or to particular religious tenets or beliefs in a manner that is specifically linked to their duties as a faculty member, we will decline jurisdiction….However, general or aspirational statements, without specificity as to how the requirement affects actual job functions, will not suffice…. (p. 9)
Our inquiry in this regard focuses on whether a reasonable prospective applicant would conclude that performance of their faculty responsibilities would require furtherance of the college or university’s religious mission. (p. 9)
Interestingly, this third threshold implicitly raises a fundamental issue: “Truth in advertising.” That is, it’s one thing for an institution to promote itself as religious (the first threshold) and that its faculty promote the institution’s religious doctrine (the second threshold). Superadded to providing evidence that the institution does all of that as defined by this new management standard, the institution must now also clearly communicate to potential applicants that they will receive a specifically religious education and they should fully expect that all faculty members will provide that religious education. That is, if the institution is to be excluded from being covered by the Act.
Considering the number of Catholic universities and colleges and associated organizations filing amicus briefs to exclude those institutions from the provisions of the Act, this decision represents what may be a major blow in their efforts to keep faculty in their institutions from unionizing. In that regard, the decision is almost certain to be appealed.
More substantively, the decision articulates with clarity what an authentic Catholic higher education in the United States involves and requires of both administrators and faculty. For five decades, administrators of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges have had it both ways. They could “talk the talk” about how their institution are “Catholic,” while at the same time, allow faculty in the classrooms, in their advising, and in their research to emulate their secular counterparts.
What’s ironic about the NRLB decision is that it took an agency of a secular government to dictate to those administrators what it means to “walk the talk” and how that requires faculty who teach students as they should be taught in a specifically Catholic institution. The NRLB may have done more to reclaim the lost soul of U.S. Catholic higher education than has any other group—including the National Conference of Catholic Bishops—in the past 50 years.
To read the NLRB’s decision, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Sherman and his men completed their March to the Sea with the siege of Savannah, Georgia. The end of the siege was anti-climactic with Lieutenant General W. J. Hardee evacuating his garrison from the city of Savannah. Sherman sent this message to Lincoln announcing the fall of Savannah.
SAVANNAH, GA., December 22, 1864
(Via Fort Monroe 6.45 p.m. 25th)
His Excellency President LINCOLN:
I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.
The message reached the White House on Christmas Day. It was published in the papers and roused huge joy throughout the North as another sign that the end of the War was in sight. Lincoln spoke for the North when he telegrammed back to Sherman:
MY DEAR GENERAL SHERMAN:
Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah. When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that ‘nothing risked, nothing gained,’ I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce. And taking the work of General Thomas into the county, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages, but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole — Hood’s army — it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and yourself to decide. Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men. Continue Reading
Father Z reminds us that one of the major problem with contemporary Catholicism is that in practice it frequently bears little relationship to Catholicism as traditionally understood:
I was once in a parish with a school. I visited class rooms. I was asked to blessed the class rooms by the pastor. By way of explanation of what blessings are all about I wanted to make the distinction between sacraments and sacramentals. That’s when I discovered that even in the 8th grade, not only could not a single student say what a sacrament is, none of them could name one of the sacraments. And yet I was the one who got into trouble for asking the question in the first place!
This, friends, is what we are dealing with.
This is from First Things. It reminds me of experiences I have had. My emphases and comments.
At noon I have to be at the local Catholic school—let’s call it St. Dismas—to train altar servers. I will arrive a few minutes early, and by 12:05 most of the kids will have trickled in. We are in Southern California, so most of the boys at St. Dismas wear short pants year-round. Students are required to attend one Mass per month with the school, but it has never occurred to anyone, not their parents, not the pastor, not the teachers, and certainly not the students, that they should wear pants to Mass. The girls wear skirts that in 1966 would have been described as “micro-minis.” When I told the boys’ parents that I expected them to wear their uniform pants to Mass when they become servers, the school principal—a genial thirty-something man who insists on the rigorous use of the title “Dr.” but often wears sweatpants and flip-flops to work [See how decorum plays into this?] —cornered me outside his office for a talk. He warned me that I might get some pushback from parents on the pants requirement. “We are only a medium-Catholic school,” he informed me. “We’re not really that Catholic.”
When we walk as a group into the nave (the church itself is almost barren of Catholic art or iconography), none of the kids bow or genuflect before the tabernacle. They are unaware that this is something they should do. [At the same parish I mentioned above, I was asked to show the soon-to-be 1st Communicants around the church. When we came to the tabernacle, none of them knew anything about genuflecting. I showed them and explained why. “Because the Blessed Sacrament is kept in there!” Blank faces. Not a flicker of recognition… and 7 year olds aren’t usually stoic. I tried several ways of saying what and WHO was in that big ornate box. Finally, one little boy screwed up his face and said, “You mean that piece of bread thing?”] They don’t know, because none of these children attend Mass on Sunday. When they do become altar servers, they will be dropped off moments before Mass begins and picked up by an idling SUV before the organ has finished the recessional. From time to time, the parents of altar servers can be seen standing outside the church, hunched over a smart phone, killing time while they wait for Mass to finish.
At this point in the school year, the first-time altar servers have developed a rudimentary understanding of what is expected of them during Mass, but when they began their training in September they needed quite a lot of attention. As I said, they attend Mass once a month with their class, but never on Sunday. Therefore, none of them are aware of the Gloria, the Credo, or the Second Reading. On the first day of training, several kids made the Sign of the Cross in the eastern fashion, and I had to take several minutes to correct them. I brought this up with a member of the school administration, and she was somewhat surprised. The kids say a morning prayer each day, she said, and they begin with the Sign of the Cross. It’s possible that no one ever corrected them. I have never seen any of the teachers at Holy Mass, so it seems likely that this sort of attention to detail isn’t a priority for them either.
The children know nothing of vestments, sacramentals, [That’s for sure!] the prayers of the Church other than the Hail Mary and the Our Father, feast days, or the concept of Sanctifying Grace. None has been to confession since the first one, but all receive communion without any thought. If their parents are forced into Mass, they too will line up for communion and receive it happily and without qualm. The teachers aren’t practicing Catholics, the parents aren’t practicing Catholics, and the parish priest would never dare suggest to the congregation that they go to confession. He correctly understands that there would be outrage among his flock.
The pastor at St. Dismas is a gay man. It is quite possible that this priest—let’s call him Fr. Dave—lives a life of celibacy. I have no reason to doubt that he does. He presents himself, however, as a traditional, American “queen.” He is a kind and gentle priest, and I think the kids genuinely like him. He does everything he can to take part in the life of the school, and he always has a warm word for parishioners, students, and parents. Fr. Dave has been my primary confessor for about six years. His style in the confessional is orthodox. He makes no attempt to psychoanalyze me, and he levies a serious penance when I deserve it. He is also quite reverent as a presider at Holy Mass. He does not improvise, and he makes it plain that he considers Mass to be a grave and solemn occasion.
Fr. Dave knows better than to suggest to his flock how to live as Catholics. He does not speak of sin. Ever. He does not discuss the saints, devotions, the rosary or prayer of any kind, marriage, death, the sacraments, Catholic family life, the Devil, the poor, the sick, the elderly, the young, mercy, forgiveness, or any other aspect of the Catholic faith that might be useful to a layperson. His homilies are the worst sort of lukewarm application of the day’s Gospel reading—shopworn sermons that sound very much like they were copied word for word from a book of Gospel reflections published in 1975. No one in the pews ever discusses his homilies as far as I can tell.
The pews are not full. The most crowded Mass is at ten-thirty on Sunday morning, when the church is usually about two-thirds full. Holy days of obligation draw almost no one. I attended the Easter Vigil last year and the Church was half empty. The crowd at a typical Sunday Mass is mixed. There are quite a few elderly parishioners who sit together and ignore the rubrics of the Mass. They refuse to kneel after Communion, they hold hands during the Our Father, they chat loudly before and after Mass, and they roam the Church greeting their friends, seemingly unaware that others might want to pray in silence. The most prayerful and reverent congregants are the handful of Filipino families. The other Mass-goers are a smattering of middle class families, stray Catholic singles, and a few Latin American die-hards. After Mass, the older people hang around and shake hands with the pastor. Everyone else drives away. I know only a small handful of my fellow parishioners, and I hesitate to bring any of this up with them. It doesn’t seem worth it.
Yes, that’s how it ends.
Just a shrug of the shoulders.
It’s. Another. Religion.
If it’s a religion at all. Continue Reading
New York City cops turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio, a far left loon, as he came to speak at a press conference after two cops, Wenjian Liu, a newlywed, and Raphael Ramos, a family man with a wife and teenage son, were murdered in revenge for Eric Garner:
“They were, quite simply, assassinated, targeted for their uniform and the responsibility they embraced,” an obviously shaken New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at an evening press conference. “Both were ambushed and murdered.”
De Blasio and police officers have clashed in recent weeks over what officers see as the mayor’s lack of support for their work. Many officers took offense when de Blasio said it was a “very painful day” for many New Yorkers when a grand jury declined to indict the officer who put Eric Garner into a fatal chokehold, and when the mayor also said racial profiling is a problem among officers.
The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has been distributing a letter for members who want DiBlasio to stay away from their funeral if they’re killed. The association says many politicians have engaged in “police bashing” and failed to properly support officers.
On Twitter, the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association said “the blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio. May God bless their families and may they rest in peace.” Continue Reading
The Angelic Doctor takes us to the doorstep of Christmas in this final sermon for Advent:
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men.” — Philip, iv. 4, 5.
THE Apostle exhorted us in the end of the preceding Epistle that we should reserve all things to Christ, the true Judge; but, lest we should be overcome by the long delay, he said that He was about to come in a very little while.” The Lord,” he said, “is at hand.” But the Apostle in the words of the text teaches three things (1) he exhorts to inward holiness; (2) to honest conversation; (3) he subjoins the reason. I. Inward holiness consists in two things firstly, that evil affections should be renovated; and, secondly, that good affections should be obtained. S. Bernard said that holy affection makes the saint, whilst evil affection is to rejoice in the world. II. But there is an evil joy of the world, as in evil things, in vanities, in base pleasures. The joy in evil things is to rejoice in wickedness; the joy of vanities is to rejoice in riches, which are vain; and the joy in base pleasures is to rejoice in wantonness. Of the first, Prov. ii. 14, “Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked.” Of the second, Ps. xlix. 6, “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches.” Of the third, Job xxi. 12, “And rejoice at the sound of the organ.” S. James v. 5, “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton.” S. Augustine says of these three kinds of joy “What is the joy of the world? Wantonness is the impurity of the wickeness of the world; to toy with the games, to be luxurious, to be allured, to be swallowed up, and to offend by baseness. To rejoice in the Lord is that joy which tends to salvation; for the loving-kindness of the Lord leads to justification, for He is most bountiful by way of remuneration. For a very small servitude He gives eternal life and the heavenly kingdom, and such a Lord is without doubt to be rejoiced in; Who saves His servants by redeeming them; Who dismisses all their debts by justifying them; and Who will crown them with an eternal kingdom by preserving them.” Continue Reading
Published on December 31, 1864, and drawn by Thomas Nast, the above picture has Lincoln inviting the starving Confederate states to join the Christmas dinner of the Union States. The print brings to mind the phrase that Lincoln would make immortal in his Second Inaugural in a few short months: “With malice towards none, with charity for all”. Not a bad sentiment to recall at Christmas time, or any time.
From the only accurate source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Pope Francis continues to show he’s not your average pope. During a public appearance this afternoon, Francis attempted to comfort a girl whose cat had died, saying, “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures. All of them except for cats. In that case, little girl, the only way you will see your cat again is if you reject God’s grace and end up in hell.”
The Pope’s comment has reignited a debate on the subject, with the Humane Society saying that if Pope Francis believes animals have souls, then “we ought to seriously consider how we treat them,” a representative said. “We have to admit that all animals, save for cats, panda bears, and sloths are sentient beings, and they mean something to God.” Continue Reading
So comedic actor Seth Rogen doesn’t hesitate to call Christians the A-word for supporting Hobby Lobby. Knowing that Christians don’t retaliate, maybe at worst start a picket line.
Seth Rogen is so fortunate to live in a country built upon Christian values. If he were in an Islamic or Communist nation, he wouldn’t be alive today.
Keep up the bad work Seth Rogen.
Back in early November, a professor of political science reported in a personal blog post about a fellow professor teaching “Theory of Ethics” who was applying a philosophical text to modern political controversies. Listing some controversies, the professor wrote down “gay rights.” The professor then said to the class, “Everybody agrees on this, and there is no need to discuss it.”
One student disagreed.
After the class had ended, the student approached the professor, stating that the issue and associated matters, like homosexual rights, so-called homosexual marriage, and homosexual adoption, merit discussion. According to the blog post, the student went further, stating that if the professor dismissed the issue and its associated matters based solely upon personal views, that would set “a terrible precedent for the class.”
The professor was skeptical, offering counter arguments. Lastly, the professor asked the student for research demonstrating the student’s assertions.
But, like most political controversies, the discussion didn’t end there, as the professor explained that “some opinions are not appropriate, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions,” asking “Do you know if anyone in your class is homosexual?” and whether, if some student raised his hand and challenged so-called homosexual marriage, “Don’t you think it would be offensive to them?”
The student responded, stating that as an American citizen he possessed the right to advance counter-arguments, to which the professor replied,
You don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments….In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.
Finally, the professor invited the student to drop the class.
In late November, The Motley Monk discussed this incident within a broader analysis, “Some stirrings of discontent in U.S. Catholic higher education.”
But, like most matters involving people feeling offended, the story didn’t end there.
On December 17, the professor who wrote the personal blog post received a letter from the institution’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences:
The university is continuing to review your conduct and during this period—and until further notice—you are relieved of all teaching duties and all other faculty activities, including, but not limited to, advising, committee work, faculty meetings and any activity that would involve your interaction with… students, faculty and staff. Should any academic appeals arise from Fall 2014 semester, however, you are expected to fulfill your obligations in that specific matter.
Your salary and benefits will continue at their current level during this time.
You are to remain off campus during this time, and should you need to come to campus, you are to contact me in writing beforehand to explain the purpose of your visit, to obtain my consent and to make appropriate arrangements for that visit. I am enclosing with this letter [the institution’s] harassment policy, its guiding values statement, the University mission statement, and sections from the Faculty Handbook, which outline faculty rights and responsibilities; these documents will inform our review of your conduct.
Even if the suspension is “a bit of a joke, since it’s Christmas break and we aren’t teaching,” as the professor noted in a new personal blog post, what isn’t a joke are some of the potential implications of this suspension:
- Class discussion that’s likely to “offend” any particular group of students in the class must be proscribed…a “gag” order, as RedState.com described it. Consider all of the matters that might offend particular groups of students.
- Calling out colleagues who are intolerant of full, free, and unfettered discussion of the facts can warrant a suspension and possible dismissal for failure to adhere to the institution’s harassment policy. Professors would be indemnified from any challenges to their unfounded opinions.
- Challenging such proscriptions can also end in a suspension and possible dismissal. This would have a “chilling effect” upon free speech, as academic administrators could investigate, censor, and or even punish professors who express their personal beliefs not only in classrooms but in personal blog posts. That process could take the form of harassment which the procees is supposed to ensure doesn’t happen.
Doesn’t all of that present a proximate danger to academic freedom?
About the institution, RedState.com observed:
Marquette is Wisconsin’s leading Catholic university. As such, it is a high profile institution among Catholics both in and out of Wisconsin. It also prides itself as one of the most well known centers of higher education in the state. By imposing a gag order on McAdams, the school has done damage to both its Catholic and academic traditions….
One can only shake one’s head in disbelief, reading of these events and juxtaposing them to Marquette’s mission statement:
Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university dedicated to serving God by serving our students and contributing to the advancement of knowledge. Our mission, therefore, is the search for truth, the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the fostering of personal and professional excellence, the promotion of a life of faith, and the development of leadership expressed in service to others. All this we pursue for the greater glory of God and the common benefit of the human community.
Or, as the now-suspended professor noted:
Marquette…has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression.
To read the professor’s original blog post, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s previous blog post, click on the following link:
To read the professor’s update, the December 17 blog post, click on the following link:
To read the RedState.com article, click on the following link:
To read the Marquette University Mission Statement, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
One of the biggest misinterpretations of Pope Francis is the assumption that he doesn’t carefully consider his actions, as opposed to his often careless, occasionally confused, language. Case in point:
China-watchers, friends of Tibet, and admirers of Pope Francis were amazed and disappointed last week when the Pope announced he would not be meeting the Dalai Lama during the Tibetan leader’s visit to Rome. The Dalai Lama was there with other winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, who—ironically—had gathered in Rome after a planned meeting in South Africa did not take place because Pretoria refused to grant the Dalai Lama a visa. In the end, the pope declined to meet with any of the Laureates. In view of Francis’s extraordinary reputation for open-mindedness, how could this be?
The Dalai Lama has a long history of meeting with the head of the Catholic Church. He met with John Paul II on a number of different occasions and with Benedict XVI once, in a private meeting in 2006. But this time, the Vatican explained, there could be no such encounter because of the “delicate situation,” and because, the Dalai Lama was told, “it could cause problems.” It was plain that the statement referred to relations between the Holy See and Beijing. A spokesman for the Dalai Lama said he was “disappointed at not being able to call on His Holiness the Pope but he does not want to cause any inconvenience.”
Over the last few years, a growing number of world leaders, under pressure from China, have spurned or downgraded meetings with the Dalai Lama. In 2010, President Barack Obama received the Dalai Lama in the White House Map Room, making clear that he was meeting him not as a political leader but as a religious one—which the Dalai had already proclaimed was now his only role. That meeting, which ended with the Dalai Lama leaving the White House through a back entrance past a row of garbage cans, nevertheless infuriated the Chinese government, which condemned the White House for interfering in China’s internal affairs. In May 2012, after Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg met the Dalai Lama discreetly and briefly in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Chinese foreign Ministry stated:
We ask the British side to take the Chinese side’s solemn stance seriously, stop indulging and supporting “Tibet independence” anti-China forces, immediately take effective measures to undo the adverse effect, and take concrete action to safeguard the overall development of China-UK relations.
China’s reaction alarmed Cameron, who was planning a visit to Beijing with British business leaders, and the following year the trip took place only after officials in the Cameron government made clear that he had no plans for future meetings with the Dalai Lama.
What happened in Rome is wholly different. Unlike the US, Britain, Norway, and South Africa, among other countries, the Vatican has no economic ties with Beijing, nor does it hold security discussions with the Chinese. It is also usual for the Pope to meet the leaders of other world faiths on purely religious grounds.
What is plain is Francis’s anguish over the fate of the estimated twelve million Chinese who are Catholic and the more than three thousand Catholic priests active in China. About half of China’s Catholics are connected to one of the churches under the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), which means their bishops are appointed by employees of CPCA, which was created by the Religious Affairs Bureau of the People’s Republic; the other half are unofficial “House Christians,” who recognize the pope as their leader. Along with China’s Protestants, both groups have at best uneasy relations with the Communist leadership. Earlier this year, Catholic and Protestant churches in some regions of China were designated as “illegal structures” and demolished; in other cases in recent months, Christian religious symbols, such as crosses, have sometimes been forcibly removed. Continue Reading
Spengler (David P. Goldman) takes a look at the blind fury that seems to be the distinguishing characteristic of the Forces of Tolerance these days:
They really, really hate us. George Orwell wrote a morning “Two Minutes Hate” session into the daily life of his dystopia in 1984. One blogger notes that 2,000 of Rachel Maddow’s facebook fans wished that Ted Cruz would fall into an open elevator shaft. What would he have made of the hyperventilating hatred that liberals display against conservatives? Over at National Review, Katherine Timpf reports on a hate manifesto published by the chair of University of Michigan’s Department of Communications. Republicans “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.” wrote Prof. Susan Douglas. “So now we hate them back,” she explains. “And with good reason.”
In fact, they have their reasons to hate us. They are being silly. We know they are being silly, and they know we know, and they can’t stand it. It isn’t quite how we repudiate the idea that the opposing party has any legitimacy at all. But we can’t stop giggling.
“Reductio ad absurdum” does not begin to characterize the utter silliness of liberals, whose governing dogma holds that everyone has a right to invent their own identity. God is dead and everything is permitted, Zarathustra warned; he should have added that everything is silly. When we abhor tradition, we become ridiculous, because we lack the qualifications to replace what generation upon generation of our ancestors built on a belief in revelation and centuries of trial and error. Conservatives know better. G.K. Chesterton said it well: “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about.”
The antics of the “small and arrogant oligarchy” that controls the temples of liberal orthodoxy have turned into comic material that Monty Python couldn’t have dreamed up a generation ago. There are now dozens of prospective genders, at least according to the gender studies departments at elite universities. What do the feminists of Wellesley College do, for example, when its women become men? The problem is that no-one quite knows what they have become, as a recent New York Times Magazine feature complained:
Some two dozen other matriculating students at Wellesley don’t identify as women. Of those, a half-dozen or so were trans men, people born female who identified as men, some of whom had begun taking testosterone to change their bodies. The rest said they were transgender or genderqueer, rejecting the idea of gender entirely or identifying somewhere between female and male; many, like Timothy, called themselves transmasculine.
Use the wrong terminology and you’re burned for a bigot. There used to be jokes such as: “How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, and it’s not funny.” You can’t tell that sort of joke about Wellesley because the LGBTs never will agree on the lightbulb’s gender. There are rare cases of babies born with ambiguous genitalia, to be sure. There also are a few individuals obsessed from early childhood with the idea that they were born in the wrong body. They have difficult lives and deserve sympathy (but not public mandates for sex-change operations). Gender ambiguity in its morphological infinitude as a field of personal self-development, though, has become the laboratory for cutting-edge liberal thinking, the ultimate expression of self-invention. LGTB Studies (or “Queer Studies”) departments have or soon will be established at most of America’s top universities, classifying, advocating and defending an ever-expanding number of newly-categorized gender identities. Continue Reading
With the victory of pro-life Colonel Martha McSally (USAF Ret.),( she took Gabbie Gifford’s old Congressional district, so a Second Amendment champion now holds the former seat of the poster child for gun control), the Republicans have 247 seats in the House. The last time the Republicans had more seats in the House, the year was 1929. Obama has strengthened the Republican Party more than any President since Calvin Coolidge.
The Babalu Blog, the go to site for news on Cuba, predicted the papal involvement in the “normalization” of relations with Cuba announced yesterday by Obama:
We’re not clairvoyants or prophets. We just deal with the facts.
Eleven months ago, when Secretary of State John Kerry visited the Vatican, a Babalu post asked: “Will Pope Francis Bring About the Release of Alan Gross?”
Here’s a quote from that post:
How’s this for a scenario?: Pope Francis gets Alan Gross freed in exchange for the four Castro spies, and, on top of that, orchestrates the restoration of US/Castro diplomatic ties, along with the lifting of the embargo. And it will all make Obama look so righteous and compassionate rather than weak, all because of the glow lent to the whole deal by Pope Francis’s halo.
Such speculation is not far-fetched.
Well, guess what? Unfortunately, today’s events have proven that such speculation was in fact correct.
Yeah. The “embargo” has not been lifted yet…. but the current occupant of the White House has turned the circumventing of congress into a rare art form. Just wait.
Hate to say “I told you so.” Those moments always involve a most exquisite and intolerable kind of pain. Continue Reading
“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, Chief Chaplain of the Third Army. Here is his article on the incident written in 1950.
The incident of the now famous Patton Prayer commenced with a telephone call to the Third Army Chaplain on the morning of December 8, 1944, when the Third Army Headquarters were located in the Caserne Molifor in Nancy, France: “This is General Patton; do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.” My reply was that I know where to look for such a prayer, that I would locate, and report within the hour. As I hung up the telephone receiver, about eleven in the morning, I looked out on the steadily falling rain, “immoderate” I would call it — the same rain that had plagued Patton’s Army throughout the Moselle and Saar Campaigns from September until now, December 8. The few prayer books at hand contained no formal prayer on weather that might prove acceptable to the Army Commander. Keeping his immediate objective in mind, I typed an original and an improved copy on a 5″ x 3″ filing card:
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.
I pondered the question, What use would General Patton make of the prayer? Surely not for private devotion. If he intended it for circulation to chaplains or others, with Christmas not far removed, it might he proper to type the Army Commander’s Christmas Greetings on the reverse side. This would please the recipient, and anything that pleased the men I knew would please him:
To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I Wish a Merry Christmas. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day. G.S. Patton, Jr, Lieutenant General, Commanding, Third United States Army.
This done, I donned my heavy trench coat, crossed the quadrangle of the old French military barracks, and reported to General Patton. He read the prayer copy, returned it to me with a very casual directive, “Have 250,000 copies printed and see to it that every man in the Third Army gets one.” The size of the order amazed me; this was certainly doing something about the weather in a big way. But I said nothing but the usual, “Very well, Sir!” Recovering, I invited his attention to the reverse side containing the Christmas Greeting, with his name and rank typed. “Very good,” he said, with a smile of approval. “If the General would sign the card, it would add a personal touch that I am sure the men would like.” He took his place at his desk, signed the card, returned it to me and then Said: “Chaplain, sit down for a moment; I want to talk to you about this business of prayer.” He rubbed his face in his hands, was silent for a moment, then rose and walked over to the high window, and stood there with his back toward me as he looked out on the falling rain. As usual, he was dressed stunningly, and his six-foot-two powerfully built physique made an unforgettable silhouette against the great window. The General Patton I saw there was the Army Commander to whom the welfare of the men under him was a matter of Personal responsibility . Even in the heat of combat he could take time out to direct new methods to prevent trench feet, to see to it that dry socks went forward daily with the rations to troops on the line, to kneel in the mud administering morphine and caring for a wounded soldier until the ambulance Came. What was coming now?
“Chaplain, how much praying is being done in the Third Army?” was his question. I parried: “Does the General mean by chaplains, or by the men?” “By everybody,” he replied. To this I countered: “I am afraid to admit it, but I do not believe that much praying is going on. When there Is fighting, everyone prays, but now with this constant rain — when things are quiet, dangerously quiet, men just sit and wait for things to happen. Prayer out here is difficult. Both chaplains and men are removed from a special building with a steeple. Prayer to most of them is a formal, ritualized affair, involving special posture and a liturgical setting. I do not believe that much praying is being done.” Continue Reading
Part I: Why People Are Inclined To Support The Police
There have been a number of stories in the news lately in which prosecutors have considered and then failed to deliver indictments against policemen in cases where they have killed people. There’s been a fair amount of outrage about this, some of it justified, some of it not. One of the things that has generated so much outrage is that, through it all, most people have supported not indicting these officers. I think it’s worth considering why.
Police are in a difficult position. We, as a polity, pay them to insert themselves into situations that we do not feel ourselves well able to deal with, whether that means domestic disputes, fights between gangs, the mentally unstable, or runaway cows. In return, they get the generic “gratitude towards those in uniform” which our society includes among its civic pieties, but not necessarily huge amounts of comprehension of what they deal with which day (which, of course, varies a huge amount from city to city. What a small town policeman deals with is going to be a lot different from what an LAPD officer in Watts deals with.)
A basic understanding of this is, I think, why in general people are willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt (and then some) most of the time. The police are out there dealing with stuff so that we don’t have to, and there’s an implicit understanding that it would be rather churlish to turn around and prosecute them criminally if they make a misjudgement in doing their job. It’s one thing to go after the obvious “corrupt cop” cases which involve drug dealing, extortion, etc. People see this as a clear abuse of power. However, when the killing can be framed up in terms of “the officer thought he had to do this in order to protect himself/do his duty” people are unwilling to send him to jail.
If there are any Catholics still dense enough not to understand the trajectory of the current pontificate, the ludicrous ending to the investigation of American nuns and sisters in this country should cure their ignorance. Rorate Caeli gives us the grisly details:
Final report on American women religious issued
Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, a series which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102 and 2013, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here , here, here, here, here , here, here, here and here, we come to Haggai 2: 6-8 :
 The word that I covenanted with you when you came out of the land of Egypt: and my spirit shall be in the midst of you: fear not.
 For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet one little while, and I will move the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.
 And I will move all nations: AND THE DESIRED OF ALL NATIONS SHALL COME: and I will fill this house with glory: saith the Lord of hosts.
Saint Augustine reveals Who this passage refers to: Continue Reading
I went into this film assuming it was going to be bad based on what I had heard about it. In that assumption I was mistaken. Although not a film I would recommend, I can’t call it a bad film. My review is below with the usual caveat as to spoilers. Continue Reading
Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently on behalf of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, at Midwest Conservative Journal brings us up to speed on a novel excuse to get out of taking finals dreamt up by some Harvard Law students:
The following essay by one William Desmond, a third-year student at Harvard Law School as well as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, is either the most infuriating thing I’ve ever read or the most unintentionally hilarious. I can’t figure out which. Seems Des would like Harvard Law to delay whatever exams he’s scheduled to take. Why? Ferguson, natch:
Over the last week, much has been said about law students’ petitioning for exam extensions in light of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers. Students at Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School, Georgetown University Law Center and several other schools requested that their administrations allow extensions on final exams for students who have been confronting the aftermath of the recent failed grand jury indictments of the officers who killed the unarmed black men.
Des already knows how people are going to react.
In response, opponents of exam extensions have declared that to grant these requests would be a disservice to the students. Law students, they argue, must learn how to engage critically with the law in the face of intense adversity. Drawing comparisons to events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement and other times of intense turmoil, these opponents portray today’s law students as coddled millennials using traumatic events as an excuse for their inability to focus on a three-hour exam. In essence, law students are being told to grow up and learn how to focus amidst stress and anxiety—like “real” lawyers must do.
They’re all wrong, of course.
Speaking as one of those law students, I can say that this response is misguided: Our request for exam extensions is not being made from a position of weakness, but rather from one of strength and critical awareness.
How’s that, Des? Because in the last couple of months, the single most traumatic events in the entire recorded history of humanity have occurred.
Although over the last few weeks many law students have experienced moments of total despair, minutes of inconsolable tears and hours of utter confusion, many of these same students have also spent days in action—days of protesting, of organizing meetings, of drafting emails and letters, and of starting conversations long overdue. We have been synthesizing decades of police interactions, dissecting problems centuries old, and exposing the hypocrisy of silence.
Yeah, sure you were. And doing lots and lots of high-grade ganja from the sound of it. Out: the dog ate my homework. In: I was so upset by this country’s refusal to frankly face the effects of slavery that I couldn’t possibly study, never mind do any homework.
I have seen the psychological trauma brought on by disillusionment with our justice system send some law students into a period of depression. After all, every death of an unarmed youth at the hands of law enforcement is a tragedy. The hesitancy to recognize the validity of these psychic effects demonstrates that, in addition to conversations on race, gender and class, our nation is starving for a genuine discussion about mental health. But to reduce our calls for exam extensions to mere cries for help exhibits a failure to understand the powerful images of die-ins and the booming chants of protestors disrupting the continuation of business as usual in cities across the country.
You’re just embarrassing yourself, kid. Hey shut up, we’re not spoiled children. We’re…you know…prophetic and crap.
Where some commentators see weakness or sensitivity, perhaps they should instead see strength—the strength to know when our cups of endurance have run over and when the time for patience has ended. Perhaps they should instead see courage—the courage to look our peers in the eyes and uncomfortably ask them to bear these burdens of racism and classism that we have together inherited from generations past. We have taken many exams before, but never have we done this. We are scared, but no longer will we be spectators to injustice.
Des? I’ve got a real life rule. When you have to tell others to perceive you as strong and courageous, you’re nothing more than a particularly sniveling, gutless little douchebag. Oh, and attention furniture companies and stores. Want to make a boatload of money? Stock up on fainting couches because guys (?) like Des are going to need one once he starts his law practice.
Our focus and critical thinking are at an all-time peak while the importance of our textbooks is at a low. It is not that law students are incapable of handling their exams. It is that we are unwilling to remove ourselves, even for a few days, from this national conversation.
As future practitioners, professors, judges and policymakers, we have all been trained not only in the faithful application of the law but also in the critical examination of its effectiveness. And by our analysis, responsible members of the legal community can no longer defend our criminal justice system as exemplifying fair process when that system so frequently produces the same unjust result—life drained from an unarmed black body by a barrage of government-issued bullets.
If I ever had to do a nickel for some crime and Des was my lawyer, I guarantee that this snowflake will be waiting at the prison gate when I get out. To inform me that he was suing my ass into the ground for causing him emotional distress because I was guilty. Continue Reading
Clare Short of Faith in our Families blog has written an open letter to the Pope. I think this letter typifies the anguish that many faithful Catholics are experiencing under the current pontificate:
Dear Pope Francis,
I have supported you and defended you many times this year. Even when I was unsure of exactly what it was you were saying – I always gave you the benefit of the doubt and stood up for you against those who were criticizing you. However regarding your recent comments denouncing the “rigid” attached to doctrine as “Pharisees” I am sorry but with a heavy heart, I have to disagree with you:
Pope Francis recalled how “Pius XII freed us from the very heavy cross that was the Eucharistic fast:
“But some of you might remember. You couldn’t even drink a drop of water. Not even that! And to brush your teeth, it had to be done in such a way that you didn’t swallow the water. But I myself as a young boy went to confession for having made the Communion, because I thought a drop of water had gone in. Is it true or no? It’s true. When Pius XII changed the discipline: ‘Ah, heresy! No! He touched the discipline of the Church.’ So many Pharisees were scandalized. So many. Because Pius XII had acted like Jesus: he saw the need of the people. ‘But the poor people, with such warmth.’ These priests who said three Masses, the last at one o’clock, after noon, fasting. The discipline of the Church. And these Pharisees [spoke about] ‘our discipline’ – rigid on the outside, but, as Jesus said of them, ‘rotting in the heart,’ weak, weak to the point of rottenness. Gloomy in the heart. This is the drama of these people, and Jesus denounces hypocrisy and opportunism: Even our life can become like that, even our life. And sometimes, I confess something to you, when I have seen a Christian, a Christian of that kind, with a weak heart, not firm, not fixed on the rock—Jesus – and with such rigidness on the outside, I ask the Lord: But Lord, throw a banana peel in front of them, so that they will take a good fall, and feel shame that they are sinners, and so encounter You, [and realize] that You are the Savior. Many times a sin will make us feel shame, and make us encounter the Lord, Who pardons us, as the sick who were there and went to the Lord for healing.”
You are correct in saying that the Pharisees of 1st Century Jerusalem were politicians. They were not interested in the spirituality of the Jewish faith in anyway shape or form. All they were interested in was satisfying their lust for power and status over the people. In this way they held God’s people in contempt. They used rules and regulations to keep people captive.
But Holy Father, don’t you understand?…
The religious politicians of the 21st century are your friends – the Walter Kasper’s and the Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s of this world. They are the ones trying to control the Family Synod. They are the ones manipulating the media. They are the ones doing deals and getting their mates into the position of Bishop to further their own political agenda, when they really, really should never have even been there (Kieran Conry). Just like the Pharisees of 1st century Jerusalem, they are primarily concerned with their own lust for power and status. They hide this behind a smoke screen of words and phrases that seem to offer salvation, but are in-fact as empty as the rules and regulations of 2000 years ago. They hold God’s people in contempt by offering them apparent solutions to the problem of sin. They do not do this by keeping them captive in rules and regulations, but instead they seek to abolish ALL rules and regulations and usher in a climate of relativism. When people perceive their sin as relative, the rules and regulations no longer apply: and consequently their sin no longer exists.
Holy Father don’t you see? The real 21st century Pharisees operate by keeping God’s people captive in their own sin.
I don’t know how the church works in Argentina. I feel there are some cultural differences in Europe that perhaps you are not fully aware of. You see, here, the church has been kept afloat by those who have remained loyal to church teaching. The church has suffered so much damage here over the last 50 years from people wanting to push their own political agenda – to put Man at the centre of the faith rather than Christ. The truth and beauty of Christ – the true spirituality and heart of the Catholic faith has been almost completely replaced by nothing more than a synthetic substitute.
I understand your message of mercy. You are reaching out to those who are not secure in their faith – to those who have perhaps suffered a massive lack of proper religious education and catechesis and have never known the real Jesus or felt His love. I know there are many who are already secure in their faith who do not understand why you are taking this approach – but I do. But there are also those who want to twist this message to their own advantage. The mercy Kasper offers is focused on this life alone. He seeks to please man. He makes no mention of how it will effect people in the next life. To allow people to remain in mortal sin is to ignore God’s truth and God’s justice. How will Kasper’s teaching on mercy effect people’s time in purgatory – or worse? Is this real mercy?
Holy Father, I admire your courage for taking on the heavy cross of becoming Pope, and I pray for you every day. Please Holy Father, I beg you – do not be deceived by those who wish to put Man at the centre of the Catholic faith. Jesus did not come to ‘people please’. He came to set us free from ourselves. Please see the true 21st century Pharisees for who they really are.
I love you and you are in my prayers. Continue Reading
Rorate Caeli brings us an English translation of an article on the Italian section of Sandro Magister’s blog Chiesa:
The Francis Effect: ‘Democratic Tyranny’ against dissenters” I received it and I publish it: the author is Professor Emeritus of Sociology of Religion in the University of Florence and in the Theological Faculty of Central Italy
The climate of a Pontificate and new eagerness for the stickby Pietro di MarcoDecember 12, 2014
I have been told about a recent case indicative of the Catholic climate that is growing. A few months ago some members accused of criticizing Pope Bergoglio were expelled from a historic Florentine volunteer association.It appears that the proof was obtained from the social network where they had voiced their dissent – perhaps too loudly; an expulsion without a process nor confrontation, invoking statutory articles inaccessible to the accused.Also from other Tuscan settings, signals are arriving of an eagerness to act with sanctions against “traditional” tendencies; acts in the past, never directed against ideas and behavior truly anti-institutional, when not subversive of rite and dogma. On the contrary, those who have been in the Church, remember the hostility, for decades, from precise environments and people, against Pope Wojtyla or Pope Ratzinger and all of it tolerated by Catholic authority (it involved bishops and leaders of lay associations) formally aligned with Rome. Remarkable that such alignment, at that time helpless, exercises itself now in a pugnacious defense of the reigning Pope only to hit out at orthodox environments and individualities.Naturally, as in all “respected” repression, nobody is “expelled.” The accused, it is said, put themselves on the outside. It doesn’t matter, (if it did– how aggravating!) that in their polemics they were opposed to the “liquefying ” religiosity that pervades predication, pastoral care and Catholic ethics. Similarly to how one is disgraced in public life with the epithet “enemies of the Constitution”, a use of lethal formulas like “enemies of the Council” or “hostile to Francis” is now affirmed in the Church.It is enough as an example the vicissitude, still bleeding, of the commissioning of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, where the law of the Church is being used like a stick, i.e. in an anti-juridical manner, by “commissioners” who react to criticism with intimidating language [reminiscent] of political processes from other times. This serious matter, not less than the smaller depurations of which I spoke of, are legitimized by referring to the words and facts of Pope Francis. This is the well-known phenomenon of the abuse of the leader’s words so that vendettas can be put into act.However, it should be said, there is something more here than the motivation to please a Pope and his entourage and which is already fertile ground for this unprecedented pro-papal front. With the end of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, lay faithful and the clergy seem no longer to have any anti-bodies (they had few before anyway) when confronted with that post-modern Christian rubbish, which consists of admittance of errors and contrition, in self-criticism of our Catholic past “in light of the Gospel” and in all kinds of inclusiveness, as long as they are on the media’s agenda.
There’s absolutely no reason for us to assume the Germans are mounting a major offensive. The weather is awful, Their supplies are low, and the German army hasn’t mounted a winter offensive since the time of Frederick the Great — therefore I believe that’s exactly what they’re going to do.
George C. Scott as Patton, as he guesses what the Germans are up to at the start of the Battle of the Bulge-Patton (1970)
Seventy years ago on December 16, 1944 the largest battle in American history, the Battle of the Bulge, began. The last desperate throw of the dice by Hitler to try to snatch victory from obvious defeat, the battle would involve some 600,000 American troops and 125,000 Allied troops. 19000 Americans were killed, and 23,000 missing or captured, to some 67,000-100,000 killed, missing and wounded among the Germans. Fighting raged until January 25, 1945 with the German counterattack decisively defeated.
The Germans relied on bad weather to neutralize Allied air power, and it did for a time, until enough fair weather broke to allow Allied bombers to aid General Patton and his Third Army in their drive to relieve the courageous men of the 101rst Airborne in their epic stand at Bastogne, the turning point of the battle.
Here is the prayer said by Patton, on his knees, at a chapel in Luxembourg City on December 23, 1944. It is a rough soldier’s prayer and some may find it offensive. Indeed, I would have phrased the prayer quite differently myself. However, Patton believed with all his being in God, and when Patton requested His aid, he was never shy about stating to the Almighty precisely what was on his mind:
Sir, this is Patton speaking. The last fourteen days have been straight from hell. Rain, snow, more rain, more snow – and I’m beginning to wonder what’s going on in Your headquarters. Whose side are You on, anyway?
For three years my chaplains have been explaining that this is a religious war. This, they tell me, is the Crusades all over again, except that we’re riding tanks instead of chargers. They insist we are here to annihilate the German Army and the godless Hitler so that religious freedom may return to Europe. Up until now I’ve gone along with them, too. You have given us Your unreserved cooperation. Clear skies and a calm sea in Africa made the landings highly successful and helped us to eliminate Rommel. Sicily was comparatively easy and You supplied excellent weather tor our armored dash across France, the greatest military victory that You have thus far allowed me. Continue Reading
PopeWatch is sure that everyone who reads this has also read a breathless report that Pope Francis has said that all animals go to Heaven. The only problem with all these reports is that they are rubbish. David Gibson takes a look at this Dog’s Breakfast in bad journalism:
When Pope Francis recently sought to comfort a distraught boy whose dog had died, the pontiff took the sort of pastoral approach he is famous for — telling the youngster not to worry, that he would one day see his pet in heaven.
“Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures,” Francis said reassuringly.
It was a sparkling moment on a rainy November day, and the setting in St. Peter’s Square only burnished Francis’ reputation as a kindly “people’s pope.” The story naturally lit up social media, became instant promotional material for vegetarians and animal rights groups, and on Friday even made it to the front page of The New York Times.
There’s only one problem: none of it ever happened.
Yes, a version of that quotation was uttered by a pope, but it was said decades ago by Paul VI, who died in 1978. There is no evidence that Francis repeated the words during his public audience on Nov. 26, as has been widely reported, nor was there was a boy mourning his dead dog.
So how could such a fable so quickly become taken as fact?
Part of the answer may be the topic of the pope’s talk to the crowd that day, which centered on the End Times and the transformation of all creation into a “new heaven” and a “new earth.” Citing St. Paul in the New Testament, Francis said that is not “the annihilation of the cosmos and of everything around us, but the bringing of all things into the fullness of being.”
The trail of digital bread crumbs then appears to lead to an Italian news report that extended Francis’ discussion of a renewed creation to the question of whether animals too will go to heaven.
“One day we will see our pets in the eternity of Christ,” the report quoted Paul VI as telling a disconsolate boy years ago.
The story was titled, somewhat misleadingly: “Paradise for animals? The Pope doesn’t rule it out.” It wasn’t clear which pope the writer meant, however.
The next day, Nov. 27, a story in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera by veteran Vaticanista Gian Guido Vecchi pushed the headline further: “The Pope and pets: “Paradise is open to all creatures.”
Vecchi faithfully recounted the pope’s talk about a new creation, and also cited Paul VI’s remark. Continue Reading
The final major battle in the West in the American Civil War, the two day battle of Nashville that commenced on December 15, 1864 ,was a decisive Union victory. Delayed by bad weather, Union general Thomas endured a steady stream of telegrams from Washington and Grant demanding that he attack. Thomas would not do so until he was ready. Grant, who had never had a good relationship with Thomas, decided to remove him, and only the knowledge that an attack was imminent stayed the decision:
I consequently urged Thomas in frequent dispatches sent from City Point to make the attack at once. The country was alarmed, the administration was alarmed, and I was alarmed lest the very thing would take place which I have just described that is, Hood would get north. It was all without avail further than to elicit dispatches from Thomas saying that he was getting ready to move as soon as he could, that he was making preparations, etc. At last I had to say to General Thomas that I should be obliged to remove him unless he acted promptly. He replied that he was very sorry, but he would move as soon as he could.
General Logan happening to visit City Point about that time, and knowing him as a prompt, gallant and efficient officer, I gave him an order to proceed to Nashville to relieve Thomas. I directed him, however, not to deliver the order or publish it until he reached there, and if Thomas had moved, then not to deliver it at all, but communicate with me by telegraph. After Logan started, in thinking over the situation, I became restless, and concluded to go myself. I went as far as Washington City, when a dispatch was received from General Thomas announcing his readiness at last to move, and designating the time of his movement. I concluded to wait until that time. He did move, and was successful from the start. This was on the 15th of December. General Logan was at Louisville at the time this movement was made, and telegraphed the fact to Washington, and proceeded no farther himself.
Heavily outnumbering the Confederates, Thomas planned to attack the exposed Confederate left while making feint attacks on the Confederate right. Hood was not fooled by the feint attacks and throughout the day sent reinforcements to the Confederate left. After hard fighting, Thomas took the five redoubts guarding the Confederate left.
The next day Thomas repeated his tactics, with attacks on the new Confederate left and feint attacks on the Confederate right. As the sun was going down, the Confederate left disintegrated and Thomas had won the battle. Thomas pursued Hood relentlessly until Hood crossed the Tennessee River on December 28. The Confederate Army of Tennessee was finished as an effective combat force. Confederate casualties were 6000 to 3000 Union. Continue Reading
While the US debates the issue of torture against captured terrorists a decade ago, four new young Christian martyrs were created:
Go here to read the rest. Never fear, however, these young martyrs will be avenged:
An appeal was sent to the Pope from a three-day meeting attended by Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, starting today. Mairead Corrigan Maguire spoke on behalf of Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa and Shrin Ebadi. Together with Betty Williams she received the prestigious award back in 1976, for the work she did to bring special and religious reconciliation in Northern Ireland. A devout Catholic, Maguire, could not help but mention the Holy See’s role on the international scene and the underlying doctrine that inspires its work.
“I would like to send out a special appeal to Pope Francis,” she said, asking “the Church to replace the theory of just war with a theology of peace and non-violence,” based on the commandment not to kill.” “Our Christian roots lie within Jesus’ non-violent approach,” Maguire recalled, referring to what American theologian John L. McKenzie said when he stated that anyone who reads the Scriptures knows that Christ did not have a streak of violence in him.
The Christian theology about just war, she argued, “tells people that they have the right to kill each other” “feeding them the myth of justified violence, militarism and war.” Hence, what “the world needs today is a clear and unequivocal message from Pope Francis and all spiritual leaders, to highlight that violence is never the way forward, it is never justified and always wrong.” “There are all sorts of different ways of countering injustice peacefully,” Maguire said. Pope Francis said this himself in his appeal “for justice without revenge”.
The military solution pursued by the West proved to be a total failure, the Nobel laureates said in their shared appeal. “An alternative solution is needed and that is genuine, inclusive and unconditional dialogue” which must not exclude anyone, not even “Islamic State fighters, the Taliban and all other groups that use violence.” The Nobel laureates agreed with Francis when he stressed that there needed to be dialogue with these groups: “Never close the door. It is difficult, you could say almost impossible, but the door is always open.” Continue Reading
In the footsteps of the Dumb Ox, we come to the Third Sunday in Advent:
Now, when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ,” &c. — S. Matt. xi. 2-4.
IN the preceding Gospel the Advent of Justice was treated of: in this Gospel the Advent of Grace is considered. Mention is here made of S. John Baptist, whose name is interpreted the grace of God; or, as he in whom the grace of God was. Four things are here spoken about S. John — (1) his imprisonment; (2) the question about the Advent of Christ by the disciples whom He sent; (3) the answer of the Lord; (4) the manifold commendation of John. He was praised chiefly on four accounts — (1) for the strength of his constancy; (2) for the rigour of his clothing; (3) for the dignity of his office; (4) for the holiness of his life. Firstly, when John had heard; secondly, “Who art thou;” thirdly, “Go and shew John again,” &c.; fourthly, “He began to say unto the multitudes concerning John.” And, again (1) of the commendation, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?” (2) “A man clothed in soft raiment.” (3) “Yea I say unto you, and more than a prophet.” (4) “This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face,” &c. But afterwards it ought to be known concerning the bonds that three kinds of people are said to be in bonds. The godly are placed in the bonds of precepts; the impious, in the bonds of sinners; the condemned, in the bonds of the tormentors. Of the first, Ezekiel iv. 8, “Behold, I will lay bands upon thee.” Hos. xi. 4, “I drew them with the cords of a man; with bands of love.” Of the second, Prov. v. 22, “He shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Isa. x. 4 (Vulgate), “That you be not bound down under the bond.” Of the third, Wisdom xvii. 2, “Fettered with the bonds of darkness.” S. Matt. xxii. 13, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away and cast him into outer darkness.” The first bonds are to be sought for; the second bonds to be dissolved; and the third to be avoided. For three reasons the bonds of the teachers are to be embraced (1) because by them safety is obtained against all evil; (2) because he who is bound by them is protected by the wisdom of God; (3) because from them he goes forth to government. Of the first reason, Eccles. vi. 30, “Then shall her fetters be a strong defence.” Of the second reason, Wisdom x. 14, “And left him not in bonds.” Of the third reason, Eccles. iv. 14, “Because out of prison and chains sometimes a man cometh forth to a kingdom.” There are not only the bonds of preceptors to be embraced, but the bonds of sinners to be dissolved. For the sinner is bound with the chains of pride, of avarice, of luxury, and of an evil tongue. Of the first chain, Job xxxix. 5, “Who hath sent out the wild ass free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?” By the wild ass pride is understood. Job xi. 12, “For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass’s colt;” whence the bands of the wild ass are the bands of pride. Of the second chain, Isa. v. 18, “Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity.” Riches are vanity. Of the third chain, Prov. viii. 22, “Immediately he followeth her as an ox led to be a victim, and not knowing that he is drawn like a fool to bonds,” (Vul.), for the hands of a woman are the bonds that draw. Ecc. vii. 27, “And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and her hands as bands.” These are the bonds that are to be dissolved. Continue Reading
(I published this last year, and I am going to publish it each year before Christmas. It evokes sweet memories of Christmases past when my children were young.)
Francis Pharcellus Church was a newspaper man to his marrow. As a young man he had covered the Civil War for the New York Times and with his brother William he founded the Army and Navy Journal which dedicated itself to reporting news about the military forces of the United States, along with historical pieces on US military history, and opinion pieces about innovations or reforms in the military. It is still being published today.
After the War he served as lead editorial writer on his brother’s newspapers the New York Sun. He died in 1906 at 67, leaving behind no children. Although he lived a full life, he would be all but forgotten today except for one incident.
In 1897 Virginia O’Hanlon was upset. She was eight years old and some of her friends had been telling her that there was no Santa Claus. Her father, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, suggested that she write to the Sun and see what that newspaper had to say. Virginia followed her advice and duly wrote the letter. Mr. Church wrote the reply to the letter which appeared on September 21, 1897 in the New York Sun.
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. Continue Reading
A nice manic history of the Soviet Union and post Soviet Union a la the game Tetris. Studying the history of Russia has explained to me why it is no mystery that so many Russians are so fond of vodka.
I humbly ask for prayers for the healing of a dear friend of mine who is battling cancer. Over the years her family and many other people, including me, have depended upon her strength, drive and kindness. She has a firm faith in God and is meeting her health crisis with incredible optimism and cheerfulness. Let’s see if we cannot storm Heaven to help her. I thank you for your consideration of this request.
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Dufresne, who reportedly told longtime friend Red McKenna last week that he had a “rock solid” plan to escape the cry room if he was ever wrongly placed there again, was missing from the cry room when his parents arrived after Mass to take him home.
“I took a look at the poster,” said Andrew Dufresne’s father, Anthony Dufresne. “I’m not sure why, but I kinda felt like the poster was out of place in the cathedral. Well, I was so upset at Andrew that I threw a little rock at it and found that the rock flew right through the poster. Turns out, it was being used to cover a hole the size of my son. I was furious.”
Red McKenna, detailing some of the facts about the day in question, said, “Well, at 9:45am, Andrew Dufresne escaped from Shawshank Cathedral. All they found of him was a muddy set of church clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock-hammer darn near worn down to the nub. I remember thinking it would take a boy six hundred masses to tunnel through the wall with it. Andrew did it by the Offertory. You see, in a cryroom, a kid will do most anything to keep his mind occupied. It turns out Andrew’s favorite hobby was totin’ the cryroom wall out into the restroom a handful at a time. While the rest of us banged our hands against the cryroom window and annoyed everyone in the church, Andy spent his time workin’. Andy crawled to freedom through fifty yards of crap-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine. Or maybe I just don’t want to. Fifty yards. The length of half a football field. When I picture him heading south on his own bicycle, it makes me laugh all over again. Andrew Dufresne, who crawled through a river of crap and came out clean on the other side.” Continue Reading