One Solitary Life

“There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials by a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the Word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has ever know. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena and Christ had won.”

Will Durant, Caesar and Christ (1944)

 

 

All the armies that have ever marched All the navies that have ever sailed All the parliaments that have ever sat All the kings that ever reigned put together Have not affected the life of mankind on earth As powerfully as that one solitary life

From One Solitary Life

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

H. G. Wells

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem

Exsultet, Easter Vigil

Continue Reading

1

A Proclamation

 

The twenty-fifth day of December.

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

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

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

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

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

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

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

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

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception, was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.

 

Messianic Prophecies: Genesis 49: 10

Concluding our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, a series which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, 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,   here, here here, here, here ,  here, here here, here ,   here,  here  , hereand here, we come to Genesis 49: 10:

[10] The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations.

 

Saint Augustine said of this passage:

While he then reigned over Argos, and Eratus over Sicyon, and Balæus still remained king of Assyria, Jacob died in Egypt a hundred and forty-seven years old, after he had, when dying, blessed his sons and his grandsons by Joseph, and prophesied most plainly of Christ, saying in the blessing of Judah, A prince shall not fail out of Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until those things come which are laid up for him; and He is the expectation of the nations.

 

4

Who Do We Say That He Is?

 

 

 

[15] Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?

[16] Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. [20] Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

Matthew 16: 16-20

 

A good question to think about on Christmas Eve.

The all important question about Christ is the one He asked.  Who do you say that I am?  In trying to make sense of Christ and his ever present impact upon this world, that is the question that is ever addressed.

A popular answer among some atheists is that Christ never existed.  This has always been a minority position since the evidence for the historicity of Christ is so overwhelming, especially for a figure who lived in obscurity.  Written accounts by His followers were drafted within decades after His death.  Saint Paul writes about Christ within a decade of the Crucifixion.  Non-Christian accounts, notably Tacitus, mention Christ.  His followers in Rome are persecuted within thirty years after His death.  Attempts to get around all this involve large amounts of conspiracy theories, ignoring inconvenient facts and academic hand-waving.  Regarding Christ as a myth may satisfy a semi-educated atheist, but it simply is not an intellectually honest position.

Much more popular, and not simply among atheists, is that Christ was a simple preacher and healer from Galilee.  His post death reputation bears no relationship to the kernel of a completely unremarkable life.  Tall tales involving miracles are complete inventions of his followers, and, in life, Christ was a common enough type of his time and place.  An interesting little theory if it only fit the facts.  All we know about Christ indicates that Christ was regarded by none of His contemporaries as either common or typical.  Leaving aside His miracles, He spoke with authority, unlike the Sadducees, Scribes and Pharisees.  His parables are masterpieces of thought and story, unforgettable after the first telling.  Much of what He said was mysterious to His followers and recalled by them even though it bore no relationship to Judaism as practiced prior to Christ.  He was viewed by the native rulers of His people as a mortal threat.  No, unless we are willing to cast aside all written evidence about Christ, and completely ignore His passionate and ever-growing following after His crucifixion, the idea of Him being common and typical is simply laughable.

Perhaps then Christ was simply one of those great moral teachers that History casts up now an again, His followers post death transforming him into a supernatural being?  In part, certainly, Christ was a great moral teacher, but He taught that He was so much more than that.  What other great moral teacher has, as the center of his teaching, that he is God, the creator of All, and that his followers must eat his flesh and drink his blood?  If Christ is regarded simply as a great moral teacher, he is one who had at the core of his teachings a blasphemous lie.

Christ as lunatic perhaps, a madman who thought he was God?  That category simply doesn’t work either.  Could a madman have responded to the clever trap of asking whether the Jews should pay tribute to Rome, by stating that the Jews should render unto Caesar his coin while giving to God what was His?  The Christ portrayed in the Gospels is sane, humane and exceedingly original and clever.  In spite of His remarkable claims, He gives not the slightest impression of psychosis.

Christ simply does not fit into any of our neat human categories, something that His contemporaries, both followers and adversaries, understood.  He came like thunder and lightning out of a clear dawn and humanity has never been the same.

I see in Lycurgus, Numa and Mohammed only legislators who, having the first rank in the state, have sought the best solution of the social problem but I see nothing there which reveals divinity…nothing announces them divine. On the contrary, there are numerous resemblances between them & myself, foibles and errors which ally them to me and to humanity.
It is not so with Christ. Everything in Him astonishes me. His spirit overawes me, and His will confounds me. Beside Him and whoever else in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. He is truly a being by Himself. His ideals and His sentiments, the truths which He announces, His manner of convincing, are not explained either by human organization or by the nature of things.

His birth and the history of His life; the profundity of His doctrine, which grapples the mightiest difficulties, and which is, of those difficulties, the most admirable solution; His Gospel, His apparition, His empire, His march across the ages and the realms, is for me a prodigy, a mystery insoluble, which plunges me into a reverence which I cannot escape, a mystery which is there before my eyes, mystery which I cannot deny or explain. Here I see nothing human. The nearer I approach, the more carefully I examine, everything is above me, everything remains grand—and of a grandeur which overpowers.

His religion is a revelation from an intelligence which certainly is not a man. There is a profound originality, which has created a series of maxims before unknown. Jesus borrowed nothing from our sciences. One can absolutely find nowhere, but in Him alone, the imitation or the example of His life.

Napoleon

 

Advent Sermons of Saint Augustine: The Word Made Flesh

This is our fourth and final look this Advent at the sermons of Saint Augustine.  Saint Augustine meditates on how inadequate human words are to describe The Word:

 

It is not at all strange that human consideration and human speech are inadequate when we undertake to praise the Son of God, the Word of God and God Himself, the Life and Light of men, as He exists in the bosom of the Father, equal to and co-eternal with Him in whom all things visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth, were established. For how would our tongue be able to pay suitable tribute to Him whom our heart, destined by God to be the instrument by which He is to be seen, as yet cannot see, if iniquity would be purged, weakness be healed, and the clean, of heart become blessed because they will see God? It is not strange, I say, for us to fail to find words in which to speak of the Word by whom the word was spoken which gave being to us who would now say something about Him. For our mind brings words into existence after they have been thought over and formed, but our mind itself is formed by the Word. Nor does man fashion words in the same way in which man was made by the Word, because the Father Himself did not beget His only Word in the same way in which He made all things through the Word. For God begot God, but the Begettor and the Begotten are one and the same God. Moreover, God made the world but the world passes while God remains. Although these things which were made certainly did not make themselves, He by whom all things were made was made by no one. It is not strange, then, that man, one of those created things, does not know how to discuss the Word by whom all things were made.

 

6

Christmas Greetings From Larry

(This is a repeat of a post from 2013.  Recently my bride and I purchased a new Ford Transit Connect Wagon.  When my bride came out on the morning of December 21, 2017 to drive into the law mines she found all the windows rolled down.  The car doors were still locked and nothing had been disturbed in the car.  The car automatically locks after the drivers door is closed, and it would have been impossible thereafter to lower the automatic windows.  Now many people might find this incident puzzling or even alarming.  However, we took this as yet another visit from our late son.  Larry during his life liked sneaking into our cars to retrieve  music cds.  We suspect this was his way of saying hello to us at our fifth Christmas without him.  No greater Christmas present could have been given us.  Death stands helpless before lasting human love and the hope beyond the grave that all Christians possess.  Special things can occur at Christmas and such an event has blessed my family.)

 

 

Something for the weekend.  One of my favorite Christmas carols has always been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.   It is based on the poem Christmas Bells written  by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863.  Still devastated by the death of his wife in a fire in 1861, he had been rocked by news that his son Charles, serving as a lieutenant in the Union army, had been severely wounded at the battle of New Hope Church in November of 1863.  In a nation rent by civil war, along with his personal woes, one could perhaps understand if Longfellow had been deaf to the joy of Christmas that year.   Having suffered a grave personal loss this year, the death of my son Larry on May 19, I can attest that the message of salvation and eternal life that Christmas brings has a special meaning to me this year. Continue Reading

3

George Washington and the Divine Author of Our Blessed Religion

 

 

A contemplation of the compleat attainment (at a period earlier than could have been expected) of the object for which we contended against so formidable a power cannot but inspire us with astonishment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; while the unparalleled perseverance of the Armies of the U States, through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle.

                                                                       George Washington

 

 

In 1783 the Revolutionary War was coming to a close, Washington now waiting for negotiations to conclude and the British to evacuate New York.  On June 8, 1783 he sent a circular letter out to the states discussing his thoughts on the importance of the states remaining united, paying war debts, taking care  of the soldiers who were wounded in the war and the establishment of a peace time military and the regulation of the militia.  It is an interesting document and may be read here.

Washington ends the letter with this striking passage: Continue Reading

The Vessel With the Pestle

Hands down the most hilarious sequence in all the films I have seen is the below from the Danny Kaye movie The Court Jester (1955).

Hawkins: If I die, just pray that I die bravely.

Witch: You’ll not die, you’ll not have to fight him. Griswold dies as he drinks the toast.

Hawkins: What?

Witch: Listen. I have put a pellet of poison in one of the vessels.

Hawkins: Which one?

Witch: The one with the figure of a pestle.

Hawkins: The vessel with the pestle?

Witch: Yes. But you don’t want the vessel with the pestle, you want the chalice from the palace!

Hawkins: I-I don’t want the vessel with the pestle, I want the chalice from the what?

Jean: The chalice from the palace!

Hawkins: Hm?

Witch: It’s a little crystal chalice with a figure of a palace.

Hawkins: Th-the chalice from the palace have the pellet with the poison?

Witch: No, the pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle.

Hawkins: Oh, oh, the pestle with the vessel.

Jean: The vessel with the pestle.

Hawkins: What about the palace from the chalice?

Witch: Not the palace from the chalice! The chalice from the palace!

Hawkins: Where’s the pellet with the poison?

Witch: In the vessel with the pestle!

Jean: Don’t you see? The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle.

Witch: The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!

Jean: It’s so easy, I can say it!

Hawkins: Well then you fight him!

Witch: Listen carefully. The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.

Hawkins: Where the pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.

Jean: Good man!

Witch: Just remember that.

Random Guard: Sir Giacomo! Sir Giacomo, into your armor! And you, to your place in the pavilion.

Hawkins: The pellet with the poison… the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh… brew that is tru- The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh, eh, brew that is true. Eh. The chestle with the pal- eh, eh, palace with the…

Random Guard: Look out!

[lighting strikes armor, magnetizing it]

Random Guard: Hurry, now, get into your armor!

Hawkins: The pestle with t… the pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle, the palace from the chalice has the brew that is blue. Eh, no… The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle. The cha- eh, the pellet with the plip… the pellet with the poisle’s in the vessel with the plazzle. Eh, the plazzle with the vlessle. Eh, the the bless… The vessel with the plozle is the plazzle with the…

Random Guard (interrupting): Come along, Sir Giacomo. His majesty is waiting.

Hawkins: The pestle with the poilet…

Random Guard: And take your helmet!

Hawkins: (Muttering “pellet with the poison”) Thank you.

Hawkins: The pellet with the poisley’s from chalice with the pazley.

Hawkins: I’ve got it! I’ve got it. The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true, right?

Witch: Right. But there’s been a change. They broke the chalice from the palace.

Hawkins: They broke the chalice from the palace?

Witch: And replaced it with a flagon.

Hawkins: Flagon.

Witch: With a figure of a dragon.

Hawkins: Flagon with a dragon.

Witch: Right.

Hawkins: Did you put the pellet with the poison in the vessel with the pestle?

Witch: No! The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon, the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!

Hawkins: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon, the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.

 

Witch: Just remember that.

Hawkins: Yes, thank you very much. The pellet with the chasley, eh… the pellet with the poison is in the pasley with the chazzle. Eh, just remember that.

Griswold’s Lackey: Beware of the drinks. One of them is poisoned.

Griswold: Poisoned! Are you sure?

Griswold’s Lackey: I heard the witch.

Hawkins: The poisel with the plesley is the chaz… eh…

Griswold: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon, the pestle with the pizzle… the pizzle with the f- the, the, the viss…

Griswold’s Lackey: No, no, no…

Hawkins: The pellet with the poisley is the chalice with the… he he (laughs nervously at guards)

Griswold’s Lackey: …Vessel with the pestle.

Griswold: The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.

Griswold’s Lackey: Right. Don’t forget it.

Griswold (mutters): The palace with the dragon… no, no, no.

MC: The knights will approach each other!

Crowd: (Cheers)

Hawkins: The pellet with the poisle is in the flaggle with the chalice.

Griswold: The poison’s in the dragon with the pestle.

Hawkins: Eh, ah, the chazzle is in the poisley with the plellice with the plan- eh, plaglice.

Griswold: The pellet with the dragon’s in the pestle with the poi-

Hawkins: The pezley with the poisle is…

Griswold: The dragon with the poisle’s in the pestle…

Hawkins: Pazzle with the fleegle…

Griswold: (Retrieves helmet magnetically held by H’s armor)

Hawkins: The poisley with the plazzle is the plazzle with the ploizle

Griswold: (Mutters)

Hawkins: The chalice with the pa… the flagon with the cha… the floizle with the flagon is the chalice with the poison.

MC: The knights will face the king!

Hawkins & Griswold: (muttering) (sight gags)

MC: They will approach the royal pavilion!

Hawkins: The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon!

Griswold: The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true!

Hawkins: Oh, no, pglk, you’ve got the wrong one!

Roderick: Stop this mockery! There will be no toast! Put them to horse, let them choose weapons, and fight!

 

 

6

Chappaquiddick the Movie

Don’t get your hopes up, but based upon this trailer it may be possible that some posthumous justice will be served to the “Lion of the Senate”:

 

 

I recall a case I had when I was engaged in verbal jousting with a fellow attorney before a Judge.  My adversary was very able.  After he was done the Judge applauded his efforts, indicated that it was always  a pleasure to hear spirited advocacy, but that there was only so much perfume that could be placed on this particular set of bad facts.  It is difficult to give a positive slant on leaving a young woman, who might easily have been saved, to die a terrifying death by suffocation in the dark.  We shall see.

8

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

I don’t think he should have been characterized as the insane show-off that 20th Century-Fox wanted to make him- which I resisted down the line. He had many admirable qualities: duty, honor, country and so forth instilled in those men. The most admirable quality about him was- I have to be so precise in wording this- that he disapproved of taking casualties. Almost fanatical disapproval, and coupled with that, his intense desire to inflict casualties on the enemy.

George C. Scott

 

 

 

Films as Necromancy

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

William Shakespeare, Prologue, Henry V

My bride and I, along with our son, will finally see Darkest Hour, the film that depicts the period in 1940 when Churchill became Prime Minister.  I will have a full review next week.

Churchill was a remarkable man for  any number of reasons, but I have always been intrigued by the fact that he was both a first class statesman and a first class historian.  He understood the turning point in history where he stood, and his speeches resonate with that knowledge:

 

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

How to bring such a man to the screen?  Of course the film making industry has a dismal record when it comes to historically based film.  Generally the history is mangled and the film produced has all the historical value of a bobble headed toy depicting a historical figure.  As the Shakespeare quote at the beginning of this post indicates, this was a problem that long predated films when it came to entertainment recreation of a tale from history.

However, there are exceptions to the usual run of failure of historical epics.  Failures in costuming, and the telescoping of events, even distortions of fact do not bother me, if the film gives us a good evocation of the period.  The film Spartacus (1960) comes to mind.

 

The film is full of historical howlers, par for the course for Hollywood. Crassus, the richest man in Rome, was not a proto-Fascist dictator. Spartacus, who is a shadowy figure because the source material is sparse (only Plutarch’s Life of Crassus and a brief section in Appian’s Civil Wars), did not simply march to the sea to escape Italy with his liberated slaves, but marauded throughout Italy, defeating several Roman consular armies in the process. There was no Senator called Gracchus, magnificently portrayed in the film by Charles Laughton, who led the opposition to Crassus, and Crassus wasn’t interested in personal dictatorship in any event during the time he put down Spartacus and his slave army.  The formations used by the legions in the battle sequences were two centuries out of date. The list of substantial factual errors in the film could go on for considerable length.

However, all that is beside the point. The film is a magnificent work of art, and it gets the atmosphere of the late Roman Republic right: old Roman morality being forgotten, a growth of decadence fueled by ever more wealth from foreign conquests, endless amounts of slaves flooding into Italy from the same foreign conquests, factions in the Senate engaging in what amounted to a cold civil war between bouts of hot civil war, the Roman Republican government teetering on the brink of military dictatorship, the movie presents all of these elements more clearly than any classroom lecture could.

 

Similarly the film Lincoln (2012) captures with preternatural accuracy both the man and his time:

 

Shakespeare in Henry V, with his magnificent poetry, brought to the Englishmen of his day the pride their ancestors had in their great warrior kings.

 

 

Next week I will report if Darkest Hour may be numbered in this august company of movies and plays that get history right.  If it does, I assure you that Churchill will be smiling in the world to come.

4

Night of the Meek

 

Originally broadcast on December 23, 1960, the Twilight Zone episode Night of the Meek features Art Carney as a drunken Department Store Santa with a big heart who substitutes for Santa on Christmas.  Rod Serling sums up the message:

A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek.

 

 

 

 

16

Nineteen Trillion Dollar Economy

The size of the American economy is hard to comprehend.  By the end of the year total GDP should be a bit north of nineteen trillion dollars.  Our closest economic competitors, Europe and China, should have economies slightly more than half the size of ours.  (Japan has an economy of about five trillion dollars by comparison.)  In real terms the US economy has tripled in size in real terms since 1980.  Economic growth in the US since Reagan took office has created an economy the size of Europe and China.  Part of this is caused by the growth in population, but the result is still quite impressive.  In the past quarter the economy grew at 3.7% per annum.  Trump and the GOP are betting that the tax bill being passed today will help ensure that type of growth for the next decade.  Tax cuts usually have spurred economic performance in the past, and absent some huge world wide catastrophe I see no reason why they should not do so in the future.  We will all see.  However, always recall that economics is called the dismal science for good reason.

 

2

The Plot to Overthrow Christmas

 

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.

 

 

 

1

Video Clip Worth Watching: Brother Orchid Confesses

 

 

 

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

Brother Orchid (1940)

 

 

 

A brilliant scene from a brilliant movie, Edward G. Robinson as Brother Orchid takes a large step in his gradual transformation from being a mobster disguising himself as a monk into a real monk.  Although not a sacramental confession, the scene has always struck me as an example of the shame and redemption that a good confession brings to a sincere penitent.  After the scene Brother Orchid is forgiven, the “Brother Superior” wryly admitting that as a young monk he had been guilty of the same sin of paying a child to do some of his work at the monastery.  Go here to read about Brother Orchid (1940) an astonishingly moving screwball-comedy-film noir gangster-western-religious flick that makes great Advent viewing as it illustrates the impact of the grace of God on the most unlikely of souls.

7

The Sabbath Was Made for Man

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts gives us the latest good deed by a company cordially hated by most leftists:

 

 

During the big power outage at Atlanta’s airport, the often embattled food chain stepped up and provided food for stranded passengers.  And yes, it was a Sunday.  That’s what’s called living the Gospel, rather than just talking it.

Of course the restaurant chain has been the target of many attempts to have it banned from various locations, venues, campuses and even cities.  This because of its stance on gay marriage.  Nonetheless, almost every time it comes to doing the right thing, it shows itself as a company founded on living the Golden Rule, rather than using it in debates. 

Well done Chick fil A.  That is a good witness.

 

Go here to comment.  The best preaching most Christians can do is simply to walk the walk.

19

Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well in DC

Just in time for Christmas:

 

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority threw down the hammer on the Catholic Church last month when it rejected a rather benign Christmas ad for the Church’s website FindThePerfectGift.org.

The Church turned around and sued the DC Metro claiming a violation of First Amendment rights. The Archdiocese of Washington said it in a statement the ad “conveys a simple message of hope, and an invitation to participate in the Christmas season.”

The ad itself has no words with an overtly religious message. It shows a silhouette of shepherds gazing up at the stars. The ad mentions the website which has Mass times in the DC area as well as Christmas activities.

The website also encourages people to donate their time and treasure to help those who are less fortunate. There is a video promoting becoming involved in feeding the hungry through St. Maria’s Meals.

The Metro is hiding behind its 2015 policy which prohibits “issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising.” This policy is almost impossible to apply equally. The American Civil Liberties Union even took issue with these rules claiming they are “misguided and impossible to administer fairly” and previously sued the transit authority.

The Metro accepts advertisements for hookup websites but has become hostile towards the Archdiocese’s ad claiming it is offensive. Perhaps the Church’s ad would have been acceptable if Santa Claus was plastered all over it.

I guess it would be superfluous to observe that the DC government is completely controlled by Democrats?  The Democrat Party hates the Catholic Church and currently is none too fond of the First Amendment.

2

Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 11: 10

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, a series which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, 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,   here, here here, here, here ,  here, here here, here ,   here,  here and here, we come to Isaiah 11: 10:

[10] In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.

 

 

Of this passage Saint Jerome wrote:

 

As regards its site, lapse of time has but invested it with fresh grandeur. The Jews of old reverenced the Holy of Holies, because of the things contained in it—the cherubim, the mercy-seat, the ark of the covenant, the manna, Aaron’s rod, and the golden altar.973 Does the Lord’s sepulchre seem less worthy of veneration? As often as we enter it we see the Saviour in His grave clothes, and if we linger we see again the angel sitting at His feet, and the napkin folded at His head.974 Long before this sepulchre was hewn out by Joseph,975 its glory was foretold in Isaiah’s prediction, “his rest shall be glorious,”976 meaning that the place of the Lord’s burial should be held in universal honor.

 

8

How to Be Happy

[34] But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together:

[35] And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him:

[36] Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?

[37] 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.

[38] This is the greatest and the first commandment.

[39] And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

[40] On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets.

Matthew 22: 34-40

 

If you really want to be happy in this world, and in the next, do good to others.  It is a truly simple lesson, but it is amazing how many people lead their entire lives without grasping it.  This of course is not happiness in the “Wee, that was a wild roller coaster ride!” sense, but in the sense of the satisfaction of a joy that surpasses understanding, the type of joy that parents experience as they see their kids growing up to be responsible parents themselves, or the joy of a priest who sees a penitent sinner embracing wholeheartedly Christ.

It is not given us in this life to foreknow the tangled paths that our lives will follow or to predict what we will be remembered for, or if anyone will remember us at all after we are gone.  What we do know, however, is whether our lives are a blessing or a curse for those we encounter is very much determined by our own actions.  Altruism, love of neighbor, is an all important factor in determining the balance sheet of our lives, and often time that means going against our short-term selfish desires for what may turn out to be a path that leads us to what we will be remembered for.

A perfect example of this is George Washington.  Today is the 236th anniversary of the Battle of Trenton, in which Washington led a Continental Army on the point of defeat and dissolution across the Delaware and captured the entire Hessian garrison of some 900 troops at Trenton.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of the victory of Trenton.  It renewed hope in ultimate American victory in the struggle, led directly to a second American victory on January 3, 1777 at Princeton and the abandonment of much of New Jersey by the British.  But for this brilliant stroke by Washington, the American struggle for independence might well have died in the winter of 1776-1777.

And the man who worked this miracle, George Washington, was he a professional soldier who had always desired to be at the head of a great army and to gain victories that would echo down through the centuries?  Well, actually he was a Virginia planter and throughout the War, and when he served as first president of these United States, his personal correspondence centered upon Mount Vernon, his plantation, and instructions about the planting of crops, the care of livestock, prices for commodities, the upkeep of buildings, etc.  Left to his own desires Washington would have lived out his entire life at Mount Vernon, been quite happy, and been a footnote in our histories, if he appeared at all except for his service in the French and Indian War.  Instead, he answered the call to duty, took up the burden of command of the Continental Army in the Revolution, although he feared he was unequal to the task, and served as our first president, although he found the duties onerous and realized that he was sacrificing much of the remaining years of his life away from his beloved Mount Vernon.  Washington, as a result of his sacrifices, will be remembered as long as there is a United States and as long as men cherish freedom.  The path of altruism was for him also the path to his true life’s work.

The same can be said for George Bailey.

The above video is the pivotal scene in the movie.  George rises to the defense of his father’s life’s work:  the savings and loan that allows people in Bedford Falls to escape from Potter’s slums and become home owners.  To save the savings and loan, George gives his brother the money George has saved to go to college so that he can attend college while George takes over the presidency of the savings and loan.  His journey down the path of altruism will cost him his dream of being an engineer, traveling the world and building huge products.  Instead he gains true love, a family and the admiration and respect of the people he helps in Bedford Falls.   His altruism is not a one way street, even in regard to business success.

George Bailey is a man on his way up.  Due to his hard work, honesty and decency he has developed a strong community support for the Savings and Loan.  In a scene that is often overlooked in the film Potter is informed by his rent collector, played by Charles Lane, perhaps the best character actor of his era, that George Bailey is a mortal threat to his operation:

REINEMAN Fifteen years ago, a half-dozen houses stuck here and there. (indicating map) There’s the old cemetery, squirrels, buttercups, daisies. Used to hunt rabbits there myself. Look at it today. Dozens of the prettiest little homes you ever saw. Ninety per cent owned by suckers who used to pay rent to you. Your Potter’s Field, my dear Mr. Employer, is becoming just that. And are the local yokels making with those David and Goliath wisecracks!

POTTER Oh, they are, are they? Even though they know the Baileys haven’t made a dime out of it.

REINEMAN You know very well why. The Baileys were all chumps. Every one of these homes is worth twice what it cost the Building and Loan to build. If I were you, Mr. Potter . . .

POTTER (interrupting) Well, you are not me.

REINEMAN (as he leaves) As I say, it’s no skin off my nose. But one of these days this bright young man is going to be asking George Bailey for a job.

This causes Potter to offer George a job, which, after being momentarily tempted, he angrily declines.  George has found his life’s work.  He doesn’t get to build a few grand projects around the globe, but many small projects in Bedford Falls, grand to those he benefits as a result.  Success is coming his way, with even the loss of $5,000.00, stolen by Potter courtesy of the absent-mindedness of Uncle Billy, being only a momentary set back.

 

It has been said that sin is its own punishment and virtue is its own reward.  I believe that.  However it is interesting how even in this often unjust world we see sin punished and virtue rewarded.  There are no guarantees, and many people will meet with justice only in the life to come, but even here on earth it is not that uncommon to see that our actions do have consequences, for ill and good.  The paths of our lives are hidden to us, but often some act of altruism we have the opportunity to perform, points us on our way.  Something to keep in mind during Advent and all the rest of the year.

2

Advent Sermons of Saint Augustine: Truth Has Arisen From the Earth

 

 

 

In our third look this Advent at sermons of Saint Augustine, he describes for us what the coming of Christ means:

 

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened ‘to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

He has become our justice, our sanctification, our redemption, so that, as it is written: Let him who glories glory in the Lord.

Truth, then, has arisen from the earth: Christ who said, I am the Truth, was born of the Virgin. And justice looked down from heaven: because believing in this new-born child, man is justified not by himself but by God.
Truth has arisen from the earth: because the Word was made flesh. And justice looked down from heaven: because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

2

Broke Into the Wrong House

Don’t underestimate those 95 year old Marines:

“I was almost standing nose to nose with him. That was a shocker,” the veteran told the Journal Sentinel. Fred added that the robber threatened to kill him and his dog if he didn’t hand over his wallet.

“I wasn’t scared. I was so damn mad,” the veteran of the war in the Pacific told reporters. The 95-year-old was able to wrestle alleged burglar, Gary Wells, to the ground before the homeowner’s daughter ran downstairs to help fight the thief off.

Fred’s motivated 51-year-old daughter Mary then took off after Wells, chasing the burglar for six blocks before catching and holding him for police. “I was mad because of what he did to my dad,” Mary said. “We jumped over two fences and ran through 12 yards,” the Marine’s daughter added.

Mary eventually caught the crook after the 53-year-old’s leg got caught on a picket fence. “It was just reflexes. I guess it rubbed off from my father.”

Go here to read the rest.  Semper Fi Sir!

4

O Holy Night

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

—H.G. Wells

Something for the weekend.   O Holy Night sung by Renee Fleming.  The English lyrics, ironically written by a Unitarian minister in 1855, powerfully convey the turning point in history that the birth of Christ brought into beginning.

 

1

PopeWatch: Begone Nerdia

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

 

Pope Francis has called for the renaming of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, saying current translations that changed it from the original “Philosopher’s Stone” to “Sorcerer’s Stone” does not make sense.

Read by millions of people across the world, the young adult fantasy novel has become a staple read in many homes. But in a recent interview, Pope Francis said that the word “Sorcerer” should be changed because it has been translated badly.

“It’s not a good translation because the Philosopher’s Stone is an actual legend dating back to 300ad whereas the Sorcerer’s Stone was simply made up,” he told TV2001. “The changing of the name implies that American children are too stupid to understand the word or, if not stupid, than clearly not being given the opportunity to learn a new word. The Harry Potter publisher Scholastic is essentially saying that American teachers actively push their students to fail. But it’s not teachers pushing anyone to fail. A teacher doesn’t do that—a teacher helps you learn how to open a dictionary.”

Last month, publishers in France agreed to switch from “Sorcerer” to “Philosopher.” The pope said he was impressed with the new wording.

Go here to read the comments.  PopeWatch attempted to contact the Vatican for comment, but was advised that the Vatican is currently under siege from hordes of fanatical Harry Potter fans, waving wands and trotting along on broom sticks, and that the Swiss guards were laughing too much to have broken the siege yet.

With that, PopeWatch will be on Christmas hiatus until January 3.  See you in the new year!

6

Star Wars Redux

 

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars:  A New Hope

 

 

Seeing The Last Jedi tomorrow with my bride and kids.  I have been dutifully trooping to see the Star Wars franchise for four decades now, and I sometimes wonder why since the story lines are usually variants of what was portrayed in the initial Star Wars movie.  Inertia I assume, and the fact that the bride and kids always wish to see the latest film.  Having said that, I will never forget the immense impact of the initial Star Wars.  In the days of the anti-hero it was a return to good guys and bad guys.  The swashbuckling aspect seemed like an old Errol Flynn movie brought forward to the seventies and placed in space.  Alec Guinness, who regarded the movie as “fairy tale rubbish”, was superb in his role and added a badly needed element of good acting.   (The film made Guinness very, very wealthy, he having shrewdly negotiated for 2.25% of the gross.  The cash he raked in made him no fonder of the film.  He would toss Star Wars fan mail away unread, worried about the impact of the film on young fans who repeatedly watched it and regarded the more fanatical Star Wars fans as barking mad.) The special effects, which now seem embarrassingly dated, were rightly considered revolutionary at the time.  Sigh.  You can never step into the same river twice, and the freshness of Star Wars is only a memory for me.

 

 

 

 

18

Clinton E-mails Investigation: The Fix Was Always In

Further evidence that the investigation that the FBI conducted of the Clinton e-mails was a bad farce from beginning to end:

 

We learned last month that an early draft of Comey’s statement on the Clinton email investigation concluded she was “grossly negligent” in her handling of classified information. Then, earlier this month, we learned that the person who edited the draft to remove that legally significant language was Trump-hating FBI agent Peter Strzok. Today, Fox News reports it has obtained an early draft of the memo which confirms the language was changed at least twice. But there were also other changes made to the document which, you’ll be shocked to learn, benefitted Hillary Clinton:

The original statement said it was “reasonably likely” that “hostile actors” gained access to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email account. That was changed later to say the scenario was merely “possible.”

Another edit showed language was changed to describe the actions of Clinton and her colleagues as “extremely careless” as opposed to “grossly negligent.” This is a key legal distinction…

The edits also showed that references to specific potential violations of statutes on “gross negligence” of classified information and “misdemeanor handling” were removed.

The final statement also removed a reference to the “sheer volume” of classified information discussed on email.

Sen. Ron Johnson, who released the draft today, said in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray that the original draft “could be read as a finding of criminality in Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified material.” In the same letter Johnson wrote there were, “repeated edits to reduce Secretary Clinton’s culpability in mishandling classified information.”

 

Go here to read the rest.  For my sins I have drafted a myriad of legal documents over the past 35 years.  With legal draftsmanship you first start with the conclusion you wish to reach and you continue to polish the language in the document until the fore-ordained conclusion is reached.  Former FBI Director Comey did the first draft of this document prior to interviewing Hillary Clinton or the other major players of the e-mail scandal.  The fix was always in as to this investigation, a fix engineered by Comey and his merry band of “non-partisan” FBI agents.  What boundless and barely concealed contempt Comey, and the other higher ups of the FBI, must possess  for the American people they purportedly serve.

1

PopeWatch: Dictator

Philip Lawler gives a review of Dictator at Catholic World Report:

 

And some of the book’s revelations will be new to any but the most attentive followers of inside Vatican news. The author reminds us, for instance, that Cardinal Bergoglio became prominent when he delivered a speech at the Synod meeting of 2001, after New York’s Cardinal Egan, who was scheduled to give the address, hurried home in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The Argentine cardinal’s speech was heartily applauded by the prelates who heard it. What they did not know, Colonna tells us, is that Cardinal Bergoglio merely read a text that had been prepared by a Vatican staff member.

The Dictator Pope also gives readers samples of a highly critical memo by Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, then the worldwide leader of the Jesuit order, written in 1991 to explain why, in his opinion, Father Jorge Bergoglio should not be made a bishop. The memo is devastating, pointing to character flaws that are confirmed throughout this book.

Indeed the most valuable service provided by the author of The Dictator Pope is the psychological portrait of the Pope: a man who follows in the footsteps of Juan Peron, the demagogic Argentine political leader of young Bergoglio’s formative years. Manipulative, hypersensitive, and often downright vindictive, Pope Francis is certainly not the cheerful populist that his supporters make him out to be. For all the talk about a “reformer pope,” the rhetoric about decentralization, and the promises of reform, the net results of this pontificate to date have been a climate of fear within the Vatican, a tightening of control, and a resurgence of the “old guard” in Rome.

The Dictator Pope concludes with a plea that the College of Cardinals should recognize the damage that has been done and, when the time comes, derail the efforts of the liberal prelates like the “St. Gallen mafia” to elect another Pontiff like Francis. Even before the conclave, the author persuasively argues, ranking prelates should fulfill their duties, resisting the public pressure exerted by an authoritarian Pontiff. It’s a compelling argument. But it would have been more compelling still if the author of this book had set an example, defied the pressure, and written this book under his own name.

Go here to read the rest.  Part of the interest in Dictator is generated by the fact that the news media has done a very poor job in ferreting out even basic facts about Pope Francis.  PopeWatch was started because of the paucity of information about our new Pope.  Five years later, the situation persists and much about Pope Francis remains mysterious and often contradictory.

General John Glover and His Marbleheaders

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

9

PopeWatch: The Devil

When it comes to the Devil, who he mentions frequently, the Pope has been preaching the truth since the beginning of his pontificate:

The Devil is more intelligent than mere mortals and should never be argued with, Pope Francis has warned.

Satan is not a metaphor or a nebulous concept but a real person armed with dark powers, the Pope said in forthright remarks made during a television interview.

“He is evil, he’s not like mist. He’s not a diffuse thing, he is a person. I’m convinced that one must never converse with Satan – if you do that, you’ll be lost,” he told TV2000, a Catholic channel, gesticulating with his hands to emphasise his point.

Go here to read the rest.  Saint Thomas More in his Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, which he wrote while imprisoned, has quite a bit to say about Satan including this passage which strikes PopeWatch as quite wise:

Some folk have been clearly rid of such pestilent fancies with
very full contempt of them, making a cross upon their hearts and
bidding the devil avaunt. And sometimes they laugh him to scorn
too, and then turn their mind unto some other matter. And when the
devil hath seen that they have set so little by him, after certain
essays, made in such times as he thought most fitting, he hath
given that temptation quite over. And this he doth not only
because the proud spirit cannot endure to be mocked, but also
lest, with much tempting the man to the sin to which he could not
in conclusion bring him, he should much increase his merit.
3

Francis Pharcellus Church, the Little Girl and Santa Claus

 

(I  publish this 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.

DEAR EDITOR:

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?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.

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

Patton’s Weather Prayer

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temperatures are quite brisk on the Illinois prairie.  Time for my annual look at General Patton’s famous weather prayer!

 

The famous “weather prayer” of General Patton was written by a Catholic Chaplain, Colonel James H. O’Neill.  Continue Reading

2

Video Clip Worth Watching: Ralph Kramden’s Christmas Speech

And away we go:

 

 

I loved watching re-runs of The Honeymooners when I was a kid.  I appreciated the fact that they were more broke than my family and, like my parents, they met that circumstance with good humor.  In the classic episode above Ralph sold his prized bowling ball to buy a Christmas present for his beloved wife Alice.

 

The late comedian Jackie Gleason, when asked his religion, would always say “Bad Catholic”.  He was once asked by a Paulist priest to appear on his  television program and talk about religion which he did, stating to the priest that Catholicism was strong enough to withstand an advocate even as bad as he was.

Continue Reading

33

Roy Moore Loses

I do not think I will ever trust polls again.  Defying almost all the polls, Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore yesterday to win the special election to fill the Alabama Senate seat.  Jones, a liberal pro-abort, will hold the seat until 2020 when he will be up for re-election.  Jones won by a 14,000 vote margin, far too large I think to be overturned in a recount, unless fraud on a massive scale occurred.  I did find it very interesting, and suspicious, last night that the votes from the two Democrat strongholds of Montgomery and Birmingham were quite late in being reported.  It reminded me of many an election night in Illinois in close state wide races, when, for some mysterious reason, the Chicago vote was very slow being reported.  Having said that, I do not expect that the election results will change.

The much ballyhooed write in effort yielded slightly over one percent of the vote total and was not a significant factor, unless one assumes that these voters would have voted for Moore, rather than stayed home or voted for Jones, which I do not.  The outcome hinged on the simple fact that a lot of Republicans stayed home and a few voted for Jones.  To add perspective to this, in November 2016 Trump clobbered Clinton with a 28 point margin and a total vote margin of 1.3 million to around 729k for Clinton.  Jones got fewer votes than Clinton did and Moore got about half of the votes that Trump did.  A huge number of Republicans were MIA.

Doubtless there will be attempts to hang this defeat around the neck of Trump, which is absurd.  This was all about Moore.  Absent the scandals he would have prevailed, probably with about the same 4 point margin of victory that he enjoyed in his last state wide race in 2012.

Almost all of the polls completely missed what was coming, and in close races the polls seem to be currently about as predictive as tossing a coin, or looking at chicken entrails.

4

PopeWatch: Dictator

Lifesite News has an interview with the author of Dictator:

 

The author assumes the pseudonym of a real historical figure named Marcantonio Colonna. Born in 1535, Colonna was an Italian aristocrat who served as a Viceroy of Sicily and is best remembered for his service as admiral of the papal fleet in the Battle of Lepanto.

About the author’s true identity, we are only told in the brief biographical note accompanying the book that he is “a graduate of Oxford University and has extensive experience of historical and other research. He has been living in Rome since the beginning of Pope Francis’s pontificate, and his book is the fruit of close contacts with many of those working in the Vatican, including the leading Cardinals and other figures mentioned in the narrative.”

In an email exchange with Marcantonio Colonna, we discussed why he wrote The Dictator Pope, what he hopes the book will achieve, and the most surprising discovery he made in his research.

LifeSite: Why did you write ‘The Dictator Pope’?

Colonna: The popular image of Pope Francis is one of the most extraordinary deceptions of the present time, and contrasts totally with the reality of Bergoglio’s character as it was known in Argentina before his election and is known in the Vatican today. My aim was to let the cat out of the bag and to set out, in a series of studies of policies followed over the past five years, the true nature of Francis’s pontificate.

What do you hope the book will achieve?

I don’t know whether my book could have the effect of encouraging cardinals and other churchmen to tell Francis, “The game’s up.” Perhaps not. But what I principally had in mind was trying to avoid a similar mistake being made again in the next Conclave. My aim was to expose the myth of the supposedly liberal Pope who was elected in 2013 and to urge the cardinals at the next Conclave to avoid electing an unknown figure who turns out to be quite different from what he had been thought.

If your main concern is to see that a similar mistake not be made at the next Conclave, why did you not simply send a report privately to the cardinals. Why go public? Some readers may wonder if the book might do more harm than good, by fostering division and ill will toward Pope Francis among the faithful.

The notion that the College of Cardinals as a whole would read a 60,000-word book sent to them privately is wholly unrealistic. Moreover, the book needs to have the credibility that comes from having been made public and recognized as true by those who know the Vatican. And the cardinals do not make their choice in a vacuum. When they vote in the next Conclave, it needs to be in a context in which the whole Church has recognized the imposture that has been practiced upon it and realizes that we need a Pope who is primarily a man of God and not a politician.

What did you find most interesting, surprising, or shocking in your research?

In fact my book is mainly based on a long series of articles which have already exposed many aspects of Francis’s pontificate, but the world’s media have preferred to take no notice of them. A personal contribution of mine has been to transmit to the rest of the world the estimate of Bergoglio that had long been held in Argentina. In researching Bergoglio’s past, one of the most significant pieces of evidence I came across was the report written by his religious superior [Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach] in 1991 when it was proposed to make Bergoglio a bishop. The Jesuit General wrote that Bergoglio was not suitable for such an appointment, that he was a man of devious character, lacking psychological balance, and had been a divisive figure as Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina. The existence of this report has long been known, and I received the account of it from a priest who read the document himself at the time.

 

Go here to read the rest.  The first of many tell all books in regard to this kidney stone of a pontificate.

4

Festivals of Light

 

Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival.

 

Josephus

 

 

 

 

 

I have always thought it fitting that Christmas and Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, are so close together usually on the calendar.  This year Hanukkah will begin this evening December 12 and will end on December 23.  Approximately 160 years before the Coming of Christ, the Jews revolted against the Seleucid Empire.  This was one of the most important struggles in all of human history.    It determined that the Jews would remain a people set apart, worshiping Yahweh, and not become, like so many peoples before and since, a lost people, blended into larger populations, their God forgotten.  It was this revolt, led by Mattathias, his name meaning “gift of Yahweh”, and his sons, known collectively as the Maccabees, that is told in First and Second Maccabees.  The revolt was successful, but ultimately, through civil wars and the overpowering military might of Rome, the Jews again fell under foreign domination, and Jesus was born into a world ruled by Rome.  However, the revolt established that the Jews would remain a separate people, worshiping their God and safeguarding their faith.  This was an essential element in setting the stage for the coming of Christ. Continue Reading

6

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Miracles, Facts and Fancy

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most dramatic appearances of Mary in history, when Mary, in the guise of an Aztec princess, appeared to Saint Juan Diego (his pre-conversion name of Cuauhtlatoatzin translates as “Talking Eagle”), a Mexican convert, on December 9, 1531 as he strode to Mass and was passing by the base of Tepeyac hill.  She spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native tongue, and told him to go to Archbishop Juan de Zumarraga, the primate of Mexico, and tell him that she wished for a shrine to be built on Tepeyac hill.  She also gave him this message: “I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me , of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Archbishop told Diego he would not believe in his encounter with Mary unless he had a sign.  Our Lady told Diego to visit the Archbishop again, but Zumarraga repeated his request for a sign.   Returning to Tepeyac, Diego again encountered Our Lady who told him to present himself to  Archbishop Zumarraga and give to him roses he was instructed to pick.  Roses growing in Mexico in December were a miracle in and of themselves.  Diego did as he was bidden, and when he presented the roses to the Archbishop, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted on his tilma, his peasant’s cloak, where the roses had been held by him.  News of the miracle spread throughout Mexico and before the decade was out some eight million Mexicans converted to the Faith.  A chapel was built on Tepeyac and Diego cared for it and the image as a religious hermit until his death in 1548 at 73.

Doubts have been raised about whether Juan Diego existed due to the lack of contemporary accounts.  However, these doubts were quashed, at least any reasonable doubts, in 1995 with the coming to light of the Codex Escalada which has been dated to the sixteenth century.  It bears the date of 1548 and is an illustrated account of the apparition with text in Nahuatl describing the encounter between Juan Diego and Mary.  The document bears the signature of  Father Bernadino de Sahagun, a missionary priest and historian in Mexico, and a contemporary of Juan Diego.  The first mention of the image in Spanish is in 1556 in a sermon preached by Archbishop Alonso de Montufar, the successor to Archbishop Zumarraga, in which he recommended devotion to the image.  Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe spread rapidly throughout the Catholic world, with Genoese Admiral Andrea Doria having a copy of the image on his flagship during the decisive Christian victory at the battle of Lepanto in 1571. Continue Reading

3

PopeWatch: Dictator

The book Dictator, among its many passages, has this interesting section:

 

 

In contrast, the dedicated but politically hapless Benedict XVI, it emerges, was deceived in more ways than one by his power hungry, avaricious long-time secretary, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Among other achievements, Bertone, without his former boss’s knowledge, allowed more than 400,000 euros from the papal children’s hospital to be streamed into the restoration of his vast apartment.

Bertone duped Benedict to the last, when the former pope entrusted him with the task of lobbying for the tough, orthodox patriarch of Venice, Angelo Scola, to succeed him as Pope when he resigned in February 2013. Bertone did not want Scola and ignored the instruction. It opened the way for Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who, in a curious twist, appears to have been expecting Benedict’s abdication. He had been subtly lobbying US cardinals for some time and he had the backing of the “St Gallen mafia’’, a liberal, anti-Ratzinger cabal of European cardinals.

Pope Benedict had his gifts, but red capped thieves at the Vatican were apparently running rings around him.

8

GoodFacts v. RealFacts

A stand out performance by the late Jerry Doyle, who was one of the few contemporary outspoken Hollywood conservatives, as Security Chief Michael Garibaldi in the always underestimated sci fi show Babylon 5.  This sequence shows the difference between GoodFacts and RealFacts.  Orwell put it succinctly:

 

The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

Linus and Saint Luke Explain It All

 

 

 

 

 

As an explanation of why we celebrate Christmas each year, the below video is superb and concise.

 

The words of Linus are of course taken from the Gospel of Saint Luke:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Continue Reading

17

PopeWatch: Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate

The squalid war against the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate continues apace, and Rorate Caeli gives us the grim details:

 

  • The FSI (Sisters) were assigned a commissioner (Noris Adriana Calzavara of the Suore Rosarie di Udine) and two co-commissioners by a decree of the Congregation for Religious. Since the Congregation did not have its decree approved in forma specifica by the Pope, it was open to be challenged in the Signatura. The challenge resulted first in a reduction of the powers of the commissioners. It looked as though a further challenge would lead to the decree being be overturned altogether early this year. 
  • However, before it was overturned, the Congregation went to Pope Francis and got his personal approval for a fresh assignment of the same commissioner. This was obviously very demoralizing for the sisters, who thought they were about to regain their autonomy.
  • The FSI have been ordered by their commissioner not to accept postulants for three years. The Sisters, which we are told numbered around 500 before these attacks, now amount to half of that.
  • The FSI are closing their House in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which ends their North American Mission as there will be not a single convent left in the United States. 
  • The FFI (Friars) were forced to close and end their Australian Mission earlier in the year. We hear the Sisters may leave as well, but do not have solid enough reporting on this to say it’s 100%. But we feel compelled to report it if there’s any chance of exposure and pressure stopping the move. 
  • About that same time of the Austrian Mission ending, Archbishop Ramon Cabrera Argüelles of Lipa, was “resigned” from his episcopacy. He was guilty of having approved a public association of the faithful made up of ex-FFIs, but since that’s not a crime, he was accused of — and apparently framed for — something unrelated.
  • In late January/early February, the FFI commissioners spoke of having the General Chapter of the Institute this past September. The Chapter would approve the new constitutions and elect the new Minister General, and the Congregation’s approval of this would end the period under a commissioner. Multiple sources tell us the principal targets of the reform appear to be the Marian Vow and poverty in common (i.e., the rule that not only individual members, but also the Institute as a legal person, are not capable of having property).
  • The Marian Vow has, in the view of many Friars, been eliminated in the new formula of profession promulgated with “dubious legality” and used in the professions in Italy in September of last year. The Friars did not vow to live in total consecration to the Immaculate (which comports three juridical obligations defined in their present constitutions), but vowed total availability to go to the missions in view of their consecration (which is the third of those obligations). 
  • It was surprising to those who asked for a commissioner that the issue of the traditional Latin Mass has disappeared and been replaced by other changes they did not desire. Some sort of prohibition in this sense might be included, but it is clearly not the main interest of the commissioners.
  • The General Chapter has obviously not been held. It is reasonable to think that this is because it would not achieve the desired end (the gutting of the constitutions), although no reason has been announced. 
  • The number of Friars interested in eliminating the Marian Vow could probably be counted on one hand, and perhaps on one finger. Therefore it is necessary (1) to significantly stack the deck in terms of voting members of the chapter, or (2) to convince those voting that the Marian Vow has not been eliminated, but merely clarified, or (3) to find Friars willing to vote for constitutions they don’t like but are willing to accept for secondary motives (exaggerated respect for the Holy See, fear of suppression, etc.)
  • Another possible (and likely) reason why the General Chapter has not taken place is that the commissioners have still not succeeded in getting control of the goods the Institute uses. These goods belong to non-profits, which are controlled by laymen, so that the Institute does not have effective ownership of anything. At the beginning of February, when the Congregation and the commissioners thought they could hold the chapter is September, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli was ordered to hand over ownership of the goods to the Institute, but he simply replied he has no legal power to do so.
  • While we can say the Sisters have been halved to 250 with some confidence, we cannot report on the current number of Friars, although we know of many who have left the order to another, or left for the world. We know of seminarians — some who were ready to be ordained to various positions the day after the seminary was closed! — who lost their vocations. There used to be a yearbook listing all of of the friaries and Friars, but the commissioners no longer publish them. They don’t even distribute a list of addresses and phone numbers for the friaries.

Go here to read the rest.  This war against the faithful is the current pontificate in miniature.  This Pope is not technically an anti-pope, but he is certainly the almost complete opposite of what a pope should be.  May God forgive him and the Cardinals who elected him.

 

12

Moore v. Jones: A Pre-Mortem

Well, the Roy Moore v. Doug Jones race will be mercifully over tomorrow, and all current polls show Moore ahead.  Nothing is ever certain in politics, but it looks like Moore is headed to victory.  A few observations:

 

  1.  Alabama is a very red state.  In the divided state of our politics today, it is almost as hard for a Democrat to win a state-wide race in Alabama as it is for a Republican to win a state-wide race in California.
  2. If the scandal card is played, do it close to the election.  Moore had enough time to recover from the scandal allegations, and he did.
  3. The national news media is really, really hated by conservatives.  Moore has received somewhat worse coverage from the media than a reincarnated Hitler would, and that fact probably redounds to his advantage in Alabama.
  4. Gloria Allred.  If you are trying to win an election in a red state, having Gloria Allred do one of her dog and pony press conferences is death on ice for the candidate she supports.
  5. Beware of evidence too good to be true.  The whole scandal began to unravel with the yearbook.  Evidence too good to be true, is usually too good to be true.
  6. The impotence of the Never Trumpers.  Organized Never Trumpers have waged a proxy fight against Roy Moore as part of their ongoing war against Trump, which is beyond peculiar since Moore was not Trump’s first pick.  At any rate it demonstrates that the Never Trumpers are a group of chiefs without Indians.
  7. God bless Al Franken and John Conyers.  The antics of Democrats in Congress took the heat, and some of the media, off Roy Moore.  The Democrats think they have turned the corner on this.  I wouldn’t bet on it.  Republicans when they behave like pigs around women are hypocrites.  Democrats when they do so could fairly state, if they were honest, that they were merely emulating some of the most respected members of their party, including Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy andTed Kennedy.  More to come on both sides of the aisle, but I bet much more to come from the Democrats, who haven’t held up fidelity in marriage as an ideal since Truman.
  8. The Republican establishment is really, really hated by the base of the party.  Roy Moore has been a huge kidney stone for decades for the Alabama GOP and this fact has greatly aided his political career.
  9. Your money is no good here.  Since the scandal card was played against Roy Moore, Doug Jones has been awash in cash.  He is outspending Moore seven to one and he completely dominates the airwaves,  The primary effect of all this spending  seems only to have served to make Roy Moore’s voters more eager to vote.
  10. Abortion.  Alabama is a very pro-life state and Jones is in favor of abortion until the umbilical cord is cut.  The abortion issue is the prime reason why Moore’s voters stayed with him immediately after the scandal broke.
  11. Where dah white women?  Note to Democrats.  When you are attempting to play the race card to drive up the black vote, many blacks find it highly offensive when you produce a brain dead flyer that paints a black man eager to be a sexual predator.

Update:  Two final polls out today.  The Emerson College poll shows Moore with a nine point lead and a Fox News poll which shows Jones with a 10 point lead.  Some pollster is going to be wiping egg off their faces after tomorrow.

5

Advent Sermons of Saint Augustine: the Son Became Man

In our second look this Advent at sermons of Saint Augustine, we read in matchless prose what it meant for the Son to become Man:

 

 

In the bosom of His Father, He existed before all the cycles of ages; born of an earthly Mother, He entered upon the course of the years on this day. The Maker of man became Man that He, Ruler of the stars, might be nourished at the breast; that He, the Bread, might be hungry; that He, the Fountain, might thirst; that He, the Light, might sleep; that He, the Way, might be wearied by the journey; that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses; that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge; that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust; that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips; that He, the Grape, might be crowned with thorns; that He, the Foundation, might be suspended upon a cross; that Courage might be weakened; that Security might be wounded; that Life might die. To endure these and similar indignities for us, to free us, unworthy creatures, He who ‘existed as the Son of God before all ages, without a beginning, deigned to become the Son of Man in these recent years. He did this although He who submitted to such great evils for our sake had done no evil and although we, who were the recipients of so much good at His hands, had done nothing to merit these benefits. Begotten by the Father, He was not made by the Father; He was made Man in the Mother whom He Himself had made, so that He might exist here for a while, sprung from her who could never and nowhere have existed except through His power.