Ferguson Ate My Homework

 

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.

Uh huh.

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Letter to the Pope

 

 

Truth

 

 

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Putting a Bit of Stick About

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

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 stick
by Pietro di Marco
December 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.

→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Patton’s Prayer

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.      →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Do Bad Reporters Go to Heaven?

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

 

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

December 15, 1865: Battle of Nashville Begins

Battle of Nashville

 

 

 

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. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Ho Hum: While US Debates Torture Report, Four Christian Kids Beheaded by Isis

 

While the US debates the issue of torture against captured terrorists a decade ago, four new young Christian martyrs were created:

 

 

Four young Christians were brutally beheaded by ISIS in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, according to a British reverend forced to flee the country.

Canon Andrew White, known as the Vicar of Baghdad, told the horrifying story how of the youths, all under 15, were murdered for standing up to the jihadists.

The vicar of the city’s St George’s Church, the only Anglican church in the whole of Iraq, has had to leave the country for Israel amid constant threats on his life by Islamic State.

In a harrowing interview with the Orthodox Christian Network, he said ISIS had killed ‘huge numbers’ of believers in Jesus.

‘Islamic State turned up and said to the children, “you say the words that you will follow Mohammad”’, he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

‘The children, all under 15, four of them, said “no, we love Yesua; we have always loved Yesua; we have always followed Yesua; Yesua has always been with us”.

‘They [ISIS] said, “Say the words.” They [the children] said, “No, we can’t”.

‘They chopped all their heads off. How do you respond to that? You just cry.

‘They are my children. That is what we have been going through and that is what we are going through.’

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.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-Third Sunday in Advent

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. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Francis Pharcellus Church, the Little Girl and Santa Claus

(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.

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. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Soviet Union and Tetris

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.

Prayer Request

Saint Jude

 

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.

PopeWatch: The Shawshank Redemption

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

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

 

 

A routine Sunday morning for the Dufresne family took a sudden turn last week after 8-year-old Andrew Dufresne escaped from the cry room of Shawshank Cathedral in Maine.

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.

Parental authorities reported a few minutes after Mass was out that Dufresne’s parents walked into the cry room and found it empty, save for a random poster of Rita Hayworth hanging from the wall.

“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.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Silver Bells

Something for the weekend.  Silver Bells.  Damon Runyon and Bob Hope make an odd but potent combination in The Lemon Drop Kid (1951).  Based very, very loosely on a short story by Damon Runyon, the film is filled with the usual Runyon collection of colorful and humorous, unlike crooks in real life, gangsters.   Hope takes center stage as the Lemon Drop Kid, a cowardly and incompetent, in other words the personae Hope normally assumed in his film comedies of this period, racetrack tout.   He dreams up a scam involving the establishment of an old age home for old gangster wives and molls in order to pay off gangster Moose Moran the $10,000.00 he owes him, and to escape Moose having surgery performed upon him sans anesthesia.

In the end, nobler sentiments stir within him, and Hope foils the gangsters, saves the old age home and stages an affecting reunion on Christmas eve between an elderly gangster released from prison and his wife, Nellie Thursday, after whom the old age home is named.  Hope is ably supported by a superb cast including Lloyd Nolan, William Frawley and Marilyn Maxwell.  The song Silver Bells featured in the video clip at the beginning of this post, which has become a Christmas favorite, made its debut in this film.

Torture Debate Golden Oldies

9-11 jumpers

With the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, which does its mendacious best to blame the CIA for enhanced interrogation methods (torture) while giving Senate Democrats the Sergeant Schultz defense, I know nothing, nothing!, Mark Shea has decided to climb Mount Sinai again and damn every one who disagreed with him as to the inherent evil of torture:

Now that the Torture Report is out and we are discovering that the lies we listened to for so long (We only waterboarded three high value targets! We had to do it to save lives!  Valuable intel!  Are you telling me that some filthy terrorist is more important than an unborn baby in your sick twisted liberal mind?) are all exposed as appalling lies, it’s important to do an examination of conscience.  Why?  Because we Catholics consistently supported torture in larger percentages then the average American population.  And the more we self-described as “faithful conservative” and “prolife” the more likely we were to do so.  God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of us. (Romans 2:24)

The ugly fact is that in our fear and rage, we became the thing we hate.

Go here to read the rest.  The comments are a hoot: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Synod Chicanery

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Chicanery, to be polite, is afoot in regard to the Synod next year.  Father Z gives us the details.

 

 

 

The outline of features for the next Synod of Bishops in October 2015, or Lineamenta, has been released.  The Lineamenta is based on the last Synod’s final document, the Relatio Synodi.  For the Relatio, the members of the Synod voted on each paragraph.  According to the Synod’s own rules, established and approved by those appointed by Pope Francis to run the Synod, in order to be included in the Relatio each paragraph had to receive a 2/3’s majority of voting members.  Some paragraphs, on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and on homosexuality, very controversial paragraphs, did not receive 2/3’s as a sign of “consensus”.  They received 1/2, but not 2/3’s (therefore, not “consensus”).  That means that they shouldn’t have been included in the Relatio Synodi.  However, Pope Francis decided that they should be included anyway.  He overrode the rules of the Synod.  The only way you can tell that those particular paragraphs were not supposed to be included is a) to know the rules (which most people don’t) and b) look at the voting stats included in the Relatio (which most people don’t).

Many have the sense that those who are guiding the activities of the Synod are trying, like border collies, to drive the members of the next Synod to a predetermined position.

There is a precedent.  For example, during the last Synod, there was the midpoint report on what was discussed in the first phase, the Relatio post disceptationem.  Some paragraphs appeared in that midterm report, apparently written by Archbp. Bruno Forte.  They concerned, for example, homosexuality.  However, the paragraphs seem not to have resembled anything that was actually said by the members during the first part of the Synod.  In am amazing and, for the Holy See, unusual feat of efficiency, somehow the organizers of the Synod managed – mirabile lectu – to get the midpoint Relatio translated into five languages, bound, and distributed to the members.  By way of contrast, the final Relatio was released in Italian only, and then there was a provisional English version published not by the Synod office but by the Press Office.  It is hard to find and riddled with translation errors.

It is hard to watch this and not wonder about manipulations that aim at a specific outcome.

In any event, the Left has not been idle since the close of the Synod last October.  Watch the catholic media.

A great deal is going to take place on the rhetorical battlefield between now and the opening of the next phrase, next October.

For example, much is going to be made of the questions that are woven into the Lineamenta, questions that go to conferences of bishops for their subsequent exploration.

Among the questions…

Concerning communion for the divorced and remarried is no. 38:

“Sacramental pastoral practice with regard to the divorced and remarried requires further examination, also with the evaluation of the Orthodox practice and taking into consideration ‘the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances.’ What are the perspectives in which to act? What are the possible steps? What are the suggestions for avoiding undue or unnecessary forms of impediments?”

One concern homosexuality is number 40:

“How does the Christian community turn its pastoral attention to families that have within them persons with homosexual tendencies? Avoiding all unjust discrimination, in what way can it care for persons in such situations in the light of the Gospel? How can it present them with the requirements of God’s will in their situation?”

These are the most hotly debated questions partly because they have significant impact on other foundational dimensions of the Church’s doctrine and practice.

Here is an authoritative reaction.

 

Today at Sandro Magister’s place, one of the Cardinals who contributed to the Five Cardinals Book, His Eminence Velasio Card. DePaolis delivers some blunt words.  The book was called, by the way,  Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church.

Card. De Paolis wrote, and I am jumping in medias res and adding my emphases and comments:

The proposition, to the extent to which it provides for the possibility of admitting the divorced and remarried to Eucharistic communion, in fact constitutes a change of doctrine. [That’s it!] And this [get this…] contrary to the fact that it is said that there is no intention to modify doctrine. Moreover, doctrine by its very nature is not modifiable if it is the object of the authentic magisterium of the Church. Before talking about and dealing with any change in the discipline in force, it is necessary to reflect on the nature of this discipline. In addressing this matter one must, in the first place, reflect on this doctrine and on its level of firmness; there must be careful study of what can be modified and what cannot be modified. The doubt has been insinuated into the proposition itself when it calls for exploration, [get that?] which must be doctrinal and prior to any decision.

We can also ask ourselves if it is the competency of a synod of bishops to deal with a question like this: the value of the doctrine and discipline effective in the Church, which have been formed over the course of centuries and have been ratified with statements on the part of the supreme magisterium of the Church. Moreover, who is competent to modify the magisterium of other popes? [NB…] This would constitute a dangerous precedent. Furthermore, the innovations that would be introduced if the text of the proposition were approved would be of unprecedented gravity: [That’s code for “total disaster”.  So, what are we talking about here?  Perpend…]

a) the possibility of admitting to Eucharistic communion with the explicit approval of the Church a person in a state of mortal sin, with the danger of sacrilege and profanation of the Eucharist; [Which, if you believe in what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, is bad.  Alas, many people approach the Eucharist as “they put the white thing in your hand, we sing the song, and we all feel good”.]

b) doing this would bring into question the general principle of the need for the state of sanctifying grace in order to receive Eucharistic communion, especially now that a generalized practice has been introduced or is being introduced[get that?  did you?] into the Church of receiving the Eucharist without previous sacramental confession, even if one is aware of being in grave sin, with all of the deleterious consequences that this practice involves; [For consequences see St. Paul’s 1 Cor 11.]

c) the admission to Eucharistic communion of a believer who cohabits “more uxorio” would also mean bringing into question sexual morality, particularly founded on the sixth commandment; [Which is GOD’s positive law.]

d) this would also lend support to cohabitation or other bonds,  [guess what kind] weakening the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.

Blunt language for important questions in troubled times.

Be sure to get the Five Cardinals Book™ and see what DePaolis says there! →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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 Giovanni Andrea Doria having a copy of the image on his flagship during the decisive Christian victory at the battle of Lepanto in 1571. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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