4

Nap Time

 

From LarryD at Acts of the Apostasy:

 

SLEEPY HOLLOW – Three-year-old Remy Nodderson took full advantage of the gospel at Sunday’s Mass, as the priest read the long form rather than omitting the bracketed sections, allowing him to get what he called “the best nap I’ve had in weeks”.

“I was all prepared to throw a Category 6 tantrum,” Remy told AoftheA News. “It welled up inside me during the Responsorial Psalm, and I felt it cresting during the second reading. But when Father went long form for the Gospel? It was lights out, baby.”

Remy’s nap on the cushioned, soft-as-a-cloud pew bench, his head supported by his dad’s comfortably weathered leather jacket, lasted until the Sign of Peace, when his older sister Corma stepped on his face as she reached out to hug her mother.

“Yeah, if she hadn’t shoved her Florsheim up my nose, I would’ve slumbered like a baby through Holy Communion, nestled safely against daddy’s shoulder. I thought about screaming like a stuck pig for maybe half a second, but damn, that nap was soooo good. I really couldn’t care less.”

Remy yawned, stretched his little limbs, and cracked his knuckles. “Sure, my parents are grateful now. Wait til it’s 2 in the morning, and they’re still trying to make me go to bed.” Continue Reading

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Happy 89th Your Holiness!

Pope Benedict Miss Me Yet

“I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator…leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us…. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined. There are too many contrary instances of popes the Holy Spirit would obviously not have picked.”

Cardinal Ratzinger, 1997

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PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

POpe

PopeWatch is a teetotaler, but his heart was gladdened by the above picture of Pope Benedict and friends hoisting some beers in celebration of his 88th birthday.  It brought to mind this statement by Hilaire Belloc from The Four Men: 

It was five miles since we had last acknowledged the goodness of God in the drinking of ale, which is a kind of prayer, as it says in the motto :

 “Laborare est orare sed potare clarior

which signifies that work is noble, and prayer its equal, but that drinking good ale is a more renowned and glorious act than any other to which man can lend himself. And on this account it is that you have a God of Wine, and of various liquors sundry other Gods, that is, imaginations of men or Demons, but in the matter of ale no need for symbol, only that it is King. Continue Reading

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The Girl Who Reversed Agincourt

 

Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.

Sir Winston Churchill

By the death of King Henry V in 1422 it seemed as if the English had succeeded in conquering France.  Then God chose otherwise.  Three years old at the time of Agincourt, by the time of the end of her short life on May 30, 1431, Joan of Arc had set in motion forces that would result in the utter defeat of the English.  She transformed a squalid dynastic squabble into a crusade for the French.  One of the examples of the direct intervention of God in human affairs, the brief history altering life of Saint Joan of Arc has attracted the admiration of the most unlikely of men, including the Protestant Sir Winston Churchill, and the agnostic Mark Twain who called his book on Joan of Arc the finest thing he ever wrote.  She was not canonized until 1920, but almost all of her contemporaries who met her had no doubt that she was a saint sent by God.  Some of the English who were present as she was burned at the stake cried out that they were all damned because she was a saint.   Jean Tressard, the Treasurer of Henry VI, King of England, wrote the following soon after the execution of Joan:   ”We are all lost for it is a good and holy woman that has been burned. I believe her soul is in the hands of God, and I believe damned all who joined in her condemnation”.  With Saint Joan humanity came into contact with a messenger from God, and the result to her was as predictable as it was lamentable.  However, the outcome of her mission was exactly as she had predicted.  The weak Dauphin that she had crowned would reign as Charles VII and end the Hundred Years War in victory for France, something that none of his contemporaries thought remotely possible before Joan embarked on her mission.  With courage and faith she altered the course of the history of France and of all the world.

On January 26, 2011 Pope Benedict spoke of Saint Joan: Continue Reading

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Quotes Suitable For Framing: Pope Benedict XVI

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“Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in fascile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. Moreover, the confessio peccati, to use an expression of Saint Augustine, must always be accomplished by the confessio laudis – the confession of praise. As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace which, even if contained in earthenware vessels, has borne fruit that is often excellent.”

Pope Benedict XVI

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PopeWatch: Mystery

PopeWatch2-199x300

 

One of the deeper mysteries currently in the Church is why the Pope Emeritus resigned.  Ostensibly for health reasons, more than two years later he is still with us, quite healthy for a man of 87.  If the resignation was not done for health reasons, why?  Pope Benedict has suggested that he had a mystical experience that caused him to resign.  If so, why didn’t he indicate that at the time?  Andrea Gagliarducci at Monday Vatican gives us the latest speculation:

According to Fr. Fausti, Cardinal Martini, already gravely sick, met with Benedict XVI on June 2, 2012, on the occasion of the World Day of Families in Milan (Cardinal Martini later died on August 31, 2012). When he met the Pope, he told him: “You cannot reform the Curia, you can’t do anything else than give up.”

Benedict XVI had come back very tired from the trip to Mexico and Cuba, at the end of the preceding March. During that summer he began speaking about the possibility of resigning with his closest collaborators who tried to discourage him from taking that decision. In December 2012, Benedict XVI called a consistory for the creation of six cardinals (no Italians, no Europeans, no curialists among them) in order to “re-balance” the College of Cardinals, and on February 11, 2013, he publicly declared his intention to resign from the active exercise of the Petrine ministry.

But according to Fr. Fausti, the resignation was already programmed from the beginning of the pontificate in case things did not to go as planned. And it was even planned since the conclave of 2005, when Cardinal Martini transferred his votes to Cardinal Ratzinger in order to avoid the “dirty games” of cardinals aiming at eliminating both of them as contenders so that they could elect instead “a man of the Curia, very shrewd, who could not make the cut,” Fr. Fausti revealed.

“Once he caught on to the trick, Cardinal Martini went to talk to Ratzinger in the evening, and he told him: ‘Accept your election as Pope tomorrow with my votes. You should accept, as you have been working in the Curia for 30 years and you are intelligent and honest. If you are able to reform the Curia, ok, if you cannot, you can leave office.’”

This narrative is certainly suggestive, and it reveals some aspects that are generally not taken in consideration. First, in 2005, the distinction between conservative and progressives had become outmoded. This development was certified by the longstanding Vatican-watcher Giuseppe De Carli, who announced in his book “Breviario del nuovo millennio” that the conservative-progressive dialectic was outdated.

Secondly and consequently, Cardinal Martini and Cardinal Ratzinger were not on different sides. Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, proved this when he presented the third book on Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI. Speaking at the beginning of the presentation, Fr. Lombardi read aloud some of Cardinal Martini’s statements, among them, “I wanted to write a book on Jesus, then Ratzinger did everything I would have done.” This from the cardinal loved by progressives.

However, this interpretation of the 2005 conclave has some holes in it. First, Fr. Fausti said that Cardinal Martini had a bigger number of votes than Ratzinger – a detail that all those involved at various level in the conclave and also the famous “Diary of the Conclave” dismiss. Ratzinger was always in first place in every poll, and Cardinal Martini was not even taken in consideration as a candidate, given that he was already suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The identity of the “shrewd cardinal of the Curia” is also a mystery. If we lean toward accepting as valid the reconstructions of the “Diary of the Conclave”, there were no other curial cardinals on stage, and the only opponent to Benedict XVI’s election was Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Eight years later, the name of Bergoglio was proposed once again, from almost all the same old cardinals of the Curia who placed him among the “papabili” eight years earlier.

So, Pope Francis’ election conveyed the message that the pontificate of Benedict XVI was just an isolated parenthesis in the history of the Church, and that the cardinals had perhaps been mistaken in their earlier approach, while today, with Cardinal Bergoglio’s election, they were setting out on a more just path, closer to the spirit of the world. Continue Reading

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Pope Benedict on D-Day

On the 6th of June, 1944, when the landing of the allied troops in German-occupied France commenced, a signal of hope was given to people throughout the world, and also to many in Germany itself, of imminent peace and freedom in Europe.  What had happened?  A criminal and his party faithful had succeeded in usurping the power of the German state. In consequence of such party rule, law and injustice became intertwined, and often indistinguishable. The legal system itself, which continued, in some respects, still to function in an everyday context, had, at the same time, become a force destructive of law and right. This rule of lies served a system of fear, in which no one could trust another, since each person had somehow to shield himself behind a mask of lies, which, on the one hand, functioned as self defense, while, in equal measure, it served to consolidate the power of evil.  And so it was that the whole world had to intervene to force open this ring of crime, so that freedom, law and justice might be restored.

We give thanks at this hour that this deliverance, in fact, took place. And not just those nations that suffered occupation by German troops, and were thus delivered over to Nazi terror, give thanks. We Germans, too, give thanks that by this action, freedom, law and justice would be restored to us.  If nowhere else in history, here clearly is a case where, in the form of the Allied invasion, a justum bellum worked, ultimately, for the benefit of the very country against which it was waged.

Continue Reading

11

PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

John Allen, from his new perch as a Boston Globe columnist, notes recent actions taken in support of Pope Francis by the Pope Emeritus:

 

First, his closest aide and confidante, German Archbishop Georg Gänswein, gave an interview to the Reuters news agency on Feb. 9 in which he insisted there’s “a good feeling” between Francis and Benedict, and that the two men see one another often.

Second, Benedict XVI made a surprise appearance at a Feb. 22 consistory ceremony in which Francis elevated 19 new cardinals into the church’s most exclusive club, sitting in the front row and beaming during the event.

When Francis made his way over to wrap Benedict in a hug, the pope emeritus removed his white zucchetto, a skullcap that’s one of the symbols of the papal office — a small gesture that told insiders he was acknowledging Francis as the new boss.

Third, Benedict responded in writing to questions by veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli concerning speculation that he’d been pressured to step down and therefore his resignation was invalid under church law. Following that reasoning to its logical conclusion, it would suggest that Francis isn’t really the pope.

Benedict dismissed the hypothesis as “simply absurd.”

“I took this step in full awareness of its gravity and novelty but with profound serenity of spirit,” Benedict wrote in comments published Feb. 26. “Loving the church also means having the courage to make difficult, painful choices, always keeping the good of the church in mind and not ourselves.”

Fourth, Gänswein, who still acts as Benedict’s private secretary and who lives with the former pope in a monastery on Vatican grounds, gave another interview to the Washington Post in which he said the two pontiffs didn’t know one another well at the beginning but are becoming steadily closer. Continue Reading

7

The Cross: Sign of God’s Life

A Good Friday meditation on the Cross by commenter Greg Mockeridge.

Out of all Christian symbols, the sign of the Cross is by far the most significant. In the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths, the blessings given by priests, which are believed to convey actual grace, are given with the sign of the Cross.


The Cross also symbolizes one of the cruelest forms of capital punishment ever inflicted in human history. So it should be no surprise that this “sign of contradiction” is seen by many as the largest “stumbling block” of the Christian faith.


Such reaction, while superficially understandable, ignores a foundational truth of human experience large and small as attested to by history: the greatest of life’s triumphs and successes have always come on the heels of the worst failures and horrors.


This truth finds it fulfillment in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord.


While believing firmly in the truth of this great paradox, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Cross symbolized something more than just a paradox, a deeply profound paradox though it may be.


In reading what then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now pope emeritus Benedict XVI) had to say regarding the sign of the cross in his book Spirit of the Liturgy, I believe my hunch was vindicated. The sign of the Cross is the sign of God’s mark on creation prior to being a sign of crucifixion.
He states: Continue Reading

10

There Is Not Just One Way To Be Pope

One of the things that’s been bothering me (as well as several other good bloggers I read) in the days since the election of Pope Francis is the seeming need of many to identify a single cookie-cutter model which every “good” pope most follow. I recall some of this when Benedict succeeded John Paul, but it was perhaps more muted both by a certain gravity stemming from John Paul’s very public death and funeral, and also by the fact that the although we certainly lived in a “new media” age then, it hadn’t gained the dizzying speed which social media has since provided to “reax”.

Thus it seems as if much of the coverage of the new pope boils down to, “Francis isn’t as intellectual and liturgically focused as Benedict, so he’s not as good” or else “Francis is so ‘humble’ and focused on the poor, he’s clearly a much better pope than Benedict”. Then there’s the next level of escallation in which each side tries to steal the virtues of the other: Oh yeah, well if Francis were really humble he wouldn’t insist on simplicity, which is really a subtle exercise in saying “look at me”! You say Francis cares about the poor and about simplicity? Well look how much Benedict cared about the poor and about simplicity!

I think this quickly gets silly, and more to the point it starts to act as if there is only gone right way for the pope to act. The fact is, being the shepherd of God’s flock on earth is a job large enough that there are multiple different ways of doing it that are right. (Which is not to say that every way is right, obviously, we’ve had some pretty bad popes over the centuries.)

It seems to me that John Paul II’s dense intellectualism combined with his oversize and highly charismatic personality was arguably exactly what the Church needed at the time of his pontificate — as we emerged from a time in which it seemed like the roof was coming down and everything was up for grabs. Benedict’s liturgical focus was another thing that the Church desperately needed at the time that he was chosen — and I think that his ability to write deeply yet clearly was also a huge need. If John Paul II’s struggle to incorporate Catholic teaching and a moderl philosophical understanding of the human person were something very much needed in our modern era, I at the same time suspect that Benedict’s books (both his books about the life of Christ and the many books he wrote prior to his pontificate) may actually be read more often by ordinary Catholics in the coming decades than anything that John Paul II wrote.

Similarly, I think that Francis’ intentional simplicity is something that we need to see in our pope at times. This is not to say that Benedict and John Paul were not simple. They were, though in different ways. But while not every saint needs (or should) be simple in the sort of over-the-top way that our pope’s namesake St. Francis of Assisi was, St. Francis nonetheless remains a good saint to have. That it is good that we have St. Francis as an example does not mean that every other saint is the less for not being St. Francis. (I mean, let’s be honest, St. Francis could be kind of nuts.) And similarly, admiration of Pope Francis’s qualities need not, and indeed should not, be turned into a criticism of other popes for not being like him in every way.

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Atheist Defends Pope

 

 

Hattip to Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report.    I have always had a sneaking liking for magician and atheist Penn Jillette.  I disagree with most of what he says, but he always honestly says what he thinks, never simply to be part of the herd of independent thinkers, and he obviously attempts to think through his beliefs on the various topics he comments upon.  Go to New Advent here to see him defend the Pope Emeritus against “Catholic” Piers Morgan.  (I am afraid that I took delight in finding out that the wretched Piers Morgan, ratings plummeting, is a liberal “Catholic”.)

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Pope Benedict XVI’s Helicopter Ride Full of Historical Images and Analogies

It was a stunning video, one full of historical and modern analogies all pointing to back to the man (Pope Benedict XVI) and the institution he ran (the Catholic Church.) The helicopter ride Pope Benedict XVI took from the Vatican to Castel Gandolfo flying over modern Rome and the ancient landmarks known the world over, such as the Coliseum and the Apian Way made for a breath taking array of images. For faithful Catholics one of the illuminating high points of watching papal transitions is the fact that the mainstream media is not always in control.

The historic images speak for themselves which must be somewhat maddening to those who have to throw their digs into the Church that Christ Himself started via Peter. NBC News anchor Brian Williams made the mainstream media’s point Friday on the lead off segment of the NBC Nightly News when he stated the Catholic Church does images well, but there is scandal behind the images we see. One could say the exact same thing about the mainstream media’s coverage of the White House and yet nary a word of that sort is heard.

Perhaps the helicopter ride of the Holy Father made many of the media’s gatekeepers cringe because those historical landmarks (the Coliseum, the Apian Way) were like many modern secular government’s landmarks, supposedly everlasting. If someone would have told the Roman power structure in Diocletian’s time that within 100 years Rome would be Christian and the empire would be gone, howls of laughter would have echoed through the Pantheon. Modern secular leaders and the often militant secular scholars whom they follow, view traditional Christianity much in the same way those in the seats of power in Rome once did, something that should have no influence or bearing on the affairs of its citizens.

Though a towering intellectual giant, Pope Benedict XVI is a simple man who never wanted to be Pope and pleaded that Pope John Paul II let him go back to Bavaria and write when then Cardinal Ratzinger reached the age of 75. His gentleness was seen in the Conclave when it was said he won many of the Third World Cardinal’s votes. It is said that he did so because he showed a kind father or grandfatherly hand when other princes of the Church were perhaps not so welcoming upon the Third World’s prelates arrival in Rome. This sort of gentleness coupled with a refusal to water down the truth made the man from Bavaria a towering figure in the history of the Church. Often the stature of towering figures grow with time, unlike our pop culture heroes whose legacy becomes all too often faded and forgotten. Continue Reading

4

Resignation Questions

 

Pope Benedict will  resign his office today.  I wish him all the best.  I can only imagine the burden he lays down now.  Actually I can’t.  Being the Vicar of Christ and having the responsibility of shepherding His Church?  Only the men who have have filled the shoes of the Fisherman can have any comprehension of what must be the crushing weight of that office.  I hope he enjoys his well earned rest.  What are the practical long term consequences of his decision?

1.  What does the old Pope think? The new Pope will have to deal with something none of his predecessors had to deal with:  an aggressive world wide media incessantly trying to ask Benedict how his successor is doing.  I am confident that Benedict will remain mum, but that will not stop rumors from constantly arising as to whether he is pleased or displeased with the actions of his successor.  If this resignation starts a trend in popes resigning, then this may be something new for future popes to have to wrestle with.

2.  Will Benedict write his memoirs?  I doubt it, but it is a possibility.  Popes commenting on their own papacy in retrospect is something new under the sun.

3.  New ammo for the sedevacantists?  Opposition to the new Pope, and opposition there will doubtless be, on the fringes may argue that he is not really Pope because the resignation was invalid.  Since popes have resigned before I do not find this argument logical, but I am certain this will be made.

4.  Push for a papal mandatory retirement age?  There is already a mandatory retirement age of 70 for priests and 75 for bishops and archbishops.  I always have thought this was an unwise act on the part of Paul VI and I fear that there may be a push for such a mandatory retirement age for popes.

5.  Psst, did you hear the Pope is going to resign?  The Vatican has always been a rumor mill and now we will have a new one.  Whenever a Pope sneezes the rumors are going to fly. Continue Reading

12

Armchair Pontiffs Come Out of the Woodwork

Perhaps because it happens in sports, entertainment and politics, we knew it was bound to happen with pontificates. However, judging the accomplishments of holy leaders is a little different than judging whether a coach should have used a 4-3 defense, a President has the right tax policy, or a film director allows too little or too much dialogue.

Our friends in the mainstream media, especially those of the unabashed liberal persuasion (they seem less bashful in using that term these days) have certainly not backed away from critiquing Pope Benedict XVBI’s pontificate. However, even our friends on the political and theological right have taken their shots at the Holy Father as well.

Watching Morning Joe on MSNBC can certainly cause an orthodox minded Catholic to contemplate pulling their hair out. A recent episode in which Mika Brzezinski and Mike Barnicle, two northeast liberal Catholics, critique the current Holy Father’s pontificate and implore the upcoming conclave to change the direction of the Church by listening to the criticism of militant secularists seemed more than a little ridiculous. The Reverend Al Sharpton chimed in to tell the audience that African cardinals certainly don’t represent his views on the world (Thank God.)

The whole episode should have been a Saturday Night Live skit, but sadly they meant every word of it. The Western Left shouts from the rooftops about diversity, but when it comes right at them via the Third World, well then it really isn’t diverse. The Left preaches change but would never change their views to reflect reality, i.e. the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (among others) insisting Washington doesn’t have a spending problem. All too often they unwittingly enjoy relishing in the Dictatorship of Relativism (coined by Pope Benedict XVI.) By doing so they unknowingly echo the words of Pontius Pilate, who said, “What is truth?”

In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I note that the infamous American Bishop Shelby Spong dismissed his fellow African-Anglican clergy’s views on social teachings because they were in his words, “only one generation removed from Animism and their brand of Christianity was superstitious.” In rebuttal to Bishop Spong, the late Catholic priest, Father Richard John Neuhaus noted that there were a higher percentage of African-Catholic Cardinals with PhD’s than were those from Western Europe or North America.

Sadly, even some of our friends on the theological and political right have taken the opportunity to pile on what they view as the mistake prone pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. One of the more interesting critiques came from Joseph (Jody) Bottum, the former Editor of First Things. On a personal note, I owe a great deal of gratitude to Mr. Bottum who referenced a very early article of mine in one of his First Things article. Actually the positive reaction that stemmed from it helped convince me to right my first book. However, some of Mr. Bottum’s assertions in this Weekly Standard article on the pontificate of Benedict XVI should not go unanswered. Continue Reading

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Resignation Rumors

Well this was inevitable.  When something that hasn’t happened for almost six centuries happens, there are going to be rumors about why it is happening:

VATICAN CITY – With just days to go before Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the Vatican is battling rumours that his decision was triggered by an explosive report on intrigue in its hallowed corridors of power.

The secret report compiled by a committee of three cardinals for the pope’s eyes only was the result of a broad inquiry into leaks of secret Vatican papers last year — a scandal known as “Vatileaks”.

The cardinals questioned dozens of Vatican officials and presented the pope with their final report in December 2012, just before Benedict pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele who had been jailed for leaking the papal memos.

The Panorama news weekly and the Repubblica daily said on Thursday that the cardinals’ report contained allegations of corruption and of blackmail attempts against gay Vatican clergymen, as well as favouritism based on gay relationships.

The Vatican has declined to comment on these two reports, with spokesman Federico Lombardi saying they were “conjectures, fictions and opinions.”

In an interview with El Pais, one of the investigating cardinals, Julian Herranz, said the scandal was “a bubble” that had been “inflated”.

“There will be black sheep, I am not saying there are not, like in all families,” he said, adding that the investigators had “spoken to people, seen what works and what does not, lights and shadows”.

Speaking to Italy’s Radio 24, Herranz said the idea that “Vatileaks” might have influenced the pope’s decision was one “hypothesis” among many others.

“These are decisions that are taken personally in the deep of one’s conscience and they must be profoundly respected,” the 82-year-old said.

At his final public mass last week, Benedict himself condemned “religious hypocrisy” and urged an end to “individualism and rivalry”.

“The face of the Church… is at times disfigured. I am thinking in particular of the sins against the unity of the Church,” he said, without elaborating.

Continue Reading

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Klavan on Pope Benedict

Andrew Klavan, the mystery writer and humorist I have often quoted on this blog, is a big fan of the Pope:

Pope Benedict, as I’ve said before, is the Last European, by which I mean the last great man and mind who fully comprehends the beautiful but now dying culture that produced him.  It’s appalling to me–though not surprising–that the only thing the mainstream media ever covers about him is how often he apologizes for the abuses of some priests or how politically incorrect his view of gay people is or whatever.  I have now read a good selection of his writings and when the work of Foucault and Derridas and de Man and the rest of that benighted lot has toddled off to the obscurity it so dearly deserves, Benedict’s writings will stand.  They may be the final flares of genius to fly up from the continent he loves before darkness closes over it.

I’m not a Catholic.  My views on authority and sexual morality are too individualistic.  But when I see the level of thought coming out of Anglicanism  – especially the low and despicable crypto anti-semitism in the cowardly guise of anti-Zionism – and then read the grace-filled, spirit-inspired work of Big Ben, well, I’m embarrassed.

********************************************************************

B-16′s greatness doesn’t lie in his papacy. Or that is, if it does, I wouldn’t know. It’s his writing, his theology, his thought that elevate him in my mind. When I was but a youngish dude, pounding my way through the great works, it seemed to me that the wisdom of many of the great German thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries had been thrown aside for no good reason. Kant and Hegel had philosophically rescued the essence of Christianity for the scientific age, and had been ultimately left behind by mainstream thinkers not because they were wrong, but because they were just sort of out of keeping with the atheistic spirit of the day.

As Nietzsche understood, that God-is-dead zeitgeist would perforce lead to moral relativism. And so it has. But Ratzinger, shrugging off the zeitgeist like the cheap suit it is, humbly went on tilling the Kantian and Hegelian fields, making his way back not just to the essentials of Christianity but to the sacred person of Christ himself. Continue Reading

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Fools to Judge his Papacy

Pope Benedict

I have always shuddered when a Pope dies because I am filled with dread of what comes next:   Endless reams of bad commentary by people who pretend to know something about the Vatican but who usually succeed only in revealing their bone ignorance of the subject.  The resignation of Pope Benedict I expect to inspire more of the same.

First up is John Moody, Executive Vice President, Fox News, and a former Vatican correspondent, who takes Pope Benedict to task for what he perceives to be a failed papacy.  Pope Benedict’s main crime appears to be that he was not Pope John Paul II:

By contrast, Benedict’s meek initial outings were public relations meltdowns.  His smile, though genuine, looked somehow sinister, as if he were about to bite  his audience. Determined to restore the Church’s luster in Europe, where it is  often treated like a dotty old aunt, Benedict gave a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006  that appeared to denigrate Islam. The non-Catholic world howled; the Vatican  cringed and apologized.

On his first visit to the U.S. as pope, Benedict offered contrite apologies  for the Church’s ham-handed treatment of the U.S. church’s sex scandal involving  its priests. Even the pope’s humble mien did not satisfy some, who pronounced  him cold and unfeeling toward the plight of victims of clergy abuse. He joined  the Twitterati, but his first attempt was a sterile: “I am pleased to get in  touch with you through Twitter. I bless all of you from my heart.” At least he  stayed under 140 characters.

In nearly eight years, Benedict issued three encyclicals – direct messages to  the faithful that often reveal a pope’s enthusiasms and interests. Benedict’s  first – entitled “God is Love” — is a caressing, simply worded, logic-based  reassurance that our Lord loves us. Yet even his writing about love suffers in  comparison with John Paul’s towering, intellectual yet intimate canon of  work.

None of which lessens Benedict’s place in the line of Vicars of Christ. His  decision to resign was a brave one, based on personal humility, in keeping with  his message to the faithful that the things of Earth are transient, but the  promise of heaven lasting and infinite.  For that he should be  remembered.

Continue Reading

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Pope Benedict XVI, A Pontificate Steeped In Humility

Pope Benedict XVI has taken the ultimate step in humility and has decided to resign, because he felt the duties of the Petrine Ministry were too important to continue in a diminished state. I have no doubt that this will be the wave of the future for successive popes. Our previous Holy Father, Pope John Paul II soldiered on to help the show the world that disability was no disgrace. However, Pope Benedict XVI must have felt that since that example was already shown to us, he would chart a different path.

The humility of the Holy Father was first seen when then Father Josef Ratzinger had his sister listen to his homilies and his college seminary lectures for he did not want to go over the heads of his parishioners and seminary students. The Holy Father was somewhat of a prodigy as a child. Though he liked to play soccer with the rest of the boys in Traunstein, a small town in Bavaria, he realized he would never become a great athlete, so he throw himself into his studies and into the History and workings of religion in general and Catholicism in particular.

During the eight years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI reached out to everyone, the poor, the marginalized, the wealthy and creative, those of other faiths, schismatic Catholics as well as those whose world views were totally different than his. However, the man from Bavaria never compromised on the issue of truth; he railed against the Dictatorship of Relativism and against the idea of social engineering which seems to have engulfed the Western world.

Continue Reading

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Pope Resigning

There is a report just in that Pope Benedict is resigning on February 28.

VATICAN CITY) — Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign Feb. 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals Monday morning.

This would be the fifth time that a Pope has abdicated in the history of the Papacy, the most recent being Pope Gregory XII in 1415.  Further details as they come in.

Update:  Here is the statement of the Pope:

Continue Reading

7

Pope Addresses Our Truly Confused Age

 

 

We live in a time of technological wonders and “let’s pretend” denial of basic facts of the human condition.  Pope Benedict looked at one pernicious aspect of this “let’s pretend” mindset in an address on December 21:

 The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man. Continue Reading

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Both World Wars Were A Catalyst For Religious Growth; What Future Tragedy Will It Take For Another Revival?

Sadly it often takes tragedies for religious faith to grow. It seems an unfortunate part of our fallen nature. We have been hit by a spate of tragedies as of late; in its wake we often see churches full of worshippers seeking answers where once there were but a few. Following both world wars, there existed a religious resurgence that unlike the recent tragedies did not ebb and flow. It remained constant due in large part to the horrific loses of human life.

Modernism was alive and well and condemned by the likes of Pope Pius X even before the Guns of August began in 1914. The Catholic and Protestant churches were increasingly seeing relativistic elements entering their seminaries. However unlike recent times, they were quickly addressed. Though we are gaining the upper hand, it has been 40 years since Pope Paul VI lamented that “The Smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. In my just released book; The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn, I speak about the positive events occurring within the Church, as well as those movements who aim to do us harm. In addition, the book delves into how we got into this mess in the first place.

Following World War I there was a great return to religious devotions, especially those having to do with the Blessed Mother. The events of Fatima which had occurred during the war and were being followed closely around the Catholic globe. As I mentioned in my article on the Schoenstatt Movement, the likes of Father Josef Kentenich chastised theological authorities who were giving short shrift to these devotions as well as those who dismissed popular devotions to those who recently passed away like the future Saint Therese of Lisieux (The Little Flower.) Father Kentenich reminded these scoffers that Jesus did indeed say that we must become like little children if we are to enter the Kingdom.

The well heeled of Europe and many American ex pats found their way to Paris to rebel against the religious side of the equation. On the whole, they were a gloomy lot who seemed to drown their sorrows in all matter of drink and sexual exploits which only made them more unbearable. Some even found their way to more exotic locales like Casablanca, as did the fictional Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) in the epic film Casablanca. Continue Reading

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Bleeding Christians

The two churches nearest to him, I have looked up in the office. Both have certain claims. At the first of these the Vicar is a man who has been so long engaged in watering down the faith to make it easier for supposedly incredulous and hard-headed congregation that it is now he who shocks his parishioners with his unbelief, not vice versa. He has undermined many a soul’s Christianity. His conduct of the services is also admirable. In order to spare the laity all “difficulties” he has deserted both the lectionary and the appointed psalms and now, without noticing it, revolves endlessly round the little treadmill of his fifteen favourite psalms and twenty favourite lessons. We are thus safe from the danger that any truth not already familiar to him and to his flock should over reach them through Scripture. But perhaps bur patient is not quite silly enough for this church – or not yet?
At the other church we have Fr. Spike. The humans are often puzzled to understand the range of his opinions – why he is one day almost a Communist and the next not far from some kind of theocratic Fascism – one day a scholastic, and the next prepared to deny human reason altogether – one day immersed in politics, and, the day after, declaring that all states of the world are equally “under judgment”. We, of course, see the connecting link, which is Hatred. The man cannot bring himself to teach anything which is not calculated to mock, grieve, puzzle, or humiliate his parents and their friends. A sermon which such people would accept would be to him as insipid as a poem which they could scan. There is also a promising streak of dishonesty in him; we are teaching him to say “The teaching of the Church is” when he really means “I’m almost sure I read recently in Maritain or someone of that sort”. But I must warn you that he has one fatal defect: he really believes. And this may yet mar all.

CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

 

Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who takes up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have designated him Defender of the Faith, has a brilliant fisk at Midwest Conservative Journal detailing how upset some Episcopalians are at the Pope, because so many other Episcopalians are swimming the Tiber:

I said once before that if one of the marks of a genius was the ability to drive otherwise-sane people absolutely bat crap, then Pope Benedict XVI is Albert Einstein.  Come to find out that some Episcopalians are STILL bent about the Ordinariate.  Last weekend, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly did a story about a Maryland Episcopal parish that recently swam the Tiber:

In Bladensburg, Maryland, the Catholic service unfolds smoothly, a comfortable routine for priests and parishioners alike.

But one year ago, members of St. Luke’s parish were devout, devoted Episcopalians. This is the first Episcopal church in the country to convert to Catholicism under Vatican rules designed to attract disaffected Episcopalians.

Father Mark Lewis and his congregation preferred Roman Catholic order to the Episcopal tendency to make crap up as they go along.

We left the Episcopal Church not because we were running away from the issues of the Episcopal Church. We left the Episcopal Church because we were running to the Catholic Church. We came to the point where we realized the theology of the Episcopal Church is what was lacking. The theology of Rome, the authority of Rome, the unity in the Holy See and in the bishops: that was appealing to us.

As did Father Scott Hurd.

There is a real hunger amongst some Episcopalians and Anglicans for authority. It was the question of where can true Christian authority be found that was a key element in this community’s journey.

There wasn’t one particular reason, said congregant Stephen Smith.  There were a whole lot of reasons, each building on the last.

There’s not any one real incident you can point to, but it’s like the strands of a rope giving one by one, and each one weakens the rope as a whole.

Anne Marie Whittaker agrees.

All of a sudden it was do-your-own-thing mass, and there was a lot going on, for instance, a clown mass. I would come in and someone put a red nose on me! I saw children circling altars. One by one, parishes started to succumb to some of these practices in order to attract people, and it made it difficult for me to worship in that atmosphere.

Maryland Episcopal Bishop Eugene Sutton tried hard to be diplomatic.

I like to say that we are really one spiritual family. We believe about 90 percent of things in common. Where we disagree is on matters of authority and some other spiritual matters. But the important thing is that we are not fighting; we are not in competition with one another.

On the other hand, the Rev. Ian Markham, president and dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, didn’t even try to hide his anger at the papists.

There’s quite a lot of traffic currently going both ways between the two traditions, especially at the level of congregants. What’s interesting here is you’ve got entire congregations and clergy making the shift. So, yeah, I think the Roman Catholic Church is a threat, because we’ve lost the sense of our theological understanding and identity.

How so?

There was a perception that this was poaching by the Roman Catholic Church of Anglicans around the world. It was discourteous, it was stealing sheep, it was unecumenical.

Stealing sheep?  Unecumenical?  In what way?

It’s viewed as not recognizing the value of and integrity of our traditions.

I’ve been covering the Current Unpleasantness since it began nine years ago.  And while some of you might feel the need to get into a theological argument with that line, I have arrived at a point where words like those just make me smile.

I wonder if Markham realizes how pathetic he sounds; I can’t conceive of an Orthodox or Roman Catholic Christian uttering those words or ever feeling the need to.  Because those words could not possibly occur to any person who is confident about his or her Christian tradition as Markham seems to imply here. Continue Reading

2

Fortnight For Freedom Day 2: Martyrs for the Liberty of the Church

 

The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

Sir Winston Churchill

 

 

Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the second of these blog posts.

June 22, is the feast day of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, the two great martyrs of the Church who died for the liberty of the Church when King Henry VIII, in order to secure a divorce, sundered the Catholic Church in England from the Catholic Church and placed this new Anglican Church under his control.  Throughout her history the Church has stood foursquare against the attempts by governments to exercised domination over her, and More and Fisher were two in a very long line of martyrs who have died fighting against such attempts.

Continue Reading

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Need Reader Input: Who Are The Top 10 Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops?

 I would like some help in identifying the most active, passionate, orthodox American Catholic Bishops currently serving. It is a cultural thing that we seem to love rating everything- not a bad thing- and I have a personal interest in this topic because I want to offer my services to a Bishop who needs someone who gets the following Big Three Realities that I have been focusing on in my last three postings here at American Catholic.

 

1. The Obama Administration is threat #1 to the continuance of our Hierarchical Catholic Church- here in America and since we are a Superpower in worldly terms this could damage a big chunk of Christendom. I do not speak as an Obama-basher with Republican talking point tie-ins- I was a lifelong Democrat who only recently gave it up to become an Independent, not Republican. My realization about the Obama threat emerged slowly after being absorbed in a national Catholic Democrats listserve with some of the real heavyweights- like FOB (Friend of Barack) Vicki Kennedy. It was clear to me that Kennedy with her fellow travelers in Catholic universities, and liberal Catholic political organizations, have been intent on much much more than just getting more traction in American policies and legislation for a few political issues often neglected by the conservative-Right. There is blood in the water for the Church Hierarchy due to the notorious Minor Abuse Scandals. These prominent Catholic Dems seem intent on using whatever power they can muster to force changes in the Church to cut the Hierarchydown to size- replace the Teaching Authority with liberal Catholic college professors and liberal political activists who will “save” the Church from irrelevance among the youth. We have seen that President Obama has been systematically assisting in this process- not openly- but consider his choice of Joe Biden as VP with his pro-choice, pro-gay marriage beliefs, and Kathleen Sebelius as HHS Secretary who is pushing contraceptives down everyone’s throats, and I suspect we’ll see that Justice Sotomayor is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage eventually. The threat to religious liberties will hit the Catholic Church Hierarchy first, with the contraceptives mandates and then gay marriage will turn the Catholic Church Catechism into Hate Literature and every orthodox Catholic into a bigot along the lines of the old school racists back in the 60’s. No one wants to be a racist- so I’m sure that Vicki Kennedy et al are counting on most American Catholics to simply abandon their Bishops’ leadership and embrace her brand of progressive Catholicism which is Obama-cool. So- me thinks the Bishops need a few folks around who see this danger and are willing to stand with the Bishops and the Catechism. I’m here to help.  Here’s a link to my piece on the Catholic Dems/Obama “conspiracy”-  http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/31/obama-working-willfully-to-undermine-hierarchical-catholic-church/

 

2. Having this information about the Obama-Catholic Dem elite battleplan is useful- but I am also interested in assisting a good Bishop at the parish level with practical steps- all perfectly legal- for assisting the process of cultivating a new breed of orthodox Catholic political leaders. Pope B teaches us to free ourselves from ideologies in his last encyclical- the social doctrine of the Church is the stuff we need more of in America- the reason we keep swinging wildly from Republican to Democrat in the races for political power is that at the gut level most people get that each Party has got some things right and some things wrong. There is no Party of God- even if right now the mainstream Democratic Party represents the greater threat to the Church/Christ- we are still talking about lesser evils. The Catholic social doctrine is about building civilizations of love- this is the positive vision that is the corrective of narrow ideologies which feed on anger for the most part. The way to bring Christ’s Way into the marketplace of ideas in American political thought and debate is for more fully informed and inspired Catholic voices to emerge and assume the responsibilities of leadership at every level of our society. There is so much that we could do in every parish and school-  here is my POA (Plan of Action) which I would love to bring into a parish in a diocese where the Bishop is aware and involved to guide the development- I’m not interested in being a lone ranger or riding against the wishes of the local Bishop.  Here’s the Plan-  http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/10/wanted-orthodox-catholic-political-leaders-time-to-get-serious/

 

3.  Finally, my long experience in the trenches of Catholic high schools has left me with many thoughts on how to inculcate a genuine Catholic identity which has a chance of being transmitted to our very distracted youth. I would love to be part of an orthodox Bishop’s team to help select passionately orthodox Catholic administrators/teachers/staff to be in place to give life witness, along with instructional guidance, to budding disciples of Christ. You can’t give what you don’t have- so if we want Catholic students to come out the other side in love, or more in love with Christ and His Church- then you don’t load up the schools with adults who are full of dissenting views from the Catechetical teachings of the Church. I’m not saying everyone has to be some kind of a stepford-wife cheerleader type of Catholic- we all have our personalities- but if you are an adult working in a Catholic school you should be someone who is thirsty to know what the Church teaches and why- especially if it pertains to your particular discipline or area of responsibility. I get into a lot more detail beyond just the staffing issue in my article below.  I am open to returning to the teaching field or entering new territory in administration under the right Bishop in a diocese that really wants to play it straight-up as a passionately Catholic institution -without being satisfied with a PR-level Catholic Identity which produces nice dog and pony shows for visiting bishops and parents- but scratch the surface and where is the love for the Church? If you fall in love with the Church you will just want to know more and more and to share more and more with the youth and everyone you meet- am I right?  Here’s the last link-  http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/04/16/a-vision-of-catholic-education-from-the-front-lines/

 

OK- if you are still with me- here is how you can help- write out up to 10 names(and email addresses if you have them!) of Dynamically Orthodox Catholic Bishops here in America- with the name of their Diocese.  You can order them according to your own rating system. I want to follow the science here and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line- I want to begin a new mission in using whatever talents I possess for the sake of Christ and His Church- I have tried to use these talents to produce something helpful to preserve and protect the Hierarchical nature of our Catholic Church- If Christ didn’t desire a Hierarchy why bother with Apostles- He could have just had disciples with no leadership inherent in the Church- but He didn’t- evidence from Scripture, history and logic all persuaded me in my Truth Quest. I don’t want to just apply for jobs blind to the leadership in a given Diocese. Leadership matters, that’s why leaders get targeted all the time, and why assassinations are so unfortunately common throughout human history. I want a meaningful mission within the Church and short of that I will do whatever I can do to provide for my wife and four young children- this is my story and why I need our Reader’s Input. Brother (Sister) can you spare a moment and share what you know? God Bless you.

64

The Anti-Catholic Party

Cardinal Dolan yesterday released this statement regarding Obama’s announcement that he had “evolved” and now, as he did in 1996 when first asked about it, supports gay marriage:

 

May 9, 2012 WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued the following statement:

President Obama’s comments today in support of the redefinition of marriage are deeply saddening. As I stated in my public letter to the President on September 20, 2011, the Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by the President and the Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. However, we cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better. Unfortunately, President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his Administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. I pray for the President every day, and will continue to pray that he and his Administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons.

When the Tokugawa shogunate was stamping out Christianity in Japan, it made use of Fumi-e (stepping on pictures).  Regime officials would place pictures of Jesus or Mary before suspected Christians and order them to step on them.  Refusal to do so, if persisted in, would end in execution.  In our own country we are seeing the growth of a movement just as antithetical in theory to Catholicism and traditional Christianity as the Tokugawa shogunate, and it finds its home in the Democrat party. 

What we have seen over the past few decades is the evolution of the Democrat party into an overtly anti-Catholic party.  The Obama administration is the culmination of this trend.  This of course is deeply ironic, because the Democrat party is a major party in this country with the help of the votes of tens of millions of purported Catholics.

In the past four decades the Democrats, with honorable exceptions, have championed abortion which is anathema to the teachings of the Church.  The embrace of homosexuality followed, which has caused governments around the nation to drive the Church out of adoptions because the Church refuses to arrange adoptions by homosexual couples.  In California, a state wholly controlled by the Democrat party, homosexual indoctrination, masquerading as education, is now mandated in public schools.  For cynical political purposes the Obama administration this year has proposed that Catholic institutions, and individual Catholic employers, be required to provide “free” contraceptive coverage, and is quite willing to run roughshod over the First Amendment to accomplish this goal.  Now we have the President’s support of gay marriage, although, until he further “evolves” I guess, he “generously” stated his opinion that churches opposed to gay marriages should not be required to officiate at them.  These changes in society are the modern Fumi-e by which believing Catholics and traditional Christians are made to renounce, in effect, the teachings of Christ step by step. Continue Reading

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Pope Benedict on Saint Athanasius, a Saint For Our Times

 

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

                                                        CS Lewis

Saint Athansius stood for the Trinity at a time when the Emperor, Constantius, was Arian, and much of the Church in the East had embraced some form of Arianism.  Exiled five times by Constantius and his successors, Athanasius was a pillar of iron who never bended and tirelessly proclaimed the Truth, no matter the forces arrayed against the Truth.  His relevance for our day needs no elaboration from me.  Here is Pope Benedict on Saint Athanasius: Continue Reading

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Happy Birthday to the Pope!

As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy. I thought that I had done my life’s work and could now hope to live out my days in peace. I told the Lord with deep conviction, ‘Don’t do this to me. You have younger and better (candidates) who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.’ Evidently, this time he didn’t listen to me.

Pope Benedict XVI

 

Happy 85th birthday your Holiness!  If I attain that age in 3o years and have a quarter of your mental acuity I will consider myself deeply blessed!

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Pope Benedict Easter Vigil Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  Easter is the feast of the new creation.  Jesus is risen and dies no more.  He has opened the door to a new life, one that no longer knows illness and death.  He has taken mankind up into God himself.  “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, as Saint Paul says in the First Letter to the Corinthians (15:50).  On the subject of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection, the Church writer Tertullian in the third century was bold enough to write: “Rest assured, flesh and blood, through Christ you have gained your place in heaven and in the Kingdom of God” (CCL II, 994). Continue Reading

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Pope Benedict’s Sermon on Freedom in Revolution Square

Yesterday Pope Benedict capped off his visit to Cuba with a huge mass in Revolution Square in Havana.  The theme of his homily, freedom, probably made the Cuban officials at the mass squirm, at least I certainly hope so.  Here is the text of the Pope’s homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

“Blessed are you, Lord God…, and blessed is your holy and glorious name” (Dan 3:52). This hymn of blessing from the Book of Daniel resounds today in our liturgy, inviting us repeatedly to bless and thank God. We are a part of that great chorus which praises the Lord without ceasing. We join in this concert of thanksgiving, and we offer our joyful and confident voice, which seeks to solidify the journey of faith with love and truth.

“Blessed be God” who gathers us in this historic square so that we may more profoundly enter into his life. I feel great joy in being here with you today to celebrate Holy Mass during this Jubilee Year devoted to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

I greet with cordial affection Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, and I thank him for the kind words which he has addressed to me on your behalf. I extend warm greetings to the Cardinals and to my brother Bishops in Cuba and from other countries who wished to be in this solemn celebration. I also greet the priests, seminarians, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful gathered here, as well as the civil authorities who join us.

In today’s first reading, the three young men persecuted by the Babylonian king preferred to face death by fire rather than betray their conscience and their faith. They experienced the strength to “give thanks, glorify and praise God” in the conviction that the Lord of the universe and of history would not abandon them to death and annihilation. Truly, God never abandons his children, he never forgets them. He is above us and is able to save us by his power. At the same time, he is near to his people, and through his Son Jesus Christ he has wished to make his dwelling place among us in.

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31). In this text from today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals himself as the Son of God the Father, the Saviour, the one who alone can show us the truth and give us genuine freedom. His teaching provokes resistance and disquiet among his hearers, and he accuses them of looking for reasons to kill him, alluding to the supreme sacrifice of the Cross, already imminent. Even so, he exhorts them to believe, to keep his word, so as to know the truth which redeems and justifies. Continue Reading

1

The Pope in Cuba

Apparently, he’s staying busy.

SuburbanBanshee has two very good posts on the topic– the first has the great opening of “seldom have I enjoyed myself more watching a speech at an airport.”  The second one is on what he said at Mass, with the bonus of an honorary mention of the Swiss Guard Ninja Death Squad Elite.  (Which doesn’t exist.)

Have I mentioned lately that the fellow has guts?

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Prayer for the Pope in Cuba

 

“There is not one single social or economic principle or concept in the philosophy of the Russian Bolshevik, which has not been realised, carried into action, and enshrined in immutable laws a million years ago by the White Ant.”

                                                              Winston Churchill

Let us pray today for Pope Benedict while he is in Cuba that, like Moses, he may help lead a people in bitter bondage out of slavery.  Pope Benedict XV named Our Lady of Charity patroness of Cuba in 1916, and therefore we will beseech her aid:

Our Lady of Charity, we humbly ask you to intercede with Our Lord, Your Son, for your suffering people in Cuba.  Inspire the hearts of your people to turn to God and pray for their deliverance from sin and from the tyranny that has deprived them of their freedom for more than five decades.  Strengthen Pope Benedict as he brings the truth of Christ to your people of Cuba longing for that truth and for spiritual and temporal freedom.  Let this year O Lady, if it be the will of God, be a year of Jubilee and Freedom for all Cubans.  We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

 

7

Pope to Castro: Drop Communism!

Pope Bendict has a simple message for Castro:

 

Speaking on the plane taking him from Rome for a five-day trip to Mexico and Cuba, the pope told reporters: “Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality.

Responding to a question about his visit to the island, a communist bastion off the coast of the United States for more than 50 years, Benedict added: “In this way we can no longer respond and build a society. New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way.”

Benedict offered the help of the Church in achieving a peaceful transition on the island, saying the process required patience but also “much decisiveness.”

“We want to help in a spirit of dialogue to avoid traumas and to help move forward a society which is fraternal and just, which is what we desire for the whole world,” the pope added. Continue Reading

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Rick Santorum & the Data Behind the Catholic, Evangelical, Youth & Women’s Vote

The divide between the truth of the election results and the punditry of the mainstream media is seemingly growing every major primary election night. Perhaps none more than the recent Super Tuesday results, especially those of Ohio. How could it possibly be that Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator won the youth vote, all voters under 44, and the married women vote? If one listens to the mainstream media, especially that of NBC, MSNBC and the New York Times one would think the only people voting for Rick Santorum would be rust belt pre-Vatican II ordained Catholic priests, and an amalgamation of southern characters such as Jed Clampett, Mr. Haney, as well as some assorted extras from the set of Deliverance. However, the true exit poll results tell us something quite different.

The mainstream media seemed shocked that Rick Santorum didn’t win the Catholic vote and won the Evangelical Vote as well as the others I indicated earlier; young people and married women. I want to delve into the nitty grtty of the statistics and demographics in a few paragraphs but first let me give you some background on those in the heartland who became liberals even though they grew up in GOP circles and folks like myself who became conservative after growing up in a Democratic household.

I grew up in a working class steel and railroad town in Ohio. My family, like many around us was Democrat in party affiliation and social conservative in our mindset. I was educated in Catholic schools (during the 1970s & 80s) and though it was the warm fuzzy era of Catholic education, our nuns and lay teachers never completely bought into the liberal model that was so the rage in cool, upscale areas. Continue Reading

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An Administration at War With Our First Freedom

“Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.”

James Madison, Federalist 10

The video above is from the Heritage Foundation and incisively sets forth how ObamaCare is at war with religious liberty.  The Founding Fathers made it clear that they viewed freedom of religion as being at the core of the framework of what they were seeking to accomplish:

 

“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart.  In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”

George Washington

 

 

 

“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

Patrick Henry

 

 

 

 

 

The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

James Madison

 

 

 

“Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”

Charles Carroll of Carollton

 

 

Pope Benedict recognizes the threat to religious freedom that exists in our country:

In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.

Here once more we see the need for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture and with the courage to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society. The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level. Continue Reading

9

HHS Mandate Hastens The Demise Of Liberal Catholicism & Ensures The Growth of Catholic Orthodoxy

In a bizarre way President Barack Obama, through his Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS) has united religious orthodoxy across the spectrum as never before. In its wake liberal religiosity is going the way of striped pants, bell bottoms and lava lamps; something that is only seen on rare occasions usually when too much alcohol is flowing. At the precipice stands liberal Catholicism, for soon there will be no need for them to retain any religious presence. Liberal Catholic mouthpieces like the National Catholic Reporter are destined to go the way of so many other products whose users outgrew the usefulness of what they read and believed.  Mainline liberal churches have imploded all the while the numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals continue to grow. Apparently the liberal religious elite are so smart, they have disappeared into the mists of history.  Even if the current baby boomers remain religious, their liberal minded children have by and large abandoned the faith to the whims of Hallmark and Deepak Chopra styled spirituality.

In my last book The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I noted that having worked in the Church with a good deal of liberals I cannot think of a single instance in which their children retained their liberal views and also practiced their Catholic faith. I have met their children and while some have become Evangelicals and others have seen the light and come over to orthodox minded Catholicism; those who have remained liberal would only darken a church door if a close relative passed away. Sadly not only have they left their faith but many can’t find a single good thing to say about it. Their compliments are reserved for Big Government and Libertinism.

I am not writing this to sound clever or flippant or negative, simply to relate what I see. In many ways, the tide is turning like never before, and we can’t say that Jesus didn’t tell us that wheat would be separated from the chaff. Indeed we can’t serve two masters and the liberals by and large have thrown their lot in with the Herod’s of the world. While the liberal elite pretend to live oh so sophisticated lives; they in reality are nothing more than a fallen character in a 1980s hair band ballad video, succumbing to the vices on Sunset Boulevard that the liberal elite relegated to some degenerative red state tourist. As angry as we may be at the religious left’s venom and their apostasy, they most certainly need our prayers and we should never forget that supposedly wise people can be fooled as much as anyone by the dark side.

In my previous article, I noted the striking metaphor of the pall of smoke hanging over the Acropolis in Athens caused by rioting Greeks who could no longer pay for their extravagant lifestyle. They are merely the first example of a culture that has aborted and contracepted itself into oblivion, prophetically predicted by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. For the Greeks, Big Government had the answers and their Epicurean ancestors had the lifestyle that seemed oh so appealing. However in reality they couldn’t pay the bills because charged with the simple mission of reproducing they felt it too complicated of a task. Continue Reading

11

The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism

The militant secular left thinks they have won a victory with President Barack Obama’s “Accommodation” with regard to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate ordering religious based institutions to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and the morning after abortion pill. Some of the left couldn’t contain their glee, one guest on MSNBC described President Obama’s move as “brilliant.” In their distorted thinking they surmise that since not all Catholics adhere to the Church’s teachings, especially on birth control, they can cause a split in the Church.

First of all, the militant secular left continually cites the Guttmacher Institute’s polling, which is about as accurate as the daily pronouncements of Syria’s Bashar Assad. Secondly, it is one thing for Catholics to go against the Church’s teachings, it is quite another to say they are proud of it and want more Big Government telling them what they and the Catholic Church to do. The sheer nuttiness of this was illustarted in a discussion which occurred on Sean Hannity’s the Great American Panel seen on Fox News last week. One of the participants Jehmu Greene told fellow panelist Andrea Tantaros that without birth control she wouldn’t be here. When the incredulous Tantaros wondered how that could logical be, Greene went on a tirade that demeaned women who have children and or decide to work at home.

For years the militant secular left has treated pregnancy as a disease and families as inconvenient truths interfering with their own narcissistic ends. Powerhouse television shows like Sex and City helped to illustrate this point. Katharine Jean Lopez of the National Review wrote some time ago how disgusted she felt seeing men demeaned as objects in the Sex and City movie, the very treatment feminists have railed about for years.

However with the narcissistic Sex and City lifestyle comes another reality playing out in the streets of Athens, Greece and soon to come to a city or country near you in the western world. The declining birth rate means the youngest among us will have to eventually have to pay for a culture that aborted or contracepted itself into oblivion. The generous benefits demanded by those cultures, especially from the militant secular left can only last so long. As the old saying goes; “The problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The ancient Greek world gods who hailed narcissism and hedonism and whose lifestyle was proselytized by the Epicureans seem as irrelevant as ever as the pall of smoke hangs over the Acropolis, a fitting metaphor for what the militant secular left has wrought. Continue Reading

9

Pope Benedict: Religious Freedom Under Threat in America

 

Pope Benedict, judging from this address on January 19 to American bishops in Rome, apparently understands the high stakes in the outcome of this year’s election, even if many American Catholics do not:

Dear Brother Bishops,

I greet all of you with fraternal affection and I pray that this pilgrimage of spiritual renewal and deepened communion will confirm you in faith and commitment to your task as Pastors of the Church in the United States of America. As you know, it is my intention in the course of this year to reflect with you on some of the spiritual and cultural challenges of the new evangelization.

One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such. Continue Reading

16

Our Intellectual Elites: Pope Benedict XVI is a Nazi

Susan Sarandon comes out at a film festival and calls our German Shepherd a Nazi.

Words can’t describe what I want so say, so I’ll just print the excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter:

Sarandon was interviewed by Bob Balaban at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor on Saturday. She said she sent the pope a copy of the anti death penalty book, Dead Man Walking, authored by Sister Helen Prejean. Sarandon starred in the 1995 big-screen adaptation.

“The last one,” she said, “not this Nazi one we have now.”

Tofu anyone, while trying to digest the latest from Hollywood?

9

Pope Benedict’s Address to the Bundestag: God, Law, History and Politicians

In the history of the Church we have had brilliant Popes, and not so brilliant Popes, an agile mind not necessarily being first on the list of priorities of the Holy Spirit when it comes to choosing Pontiffs.  Without a doubt, our current Pope is brilliant, his acute intelligence shining through his writings and his speeches.  This attribute of Pope Benedict was on full display when the Pope addressed the German Bundestag (national parliament) this week.  He gave a truly fascinating lecture on how what we mean by law has changed in modern times.  I suspect it went over the heads of most of his immediate audience, but it deserves study by all Catholics, and particularly those Catholics who, as I am, are connected with the law professionally.  Here is the speech of the Pope, interspersed with color commentary by me: Continue Reading

17

Paul Krugman and Hatriotism

 

Yesterday while almost all Americans were recalling 9/11 with sadness, mixed with pride for the heroism and self-sacrifice amply displayed by so many of their fellow citizens that dark day, economist Paul Krugman in his blog, hilariously entitled Conscience of a Liberal,  at the, where else, New York Times, posted this:

The Years of Shame

Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?

Actually, I don’t think it’s me, and it’s not really that odd.

What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. Te atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons.

A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — took the easy way out, turning a blind eye to the corruption and lending their support to the hijacking of the atrocity?

The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.

I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons. Continue Reading

7

Pope Benedict Asks for Forgiveness

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI told the annual gathering of his “Study Group” (some of his former students) to ask God’s forgiveness on behalf of generations of “cradle Catholics” who have failed to transmit the faith to others.

No doubt, evangelizing others is an important dimension of Catholic life, as Pope Paul VI reminded the Church in his 1975 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii nuntiandi:

…what matters is to evangelize man’s culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots), in the wide and rich sense which these terms have in Gaudium et spes, always taking the person as one’s starting-point and always coming back to the relationships of people among themselves and with God. (#20)

Where evangelization first takes place is in the home as parents evangelize their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice.  Today, the most-often heard lament is that Roman Catholic parents, in general, are not evangelizing their children and, of those who do, they are not evangelizing their children in the Roman Catholic faith and its practice but in some generic form of Christianity that emphasizes democratic values and aspirations.

Continue Reading

4

Pope Benedict on Saint Joan of Arc

 

Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang.

                                               Sir Winston Churchill

One of the examples of the direct intervention of God in human affairs, the brief history altering life of Saint Joan of Arc has attracted the admiration of the most unlikely of men, including the Protestant Sir Winston Churchill, and the agnostic Mark Twain who called his book on Joan of Arc the finest thing he ever wrote.  She was not canonized until 1920, but almost all of her contemporaries who met her had no doubt that she was a saint sent by God.  Some of the English who were present as she was burned at the stake cried out that they were all damned because she was a saint.   Jean Tressard, the Treasurer of Henry VI, King of England, wrote the following soon after the execution of Joan:   “We are all lost for it is a good and holy woman that has been burned. I believe her soul is in the hands of God, and I believe damned all who joined in her condemnation”.  With Saint Joan humanity came into contact with a messenger from God, and the result to her was as predictable as it was lamentable.  However, the outcome of her mission was exactly as she had predicted.  The weak Dauphin that she had crowned would reign as Charles VII and end the Hundred Years War in victory for France, something that none of his contemporaries thought remotely possible before Joan embarked on her mission.

On January 26 of this year Pope Benedict spoke of Saint Joan: Continue Reading

5

Sacred Music

We have an awesome Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, on the occasion of the institution’s 100th anniversary. In this letter the Pope highlights the importance of sacred music and the type of music that is at the heart of proper worship.

The Pope then emphasized how, since St. Pius X until today, “even though evolving naturally, there has been a substantial continuity of the Magisterium on sacred music”. In particular he cited Paul VI and John Paul II who “in light of the conciliar constitution ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’, reiterated the purpose of sacred music, that is to say, ‘the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful’ and the fundamental criteria of the corresponding tradition…: a sense of prayer, dignity, and beauty; full adherence to liturgical texts and expressions; the assembly’s participation and, therefore, the legitimate adaptation to local culture, at the same time maintaining the universality of language; the primacy of Gregorian chant as the supreme model of sacred music and the careful assessment of other expressive forms that make up the historical-liturgical patrimony of the Church, especially but not just polyphony; and the importance of the ‘schola cantorum’, particularly in cathedral churches”.

“However, we always have to ask ourselves: Who is the true subject of the liturgy? The answer is simple: the Church. It is not the individual or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God’s action through the Church with its history, its rich tradition, and its creativity. The liturgy, and thus sacred music, ‘lives from a correct and constant relationship between healthy traditio and legitimate progressio’, keeping always in mind that these two concepts … are interwoven because ‘tradition is a living reality that, therefore, encompasses within it the very principle of development and progress'”, the Pope concluded.

In just a couple of paragraphs Pope Benedict XVI superbly describes what the Mass is all about.

Did I mention that we have an awesome Pope?

5

Why Do Popes Bother?

Last fall, Pope Benedict issued the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, On the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. With a handful of exceptions, the response of the American Catholic blogosphere (and the Catholic commentariat in general) was crickets.

It seems that unless a papal document somehow touches on an issue of the culture wars, near-silence is the response.

So, why do popes bother?

The question is rhetorical, of course. The fact of the matter is, Catholics ought to be reading these documents, and not just “professional Catholics” or clerics, but all of us. Look at whom Verbum Domini is addressed to, for example: bishops, clergy, the consecrated, and the lay faithful. Virtually every other major magisterial text is similarly addressed (curiously, one of the more technical ones which does get greater attention — JPII’s Veritatis Splendor — is addressed only to bishops), yet all too often, even informed, orthodox Catholics seem to fail to read them.

Why is that?

Look at the documents of Vatican II… both before and after they were elected to the See of Peter, Popes John Paul II and Benedict were emphatic that the renewal of the Church which the Council hoped for would not happen unless the members of the Church actually read the documents and internalized them. Even in his apostolic letter closing the Great Jubilee (Novo Millenio Ineunte), John Paul called for the further implementation of the Council, again, with the actual reading of the texts. Have these calls been heeded?

With Lent nearly upon us, now seems an appropriate time to prayerfully discern which one of these gifts of the Magisterium we might take up and read.

5

The Coming Open Rebellion Against God Part II

In my first article The Coming Open Rebellion Against God, I spoke of a time where God would reveal his omnipotence and some would simply leave their faith behind.  Why? Because just as in John 6, some would say it simply doesn’t make sense and walk away. Some have prayed that if only God would show His omnipotence; many would fall on their knees and believe. I truly believe the time is coming when some of our intelligentsia, including clergy will see the hand of God and say; “No thanks, this doesn’t mesh with my worldview.”

Father Dwight Longenecker recently wrote a review of the movie The Rite Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, a movie somewhat inspired by a real life Italian exorcist. The movie was given praise by many Catholic writers including Father Longenecker for actually showing the Church in a positive light. Perhaps this was due to the film’s producers using a California based exorcist Father Gary Thomas who actually was present at the filming of the movie. In a key passage Father Longenecker pondered the fact that far too many in this modern rationalistic world see the idea of the devil and demonic possession as beyond them, even though if they truly followed their rationalistic approach, they would come to see that there simply was no medical or scientific explanation for some cases. Sadly, for too many the sin of pride all too often is their downfall.

Recently Father Gary Thomas was interviewed by Leticia Velazquez of Catholic Exchange; some of his remarks about the way in which the teachings of the Church with regard to evil were defiantly rebuked by some within the Church including bishops were more than a little disconcerting. This movie review of The Rite by Father Raymond Schroth SJ associate Editor of America Magazine is one such example. As you can see, the devil is so passé to Father Schroth SJ. It hardly jibes with the high mindedness of those to which he and his urbane friends associate. Check out the comments section in the article, some of the comments left are as elitist and depressing as his treatise on who God is and who He should be.

George Weigel has noted the sad state of some quasi dissident bishops that Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI have had to confront. They came from a mindset that preferred the adulation of the dissident intelligentsia of the Ivy League rather than the working class Catholic roots from which many came.

With regard to Jesus and the devil, Jesus spent a good deal of his time fighting the devil and his minions, but alas those who don’t believe in such things seem to indicate that Jesus and the Gospel writers got it wrong, Jesus was not fighting demonic powers but those who were dealing with bouts of depression and epilepsy. According to these liberal dissident elites, Jesus was the precursor to Dr Phil and Deepak Chopra helping those poor seemingly possessed people get their groove back and find their Zen destiny. Never mind what the Church teaches on the subject or the fact that both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have specifically spoken of evil and the needs for more exorcists in the Church, these elites know better. Talk about hutzpah, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been labeled as intellectually brilliant, even by their detractors, but no matter to those who don’t believe in such archaic things as the devil. Perhaps we should ask those in the Church, especially in the Church Hierarchy, if you don’t believe what Jesus said about the devil and the manifestation of evil, what else don’t you believe? Continue Reading

5

Signs of despair (and hope) in Christian-Muslim relations

In his book-length interview Light of the World, Pope Benedict emphasized that, with respect to Muslims:

“The important thing here is to remain in close contact with all the current within Islam that are open to, and capable of dialogue, so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.”

Earlier in November, he renewed his call for religious freedom in Muslim countries Continue Reading

4

At The Dawn of 2011, Despite Bumps In the Road Catholic Orthodoxy Marches Onward

It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many in engage in hand wringing and doom and gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview with Peter Seewald turned book Light of the World. Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control. Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled. Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails from some who surprisingly seemed ecstatic to point out that my book; The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.

Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, a simple university professor in the famed German town of Tubingen, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.) However, the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing. They in turn left posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry. Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”

The Holy Father was merely engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team x played historical team y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy. The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lie with those in the Vatican’s Public Relations Department in making sure the ubiquitous editor Giovanni Vian didn’t somehow put the Holy Father’s abstract scenarios into an excerpt for the L’Osservatore Romano. The comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fallout.

Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the amount of miracles and jaw dropping examples of God’s Grace, that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican’s walls, still amazes him to this day. However, on the flip side the amount of sinister almost demonic style attacks amazes him to this day as well. The evil one knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem. Continue Reading

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Wikileaks: US Never Expected Ratzinger Elected as Pope

[Updated Below]

Wikileaks information has been disclosed by Rome Reports that the U.S. intelligence services were completely caught off guard and surprised at the election of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

[Found another YouTube video that works]

Updated as of 10:40am Central time, 11-30-2010 AD:

U.S. intelligence was expecting a Latin American as the next pope, and predicted that then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger would have lost in the first round voting.

The rest from Father Zuhlsdorf:

Before the election the staff of the US embassy to the Holy See sent speculations to Washington about the one to be elected.

“The first factor will be age, the cardinals will seek someone who is neither too young nor too old, because they don’t want to have another funeral and conclave quickly” but “they also want to avoid having a long pontificate like that of John Paul II.”  Furthermore, “it will be a person in reasonably good health”.  Another element will be “linguistic ability” and he will have to know Italian.

Continue Reading

2

Must Read: Mark Brumley

Mark Brumley is the president of Ignatius Press, which today published a little book by a little German which is generating a little buzz.

Yesterday at IP’s official website for the book Mark posted a “summary interview” regarding the condom controversy. I highly encourage anyone interested in better understanding what the heck is going to read this interview.

48

Another Roundup of Catholic Blogosphere’s Reaction to Condomnation

I have placed together another roundup of the better informed among us in the Catholic blogosphere concerning the Pope’s comments on the use of condoms (to build upon a previous similar post).

In my personal opinion, the more I read up on this issue, the more confused I become.

For the record, I am no philosophy or theological expert.  I have a more rudimentary understanding of the teachings of the Church, ie, I clearly understand what and why, not necessarily the minutiae and nuance.

So I comprehend what the pope meant that if the person in question (example of a male prostitute in the act of fornication) decides to use a condom to protect a client, thus indicating that said person is heading in the right moral direction.  Which then begs the question, then it is ok (or is it understandable) to use condoms in certain circumstances, despite Church teaching (Vatican document), ie, Humanae Vitae (Wikipedia entry), to the contrary?

Nonetheless, one cannot come away thinking that the pope himself has allowed for the use of a condom. Period!

This point is obvious enough that Damian Thompson of the Daily Telegraph is breaking his own arm from patting himself on the back so hard from this discovery (here, here, and here)!

Before I give the impression that Pope Benedict has given his blessings to the rise of a brave new condom nation, His Holiness was not speaking ex-cathedra.

But considering the weight of the papal office and the high standing the Church herself holds as a pillar of morality in a depraved world, the comments are disconcerting to the average (practicing) Catholic.

Anyone Can Use a Condom? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Clarification of Pope’s ‘Male Prostitute’ Reference – John Thavis, CNS

Deflating the NY Times Condom Scoop – George Weigel, Natl Rev Online

When Are Points Not Worth Making on Pope & Condoms – Darwin

Wisdom of The Cross: Benedict & Contraception – Reginaldus, NTM

Ed Peters: L’Osservatore Romano as Origin of Problem – Fr. Z

Did Pope ‘Endorse’ Condoms? – Steve Kellmeyer, Fifth Column

Confusion On Pope’s Condom Views – N. Squires/J. Bingham, Tlgrph

Stop the Presses! – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

(Hat tip:  The Pulpit)