Saturday, December 08, 2018

Mary, Conceived Without Sin, You DID Know

Raise your hand if you have ever heard the song "Mary, Did You Know?" within the precincts of a Catholic church.  I can't see you, but I know you're out there.  My hand is also up.  Somehow, because this song mentions the Mother of God, it has become a Christmas tradition in some parishes.  But although the gentleman who wrote "Mary, Did You Know?" clearly means well, this song is both musically inappropriate for Mass and subversive of the Catholic faith.

From a musical standpoint, "Mary, Did You Know?" is basically a pop song, and although the Mass has been saturated with such for a couple of generations now, the fact remains that it is not sacred music suited for use at Mass.  But even more objectionable, from the Catholic point of view, is the lyrical content.  

"Mary, Did You Know?" is based on some abysmally erroneous assumptions.  To begin with, it is supposed that Mary does not know that her holy Infant is the Son of God.  Some saints -- for instance, St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and Doctor of the Church -- are of the opinion that even before the Annunciation, Mary had a profound understanding of prophecies and Scriptures concerning the promised Messiah.  But even without such an understanding, it would have taken a high degree of inattention on Mary's part to the message of Gabriel and the inspired greeting of her cousin Elizabeth for her to labor under ignorance of her Son's divinity.  It is further supposed that Mary does not know that her Son will suffer for the redemption of mankind.  This would have required her to utterly gloss over the prophecies of holy Simeon concerning her Son as God's salvation, a sign of contradiction, and concerning the sword of sorrow that would pierce her own soul.  The idea of the Mother of God not being in possession of the most critical facts about her divine Son, particularly in view of explicit revelations received by her, is absurd on its face.

But there is an even more blatant error in the lyrics of "Mary, Did You Know?" that ought to induce in every Catholic a sharp intake of breath.  It is a defined dogma of the Catholic faith that the Mother of God was conceived without original sin.  On December 8, 1854, in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. 
Contrast this with the following lyrics from "Mary, Did You Know?":
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Whereas Catholics accept as revealed truth that Mary was free from sin from the instant of her conception by virtue of the anticipated merits of Jesus' suffering and death on the Cross, the foregoing is based on the assumption that Mary was under the sway of sin at the time she gave birth to the Christ Child, and that she would remain so until His Sacrifice of redemption.  In short, it is a flat denial of the Immaculate Conception.  As such -- and for this reason alone -- it should never be sung in a Catholic church, or find any place in any Catholic liturgy, and Catholics should not embrace it.

Perhaps a fitting way to honor today's feast of the Immaculate Conception -- in addition to fulfilling our obligation to attend Mass -- would be to defend the dogma which this feast celebrates by doing what we can to see that "Mary, Did You Know?" remains unheard in our parishes during this and every Christmas season.

Potuit, Decuit, Ergo Fecit: Why the Immaculate Conception Must Be True.

I will shew thee all good, and I will proclaim in the name of the Lord before thee: and I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please me.  
Exodus 33:19

Years ago, a commenter in this space delivered himself of what must have been, in his own estimation at least, the following effusion of brilliance: 
Mary had to have sinned. She called Jesus "my Savior" and what is Jesus the Savior for? Sinners. She had sinned. And there is no biblical evidence for her having no sin.

Those of you with a kick against the Immaculate Conception always want to set limitations on God.  You generally have no problem acknowledging in theory that God is infinitely good, infinitely holy, infinitely perfect, infinitely merciful and infinitely powerful; but in practice, what you really want is a sort of bite-sized God, One that we can wrap our woefully inadequate brains around and Who does not confound our puny capabilities.  So when God actually goes and does something that only an infinitely good, holy, perfect, merciful and powerful Being could do, you protest.  The fact, however, is that God can do whatever He wants; and whatever is fitting, we may be sure that He will do.

God can do the impossible more rapidly and easily than we can blink our eyes or draw a breath.  It was perfectly within His power to preserve Mary free from the taint of sin from the instant of her conception.  This singular privilege of His grace was purchased for her by the limitless merits of Christ's suffering and death on the Cross.  God, not bound by the constraints of time or space, was perfectly capable of applying these merits beforehand and granting this privilege in advance of the Crucifixion.  Thus God really was Mary's Savior, and did not need her to sin in order to be her Savior: His intervention to prevent her from receiving the taint of sin that she would otherwise have contracted as a descendant of Adam was also a salvific act.  Have you never been prevented from committing sins -- by being deprived of means or opportunity, or because you have never experienced the temptation to commit particular sins?  These are also interventions of God's grace.  So you should know from experience that God saves us, not only by forgiving sins we have actually committed, but also by preventing us from committing sins we would otherwise have committed, perhaps to our eternal ruin.   Why, then, should it be so hard to accept that God, out of the abyss of His goodness and mercy, could exercise His infinite power to prevent the Mother of His Son from being tainted by the least stain of iniquity from the very instant she began to exist?

It is altogether fitting that God should preserve Mary inviolate and immaculate from the first instant of her life.  God always gives us the grace we need to do the work He gives us: the greater the work, the greater the grace given to carry it out.  Was ever a more important mission given to a mere human being than that entrusted to Mary?  It was her task to supply the matter out of which the all-holy Son of God would take flesh, to bear Him in her womb, to nurse Him and to rear Him to manhood, and to share in her soul in the agonies of His Passion.  This touches on a point raised by my correspondent in a follow-up comment:

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for dying for our sins because He was without blemish. If Mary had no blemish either, that would pretty much validate her for crucifixion too. Which would make Jesus less important.
Here my correspondent, though off the rails in the implications for the importance of Jesus, hits on an important truth.  Mary did in fact suffer with her divine Son, more than any other human being could have.  The saints (e.g., St. Alphonsus Liguori) are of the opinion that her sufferings were greater than that of all other men who have ever lived or will ever live put together, and that only a miracle kept her from dying of grief.  This is why Catholics honor her under the titles of Mother of Sorrows and Queen of Martyrs: only her Son's sufferings exceeded hers.  When she presented her Son in the Temple, holy Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul, that out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed (Luke 2:35).  It makes sense that she should bear so great a share in her Son's Passion: not only was she his loving mother; she was also fully aware that He was God, and therefore of the horrible outrage that He should be murdered by His own creatures.  Moreover, would it have been possible for her to suffer entirely for his sake and not at all for her own if she herself had had a share in the sins that caused Him to be nailed to the Cross?  Still, this share of hers in Christ's suffering does not in any way diminish Him.  Jesus was the perfect Sacrifice not only because He was without blemish, but because He was God.  Mankind had outraged the infinite God, and therefore it would take infinite merits to repair the outrage; these could only be offered by the Son of God. 

If you do not accept the Immaculate Conception, then I am bound to ask you why you would want the Mother of God to have been a sinner.  Is this not tantamount to wanting an unworthy vessel for the Incarnate God?   Does it make sense for the woman entrusted with bearing and caring for and suffering alongside the Son of God to have spent even a single instant under the dominion of hell?  No: especially when you consider that the Woman of Genesis 3:15, between whom and the serpent God put enmity is none other than the Mother of God, and her Seed is none other than Jesus Christ:

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
Here is scriptural proof of the Immaculate Conception.  If God creates perfect and implacable enmity between the Woman and the serpent -- and surely it is unthinkable that if God creates enmity between the Mother of God and evil, this enmity will be imperfect and half-hearted -- then it follows that she could never be under the serpent's sway, or in allegiance with him, as she must be if she had sinned.  Thus it was fitting for God to preserve her without sin from the very beginning.

Since it was perfectly possible for God to preserve Mary free from sin from the moment of her conception, and it was fitting that He should do so, it follows that He in fact did do so.  It would be a gross omission on God's part, and incompatible with His infinite perfection, if He should leave undone that which was fitting.  Therefore, we may safely take it that He did not leave it undone.  

Potuit, decuit, ergo fecit! He could; it was fitting; therefore, He did it!

H/T Canterbury Tales

Sunday, November 11, 2018

One Hundred November 11ths Ago

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

I’m Calling B-arbra S-treisand on These Pre-Election Stunts

Like all the monstrosities allegedly committed by Trump and his supporters against poor delicate liberals, this stuff about the alleged “MAGA Bomber” just doesn’t pass the smell test.  

Look.  These incidents that supposedly target liberals — from the non-existent “hate crimes” right after the 2016 election to these “pipe bombs” — always look more like liberals’ cartoonish ideas of what Trump voters think than what Trump voters actually think.  I don’t recognize myself in these parodies.  Decent, law-abiding citizens are just not out there doing this kind of stuff:  

- We don’t go in for demonstrations, because demonstrations cut into the time we could be spending living our lives.  

- We don’t go in for violence, because we think unjust aggression is wrong, and plus, we don’t want to bloody up the clothes we worked hard to earn the money to buy.  

- We don’t go in for public indecency, because we still believe in modesty, and still think some things should be kept private.  

- We don’t go in for mailing “pipe bombs” to liberal celebrities, because we’re not terrorists, and because being in jail gets in the way of getting up and going to work in the morning — and besides which, we who are busy with life never heard of half the people who got these things anyway.  We certainly don’t have time to make a professional-grade, rolling billboard out of our vehicles, like this “MAGA bomber” is supposed to have done.  

No, it takes LIBERALS to think of these things — just like it took liberals to come up with the idea of Trump, who is a cleanliness fanatic, paying prostitutes to urinate on a bed, or to come up with the idea that Justice Kavanaugh, who is the quintessential Boy Scout, arranged rape parties in college.  That kind of stuff is not how decent people get their kicks, and those aren’t even ideas they’d come up with.  I call B-arbra S-treisand on this whole thing.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Our “Worship” Proves We Still Don’t Get It

The modern world, which denies personal guilt and admits only social crimes, which has no place for personal repentance but only public reforms, has divorced Christ from His Cross; the Bridegroom and Bride have been pulled apart. What God hath joined together, men have torn asunder. As a result, to the left is the Cross; to the right is the Christ...The Western post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without His Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, feminized, colorless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount, but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity on the one hand, and divorce, judgment, and hell on the other. This sentimental Christ is patched together with a thousand commonplaces....Without His Cross, He becomes nothing more than a sultry precursor of democracy or a humanitarian who taught brotherhood without tears.
Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ

Amid the revelations of deep corruption in the Church at the very highest levels, we are still deluding ourselves that Romper Room worship is cutting it: muzak-like campfire ditties played on piano and bass guitar and bongos and cymbals and tinkly chimes; girl altar servers with loose hair and flip-flops; people encouraged and even ordered to socialize with each other instead of getting recollected for Mass; a priest improvising Mass parts; the canon gone through hastily and almost carelessly; and applause at the end for Murph and the Magictones, followed by raucous yakking inside the church.

Such is the Cruise Ship of Peter, the favorite fantasy of so many Catholics from the laity to the highest of the hierarchy.

Unlike the Barque of Peter, constantly under assault and in danger of sinking, yet manfully plowing forward through rough seas, the Cruise Ship of Peter is nice.  Its worship is uncontroversial.  It is bland.  It is insipid.  It is jejune.  It is decadent.  It is effeminate.  It kindles no fires, stirs no ardor, pricks no consciences.  Its lifeblood is mediocrity.  It docks at any old port, and will strike any old compromise to do so.  It insulates man from the uncomfortable mystery of the supernatural, and protects him from transports of zeal.  There is little enough to distinguish it from any other organization calling itself a church, or even from secular society: its very furnishings are precisely those of a posh country club.  That is why it always has smooth sailing, at least for as long as this serves the purposes of the prince of this world.  Even when sailing is not smooth, the ship is so grand and luxurious that nobody on board notices.  One leaves the liturgy on the cruise ship feeling as though one has just been to a really nice wine and cheese reception.  With its affluence and its amphitheater layout and its cushioned pews and its polished wood and its orchestra pit next to the sanctuary and its soothing, tranquilizing liturgy, the Cruise Ship of Peter is all ordered, down to the smallest detail, with a view to sealing up Catholics in a soft, warm cocoon of niceness and upper-class comfort, making them forget, or even filling them with friendly feelings toward, the pirates and cutthroats that smile back, knives in their teeth, from their little boats that nevertheless daily increase and close in.

All are welcome aboard the Cruise Ship of Peter -- they even have a song about it that they sing at the beginning of Mass! -- all, that is, except anyone who might rock the boat.  What might the Cruise Ship do, one is tempted to wonder, with a Francis of Assisi, or a Dominic de Guzman, or a Catherine of Siena, or an Alphonsus Liguori, or a Fulton Sheen?  Would they have to walk the plank?  How much has the Cruise Ship liturgy to do with immemorial tradition?  Does it inspire missionaries and fortify martyrs?  Does it remotely resemble the Masses of Aquinas, wrapped in awe; or the fugitive worship of the Recusants in Elizabethan England, where it was death to be a priest; or the celebrations of Father Willie Doyle on makeshift altars in the muddy trenches of the First World War; or of the Cristeros in their secret refuges from the Masonic Mexican regime; or of the first and only Mass celebrated by Bl. Karl Leisner, secretly ordained in Dachau on Gaudete Sunday, 1944, desperately ill yet on fire for souls?  Can one picture Father Augustine Tolton on board, his soul blazing like a beacon from the crumbling lighthouse of his overworked body, his trembling hands raised amid the mellow strains of "On Eagle's Wings"?

Is it worth it to try to trade the Barque of Peter in for this new luxury model?  Does the Cruise Ship of Peter connect Catholics to their illustrious past?  Does it prepare Catholics to meet their adversaries in battle in these increasingly stern times?  Is it counter-cultural?  Does it provide Catholics with a distinctive identity apart from the secular society?  Does it actively promote unity, rather than Balkanization, of Catholics of differing ethnic and linguistic backgrounds?  Does it make Catholics know that we are not of the world, though we are in it?  Does it come remotely close to appeasing the God Who is being outraged by the predators and sexual perverts walking around in the garb of priest and bishops?

Or does it merely fatten and soften up the sheep for the slaughter, and add another log onto the bonfire of the punishment we are preparing for ourselves?

You decide.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Let All the Poisons

This is a time when cesspits of corruption are being laid bare, both in the secular world and in the Church.  Now we are seeing exactly where that awful smell we have been coping with for so long has been coming from.  For decades, the hirelings among the Church’s appointed shepherds have held the ascendancy.  They have publicly palled around with leftist, pro-abortion celebrities and politicians.  They have preached heresies from the pulpit, or declined to take action against heretical priests under their purview.  They have stood silent in the face of secular encroachments onto the Church’s turf.  They have lived posh lifestyles.  (Question: why does a cardinal archbishop even have a beach house or a penthouse suite?)  They have fattened themselves on their flocks.  And now all of these scandals stand aside in awe at the monumental scandal that underlies them all, the scandal of sexual perversion and complicity in sexual perversion among not only priests but also bishops, and the revelation that the collaborators include even the Bishop of Rome himself.

For many, many years, the “progressive” wing of the Catholic Church has been slamming and making fun of Catholic teaching on sexual morality.  Why, then, should we be surprised to find members of this wing not behaving in accordance with the teachings that they publicly despise?  Now we are seeing that these teachings, so far from raining on our parade, are really our first line of defense against the predations of the powerful.  And since the powerful have for decades been assiduously knocking down and discrediting the last line of defense — canonical penalties — we see that now, humanly speaking, we have no defenses.  The wolves have free run of the sheepfold.

So is the solution to leave the Church?  I guess one could argue that that depends on whether we can expect to find greater purity, greater morality, and greater uprightness in the world outside the Church than we find inside the Church.  But it is the world outside the Church that has been telling us for so long that chastity is stupid, and that we should be free to decide for ourselves what is “normal” and what is “moral,” instead of trying to live up to objective standards.  At least within the Catholic Church there subsist the principles — unshakable even when ignored — that lust is a sin, using other human beings as objects is wrong, and lewd conduct is a damnable offense.  Will we find a safer refuge in the world, where those principles do not subsist?

Are we now ready, at long last, to accept the thorough discrediting of the colossally stupid idea that the Church needs to “modernize” and “get with the times”?  Modernity is thoroughly bankrupt.  “The times” that too many in the Church have been so anxious to get into line with over the last hundred-plus years have been filled with fratricidal wars, genocide, lawlessness, deceit, sexual deviancy, murder, and the powerful preying on the defenseless.  It is not the Church that needs to get with the times, but the times that need to get with the Church.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Other Swamp

If you are not Catholic, believe me when I tell you you are not more furious about the clergy and bishop sex abuse scandal than those of us who are in the Church.

If you are Catholic, believe me when I remind you that the world outside the Church is not the home of greater pristine purity and uprightness than the Church.

And Judas Iscariot is not a new phenomenon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Red Flag We Are Trained to Ignore

What are we to make of it when a priest, who has long been a darling of the “progressive” left on account of his public dissent from the teachings of the Catholic faith — and particularly the teachings of the Catholic faith on sex — is exposed as a sexual deviant?

For decades, we have been conditioned to buy into the false dichotomy between a man’s private life and his public persona.  A quarter of a century ago, we were told — all the way through to his impeachment — that Bill Clinton’s sexcapades had nothing whatsoever to do with his ability to run the country.  Similarly, Catholic liberals have for many years given us to understand that you can have heterodoxy alongside holiness — and that, in fact, heterodoxy may even be an outstanding sign of holiness, since it implies The Courage to Take On The Establishment, which is invariably The Enemy in the Struggle to Do the Right Thing.

And so we are lulled into not asking key questions and drawing key conclusions about the left’s favorite “progressive” sons in the hierarchy, such as: why does someone within the Church attack the Church’s teachings on sexual matters?  Because these teachings are out of step with our enlightened notions of “fairness” and “equality”?  Because they might give pain to some hypothetical third parties?  Because they aren’t nuanced enough?  But real life is a concrete thing, a wrecking ball too weighty for our towering yet spindly edifices of sophistry to withstand; and people’s motivations are usually quite uncomplicated, and really not so noble.  After all, who really has time or energy to take on causes without some sort of personal investment?  The most obvious and straightforward answer to the question of why is that the dissenter probably has a favorite sin he is trying to hold onto.  To which the heterodox reply will be that (a) the person drawing such a conclusion is “uncharitable” for arriving at a “rash judgment”; and (b) in any case it doesn’t matter whether the dissenter has a dog in the fight, since his motivations in no way detract from the correctness of his positions.

But in fact, the dissenter’s motivations are directly relevant to his objectivity, and therefore to his credibility.  This is why lawyers get to cross-examine witnesses on their motives for testifying.  Credibility matters a great deal in a court of law, and in public discourse.  Sometimes, credibility is the only asset an advocate has to trade on.  It is precisely in a bid to preserve the credibility of a dissenter that inquiries into his motives are suppressed; besides which, the very people who want to engage in such suppression would be the first to raise suspicions about the motivations of someone who supports Catholic doctrine.

There has to be something compelling, not merely theoretical, that drives Catholics — lay and clerical — to wage war on the doctrines of Christ’s Church.  One very distinct possibility is that they are no longer serving Christ (if indeed they ever did serve Him) but the idol that is their pet vice.  Such is their devotion to it that the titanic efforts needed to conform society to their tastes in order to salve their consciences are as nothing compared to the agony of even willing to conform their own selves to Truth.

The hard, cold reality of life is that we cannot throw out the Ten Commandments without also forfeiting the protection they afford.  After all, if we decide that there’s nothing wrong with people thinking the moral law is stupid, then we shouldn’t be surprised when those same people decline to follow it, and when they prey on others in order to feed the appetites that that law does not restrain.  If a person publicly proclaims the stupidity of the moral law, isn’t it foolish to assume that he must be privately following what he publicly derides?  Then why should we be surprised to find a priest who both publicly dissents from the teachings he has been charged to pass on and lives contrary to those same teachings?  A priest who publicly repudiates Catholic doctrines is already unfaithful in virtue of that very fact since, by consenting to receive Holy Orders, he has consented to bearing the burden of preaching those very doctrines.  And once he is unfaithful in one thing, it is easier for him to be unfaithful in other things, which paves the way for unfaithfulness in more and more things.  Sin leads to more sin.

The lesson here would seem to be twofold.  First, heterodoxy is not the mark of a free and tolerant society, but a huge red flag that we have all been trained to ignore.  Second, in case the authority of the Catholic Church to speak on behalf of Christ is in any doubt, the fruit of dissent from orthodoxy in the life of the dissenter bears strongly on the correctness of his dissenting views.  You can’t have holiness without orthodoxy.  If God is Truth, then the pursuit of something other than Truth must be the pursuit of something other than God.  But it is our business as Catholics to pursue God, and the business of our shepherds to lead us rightly in that pursuit.  If a shepherd is pursuing something other than God, then where must he be leading his sheep?  What must he be doing to his sheep while he leads them astray?  And what is to become of bishops who do not pay attention to what their priests are pursuing?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

When the Sun of Culture is Low on the Horizon, Even Dwarves Cast Long Shadows

I recall hearing a priest say that once on Mother Angelica’s show.  The audience was at first stunned into silence, and then broke into applause.  It captures our age perfectly.

Scripture has another way of putting it.  Proverbs 27:7:
A soul that is full shall tread upon the honeycomb: and a soul that is hungry shall take even bitter for sweet.
When things are bad enough, and we are famished enough, our expectations plummet.  We start sniffing and scrounging and scratching and foraging for comfort.  Then, when we find even the tiniest crumb, we act as though we have stumbled upon the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  The “pot of gold” is invariably something so meager and nasty that in better times we would have despised it as trash.  But we have arrived at times so wretched that even trash looks like treasure.

Take the state of things in our beloved Catholic Church.  Into what ecstasies are we launched on those rare occasions when a priest correctly states a Catholic teaching from the pulpit.  Father actually said that marriage is between one man and one woman, and for life!  Dare we to hope — we ask ourselves — that the tide is finally turning?  But in better times, even the worst priests preached what the Church teaches.  What’s that?  Pope Francis celebrated Mass facing east?  It must be the dawn of a new era of reverence and Catholicity in the liturgy!  But in better times, even the worst priests faced east as a matter of routine and did not dare to ad lib the Mass — at least those parts of the Mass that the people could see and hear.  Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo de Borgia, led a life that can be described  only as scandalous; yet it is nowhere recorded that he tried to reinvent the divine truths he flouted, or to remake the Mass or the Sacraments to suit his tastes.  What an age we live in, when even the corrupt churchmen of the Renaissance look like saints!

But we in the pews cannot claim to be any better.  The negligent, slothful and even subversive priests and bishops that plague us today come from within our own ranks.  If we are off the rails, our shepherds will be off the rails.  Bad clergy openly flaunt the evil habits that they once kept under wraps, because we in the pews can no longer rise to the level of being shocked.  They get away with it, because we, being mired in our own evil habits, are too effete to do anything about it.

Let’s face it: we are not in the springtime of renewal in the Catholic Church.  We do ourselves and the Church a great disservice by denying this.  The fact is that those who are not in the Church can see the true state of affairs for themselves, and we make ourselves and our Mother ridiculous by trying to deny it.  But when that renewal does come, we will not need to ask ourselves whether it has in fact arrived.  About the real renewal and revival, there will be no room for doubt. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Passing Scene: 2017

1: Terrorist attack at a nightclub in Istanbul leaves 39 people shot dead and 69 wounded.
3: Ford announces it will cancel its plan to build a factory in Mexico and instead will invest in expanding and developing an already-existing factory in Flat Rock, Michigan.
4: A commuter train derails in Brooklyn, New York, injuring 103 people.  Also: Chicago police arrest on hate crime charges four black thugs who tortured a mentally-disabled white man live on Facebook.
6: Shooter opens fire at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Florida, killing five and wounding six before being taken into custody.
8: A terrorist deliberately runs a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem, killing four and wounding 15.
10: Dylann Roof is sentenced to death for the murders of nine people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.
11: Donald Trump holds his famous press conference wherein he declines to take questions from a CNN reporter, calling CNN "fake news."
12: Soon-to-be-outgoing President Obama abolishes the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that fast-tracked Cuban refugees for permanent residency.
14: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announces it is shutting down after 146 years.
17: Soon-to-be-outgoing President Obama commutes the 35-year sentence of convicted spy Bradley Edward "Chelsea" Manning to 7 years.  Also: British Prime Minister Theresa May announces the U.K.'s departure from the European Single Market.
20: Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
23: President Trump withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and reinstates the Mexico City Policy.
24: President Trump approves construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
25: President Trump signs executive orders to build the wall along the U.S. southern border and to defund sanctuary cities.
27: Vice-President Mike Pence addresses the Washington, D.C. March for Life.
28: Pope Francis assumes control over the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is a sovereign nation.  Also: a federal district judge stays President Trump's Executive Order No. 13769, limiting immigration from seven countries.  Several more district judges in various parts of the country will also stay the order.
30: Sally Yates, acting Attorney General and Obama holdover, is fired for refusing to enforce Executive Order No. 13769.

Deaths: Nat Hentoff; Roy Innis; Steven McDonald (quadriplegic NYPD detective, famous for forgiving the man who shot and wounded him); Dick Gautier; Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka; Eugene Cernan (last man to walk on the moon); Miguel Ferrer; Charles Liteky (one of five priests who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor); John Hurt; Mary Tyler Moore; Mike Connors; Barbara Hale.


3: The U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran in response to the latter's missile tests.  Also: a federal district judge in Seattle blocks enforcement of Executive Order No. 13769.
6: Queen Elizabeth II becomes the first British monarch to celebrate a sapphire jubilee (65 years).
9: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the district court in re Executive Order No. 13769.
13: Nearly 190,000 people are evacuated due to the threatened failure of the Oroville Dam near Yuba City, California.  Also: Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-Un, is assassinated in Malaysia by two women using a chemical weapon of mass destruction.
20: Gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos becomes a pariah in the wake of revelations of his thoughts on adult men having sex with adolescent boys.
22: The Trump administration revokes Obama regulations on transgender students in schools.
23: In preparation for building the Dakota Access pipeline, authorities evict protesters from the site, where they have generated tons of garbage and literally turned the area into a toxic waste dump.
24: A white Navy veteran shoots two Indian nationals in Kansas, killing one and wounding the other.  Liberals blame Trump.  Also: Trump bans several main-stream news agencies from a Friday press gaggle at the White House.
25: President Trump announces he will not attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Deaths: George "The Animal" Steele; Al Jarreau; Alan Colmes; Brenda Buttner; Norma McCorvey; Judge Joseph Wapner; Bill Paxton.


1: The Dow-Jones Industrial Average hits an all-time high at more than 21,000 points.
4: President Trump accuses Barack Obama of having wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign.  Amid a blizzard of leaked phone conversations and allegations that Trump is being investigated for ties to Russia, media outlets reporting the story nevertheless hasten to add that he provides "no evidence" to support his claims, and ridicule the notion that he is under scrutiny.
8: Malta's Azure Window collapses in a storm.  Also: Congress mandates that NASA send humans to Mars by 2033.  I have a long list of people who need to go there.
10: Attorney General Jeff Sessions requires the resignations of 46 chief federal prosecutors.  Only liberals are stunned by this.
16: The Brexit Act receives royal assent.
17: Donna Brazile fesses up to helping Hillary Clinton cheat on presidential debates by forwarding her questions in advance.
18: A man who tries to take an assault rifle from a soldier at Orly Airport in Paris is shot dead.
22: A Muslim extremist rams multiple people with a car, killing five -- including an American celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary -- then stabs a police officer to death before being taken out by police.  
23: A Muslim extremist uses a car to try to ram pedestrians in Antwerp before being taken into custody. 
24: Liberals leap for joy as the bill to replace Obamacare is withdrawn before the House vote.  Also: President Trump approves the Keystone XL pipeline.
28: President Trump signs an executive order setting aside Obama-era climate-change regulations.
29: The United Kingdom formally notifies the European Council of her intent to withdraw from the European Union.
30: Donald Harvey, former hospital worker and serial killer known as the "Angel of Death," is found beaten to death in his prison cell in Ohio.
31: The mayor of New York City announces a plan to close the prison at Rikers Island within 10 years.

Deaths: Joni Sledge (founding member, Sister Sledge); Robert James Waller (author, The Bridges of Madison County); Lynn Stewart; Robert Osborne (Turner Classic Movies); Tommy Page; John van de Kamp (fabled L.A. district attorney and California attorney general of yore); Colin Dexter (author, Inspector Morse series); David Rockefeller; Jimmy Breslin; Chuck Berry; Chuck Barris; Lawrence Montaigne; Darlene Cates.


1: Flash flooding and landslides in Mocoa, Putumayo, Colombia, kill hundreds and leave hundreds more injured.

3: A terrorist bombing on a St. Petersburg Metro train in Russia kills 14 and injures 45 others.  A second bomb was found and defused.  Also: former national security adviser Susan Rice is identified as the person responsible for the "unmasking" of Americans, including Trump campaign staffers, whose communications were intercepted incidental to surveillance on foreign nationals.
5: North Korea fires a medium-range ballistic missile in the direction of Japan, landing the missile in the sea 37 miles away.
7: President Trump orders a missile strike against an airbase in Syria in response to an April 4th chemical weapons attack on civilians.  Also: terrorist attack in Stockholm, Sweden, as a hijacked delivery truck is deliberately rammed into civilians in front of a department store, killing 4 and wounding 15.
9: ISIS claims responsibility for two Palm Sunday suicide bombing attacks against Egyptian Coptic churches -- St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria and St. George's in Tanta, resulting in 44 deaths.  Also: in response to North Korean missile testing, the U.S. deploys a navy strike group to the Korean peninsula.  Also: a United Airlines passenger is roughed up and dragged off a plane for refusing to be kicked off to make room for United employees on an overbooked flight.
10: An elementary school teacher's husband shoots her and an eight-year-old student to death, and wounds a nine-year-old, in their classroom; after which the shooter turns the gun on himself.  Also: Judge Neil Gorsuch is sworn in as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
13: The U.S. Air Force uses the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast -- the world's most powerful conventional bomb -- on an ISIS cave complex in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
16: 74-year-old Robert Godwin of Cleveland, Ohio, was shot to death by a monster who broadcast the murder live on Facebook.  Two days later, the shooter turned the gun on himself while being pursued by police.  Also: Turkey votes to turn itself into a dictatorship.
18: Terrorist attack in Fresno, California, wherein three are shot to death by a man yelling "Allahu akbar!", before being captured by police.  Also: In a surprise announcement, and contrary to earlier statements, Prime Minister Theresa May of the U.K. calls a general election for June 8th.  The House of Commons will overwhelmingly approve the snap election the next day.
19: Bill O'Reilly is fired from Fox News amid sexual harassment allegations.  Also: Aaron Hernandez, former New England Patriots player and convicted murderer, is found hanged in his prison cell.
20: A Muslim terrorist opens fire on three policeman on the Champs Elysees in Paris, killing one, before being taken out himself.
21: Researchers discover a parchment manuscript of the Declaration of Independence in a record office in Chichester, England.
25: A U.S. federal district court judge rules that President Trump's executive order withholding federal funding from sanctuary cities is unconstitutional, despite the illegality of sanctuary cities
27: President Trump announces his intent to renegotiate NAFTA.
29: Another failed Nork missile launch.  Also: President Trump holds a rally in Pennsylvania instead of attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Deaths: Tim Pigott-Smith; Don Rickles; Emma Morano (oldest living person and last living person born before 1900); Clifton James; J. Geils; Dorothy Mengering (David Letterman's mother, often appeared on his show); Cuba Gooding, Sr.; Erin Moran; Kate O'Beirne.


3: Puerto Rico files for "local government bankruptcy.
4: Announcement of Prince Phillip's forthcoming retirement from public duties.
6: 82 out of 220 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok, Nigeria in 2014 are released.
7: Emmanuel Macron is elected President of France.
9: President Trump finally fires James Comey as head of the FBI.
13: Pope Francis canonizes Bl. Jacinta and Francisco Marto of Fatima, making them the youngest non-martyred saints in history.
17: Convicted spy Bradley Edward Manning, who now calls himself Chelsea Manning, is released from prison pursuant to outgoing President Obama's commutation of his sentence.
18: A car crashes into pedestrians in Times Square, killing one and wounding 20 others.  This time it does not appear to be an act of jihad.
19: Anthony "Carlos Danger" Wiener pleads guilty to sexting with a minor.
20: President Trump lands in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of his first foreign trip as president.
21: The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to an end after 146 years.
22: A jihadist suicide bomber sets himself off at a concert in Manchester, England, killing 22, mostly women and girls.
23: President Duterte of the Philippines declares martial law on the island of Mindanao in response to Islamist clashes with the army in Marawi.
24: An apparent jihadist bombing attack takes place in a bus terminal in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing three policemen.
25: Republican Greg Gianforte handily wins a special congressional election in Montana, despite an incident that led to his being charged with assault against a reporter for the Guardian.
26: Islamist gunmen shoot to death 28 Coptic Christians on a bus in Minya, Egypt.  Also: a white supremacist shouting racial slurs at a Muslim girl on a train in Portland, Oregon, stabs three people who intervened, killing two.
28: Murder spree, Lincoln County, Mississippi: shooter, who wanted to commit "suicide by cop," kills eight, including a sheriff's deputy, at three houses, before being apprehended.
29: Tiger Woods is arrested for DUI.
30: An ISIS suicide bomber kills 13 outside an ice cream parlor in Baghdad, Iraq.

Deaths: Manuel Noriega; Gregg Allman; Zbigniew Brzezinski; Jared Martin; Peter Lawler; Roger Moore; Dina Merrill; Roger Ailes; Chris Cornell (Soundgarden); Powers Boothe; Clive Brooks (Pink Floyd); Tony Alamo; Archbishop George Niederauer.


1:Donald Trump withdraws the United States from the Paris Accords.  Liberals predict the immanent demise of the planet.
3: Muslim terrorists plow vans into pedestrians on London Bridge, then get out and go on a stabbing spree, killing eight and injuring dozens before armed police take them out.
5: A Muslim terrorist who had been abroad training with terror groups murders a hotel clerk and holds a prostitute hostage in Melbourne, Australia, before being taken out by police.  Also: several Middle Eastern countries cut diplomatic relations with Qatar based on the latter's support for terrorism.
6: A Muslim terrorist launches a hammer attack at Notre Dame in Paris before being shot and wounded by police.
7: ISIS gunmen attack the Iranian parliament and the Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum in Teheran, killing 18.
8: Snap election in the United Kingdom results in a hung parliament, with the Tories 12 seats shy of a majority in the House of Commons.  Also: Fired FBI director James Comey testifies before the Senate and totally blows to hell the whole Russia collusion meme, confirming that Trump was never under investigation for such collusion.
10: Act! for America stages a March Against Sharia in various cities around the country.
11: Puerto Rico statehood referendum: 23% of eligible voters turned out to vote for statehood.
13: North Korea releases Otto Warmbier, an American prisoner whom they tortured into a year-long coma, shortly before his death.
14: A deranged Bernie Sanders supporter opens fire on Republicans at a congressional baseball practice, injuring four, one critically, before being taken out by the Capitol Police.  Also: the Grenfell Tower apartment complex in West London is destroyed in a fire that killed at least 80 people.  Also: a disgruntled UPS employee in San Francisco murders three co-workers before turning the gun on himself.
16: President Trump reinstates restrictions on travel and trade restrictions with Cuba, reversing Obama's policies.  Also: Amazon buys Whole Foods.
17: The U.S.S. Fitzgerald collides with an alleged merchant ship off the coast of Japan, resulting in the deaths of 7 American sailors.  Also: Bill Cosby's sex abuse trial ends in a hung jury.
19: A van runs over pedestrians outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, London, killing one and injuring ten.  Also: a car carrying firearms and incendiary devices rams into a police car on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, whereupon the driver -- who was on a security watch list -- is shot dead.
20: A terrorist bomb goes off in Brussels Central Station, resulting in zero casualties, after which police shoot the bomber.
21: A policeman at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan is stabbed in the neck, not fatally, by a suspect yelling "Allahu akbar!"

Deaths: Adam West; Peter Sallis; Bishop David Choby of Nashville; Roger Smith; Rosalie Sorrells; Bill Dana; Stephen Furst; Helmut Kohl; Michael Bond (creator of Paddington Bear); Gary DeCarlo.


3: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is caught appropriating for his own use and that of his family a beach that he had closed to the public.
4: CNN bullies into silence a private citizen who made a video of President Trump throwing to the ground a man with the CNN logo superimposed on his face, after the President posted it on his own Twitter feed.
5: A Vatican priest is arrested in connection with a gay orgy in his apartment.
6: President Trump visits Poland, where the crowds cheer him wildly.
15: 40-year-old Justine Damond of Australia is shot to death by a Somali-born Minneapolis police officer from the passenger seat of his patrol car after she had called 911 to report an assault in the alley behind her house.  The officer had three prior complaints against him within the previous 2 years, and the chief of police afterward resigned at the request of the mayor.
16: Gender ideology strikes Dr. Who as the first female persona is announced.
19: Sen. John McCain of Arizona announces he has brain cancer.
20: O.J. Simpson is granted parole.
21: Sean Spicer resigns as White House press secretary.
23: Nine illegal immigrants are found dead, with 30 more suffering heat stroke and exhaustion, inside a tractor-trailer parked at a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas.
26: President Trump bans transgenders from the military, across the board.
28: A jihadist knife attack in a supermarket in Hamburg, Germany, leaves one dead and four injured. Also: North Korea launches more missiles that land in the Sea of Japan.  Also: Death of Charlie Gard, a British infant with a rare genetic condition whose parents the British government forbade to take him out of the country for treatment or even home to die.

Deaths: Joachim Cardinal Meisner; Joaquin Navarro-Valls; Martin Landau; Harvey Atkin; Chester Bennington (Stone Temple Pilots); John Heard; June Foray; Sam Shepard.


2: Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, retires from public life at the age of 96.
18: Steve Bannon resigns as White House Chief Strategist.
19: Discovery of the wreck of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, sunk in the Pacific by Japanese submarines in 1945.
21: Total solar eclipse sweeps across the continental United States, the first in nearly 100 years.  Also: Big Ben's four-year silence begins while necessary repairs are carried out.
25: Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas.  Also: President Trump pardons Arizona Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio.
30: Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Louisiana.  Meanwhile, Hurricane Irma forms and begins its destructive path across the Caribbean.
31: Video footage is release of the arrest of a nurse in Utah who refused to conduct a warrantless blood draw on an unconscious suspect.

Deaths: Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf); Ara Parseghian; Glen Campbell; Dick Gregory; Jerry Lewis; Cecil Andrus; Jay Thomas; Richard Anderson.


3:  North Korea tests a hydrogen bomb at its Punggye-Ri Nuclear Test Site.
7: Chiapas, Mexico suffers a magnitude 8.1 earthquake.  Also: Announcement of Equifax data breach.
10: Murder spree, Plano, Texas: shooter kills seven at a house party before being killed himself in a shootout with police.
12: The U.S. Supreme Court affirms the president's right to deny entry of refugees into the United States.  Also: Ed Murray, the mayor of Seattle, resigns amid allegations of sexual abuse of teenagers from the '70s and '80s.
15: North Korea launches a missile over Hokkaido, Japan.  South Korea launches a missile of its own six minutes later.  Also: the space probe Cassini deliberately crashes into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 20-year mission.

Deaths: Shelley Berman; Pete Domenici; Harry Dean Stanton; Bobby "The Brain" Heenan; Jake LaMotta; Liliane Bettancourt; Hugh Heffner; Benjamin Whitrow; Monty Hall.


1: A gunman opens fire on a country music concert from an upper floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort, killing 59 and wounding 527.  Also: Knife-wielding jihadist at a train station in Marseilles, France, murders two women.  Also: Catalonia votes to declare itself independent from Spain, despite having been declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.
6: Governor Moonbeam signs legislation to make California a sanctuary state.  Also: movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's career begins to unravel over sex abuse allegations.  Also: President Trump rescinds by executive order the Obamacare birth control mandate.
10: President Trump declares the northern California wildfires a major disaster.  Also: Governor Moonbeam signs into law a bill that reduces the crime of exposing people to the HIV virus from a felony to a misdemeanor.
26: Thousands of previously secret files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are made public.
31: Terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan as an Uzbek in a rented pickup mows down people on a bike path, killing eight and wounding 11, before he himself is shot and taken into custody.

Deaths: Tom Petty; Trevor Martin; Fats Domino; Bishop Emeritus Michael Driscoll of Boise; Robert Guillaume.


5: A gunman murders 26 in a shooting spree at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
8: Kevin Spacey's career begins to unravel in the wake of sex abuse allegations.
21: Robert Mugabe resigns as President of Zimbabwe.
26: John Conyers becomes the latest to fall amid sex abuse allegations.
30: Man charged with the murder of Kate Steinle is acquitted of murder, although he is convicted of felon in possession of a firearm.  Conservatives do not riot.

Deaths: John Hillerman; Liz Smith; Ann Wedgeworth; Earle Hyman; Charles Manson; Della Reese; Mel Tillis; David Cassidy; Jim Nabors.


1: Emperor Akihito of Japan announces that he will abdicate the throne in April of 2019.
2: Brian Ross of ABC News is suspended for four weeks for an erroneous story on Michael Flynn.  Also: President Trump withdraws the United States from the United Nation's Global Compact on Migration.  Also: NASA successfully fire ups Voyager I's backup maneuvering thrusters for the first time in 37 years, to keep the probe's antenna pointed toward Earth.
4: The U.S. Supreme Court gives the green light to full effect for the Trump "travel ban."  Also: President Trump signs an executive order returning large portions of land designated as federal national monuments back to the state of Utah.
5: Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.) steps down amid sexual misconduct allegations.  Also: Austria's Constitutional Court legalizes same-sex "marriage."
6: President Trump announces the United States' official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
7: A shooter kills two students at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico, before turning the gun on himself.  Also: "comedian" Al Franken announces he will resign from the U.S. Senate "in the coming weeks" amid sexual misconduct allegations.
8: Rep. Trent Franks (R.-Ariz.) announces his resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations.
11: Failed terrorist pipe bombing at New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal wounds two plus the bomber.  Also: Democrat Doug Jones beats Republican Roy Moore in Alabama race to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.
18: An Amtrak train derails on a freeway overpass near Seattle, Washington, resulting in three deaths and over 100 injuries.  Also: the United States defeats a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a withdrawal of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
20: President Trump's tax reform bill passes both houses of Congress.
28: 12 die in an apartment building fire in the Bronx. 
29: 9 die in an attack on Coptic Christians in Cairo, Egypt.

Deaths: Bernard Cardinal Law; Christine Keeler; John B. Anderson; Rose Marie; Heather Menzies; March Fong Eu; Sue Grafton.

As the roller coaster ride continues into 2018, let us pray to a merciful God for the undeserved blessings of peace and freedom in our troubled world.