Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another Book Meme!

I wasn't tagged for this, but what the hell. I was an English major; I love to read; and this is about books. The ones I've read are in bold, the ones I'd like to read are highlighted. I did make one modification: for the sake of space, any book I haven't heard of I took out. Fr. Erik has the full list.

1. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. Hated it when I had to read it in high school, loved it when I read it later as a mature adult. Could care less that Mark Twain hated Jane Austen's writings, even though I really like Mark Twain.
2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Lost count of the number of times I have read this at about 35. The movies drove me nuts because of all the deviations from plot and characters.
3. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre. Read it and appreciated it more in adulthood than during my kid years, but it is still quite a dark story.
4. J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series. Haven't read them, don't particularly want to.
5. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. Loved this when I was a kid, though I haven't read it for years and years.
6. The Bible. If I haven't read it, I'm in a lot of trouble.
7. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is a sociopath.
8. George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four. Had to read it in junior high. Every kid should have to read it in junior high.
9. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.
10. Louisa May Alcott, Little Women.
11. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Angel Clare, like others of Hardy's characters, is a dink.
12. Joseph Heller, Catch 22.
13. Complete Works of Shakespeare. I have read from them; not read all of them.
14. Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca.
15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit. Of course!
16. J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye. Read it in high school. Hated it. Found it tawdry and sordid.
17. George Eliot, Middlemarch.
18. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With The Wind. I think the movie was enough for me.
19. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. Read it in high school. Jazz Age sophisticates making a complete hash out of life for themselves and others.
20. Charles Dickens, Bleak House. Though I like Dickens, I haven't read this one.
21. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace. The length of the book doesn't deter me; just haven't got a huge desire to read it.
22. Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Read this in college (not on the reading list, just wanted to). I don't remember much about it except that it was quite funny.
23. Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited.
24. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment. Just haven't got the urge to read Russian novelists.
25. John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. Read it in high school; found it and all the other works of John Steinbeck that I had to read depressing.
26. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland. Never saw the movie, either.
27. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows. Tried to read it, couldn't get into it.
28. Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. Once again, just not into Russian novelists.
29. Charles Dickens, David Copperfield. Read it in adulthood and found it excellent.
30. C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia. Nope, haven't read it, though I like C.S. Lewis.
31. Jane Austen, Emma. One of these days, I hope to get around to reading this, as I really like Jane Austin.
32. Jane Austen, Persuasion. Haven't read the book, but I really liked the movie with Ann Rice and Ciaran Hinds.
33. Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha. Zero desire.
34. A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh. Never read this. Did read the Raggedy Ann books.
35. George Orwell, Animal Farm. Four legs good, two legs better!
36. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code. I saw the movie, and it was crap. That was enough of a waste of money.
37. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White. The only thing I really know about Wilkie Collins is that Mark Twain once upbraided him for praising James Fenimore Cooper, which frankly, he deserved.
38. L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables. Never read the books, saw the miniseries.
39. Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd. Thomas Hardy wasted enough of my time with Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure for me to want to read any more of his stuff.
40. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. I actually had to read this in (Catholic) high school. I wasn't old enough to read it then, and I'm still not old enough to read it now.
41. William Golding, Lord of the Flies. Zero desire.
42. Frank Herbert, Dune. Saw the movies, of course.
43. Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility. Excellent book; the movie wasn't so bad either, even though Emma Thompson was a little long in the tooth to be playing Eleanor.
44. Charles Dickens, A Tale Of Two Cities. Another excellent Dickens classic.
45. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World. I'm very much afraid there are a lot of people who would like to live in it.
50. John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men. Read it in high school; hated it (see The Grapes of Wrath above).
51. Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita. I couldn't have put it better than Fr. Richsteig: "I avoid porn even when it masquarades as literature."
52. Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo. I tried to read this after reading The Three Musketeers, but failed.
53. Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure. Had to read this for my Victorian Lit class in college. Couldn't stand it. Was especially maddened by the fact that I was being propped up to sympathize with complete morons who were presented to me as tragic-romantic heroes, when what they really were was arrantly stupid.
54. Herman Melville, Moby Dick. No real motivation to read it.
55. Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist. Read and enjoyed it in adulthood.
56. Bram Stoker, Dracula. Vampires really aren't my bag.
57. Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden.
58. James Joyce, Ulysses. I think I had to read this in high school, but I remember nothing of it.
59. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar. No desire.
60. William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair.
61. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Who hasn't seen one of the many movie adaptations? But oddly enough, I have never actually read the book.
62. Alice Walker, The Color Purple. Pure filth.
63. Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day. Saw the movie, never read the book. Thought the characters in the movie were too stupid for me to want to read the book.
64. Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary. Read it in high school. Hated it, notwithstanding Flaubert's le mot juste.
65. E.B. White, Charlotte's Web. Loved this so much as a kid, and read it so many times, my parents tried to take it away from me.
66. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Some of my absolute favorite bedtime reading -- I actually have a volume of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories. My five favorites: The Hound of the Baskervilles; The Sign of Four; "The Musgrave Ritual"; "The Adventure of the Priory School"; "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton".
67. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. Just have no desire.
68. Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince.
69. Richard Adams, Watership Down. No desire.
70. Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers. Read this in adulthood; actually had to labor to get through it.
71. Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Never had a desire to read this.
72. Victor Hugo, Les Miserables. Never read the book, never saw the play.
73 Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Who didn't have to read this in high school?

Anybody who wants to be tagged, go for it. (I'm sure somebody I know would have a different list.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bummer, Man: The Fuzz Cracks Down

Pursuant to ancient tradition, the Name of God has been declared off-limits in the Catholic liturgy. And so now Rome has officially consigned to the ash-heap of history all the hippy-dip, '60s- and '70s-style Yahweh tunes, including, but not limited to, the following:

-- Dan Schutte, "Yahweh the Faithful One": Yahweh's love will last forever/His faithfulness till the end of time/Yahweh is a loving yawn -- whoops, I mean, God.
-- Weston Priory, "Yahweh [is the God of my salvation": Verse 2: Be with us, Lord, as we break through with each other/to find the truth and beauty of each friend. Huh????

-- Dan Schutte (again), "Sing a New Song": Yahweh's people dance for joy/Wreathed all in baggy crepe/Fat women leap in leotards/We all just sit and gape...

-- Michael Joncas, "Let the King of Glory Come": Who is the King of glory?/Yahweh, holy and strong!/Who is the Lord of Majesty?/Yahweh, mighty and strong! Shish-boom-bah!
-- Dan Schutte (yet again), "Yahweeeeeeeeehhh, I Knoooowww You are Neeeeaaaaarrrrrr": 'Nuff said.

Now if only we could acquire a similar respect for God's Word, and quit cramming Bible texts -- especially the Psalms -- into ill-fitting, inferior and just plain crappy musical arrangements.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Prayer Alert: The Fitzpatricks

Please pray for Bonnie and Les Fitzpatrick, OPL, and their family. Bonnie's mother just had a major heart attack, and the outlook is not good.

St. John of God (not pictured to the right; that's El Greco's portrait of St. Dominic)) is the patron of heart patients. Herewith a prayer for his intercession:

Dear Convert, after a sinful life, through the power of God's holy Word you learned to love your fellow human beings. Self-sacrificing, you founded the Society of Hospital Brothers. No wonder the Church made you the patron of patients and nurses. That is why we confidently have recourse to you. Please give assistance to Bonnie's mother, and teach us to be kind like you. Amen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fr. Shady Tree and His Acorns

The Curt Jester describes -- whoops! I mean, SHARES -- his experiences while visiting at another parish:

The Mass was said by an Irish priest who started with what I guess you could call a census (people never learn from King David). "How many of you are from out of town?" pretty much everybody raised their hands. "How many of you are from outside the U.S.?" He then proceeded down the isle extracting country of origin from a number of people who raised their hands. We are no five minutes into the Mass. Next it was "How many are married over 50 years please stand up." Followed by encouragement for applause and then "Stand up if you are a grandparent" Here he inserts mandatory joke about them being free babysitters." Then we had the "everybody introduce yourself to the people around you ." I had heard of this practice at some parishes, but never had to suffer through this false bit of community that has everybody glad handing the other (I though this was reserved for the Kiss of Peace). We are now ten minutes into the start of Mass and we haven't even got to the confeitor yet.
Then, the killer question-slash-reality check:

Now if priests are going to act like a Vegas lounge act can I also be a heckler?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Did They Expect?

Some "traditional" members of the canonically suppressed St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in St. Louis, Missouri are unnerved at the direction the former parish is being taken by the increasingly kooky Fr. Marek Bozek, who is in the process of being defrocked after participating in the "ordination" of some priestesses in November.

In 2005, Bozek was "hired" by the parish out of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, whose bishop promptly suspended him for abandoning his post without leave, thereby depriving him of the exercise of his priestly office. Hailed as the "savior" of St. Stanislaus, which was -- and is -- embroiled in a feud with the Archdiocese of St. Louis over control of the parish, Bozek went on to pursue his bizarre vision of a "Catholic Church" that ordains women, abolishes the clerical discipline of celibacy, and blesses gay unions. His program for a "church" that makes no moral demands on its adherents has attracted hordes of left-wing ideologues and malcontents to his congregation, a development that some welcome as a purported gathering of lost sheep into the fold.

Meanwhile, Bozek increasingly gives himself over, not only to crass materialism (e.g., a 143% salary hike, a luxury apartment and a brand-new BMW) but to delusions of grandeur, having bought a silver bishop's ring and openly declared his "willingness" to serve as the bishop of a new "underground" church. He has revealed that he has been in "talks" with schismatic and heretical groups like Married Priests Now! -- headed by former "married" archbishop Emmanuel Malingo, who has gone over to the Moonies -- and something called "the Therese of Divine Peace Inclusive Community," headed by two "Catholic" priestesses. Seeing that these overtures do not sit well with at least part of his congregation, Bozek downplays them and insists that St. Stan's will remain Catholic.

Rationalizing his moral infidelity and his apparent thirst for power and prestige, Bozek declares: "The Roman Catholic family can be described today as dysfunctional, toxic or abusive. For decades we have allowed the men who claim to be our shepherds to abuse us." Yet, although in formal schism, Bozek denies being the spiritual offspring of Martin Luther. "No one has an ambition to create a new denomination," he claims. "My vision is to be Roman Catholic and wait for the regime to collapse."

At long last, some parishioners at St. Stanislaus Kostka are viewing developments in their parish with alarm. Yet nothing that has come to pass there has been unforeseeable. In his open letter to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus and to the faithful of his archdiocese, Archbishop Raymond Burke notes, with the precision of a laser scalpel, that "those who choose to go into schism believe that they can be the Church without the pastoral teaching, ministration of the sacraments and governance of the Apostles and their successors." Indeed. Pursuant to canon law, all of the sacraments now celebrated at St. Stanislaus are illicit, if not invalid, as the Archbishop explains:

The ordained priest who goes into irregular for the exercise of Holy Orders (cf. can. 1044, §1, 2º). In other words, he may not exercise the Sacrament of Holy Orders which he has received. Any Mass celebrated by a suspended and excommunicated priest is valid, but illicit. To knowingly and willingly celebrate the Holy Mass, when one is legitimately prohibited from doing so, is a most grave sin. A priest under the penalty of excommunication does not give valid sacramental absolution (cf. can. 966, §1). Neither can he validly officiate at a wedding (cf. can. 1108, §1).

The celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation by a schismatic priest is invalid because he no longer has any faculty to do so, either by universal Church law or the granting of the faculty by the diocesan bishop (cf. can. 882). Baptism and the Anointing of the Sick are conferred validly but not licitly (cf. cann. 862; and 1003, §§1-2).

The faithful who approach a schismatic priest for the reception of the sacraments, except in the case of danger of death, commit a mortal sin.

In other words, by continuing on the way they are going, the schismatics and those they have lured out of the state of grace are either receiving no sacraments at all; or else, such valid sacraments as they do receive serve merely to compound their guilt. Such is the fate of all who buy into the false dichotomy between Christ and His Church.

At the Last Supper, Jesus admonished His disciples that He was the vine, and they were the branches, and that if they were to bear any fruit, they must remain in Him. The people of St. Stanislaus are finding out the hard way that when you cut yourself off from the True Vine, you not only don't bear any fruit; you also fall into the hands of a nutjob.

If the "traditional" parishioners really want to be traditional, and lay authentic claim to that title, they can only do so by returning to Rome. May the real St. Stanislaus Kostka, who received Holy Communion (validly and licitly) from angels, obtain the reconciliation of these misguided people with the true Church.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


In China, there is no freedom of religion. Big deal.

In China, there is no freedom of peaceable assembly. So what?

In China, there is no right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Whatever.

In China, there is no freedom of speech. Yawn.

In China, political dissent is a crime, and those who are accused of crimes have no right to due process. And your point is...?

Today we find out that at the Olympic opening ceremonies, the Chi-Coms faked a performance by a cute little girl in pigtails, who lip-synched a patriotic song as the Communist flag was brought into the arena. The world rises to its feet in indignation.

What a blow to the image of Red China.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Another One for the TMI Files: Uses for Afterbirth

Matthew McConaughey, goofball actor and father out of wedlock of a newborn son, has big plans for -- the placenta.
McConaughey, who cannot be troubled to marry Camila Alves, the mother of his child, has neveretheless gone to great pains to preserve the afterbirth so that, pursuant to purported ancient custom, he can plant it in an orchard.
"It's going to be in the orchards and it's going to bear some wonderful fruit," claims McConaughey in a CNN interview. "When I was in Australia, they had a placenta tree that was on the river ... and all the placentas of all that tribe, all that clan, whatever aboriginal tribe that was, all the placentas went under that one tree and it was this huge behemoth of just health and strength. This tree was just growing taller and stronger above the rest of Mother Nature around it. It was gorgeous."
Yes, trees do tend to grow taller and stronger than all the rest of Mother Nature around them; that's part of what makes them "trees." After having apparently claimed that the "ritual" of placenta-planting is found in "several cultures," world-renowned anthropologist McConaughey can cite to only one such alleged culture, whose name escapes him. For a second, reading the above transcription, I thought he was saying he believed that trees actually grow from placentas. Wouldn't be a bit surprised if the natives managed to sell him on that idea, and keep him going on it for at least a while.
The AP story records McConaughey's comment that, for the foregoing reasons, the birth of his son will one day bring joy to others. If the kid's afterbirth is what's needed to bring joy to the world, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement for the kid himself.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him o'er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.

The flames roll'd on...he would not go
Without his father's word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

He call'd aloud..."Say, father, say
If yet my task is done!"
He knew not that the chieftain lay
Unconscious of his son.

"Speak, father!" once again he cried
"If I may yet be gone!"
And but the booming shots replied,
And fast the flames roll'd on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,
And in his waving hair,
And looked from that lone post of death,
In still yet brave despair;

And shouted but one more aloud,
"My father, must I stay?"
While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud
The wreathing fires made way,

They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,
They caught the flag on high,
And stream'd above the gallant child,
Like banners in the sky.

There came a burst of thunder sound...
The boy-oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
With fragments strewed the sea.

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,
That well had borne their part;
But the noblest thing which perished there
Was that young faithful heart.

Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1826)

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Dominican Shield

Every so often somebody asks me for an explanation of Dominican symbols, so I guess the feast of St. Dominic is a good time to post an explanation of the Dominican shield from the Barry University website (not meant, by the way, as an endorsement of Barry University):

The Dominican shield consists of four white and four black gyrons or triangles. These symbolize the unity of a body of people working together for the common good. The "cross fleury" (or cross with a fleur de lis at each end) superimposed upon the gyrons, signifies victory, duty and self-sacrifice. The sable or black of the shield symbolizes wisdom, silence, fortitude and penance. The light color (which could be white, argent or silver) signifies peace, purity, charity and sincerity. Sometimes, the motto of the Order surrounds the shield. It reads "Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare," which means "to praise God, to bless His people and to preach His gospel." Frequently too, the shield may also be surounded by the six or eight pointed star which is the distinguishing symbol of St. Dominic.

August 8th: Feast of St. Dominic

The Litany of St. Dominic

Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God...
Queen of the Holy Rosary...
Our glorious father, St. Dominic...
St. Dominic, follower of Jesus Christ...
St. Dominic, eminently endowed with the virtues of His Sacred Heart...
St. Dominic, adorer of the Blessed Sacrament...
St. Dominic, singularly devoted to our Blessed Lady...
St. Dominic, promoter of her honor...
St. Dominic, promulgator of the Holy Rosary...
St. Dominic, splendor of the priesthood...
St. Dominic, founder of the Friars Preachers...
St. Dominic, apostle of the Albigenses...
St. Dominic, mirror of ecclesiastical discipline...
St. Dominic, rose of patience...
St. Dominic, most ardent for the salvation of souls...
St. Dominic, most desirous of martyrdom...
St. Dominic, evangelical man...
St. Dominic, doctor of truth...
St. Dominic, ivory of chastity...
St. Dominic, man of truly apostolic heart...
St. Dominic, poor in the midst of riches...
St. Dominic, rich in an unspotted life...
St. Dominic, burning with zeal for perishing souls...
St. Dominic, preacher of the Gospel...
St. Dominic, rule of abstinence...
St. Dominic, herald of heavenly things...
St. Dominic, salt of the earth...
St. Dominic, who didst water the earth with thy blood...
St. Dominic, shining in the choir of virgins...
St. Dominic, most humble...
St. Dominic, most obedient...
St. Dominic, most chaste...
St. Dominic, most charitable...
That at the hour of death we may be received unto heaven with thee...
Be merciful unto us, O Lord, and pardon us.
Be merciful unto us, O Lord, and graciously hear us.
From all sin and evil, Deliver us, O Lord.
From the snares of the devil...
From eternal death...
By the merits of our holy father, St. Dominic...
By his ardent love...
By his indefatigable zeal...
By his extraordinary labors...
By his inexpressible penances...
By his voluntary poverty...
By his perpetual chastity...
By his perfect obedience...
By his profound humility...
By his rare constancy...
By all his other virtues...
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O blessed father Dominic,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we Thy servants may enjoy continual health of mind and body and that through the glorious intercession of blessed Mary ever Virgin, we may be delivered from present sorrow, and hereafter enjoy everlasting happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Where He Strutted and Fretted His Hour upon the Stage

At any rate, since he was still a rookie, he might have fretted his hour upon the stage at "The Theatre," whose remains have been discovered in Shoreditch, east London.

In the early days of his career, Shakespeare belonged to an acting troupe known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men, which began performing at The Theatre in about 1594. Shakespeare himself performed there, and his early plays are believed to have premiered there.

In 1599, as a result of a landlord-tenant dispute, the owners of The Theatre took it apart overnight, and smuggled the timberes across the Thames. They used the contraband construction material to build the famous Globe Theater, which burned down in 1613, was rebuilt the following year, and finally closed in 1642.

Meanwhile, the old Theatre passed into oblivion -- almost. No one was quite sure where The Theatre stood until the Tower Theater Company started construction on a new playhouse. On August 6th, the remains of The Theatre's polygonal foundations turned up on the construction site.

The plan is to preserve the ruins on-site. Says Jeff Kelly, chairman of the Tower Theatre Company: "The discovery that we shall be building a 21st century playhouse where Shakespeare played and where some of Shakespeare's plays must first have been performed is a huge inspiration."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Glasses for Our Souls

The USCCB has released the text of the Ordo Missae, the new English translation that will be promulgated for use at Mass upon approval of the full revised text of the Roman Missal. The text is being released in advance for study and formation purposes.
As a non-Latinist, I am in no position to offer a full critical analysis of the new text; no doubt there are deficiencies hidden from my unpracticed eye. Still, as a layman with a nodding acquaintance of the English language, I am in a position to state, based on my cursory reading, that the new translation beats the heck out of the one we've all been used to. For one thing, the style is superior to that of the old translation. For another, I see nuances and details in the new translation, the absence of which in the old translation no doubt contributed to the lack of reverence at and understanding of the Mass that is now so widely lamented. Whereas the old translation downplayed the mystical and the awe-inspiring, the new translation conduces to the restoration of humility in the face of the mysteries of faith. The Church is now described, for example, as "holy" and is referred to as "she," rather than as "it." The cup of Christ's blood is now the "chalice." And the priest will exhort us to say the Lord's Prayer as follows: "At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say...." If we had been saying that all along, would we now be suffering from the plague of imperious little old ladies grabbing our hands and trying to force us into unwanted intimacy during the Our Father?

It is as though one has been given a pair of glasses after a lifetime of nearsightedness and not realizing, until that moment, that one could not see clearly before. Consider, for instance, the scriptural allusion that for decades has been completely obscured in the short prayer we recite before Communion, but which stands out in stark relief in the new translation:
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
As He entered Caper'na-um, a centurion came forward to Him, beseeching Him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress." And He said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion answered Him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard him, He marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; be it done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment.
I for one am disgusted that, for so many years, we have been deprived of this Scriptural connection by a lousy translation, but happy that it -- along with many other gems and pearls -- is being restored.

Of course it is going to be painful and frustrating to have to unlearn texts that we have memorized over a lifetime of Masses. But since it is necessary to restore the liturgy to its proper dignity, and to restore us to a proper understanding of what is happening at Mass, this is a great teaching opportunity for our priests and bishops. May they make good use of it.

BY THE WAY: See Fr. Z's analysis of Cardinal Arinze's letter to the USCCB's president on the new translation.

Is Planned Parenthood off the Hook in Kansas?

Phill Kline, District Attorney for Johnson County, Kansas, has lost his bid for election to a full term of office. Steve Howe, of the Johnson County D.A.'s office, won the Republican primary by a landslide, the apparent beneficiary of a perception of Kline as more of a politician than a prosecutor. Kline has gained national attention for his courageous attacks on Planned Parenthood, against which Kline has launched a criminal prosecution for covering up the sexual abuse of children.

Is this the end of the case against Planned Parenthood (midwived, by the way, by eugenicist Margaret Sanger as part of her campaign against "inferior" races)? One hopes not. The Kansas City Star reports that Howe is also opposed to abortion, and that he states he will evaluate the case against Planned Parenthood and proceed according to the dictates of the law.
Whether or not Planned Parenthood is quaking in its boots in the wake of the Johnson County primary remains to be seen.

Monday, August 04, 2008

An All-You-Can-Eat Buffet for the Brain

I miss William F. Buckley, Jr. His books have been intellectual comfort food for me for years and years, ever since that first episode of Firing Line I watched back in college, when the century's greatest polemicist very politely and genteelly dismantled and demolished Derek Humphreys, founder of what was then known as the Hemlock Society. I am one who likes to read my favorite books over and over again, sometimes savoring them for years before going on to new ones by the same author. I have finally gotten to another Buckley book that I have been hoarding for some time -- a new treasure of his inimitable wit for curling up in front of the fire with on a cold winter's evening, and new aspects of his courage and fortitude to appreciate.

I wish I could have found a picture of The Unmaking of a Mayor (Arlington House Publishers, New Rochelle, 1977 reprint) bigger than a postage stamp; because for all that we are constantly warned never to judge a book by its cover, the cover of this book aptly previews the humor of its contents. It is the story of Bill Buckley's unconventional campaign for mayor of New York City in 1965, against Democrat Abraham Beame and liberal Republican John Lindsay.
Until late in the campaign, Buckley was dismissed by the liberal elites -- including the other two candidates -- as an "unserious" candidate, because of (a) his third-party candidacy (he ran on the Conservative Party ticket); (b) his puckish humor; (c) the fact that, as he himself acknowledged, he had almost no chance of winning; (d) his flat refusal to pander to special interest groups; and (e) his unabashedly and outspokenly conservative agenda, regarded by the elite of the mid '60s as laughable, relics of of the Pleistocene Era. Yet despite his humor, and the campaign gaffes arising from his status as a non-politician, Buckley was engaged in the deadly serious business of trying to give the voters of New York City an authentically conservative option; and above all, trying to forestall the deadly dilution of conservatism within the Republican Party, whose left-wing, anti-Goldwater candidate for mayor -- aptly described by Buckley as an "interloper" -- threatened to become a titan on the national political scene.
Although our cultural elites in the mainstream media and the universities are still lock-step, knee-jerk liberals, it is perhaps difficult for ordinary, 21st-century conservative Americans to appreciate just how much courage it took in 1965 to come out publicly and unapologetically as a conservative. But in 1965, there was no Rush Limbaugh; there was no Fox News Channel; there was no Internet; and "liberal" was not a dirty word. Because Buckley openly proclaimed unpopular truths about the state of affairs in New York City, he became an instant target for all sorts of ugly charges, from racism to anti-Catholicism (!) to being "a philosophical anarchist proving that the people of New York are doltish swine who are incapable of ruling themselves" (p. 293). Nor was the press above flatly distorting him, as in the episode in which his use of the word "epicene" to describe the resentment of anti-Vietnam protesters was was turned into an allegation that the protesters were homosexuals (pp. 254-258); or when, before he entered the mayoral race, his speech at a Holy Name Society communion breakfast was falsely reported as an endorsement of racist police tactics in Selma, Alabama (Chapter 1). That Buckley should have borne, to the end of what became a vicious campaign, such a burden of opprobrium with such grace is a great testament to his fortitude.

Still, it was a burden he assumed voluntarily. A savvy political analyst like Bill Buckley had to know he was in for a rough ride if he got into a political race; so why did he run? "Because," he declared in a self-interview before the National Press Club on August 4, 1965 (pp. 3-8), "nobody else is who matters." Meaning, he went on to elaborate, that "New York is a city in crisis, and all the candidates agree it is a city in crisis. But no other candidate proposes to do anything about that crisis."

In The Unmaking of a Mayor, Buckley unfolds the history of politics in New York City, laying the groundwork for the then-current state of affairs; his plan to deal with the crisis of New York City; his analysis of his opponents, and their positions, and the non-existent difference between them; the course of the campaign, which culminated in a victory for John Lindsay and a mere 13% of the vote for Buckley. He submits, for our examination, the position papers he published on a variety of municipal issues from water and sewage to air pollution to taxation; and he serves up a generous helping of morsels from press conferences, correspondence and speeches. All sparkles with the trademark Buckley wit, verve, and razor-sharp intellect.

And then there are the passages that just make one laugh out loud. Buckley on the debates (pp. 273-274):
Lindsay would arrive at the studios very tense, and instantly he would cover the desk area in front of him with a half-acre of three-by-five cards on which were graven in Magic Marker the salient points or statistics he intended to make and cite in the course of the fracas. (I had a mad impulse, one time when he went off for a moment to pose for a picture, to scramble the cards around, or maybe doctor the statistics just a little, horrible bit.)...

...Beame, so nervous that his hand shook when he reached for a piece of paper, had several notebooks, and several brilliantly memorized passages of rhetoric, one of which he never changed...-- he always closed with it. "New York has done a great deal for me. It sent me through school. I love this city. I owe a lot to this city. . . ." I commented about the third time around that if he really desired to requite his obligation to New York, perhaps he should consider withdrawing from public office in favor of me. He managed a wan smile.

On the effect of his victory on the mainstream press, if it ever materialized (pp. 302-303):

On leaving the [New York] Times building I found a television crew waiting outside to question me for comment on LBJ's sudden endorsement of Beame, which had just come in over the wire. We disposed of that subject, and Gabe Pressman of NBC, the cameras still rolling, asked me jocularly how I felt on emerging from the Times building and I said -- the kind of thingk, I fear, that makes some people gray with anger -- that it was as though I had just passed through the Berlin Wall. "What is the first thing you would do if elected?" he pressed. "Hang a net outside the window of the editor." If I had been more conservative, less impulsive -- more civic minded? -- I suppose I
would have recommended a commission to investigate the desirability of suspending such a net.
The Unmaking of a Mayor is an all-you-can-eat buffet for the brain. I toast Mr. Buckley, and pray that the comfort and enjoyment he has given me in this book has earned him at least some reprieve from Purgatory.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Dottie Zimmerman: Psychic to the Schoolkids

As one who catches at a shadow and pursues the wind, so is he who gives heed to dreams. The vision of dreams is this against that, the likeness of a face confronting a face. Divinations and omens and dreams are folly, and like a woman in travail the mind has fancies. For dreams have deceived many,and those who put their hope in them have failed. (Sirach 34:2-7)

There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.... (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

Unless, of course, you are (the aptly named) Dottie Zimmerman, purported channeler of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, in which case being a medium is not only not a grave sin, on the order of human sacrifice, but a gift from God, and therefore an affirmative obligation.

Zimmerman, an ex-Ursuline nun and sister of an ex-Jesuit priest, is, reports the Toledo Blade religion editor, an "award-winning" religion teacher of 30 years' standing at St. Patrick of Heatherdowns School in Toledo, Ohio. She reports having heard voices for years, which she dismissed as figments of her over-active imagination; however, it took the encouragement of her daughter (reportedly in communication with St. Michael the Archangel) and her brother, the ex-priest, to get her to "explore" her "gift" via "dream therapy." Whereupon she began encountering Padre Pio, whom she at first, quite understandably, mistook for Merlin the magician.

So Zimmerman began entering into conversations with what purported to be Padre Pio, inquiring as to what she owed the great privilege of his visitations. Answer: "Well, because you have the gift. You have something that you have to do with it. You have this gift but you weren't accepting it. The angels kept tell you [sic] but you wouldn't listen, so we sent in the big guns."

Having received from St. Pio the green light to practice spiritism in violation of Holy Scripture, Zimmerman began (a) teaching vulnerable children in the ways of spiritism, and (b) holding seances. In addition to "channeling" the spirits of the dead, she also "channels" the alleged St. Pio himself, who has vouchsafed to her such pearls of wisdom as the following:

-- On the upcoming U.S. presidential election:
"All [the candidates] are all having their plans, their paths. Which one do you feel comfortable with? That, my brother, is your choice and I cannot tell you that." There you have it, the official word from Heaven: makes no difference whether or not Catholics support candidates who support abortion on demand, or any other anti-Christian principles. It's all in what we're "comfortable" with.

-- On the candidacy of Hillary Clinton: "But do know that there was no accident that there was a female within this, because her purpose was to open the awareness of the line of the females, of the path of the females, not her particularly, but the path of a female, that nurturing, that love aspect that is part of what goes along with the term female." Too stupid for comment.

-- On the priest sex abuse scandal: "The priest abuse and some of the other things, that is not making the church a bad or a good place. The way it will work is how it is handled. And in those dioceses where it is being handled openly and with compassion and with care, and explanation and openness, I think those parishes and that church there will be very strong." Easy enough to believe this could have come from a priest who devoted hours and hours on end in the confessional to reconciling sinners to the Church for the sake of their salvation.

-- On the fate of the 9/11 terrorists: "[E]veryone who 'transitioned' that day went immediately 'home,' or into heaven, 'including those who perpetrated this particular incident. They didn't have their 21 virgins in their party but they were celebrated for three days in partying and love and acceptance because they did what they thought they were supposed to do.'" Too appalling for comment.

Padre Pio is alleged to have closed a recent seance by bidding the participants "to be open, to be aware, and I ask you to laugh because laughter is so wonderful, and to love and to breathe deeply often during the day." Compare and contrast to the homily Pope John Paul II delivered on the occasion of Padre Pio's canonization, in which he said:
Throughout his life, he always sought greater conformity with the Crucified, since he was very conscious of having been called to collaborate in a special way in the work of redemption. His holiness cannot be understood without this constant reference to the Cross.

In God's plan, the Cross constitutes the true instrument of salvation for the whole of humanity and the way clearly offered by the Lord to those who wish to follow him. The Holy Franciscan of the Gargano understood this well, when on the Feast of the Assumption in 1914, he wrote: "In order to succeed in reaching our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross."
All of which leaves us with just two questions, the answers to both of which are at once sobering, frightening, and readily ascertainable: (1) who is Zimmerman really contacting during her seances, and (2) is she one of your children's teachers?

Friday, August 01, 2008

August 1st: St. Alphonsus Ligouri

Did you know that St. Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, Doctor of the Church:

-- Was a scion of Neapolitan nobility?

-- Started out as a lawyer -- was in fact quite a famous lawyer, until he lost an important case and abandoned the law at age 27?

-- Had an almost all-out war with his father over his priestly vocation?

-- Founded the Redemptoristines, a women's order, before founding the Redemptorists?

-- Was effectively expelled from his own congregation by Pope Pius VI?

-- Was an accomplished musician and composer?

-- Wrote over 100 books -- many for the average reader?

-- Resolved never to waste a single moment of time -- and spent over 90 years carrying out this resolution?

St. Alphonsus' Prayer for the End of the Day
Jesus Christ my God, I adore you and I thank you for all the graces you have given me this day. I offer you my sleep and all the moments of this night, and I implore you to keep me safe from sin. To this end I place myself in your sacred side and under the mantle of our Lady, my Mother. Let your holy angels surround me and keep me in peace; and let your blessing be upon me. Amen.