Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: Auld Lang Syne


1: Senior Hamas military commander Nizar Rayan is killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. Also: 61 people die in a nightclub fire in Bangkok, Thailand.
9: The Illinois House of Representatives votes to impeach the very odd and strange-looking Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich.
14: Osama bin Laden releases an audio message urging Muslims to wage jihad against Israel for her offensive on the Gaza Strip.
15: U.S. Airways Flight 1549 lands in the Hudson River after striking a flock of Canada geese and losing engine thrust. Everyone on board survives; the crew will later be awarded the  Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigator's Master Medal for their performance in the crisis.  Also: NASA announces that methane gas in the atmosphere of Mars might signal life on the Red Planet.  Also:  The U.S. Senate confirms Blagojevich appointee Roland Burris as Barack Obama's replacement, notwithstanding the scandal surrounding Burris' appointment.
20: Barack Obama is inaugurated President.
21: Hillary Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State.  Also: Barack Obama orders prosecutors to ask for a 120-day adjournment of trials of Guantanamo terrorists.
22: Pope Benedict announces the rescission of the excommunications of the four surviving SSPX bishops. The excommunications will be rescinded on the 24th of January.
26:  Murder spree, Portland, Oregon: shooter kills 2 and wounds 7 before turning the gun on himself and critically wounding himself.  Also: Live octuplets are born to a woman who had herself implanted with numerous embryos.
27: The International Institute for Strategic Studies predicts that by year's end, Iran will have enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb.  Also: Murder spree, Wilmington, California: a man murders his wife and five children, then commits suicide.
28: The House of Representatives passes the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009," which dwarfs last year's First Armageddon Avoidance Act.  Meanwhile, Boeing announces that it will cut 10,000 jobs during 2009.
29: The Illinois legislature votes unanimously to boot Governor Rod Blagojevich and bar him from all elected office in the state.

Deaths: Rocky the Striper Puss (cat extraordinaire); Fr. Richard John Neuhaus; Msgr. John Donoghue; Pat Hingle (movie and television actor); Olga San Juan (actress and dancer, the "Puerto Rican Pepperpot"); Patrick McGoohan; Harry Endo (forensic genius Che Fong on Hawaii Five-O); Billy Powell (Lynard Skynard keyboardist); John Updike; Sir John Mortimer (creator of Rumpole of the Bailey); Ricardo Montalban.


1: The Pittsburg Steelers win Superbowl XLIII.  Also: American deep-sea explorers announce the discovery the previous May of the H.M.S. Victory, which sank in the English Channel in 1744 during a severe storm.
3: Iran launches its first home-made satellite.  Also: California officially goes broke.

5: It is announced that first-time unemployment claims in the United States top 600,000, the greatest number since 1982.  Also: Michael Phelps is suspended from competition for three months after a photo is published of him huffing on a pot pipe.
7-9: Bushfires in Victoria, Australia leave hundreds dead and hundreds more homeless.
9: Archaeologists announce the discovery in Saqqara, Egypt, of 30 mummies in a 2,600-year-old tomb.
10: GM announces it will cut 10,000 salaried jobs.
17: President Obama signs the Second Armageddon Avoidance Act of 2009 into law.
18: Iran announces the construction of an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of traveling 620 miles.
22: The 81st Academy Awards. I could have cared less.
23: Pope Benedict XVI names Archbishop Timothy Dolan to head the Archdiocese of New York.
25: My mother celebrates her [CENSORED]th birthday.

Deaths: Paul Harvey, veteran radio commentator; Wendy Richard (British actress, Are You Being Served?); Alfred A. Knopf, Jr. (American publisher); James Whitmore.


1: China's first moon probe, Chang'e 1, crashes into the Moon. Mission over.
6: NASA launches Kepler, a space telescope whose mission is to search for earth-like planets revolving around other stars.
8: Barack Obama announces that U.S. troops are not winning in Afghanistan.
9: Barack Obama lifts President Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem sell research.
13: The Redoubtable Marcus Magnus celebrates his CENSOREDth birthday.
17: Luxembourg observes St. Patrick's Day by legalizing euthanasia.
18: Pope Benedict repudiates condoms as a solution to AIDS in Africa. The world goes nuts.
20: Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory discover a new subatomic particle.
27: Dale Hausner, one of two men charged with being the "Serial Shooter" who randomly targeted pedestrians for shooting in Phoenix, Arizona from 2005-2006, receives six death sentences.

Deaths: Dan Seals (England Dan and John Ford Coley); Natasha Richardson; Ron Silver.


2: A federal judge rules that enemy combatants held in Bagram, Afghanistan, have a right to contest their incarceration in U.S. courts.
3: Iowa's Supreme Court "legalizes" same sex "marriage."
7: A federal judge throws out Sen. Ted Stevens' criminal convictions, citing the worst prosecutorial misconduct he had ever seen in 25 years.
8: Murder spree, Temecula, California: one person is killed and four injured at a religious retreat house.
9: CIA director Leon Panetta announces the worldwide decommissioning of "black sites," used to detain terrorism suspects.
13: The Obama administration announces the loosening of travel restrictions to Cuba.
15: 500 Tea Party tax protests are held all over the country. Also: Pitcairn Island, home of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers, abolishes a 200-year-old ban on the sale of achohol.
25: North Korea, which cannot feed its people, announces that it is reprocessing spent fuel rods at its nuclear research facility, a possible step toward creating weapons-grade plutonium.
26: The United States declares a public health emergency over swine flu.
27: Mexico reports 149 swine flu deaths.
30: Chrysler goes into Chapter 11.

Deaths: Theodore Heck, OSB (world's oldest Benedictine monk, aged 108); Bea Arthur; Alex Lees (one of the British planners of the Great Escape).


1: Supreme Court Justice David Souter chooses an appropriate day to announce his forthcoming retirement.
6: The state of Maine legalizes same-sex "marriage."
8: Pope Benedict begins his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where he will be blamed for everything from the Holocaust to Muslim violence.
12: The United States gets a seat on the utterly worthless United Nations Human Rights Council, where it will rub shoulders with human rights giants like China and Saudi Arabia.
26: California's Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, which bans same-sex "marriage" in the state, and which was approved by 52.24% of California's voters.
29: Record producer and all-around freak Phil Spector gets 19 years for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in 2003.
31: Late-term abortionist George Tiller is shot to death while ushering at his church.

Deaths: Dom DeLuise; Jack Kemp; Millvina Dean (last survivor of the Titanic disaster); Mickey Carroll (one of the last surviving muchkins from The Wizard of Oz).


1: Air France's deadliest disaster: Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris vanishes over the Atlantic Ocean, with 216 passengers and 12 crew members. Also: Government Motors files for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.
3: New Hampshire legalizes same-sex "marriage."
6: 40 die in a day-care center fire in Hermosillo, Mexico.
8: Two American reporters receive a sentence of 12 years of penal servitude for illegally entering North Korea.  They will be pardoned and released in August, with Bill Clinton taking the credit for it.
10: An elderly white supremacist opens fire at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, killing a security guard.
15: A clash begins between police and protesters in Iran over that country's fraudulent "election," in which the Pipsqeak Potentate Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is allegedly returned to power.
18: North Korea threatens a missile attack on Hawaii. Liberals turn over in bed.
21: Greenland assumes self-rule.
22: French President Nicolas Sarkozy announces his support for banning the burqa from France.
28: Leftist President Zelaya of Honduras is removed from office after trying to change the Constitution of Honduras.
29: Pope Benedict XVI announces that tests confirm the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls contains the remains of St. Paul. Also: a freight train derails in Viareggio, Tuscany, Italy, resulting in nearly two dozen deaths.
30: The Supreme Court of Minnesota orders Al Franken certified as the winner of the U.S. Senate race; Republican candidate Norm Coleman concedes defeat.

Deaths: Michael Jackson; Farrah Fawcett; Ed McMahon; Huey Long (of the Inkspots -- age 105); Kenny Rankin (singer/songwriter); David Carradine; Billy Mays (Oxy-clean pitchman); Gale Storm.


3: Sarah Palin announces that she will resign as governor of Alaska, effective July 26th.
5: An explosion outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Cotabato City, Mindanao, the Philippines, killing five and injuring at least 55 more.
6: Murder spree, Miami, Florida: three gunman storm a birthday party and open fire, killing one and wounding 11 more. Also: police shoot and kill Patrick Tracy Burris, known as the Cherokee County, South Carolina serial killer, responsible for at least five murders between June 27th and July 6th.
7: Pope Benedict XVI publishes his much-anticipated third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate.
16: The Sears Tower is renamed the Willis Tower. The name change goes over like a fart in church.
17: Islamic terrorists murder seven people in bombing attacks on two hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia. Also: Pope Benedict XVI fractures his wrist in a fall, but does not slow down his busy schedule.
21: Astronomers detect the mark of a giant impact on Jupiter, exactly 15 years after the Comet Shoemaker-Levy impact.
22: The longest solar eclipse of the 21st century takes place over parts of Asia and the Pacific.
26: Sarah Palin resigns as governor of Alaska.

Deaths: Robert McNamara; Karl Malden; Mollie Sugden (Mrs. Slocombe in Are You Being Served?); Henry Allingham (last surviving veteran of the World War I Battle of Jutland, age 113); Harry Patch ("the Last Fighting Tommy," age 111, the last surviving veteran to have fought in the trenches); Walter Cronkite; Gordon Waller (Peter and Gordon); Reverend Ike.


1: Punjab, Pakistan: Muslims murder six Christians over an alleged desecration of the Koran.
2: After 18 years, the remains of Scott Speicher, first American casualty in the Gulf War, are found.
4: North Korea frees American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Bill Clinton takes the credit.
6: On the 64th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed as associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
14: Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, former Manson Family member, is paroled after 34 years in prison (including a 15-month consecutive sentence for escaping in 1987).
20: The feds announce the end of the idiotic "Cash for Clunkers" program.  Also: Scotland releases the Lockerbie bomber on the grounds that he only has three months left to live.  In December, he will still be alive, out of the hospital and living at his family's villa.   
21: Claims that a 34-year-old Tunisian woman was pregnant with 12 babies turns out to be false.
25: It is announced that the U.S. budget deficit will hit a record $1.6 trillion in 2009. Liberals continue to push for socialized medicine.

Deaths: Corazon Aquino; Les Paul (electric guitar innovator); Eunice Kennedy Shriver; John Hughes (movie director); Don Hewitt (creator of 60 Minutes); Robert Novak; Ted Kennedy; Dominick Dunne; Robert Schindler (father of Terry Schiavo).


2: Java, in Indonesia, suffers a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. Also: archaeologists discover a 3,700 year old wall in east Jerusalem, part of an ancient fortification.
7: For reasons passing understanding, after a century of driving on the right side of the road, Samoa switches to left-hand traffic.
8:  The founder of this blog celebrates her TRIPLE-DOG CENSORED!!!th birthday.
9: Rep. Joe Wilson (R.-S.C.) heckles President Obama during the latter's snake-oil sales pitch for Obamacare in front of a joint session of Congress, shouting "you lie!"
24: An enormous trove of Anglo-Saxon treasure is discovered buried in a field in Staffordshire, England.
26: Pope Benedict XVI begins a three-day visit to the Czech Republic.
27: 31 years after skipping out on his sentencing on charges resulting from raping and sodomizing a 13-year-old girl, Roman Polanski is arrested on his way to a film festival in Zurich.  The aging degenerate still does not understand what he did wrong. 
30: An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter Scale wreaks devastation on the island Sumatra in Indonesia.

Deaths: Mary Travers (Peter, Paul and Mary); Henry Gibson; Patrick Swayze; Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H writer); Susan Atkins (murderess and Manson Family member); William Safire.


7: Astronomers announce the discovery of a new ring (the "Phoebe Ring") around Saturn.
9: Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize, having done absolutely nothing whatsoever to deserve it.
10: Barack Obama announces that he will end the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
11: Pope Benedict XVI canonizes five new saints, including St. Francisco Coll Guitart, O.P., and St. Damien of Molokai. Also: Fr. Michael Sinnott, an Irish priest, is kidnapped by gunmen from a convent in Pagadian City, Mindanao, the Philippines.  The kidnappers later demand a $2 million ransom.  Fr. Sinnott will be released in a month.
15: The "balloon boy" hoax: publicity-hungry parents send the authorities on a wild goose chase for a homemade balloon in which they falsely claim their six-year-old son is trapped.  As part of a plea agreement, the father will later plead guilty to attempting to influence a public servant, a felony.
20: Pope Benedict opens the door for Anglicans to return en masse to unity with the Catholic Church.

Deaths: Norton Buffalo (Steve Miller Band); Soupy Sales; "Captain" Lou Albano (professional wrestler/manager); Collin Wilcox (Mayella Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird).


3: Czech President Václav Klaus signs the Lisbon Treaty.
4: Elections: Republican Chris Christie wins the governor's race in New Jersey.  Republicans sweep Virginia from the top of the ticket to the bottom.  Maine voters reject same-sex "marriage."
5: A Muslim army psychiatrist opens fire in a medical facility at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas, murdering 13 fellow soldiers and wounding 30 more before being taken down by a civilian female police sergeant.  Although the shooter was the spiritual student of a radical imam, had a history of publicly advocating jihad, and shouted "Allahu akbar" while murdering his comrades-in-arms, Barack Obama urges us not to leap to conclusions about his motives.
6: Murder spree, Orlando, Florida: a shooter opens fire in an office building, killing one and wounding five.
10: John Allen Muhammad, the elder of the two Beltway Snipers, is executed in Virginia.
13: Rep. William J. Jefferson (D.-Louisiana), having been convicted of 11 counts of corruption, is sentenced to 13 years.
14: Rabid anti-Catholic "evangelist" Tony Alamo is sentenced to 175 years for 10 counts of Interstate Transportation of Minors for Illegal Sexual Purposes, Rape, Sexual Assault and Contributing to the Delinquency of Minors.
19: In one of modern television's rare moments worth celebrating, Oprah Winfrey announces the forthcoming end of her show.  Also: hackers leak 13 years' worth of emails from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia demonstrating a conspiracy to exaggerate human influence on the earth's climate.
25: A crew of British yachtsmen participating in a yacht race in the Persian Gulf are arrested  and detained by the Iranian Navy.  They will be released on December 2nd.
27: Tiger Woods is involved in a car crash that leads to a maelstrom of media hoopla over allegations of driving under the influence, domestic violence and marital infidelity.  Also: murder spree, Jupiter, Florida: a man murders five of his relatives, including a six-year-old girl, a pregnant mother and her unborn baby, at a Thanksgiving party.
29: Murder spree, Parkland, Washington: four police officers are murdered in a coffee shop by a gunman with a history of violent crime who is out on bond in a pending case of child rape/assault on police officer.  The shooter himself will be shot to death two days later during a confrontation with another police officer.

Deaths: Edward Woodward; John Jay O'Connor (husband of former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor); Fr. Robert Fox (founder, Fatima Family Apostolate).


1: The Treat of Lisbon takes effect.
7: The U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, at which Barack Obama is destined to make an ass of himself, opens (appropriately) on Pearl Harbor Day.
9: The Russians misfire a rocket, creating a really cool spiral light show over Northern Norway.
15: Mount Mayon on the Philippine island of Luzon begins to ooze lava after an explosion of ash, prompting evacuations in the province of Albay.
18: Former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, whose highly publicized antics included attempted marriage, illicit ordinations and defecting to the Moonies, is dismissed from the clerical state.  Also: the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign over the gate of Auschwitz is stolen.  It will be found two days later, cut into three pieces.
19: Pope Benedict XVI declares as Venerable Pope John Paul II (no surprise there) and Pope Pius XII (big, but welcome surprise there).
24: A mentally deranged woman jumps a barrier and knocks Pope Benedict over while he is processing into St. Peter's Basilica for Midnight Mass.  The Pope is able to get up and continue on, but  Roger Cardinal Etchegaray, age 87, suffers a broken leg in the attack.
25: A Muslim terrorist tries to blow up a commercial airliner over Detroit by means of a bomb in his crotch.  The detonator malfunctions, and a passenger subdues the terrorist.  The Obama administration announces that all this proves "the system works."
28: The first gay "marriage" takes place in Argentina.
30: Eight Americans are killed by a suicide bomber at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost Province, Afghanistan.  Also: Rush Limbaugh is hospitalized with chest pains in Honolulu.

Deaths:  Jennifer Jones (starred in The Song of Bernadette); Oral Roberts; Moyra Fraser (Penny in As Time Goes By); Brittany Murphy (voice of Luann in King of the Hill); Fr. Edouard Schillebeeckx.

And this is only a microscopic fraction of all the drama of 2009. May 2010 be a damn sight better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More on Archie Bunker, Prophet

Digital Hairshirt reports on airline "security" measures ranging from the nonsensical to the downright insane in the wake of the Crotch Bomber incident over Detroit on Christmas Day.  While passengers on some flights are not noticing any changes, on other flights, passengers are being subjected to the following indignities:

-- The removal of blankets

-- Being ordered to keep their hands visible at all times

-- Being locked out of lavatories

-- Being deprived of food and drink

-- Being prohibited from using any electronic devices whatsoever

-- Being deprived of access to their belongings throughout the flight

-- Being prevented from keeping things on their laps 

-- Redundant searches of their belongings

-- Not being allowed to read

-- Frisking at the gates, even of babies 

The inconsistency of application of these over-the-top procedures is being labeled a "tactic."  "'It keeps them [potential terrorists] guessing,' transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said."  More likely, however -- if a non-expert like me can venture an opinion -- the stupidity of these rules both in their content and their application is predictable as coming from an entity that cannot even reliably secure our borders or deliver our mail, and whose incompetence is surpassed only by its arrogance.

Why do we put up with this crap? After 9/11, the airlines ought to be kissing our asses, not searching them or harassing them.  I mean, the airlines ought to be glad that we still condescend to put up with all the unnecessary discomfort and stupidity in order to do business with them.

But even more than that, there is this: wasn't it passengers who thwarted the terrorists on United Airlines Flight 93 from destroying their objective on 9/11?  Wasn't it passengers who  thwarted the Shoe Bomber on December 22, 2001?  Wasn't it passengers who apprehended the Crotch Bomber over Detroit just a few days ago?  Have not passengers played a key role in quashing terrorist attacks on airliners since 9/11?  When are the airlines going to start rolling out the red carpet for passengers and stop treating them as liabilities?

Let passengers eat, drink, get into the bathroom, and use blankets.  Let them have access to their purses.  Let them read -- maybe that issue of Soldier of Fortune will come in handy.  Let them use electronic devices to their hearts' content, to the extent they don't interfere with the crew's radio communications.  (Wasn't it cell phones in the hands of passengers of Flight 93 that made them realize they weren't just going to land in Cuba, and that they needed to retake the plane?)   Let the blue-haired little old ladies take as many knitting needles and crochet hooks on board as they want -- what chance would a guy who wants to explode his crotch have against a knitting-needle-wielding Italian grandmother?    

Finally, I'll say it again: Archie Bunker had it right. Instead of  subjecting airline passengers and their infants to indignities that not even common criminals have to face, arm them. Pass out the pistols at the beginning of the trip; and then pick 'em up again at the end.  Case closed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Case Closed.

Four decades ago, people laughed at Archie Bunker when he proffered his solution to stickups and skyjackings.  But now that this jihadist with the crotch bomb has underscored the fact that we are basically on our own in the fight against terrorists on our commercial airliners, it's looking as though ole Arch's idea wasn't so dumb after all.

December 28th: Feast of the Holy Innocents

From today's Office of Readings: excerpt of a sermon by Bishop St Quodvultdeus.

A tiny Child is born, who is a great King. Wise men are led to Him from afar. They come to adore One who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of One who is born a King, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill Him, though if he would have faith in the Child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come.

Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage. To destroy one Child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.

You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers and fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong you own life, though you are seeking to kill Life Himself.

Yet your throne is threatened by the Source of grace -- so small, yet so great -- Who is lying in the manger. He is using you, all unaware of it, to work out His own purposes freeing souls from captivity to the devil. He has taken up the sons of the enemy into the ranks of God's adopted children.

The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The Christ Child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to Himself. See the kind of kingdom that is His, coming as He did in order to be this kind of King. See how the Deliverer is already working deliverance, the Savior already working salvation.

But you, Herod, do not know this and are disturbed and furious. While you vent your fury against the Child, you are already paying Him homage, and do not know it.

How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

December 27th: Feast of the Holy Family

Don't know why I didn't think of posting this before...

This is the Holy Family window at St. John's Cathedral, Boise.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

December 26th: Feast of St. Stephen the Martyr

Impetum Fecerunt Unanimes, by John Sheppard (1515-1559), who was 24 when St. Thomas More was put to death.

H/T Gillibrand at Catholic Church Conservation.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Gerard van Honthorst, Adoration of the Shepherds (1622).  Do you think St. Joseph would be using that ox's head as a handrest if he were not so gloriously preoccupied?

By the way...


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snow Scenes

Last night a new snowfall started, to celebrate the winter solstice and to replace what the rain had washed away a few days ago. On my way to work, the bare branches of the trees looked like lace in the dim light. This image doesn't do justice to the original: I didn't have time to wait for sunrise.

The snow continued for most of the day: light, but steady: small, wet flakes that stuck to everything they touched. 

Midday: despite a moderate wind, the snow balances steadily on bare thorns.

The snow makes everything beautiful...

...even a stray shopping cart.

By late afternoon, the sky was clear, the sun was out, and the pavement was covered in puddles.  But the snow had not all melted away.

The snow is a little misshapen, but still doing its balancing act on the branches.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Avenging Elephants

Elephant-ear-witnesses-to-be of hymns
and glorias, these ministrants all gray or
gray with white on legs or trunk, are a pilgrims'

pattern of revery not reverence — a
religious procession without any priests,
the centuries-old carefullest unrehearsed

Marianne Moore, "Elephants"

When Marianne Moore wrote the above lines in 1944, she didn't know the half of it.  It seems that over the summer of 2009, a year after the outbreak of persecution of Christians in the Indian state of Orissa, herds of wild elephants began attacking the villages where the persecutors and their ringleaders lived, destroying their homes and property -- and leaving those of local Christians untouched.  

The elephants traveled 300 km out of their sanctuary in order to destroy more than 700 houses in 30 villages.  Smaller elephants would scout out the target village, then return to the main herd; larger elephants would then come in and wreak destruction.  The villagers have dubbed these elephants, whose strikes are not random, "Christian elephants."

Read the story here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Litany of Humility

This prayer is attributed to Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), St. Pius X's Secretary of State. 


O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.


Saturday, December 19, 2009


From the It's About Flippin' Time files:

Now it's time to get busy and start praying for a miracle for his beatification!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Freemason's Tribute to a Saint

One saint pays tribute to another: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who had a great devotion to Joan of Arc, portrays her in a play she wrote in her honor.

Though there is nothing unusual about a saint honoring a saint, the honor paid to a saint by a Freemason might be a little more so.  Suddenly, out of the blue, I am thinking of Mark Twain's essay on Joan of Arc, which I haven't thought of recently nor read for years, since I first stumbled across it.  Interesting that a Freemason and a harsh critic of Christianity should have had such admiration for a Catholic saint -- although he apparently sets no store by that "childlike faith in the heavenly origin of her apparitions and her Voices, " which "not any threat of any form of death was able to frighten...out of her loyal heart," giving her sole credit for her gifts and accomplishments, and failing to trace them back to their ultimate Source.  Yet surely there are good grounds to hope that, as a reward for Twain's affection, its object was able to obtain Mercy for him in the end.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Heat Wave Intensifies

I only managed to shoot one snow pic this morning that I liked, and this is it: snow on the juniper bush.

I saw lots of beautiful snow scenes, but I was running late for Mass and didn't have time to stop and shoot them.  Then when Mass let out, it was above freezing, so a lot of those scenes were gone.

Right now, my thermometer says 33.  I hear water dripping outside, so it's probably actually warmer than that.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Heat Wave

At long last: after a solid week of highs in the low teens and subzero temperatures at night, it's warm enough to snow.

I know you people in Minnesota and Wisconsin and such places are playing the world's smallest violin over Boise's cold snap.  But then, if I wanted Minnesota weather, I'd have moved to Minnesota.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

December 9th: St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin

In 1474, Cuauhtlatoatzin ("Talking Eagle") was born a member of the Chichimeca people and a subject of the Aztecs in what is now part of Mexico City, during an epoch that was destined very soon to end. When he was 18, Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. By the time he was 47, Spain had conquered the advanced yet blood-soaked Aztec Empire. However, within a decade, the Indians were laboring under crushing oppression at the hands of corrupt Spanish officials. The first Bishop of Mexico, the Franciscan Juan de Zumárraga, struggled vainly to defend his new spiritual charges, who were close to rebellion. The harried bishop begged the Blessed Mother for her aid.

It was in this turbulent time, less than five years after the conquest of the Aztecs, that the Talking Eagle encountered the religion of the Spaniards. Even as a pagan, he appears to have led a life of penance and contemplation that no doubt laid the groundwork for what was to come to him in later life. The Talking Eagle became one of the earliest indigenous converts to the Catholic faith, accepting Baptism together with his wife and taking the name of Juan Diego in about 1524. Every Saturday and Sunday, a barefoot Juan Diego walked 14 miles to Tenochtitlan to attend Mass and receive religious instruction. After the death of his wife in 1529, Juan Diego moved in with an uncle, Juan Bernardino, which left him with only nine miles to travel to pursue his faith.

It was during one of these journeys in 1531 that the veil between heaven and earth was drawn aside for the humble farmer and mat-weaver. The 16th-century native scholar Antonio Valeriano describes what happened on that day in the Nahuatl-language Nican Mopohua (1556), the oldest and most authoritative account of the Guadalupe apparitions:
On a Saturday just before dawn, he was on his way to pursue divine worship and to engage in his own errands. As he reached the base of the hill known as Tepeyac, came the break of day, and he heard singing atop the hill, resembling singing of varied beautiful birds.

Occasionally the voices of the songsters would cease, and it appeared as if the mount responded. The song, very mellow and delightful, excelled that of the coyoltototl and the tzinizcan and of other pretty singing birds. Juan Diego stopped to look and said to himself: “By fortune, am I worthy of what I hear? Maybe I dream? Am I awakening? Where am I? Perhaps I am now in the terrestrial paradise which our elders had told us about? Perhaps I am now in heaven?” He was looking toward the east, on top of the mound, from whence came the precious celestial chant; and then it suddenly ceased and there was silence. He then heard a voice from above the mount saying to him: “Juanito, Juan Dieguito.” Then he ventured and went to where he was called. He was not frightened in the least; on the contrary, overjoyed.

Then he climbed the hill, to see from were he was being called. When he reached the summit, he saw a Lady, who was standing there and told him to come hither. Approaching her presence, he marveled greatly at her superhuman grandeur; her garments were shining like the sun; the cliff where she rested her feet, pierced with glitter, resembling an anklet of precious stones, and the earth sparkled like the rainbow. The mezquites, nopales, and other different weeds, which grow there, appeared like emeralds, their foliage like turquoise, and their branches and thorns glistened like gold. He bowed before her and herd her word, tender and courteous, like someone who charms and steems you highly.

She said: “Juanito, the most humble of my sons, where are you going?” He replied: “My Lady and Child, I have to reach your church in Mexico, Tlatilolco, to pursue things divine, taught and given to us by our priests, delegates of Our Lord.” She then spoke to him: “Know and understand well, you the most humble of my sons, that I am the ever virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God for whom we live, of the Creator of all things, Lord of heaven and the earth. I wish that a temple be erected here quickly, so I may therein exhibit and give all my love, compassion, help, and protection, because I am your merciful mother, to you, and to all the inhabitants on this land and all the rest who love me, invoke and confide in me; listen there to their lamentations, and remedy all their miseries, afflictions and sorrows. And to accomplish what my clemency pretends, go to the palace of the bishop of Mexico, and you will say to him that I manifest my great desire, that here on this plain a temple be built to me; you will accurately relate all you have seen and admired, and what you have heard. Be assured that I will be most grateful and will reward you, because I will make you happy and worthy of recompense for the effort and fatigue in what you will obtain of what I have entrusted. Behold, you have heard my mandate, my humble son; go and put forth all your effort.”

At this point he bowed before her and said: “My Lady, I am going to comply with your mandate; now I must part from you, I, your humble servant.” Then he descended to go to comply with the errand, and went by the avenue which runs directly into Mexico City.
To Juan Diego's great disappointment, Bishop Zumárraga, who had kept him waiting a very long time before granting him an audience, would not believe him. Dejected, he went back to the Lady on Tepeyac Hill and told her how he had been rebuffed. "For which I exceedingly beg, Lady and my Child," he said,
that you entrust the delivery of your message to someone of importance, well known, respected, and esteemed, so that they may believe in him; because I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf, and you, my Child, the least of my children, my Lady, you send me to a place where I never visit nor repose. Please excuse the great unpleasantness and let not fretfulness befall, my Lady and my All.
However, the Lady insisted that this important mission was for Juan Diego alone, and ordered him to go back and try again. He obeyed, and this time the bishop questioned him closely regarding what he had seen and heard, and told him to ask the Lady for a sign. When he returned to Tepeyac Hill after this second interview, the Lady told him to come back the next day, and then he would receive the sign that would convince the bishop to comply with her request.

But in the meantime, Juan Diego's uncle, Bernardino, became so ill that his life was despaired of, and Bernardino sent his nephew to fetch a priest. Knowing that the Lady would be waiting for him on Tepeyac Hill, Juan Diego avoided the place so that he would not be diverted from his urgent errand. But the Lady accosted him and asked him where he was going. When he told her, she said:
Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my embrace? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Do not be afflicted by the illness of your uncle, who will not die now of it. Be assured that he is now cured.
She then told Juan Diego to climb to the top of the hill, where he found a variety of choice Castillian roses growing out of season and on a barren patch of land. He gathered them and brought them back to the Lady, who arranged them herself in his frail cactus-fiber tilma and told him to present them to the bishop. When, after yet another long wait, he finally saw the bishop, he unfolded the tilma, and the roses fell out; and as the roses scattered on the floor, the image of Our Lady as Juan Diego had seen her on Tepeyac Hill appeared on the tilma. This put an end to Bishop Zumárraga's doubts and convinced him that this was Our Lady's answer to his prayers.

In obedience to the Blessed Mother's request, a shrine was built at the foot of Tepeyac Hill, and the miraculous tilma was housed in the chapel. Juan Diego gave everything he owned to his uncle -- who had indeed been cured and had also seen the Lady at the very moment she told his nephew about his cure -- and moved into a small dwelling at the shrine, devoting himself to prayer, virtue, and the care of the shrine and the pilgrims who came to visit it. He received the then-extraordinary privilege of receiving Holy Communion three times a week, and died in the odor of sanctity on May 30, 1548 at the age of 74. Meanwhile, by means of the miraculous image -- not to mention the humility and obedience of her servant, Juan Diego -- the Blessed Mother won millions of souls for the Church, and averted the bloody rebellion that had loomed on the horizon in Mexico.

A footnote. Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen was a great devotee of the Blessed Mother, and remarked that he prayed for the following intentions regarding his death: (1) that he "drop dead" at the age of 80; (2) that he die on a Saturday in honor of Our Lady, or (3) that he die on one of her feast days. In fact, he died in 1979 at the age of 84; on a Sunday; and not on a feast of Our Lady. He was disappointed on every count.

Or was he? The date of Fulton Sheen's death -- December 9th -- was the anniversary of the first apparition on Tepeyac Hill, and is now the feast of St. Juan Diego, whom Pope John Paul II canonized at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2002.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

December 8th: Feast of the Immaculate Conception

From Ineffabilis Deus (Bl. Pius IX, 1854):

The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart than to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in many wonderful ways the Virgin's supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This they did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced His merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind -- words by which He crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, "I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed" [Genesis 3:15] -- taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That His most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with Him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with Him and through Him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.

This sublime and singular privilege of the Blessed Virgin, together with her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin, as well as the unspeakable abundance and greatness of all heavenly graces, virtues and privileges -- these the Fathers beheld in that ark of Noah, which was built by divine command and escaped entirely safe and sound from the common shipwreck of the whole world;[cf. Genesis 6:9] in the ladder which Jacob saw reaching from the earth to heaven, by whose rungs the angels of God ascended and descended, and on whose top the Lord himself leaned [cf. Genesis 28:12] in that bush which Moses saw in the holy place burning on all sides, which was not consumed or injured in any way but grew green and blossomed beautifully; [cf. Exodus 3:2] in that impregnable tower before the enemy, from which hung a thousand bucklers and all the armor of the strong; [cf. Song of Songs 4:4] in that garden enclosed on all sides, which cannot be violated or corrupted by any deceitful plots; [cf. Song of Songs 4:12] as in that resplendent city of God, which has its foundations on the holy mountains; [cf. Psalm 87:1] in that most august temple of God, which, radiant with divine splendors, is full of the glory of God; [cf. Isaiah 6:1-4] and in very many other biblical types of this kind. In such allusions the Fathers taught that the exalted dignity of the Mother of God, her spotless innocence and her sanctity unstained by any fault, had been prophesied in a wonderful manner.

In like manner did they use the words of the prophets to describe this wondrous abundance of divine gifts and the original innocence of the Virgin of whom Jesus was born. They celebrated the august Virgin as the spotless dove, as the holy Jerusalem, as the exalted throne of God, as the ark and house of holiness which Eternal Wisdom built, and as that Queen who, abounding in delights and leaning on her Beloved, came forth from the mouth of the Most High, entirely perfect, beautiful, most dear to God and never stained with the least blemish.

When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God Himself, proclaimed full of grace [cf. Luke 1:28] by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction. Hence she was worthy to hear Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exclaim: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."[Luke 1:42]


Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin, she from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God Himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent, the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality, the one and only daughter of life -- not of death -- the plant not of anger but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root.

As if these splendid eulogies and tributes were not sufficient, the Fathers proclaimed with particular and definite statements that when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned; for to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely. They also declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity; that she was chosen before the ages, prepared for Himself by the Most High, foretold by God when He said to the serpent, "I will put enmities between you and the woman."[Genesis 3:15] -- unmistakable evidence that she crushed the poisonous head of the serpent. And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to Him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace.


Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through His Son, that He would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own:
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.

Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he thinks in his heart.


Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.

Given at St. Peter's in Rome, the eighth day of December, 1854, in the eighth year of our pontificate.

Pius IX

By the way:

Been to Mass yet???

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunset over Boise

Sunrises over Boise are pretty cool...

...sunsets aren't too shabby, either.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Sunday of Advent, 1969: The Long Lent Begins

On November 30, 1969, the first Sunday of Advent, the Novus Ordo Missae took effect, and what is now known as the Extraordinary Rite was effectively abolished.  The floodgates of mediocrity and stupidity flew open.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that the mediocrity and stupidity were merely unmasked.  In a fascinating interview with Latin Mass magazine in 2001, Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, the wife of the 20th-century theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand, traces the historical roots of the crisis of the last 40 years.  An extended excerpt (emphasis added):
I relate in my biography of my husband, The Soul of a Lion, that a few years after his conversion to Catholicism in the 1920s, he began teaching at the University of Munich. Munich was a Catholic city. Most Catholics at the time went to Mass, but he always said that it was there that he became aware of the loss of a sense of the supernatural among Catholics. One incident especially offered him sufficient proof, and it greatly saddened him.

When passing through a door, my husband would always give precedence to those of his students who were priests. One day, one of his colleagues (a Catholic) expressed his astonishment and disapproval: “Why do you let your students step ahead of you?” “Because they are priests,” replied my husband. “But they do not have a Ph.D.” My husband was grieved. To value a Ph.D. is a natural response; to feel awe for the sublimity of the priesthood is a supernatural response. The professor’s attitude proved that his sense for the supernatural had been eroded. That was long before Vatican II. But until the Council, the beauty and the sacredness of the Tridentine liturgy masked this phenomenon.
 ...[My husband] believed that after Pius X’s condemnation of the heresy of Modernism, its proponents merely went underground. He would say that they then took a much more subtle and practical approach. They spread doubt simply by raising questions about the great supernatural interventions throughout salvation history, such as the Virgin Birth and Our Lady’s perpetual virginity, as well as the Resurrection, and the Holy Eucharist. They knew that once faith – the foundation – totters, the liturgy and the moral teachings of the Church would follow suit. My husband entitled one of his books The Devastated Vineyard. After Vatican II, a tornado seemed to have hit the Church.

Modernism itself was the fruit of the calamity of the Renaissance and the Protestant Revolt, and it took a long historical process to unfold. If you were to ask a typical Catholic in the Middle Ages to name a hero or heroine, he would answer with the name of a saint. The Renaissance began to change that. Instead of a saint, people would think of geniuses as persons to emulate, and with the oncoming of the industrial age, they would answer with the name of a great scientist. Today, they would answer with a sports figure or cinema personality. In other words, the loss of the sense of the supernatural has brought an inversion of the hierarchy of values.

Even the pagan Plato was open to a sense of the supernatural. He spoke of the weakness, frailty and cowardice often evidenced in human nature. He was asked by a critic to explain why he had such a low opinion of humanity. He replied that he was not denigrating man, only comparing him to God.

With the loss of a sense of the supernatural, there is a loss of the sense of a need for sacrifice today. The closer one comes to God, the greater should be one’s sense of sinfulness. The further one gets from God, as today, the more we hear the philosophy of the new age: “I’m OK, You’re OK.” This loss of the inclination to sacrifice has led to the obscuring of the Church’s redemptive mission. Where the Cross is downplayed, our need for redemption is given hardly a thought.

The aversion to sacrifice and redemption has assisted the secularization of the Church from within. We have been hearing for many years from priests and bishops about the need for the Church to adapt herself to the world. Great popes like St. Pius X said just the opposite: the world must adapt itself to the Church.
The interview concludes with the following summation:
The devil hates the ancient Mass. He hates it because it is the most perfect reformulation of all the teachings of the Church. It was my husband who gave me this insight about the Mass. The problem that ushered in the present crisis was not the traditional Mass. The problem was that priests who offered it had already lost the sense of the supernatural and the transcendent. They rushed through the prayers, they mumbled and didn’t enunciate them. That is a sign that they had brought to the Mass their growing secularism. The ancient Mass does not abide irreverence, and that was why so many priests were just as happy to see it go.
And so the ancient Mass went -- but only temporarily.  It is worth noting that, for all the anguish that the sudden shelving of the old rites caused, these rites have at least come down to us intact: if the Ordo Missae of 1962 was out of the reach of the faithful, it was also out of the reach of modernist tinkerers who have had a field day with the new Ordo.
Viewed in this light, the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae and its constellation of latent follies was not the source of the crisis of the last four decades, but -- thanks to the divine Providence that works all things to our good -- its remedy.  Because God is ultimately in charge, and not Archbishop Bugnini or any other infiltrators in the Church, the Novus Ordo was always bound to be an instrument of good, for all the damage that has been wreaked on its account.  It has destroyed our illusions about our spiritual health.  It has torn the veneer of holiness off the rot and the maggots and put them in our collective face.
A bitter cure, to be sure, but that is often the nature of a cure.  A boil, after all, has to be lanced and drained.  The process is painful and disgusting, but necessary.

And there is healing at the end of it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

More Dawnings

One of the advantages of Daylight Savings:

I can roll out of bed at the latest possible minute and still catch a sunrise!

They'll Have Nun of It

We all know the apostolic visitation of institutes of women religious in the United States has not sat well with certain congregations and prominent religious.  We hear complaints about how "demeaning" and "intrusive" is the visitation; we  hear the lamentations of liberal religious comparing themselves to victims of battered wife syndrome; we even hear about the "lack of transparency" of a process that has its own website.  

Now, it appears the temper tantrum is working itself into a rolling boil.  Crows the Non-Catholic Reporter: "The vast majority of U.S. women religious are not complying with a Vatican request to answer questions in a document of inquiry that is part of a three-year study of the congregations. Leaders of congregations, instead, are leaving questions unanswered or sending in letters or copies of their communities' constitutions."  In particular, the "vast majority" is annoyed by a three-part questionnaire that seeks information about individual institutes, including vital statistics and -- most offensive of all -- how Catholic the institutes really are.    The deadline for responding to the Visitator's questionnaire was November 20th.  According to NCR's source, only about half of the responses to the questionnaires have been accounted for, and only 1% of these have been answered as asked. 
If it is true that most women religious are refusing to answer this questionnaire, then that  right there should tell Rome everything she needs to know about the state of women religious in this country.  That some congregations have responded to the visitation by consulting civil lawyers is also very revealing, as well as counter-Scriptural.  But just in case Rome doesn't get the point, some of her daughters are driving it home with what apparently passes for "thought" in liberal congregations.  Some choice samples from the NCR piece:

-- "What I can say quite clearly is that every leader that I know is trying to answer the survey with integrity. How that integrity works out in each case is up to the wisdom of each leader and her council."  Whatever that means.

-- "I feel the response was a thoughtful, respectful response to a very puzzling situation. The purpose of this investigation is unclear to me, given the level of the questions. I have always been proud of our community and the many women who serve God's people. The first sentence of our letter [to Apostolic Visitator Mother Clare Millea, Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus] says it all, 'As apostolic women religious, we are faithful to the call of the Gospel and to our respective charisms.' "  Since Vatican II, as demonstrated by additional quotes below, so many women religous have felt free to redefine "faithful" that this sentence says exactly nothing.

-- "Vatican II took us out of the ghettos and into ecology, feminism and justice in the world. The Vatican still has a difficult time accepting that."  This sentence does say it all.

-- "[It is] unlikely the Vatican wanted us to come out of this being more confident of our identity as self-defining religious agents, but that is exactly what has happened."  A stunning admission, evidence of the need for the visitation.

And then, from the Too Stupid for Comment Files, there is the hyperventilating stuff that both illustrates the secularization of religious institutes since Vatican II and contributes to the stereotype of women as hysterical, coming from the type of women who profess to be out to destroy stereotypes:

All along, said one woman religious, the challenge has been to respond to the Vatican in a way that breaks a cycle of violence. She said that the women religious communities have attempted to respond by using a language "devoid of the violence" they found in the Vatican questionnaire and within the wider study. She characterized the congregation responses as "creative and affirming," and part of an effort to set a positive example in "nonviolent resistance."

"On the one hand we didn't want to roll over and play dead," she said. "So the question was, "How do you step outside a violent framework and do something new?' That was the challenge that emerged." One congregation, she said, cited a U.S. bishops' statement concerning domestic abuse in its response letter to Millea. "The point is, there have to be more than two choices: Take the abuse and offer it up, or kill the abuser."

Women religious, she said, are asking if there is a "Ghandian or Martin Luther King way" to deal with violence they felt is being done to them.

The dissenters who responded to the questionnaire with non-responses or with just their constitutions claim that the constitutions tell the whole story about their institutes, and that beyond these, they do not need to elaborate.  

Obviously, the constitution only tells half the story.  The other half of the story is how faithful these women are to their constitutions, and to what extent their constitutions are a dead letter.  This is the half were we find out the hypocrisy of the liberal religious, who demand transparency from Rome and opacity for themselves.