Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blessing against Vermin!

After spending bushels of money on traps, poisons and exterminators, did you ever think about invoking the power of the Church against a particularly stubborn infestation of pests?  Where did we ever get the idea that we were too sophisticated to call a priest for help in these situations?  Yet one arrow in the Church's quiver is a deprecatory blessing against pests:

The priest vests in surplice and purple stole, and coming to the field or place infested with these creatures, says:

Antiphon: Arise, Lord, help us; and deliver us for your kindness' sake.

Ps 43.1: O God, our ears have heard, our fathers have declared to us.

All: Glory be to the Father, etc.

P: As it was in the beginning, etc.

All Ant.: Arise, Lord, help us; and deliver us for your kindness' sake.

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.

We entreat you, Lord, be pleased to hear our prayers; and even though we rightly deserve, on account of our sins, this plague of mice (or locusts, worms, etc.), yet mercifully deliver us for your kindness' sake. Let this plague be expelled by your power, and our land and fields be left fertile, so that all it produces redound to your glory and serve our necessities; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.
Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, the donor of all good things, and the most merciful pardoner of our sins; before whom all creatures bow down in adoration, those in heaven, on earth, and below the earth; preserve us sinners by your might, that whatever we undertake with trust in your protection may meet with success by your grace. And now as we utter a curse on these noxious pests, may they be cursed by you; as we seek to destroy them, may they be destroyed by you; as we seek to exterminate them, may they be exterminated by you; so that delivered from this plague by your goodness, we may freely offer thanks to your majesty; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.


I cast out you noxious vermin, by God + the Father almighty, by Jesus + Christ, His only-begotten Son, and by the Holy + Spirit. May you speedily be banished from our land and fields, lingering here no longer, but passing on to places where you can do no harm. In the name of the almighty God and the entire heavenly court, as well as in the name of the holy Church of God, we pronounce a curse on you, that wherever you go you may be cursed, decreasing from day to day until you are obliterated. Let no remnant of you remain anywhere, except what might be necessary for the welfare and use of mankind. Be pleased to grant our request, you who are coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.

All: Amen.

The places infested are sprinkled with holy water.

H/T Fr. Z.

Novena to St. Dominic, First Day: The Force of Good Example

The last day of this novena is August 8th, the feast of St. Dominic.

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle within them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and our hearts shall be created.

R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, Who hast taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be ever truly wise, and ever rejoice in His holy consolation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O light of Holy Church,
Teacher of Truth Divine,
Sweet rose of patience,
Ivory white thy chastity doth shine.
Of Wisdom's living waters
All freely thou hast given;
O messenger of grace to men,
Lift thou our souls to heaven.
"He shone in his days as the morning star, in the midst of a cloud, and as the moon at the full; and as the sun, when it shineth, so did he shine in the temple of God." (Ecclus. L, 6, 7) 

R. Thanks be to God.

Spiritual Reading


St. Dominic was born in Spain, A.D. 1170. With the dawn of reason his whole soul turned to God. His childhood was most pious, and his youth angelic in purity. In the University of Palentia he was the model student. When twenty-five he became a Canon Regular at Osma, and with the religious habit he put on the Lord Jesus Christ and strove in all things to imitate Him. His time was divided into prayer, study of Holy Scripture, and community duties. Silence and retirement were his delight; works of penance and tears of contrition his meat and drink. Going in 1205 to France, he spent many years in every kind of labor for the conversion of the Albigensian heretics. Like Jesus Christ he passed the day in apostolic work, the night in prayer. His penance was extreme, but to others he was gentle, sweet and kind. Many were converted by his miracles, many by the example of his holy life. Six times he journeyed to Rome, once to Spain, once to Paris, walking barefoot, praying or singing on the road, preaching in the towns and villages, spending the nights in contemplation. He founded in 1215 the Order of Friars Preachers for the conversion of souls. He was a man of truly apostolic heart, a column of the faith, a trumpet of the Gospel, the light of Christ to men. He died at Bologna in 1221.


The father bids the world prepare
The nuptials of the Lamb to share;
The hour has struck; the Master sends
His faithful servant to His friends.
Rich food of life He offers all,
Who come, responsive to His call.
V. And Dominic His herald names,
Who through the world the feast proclaims.

Rich food of life He offers all,
Who come, responsive to His call.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: 

R. Rich food of life He offers all,
Who come, responsive to His call.

V. Pray for us, O blessed father Dominic.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O most enlightened teacher of divine truth, holy father, St. Dominic, who didst teach what was profitable for salvation and didst make thyself all things to all men, that thou mightest win all things to Christ; help us to close our ears and hearts to all false doctrine and whatever may be hurtful to our souls and to open them joyfully to the truths of Holy Church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
V. May the divine assistance remain with us always.

R. Amen.

V. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 

R. Amen.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 25, 1934: Assassination of Engelbert Dollfuss

Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss called himself the youngest (43) and the shortest (4'11) Chancellor in all of Europe.  A devout Catholic who found himself in a confused age when good people embraced one evil in order to counter another, Dollfuss was the only European head of state to actively and openly oppose Hitlerism in the 1930s.  

In 1933, Dollfuss met Dietrich von Hildebrand, the great 20th-century Catholic philosopher, and agreed to provide financial backing for an anti-Nazi, anti-Communist magazine that Hildebrand wanted to start in order to combat the disastrous moral confusion of the day.  Determined to preserve the independence of Austria, Dollfuss took stern measures in the face of  Nazi and Communist attempts to take power.  

Seventy-six years ago yesterday, as part of an attempted coup, Nazi assassins dressed as Austrian guards invaded the Chancery and shot Engelbert Dollfuss in the back.  Dollfuss lay in agony for seven hours, during which time the Nazis refused to bring him either a doctor or a priest.  The chancellor who spared not even his own life in the combat against the evil rampant in Europe breathed his last praying God to his murderers.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Of Giant Sloths, Disneyland Druidism and Presbyterians

Christopher Johnson of Bad Vestments alerts Catholic liturgical abusers that the Presbyterians are giving them a run for their money:

If you could stick these poseurs in a time machine and transport them to an authentic ancient pagan festival -- say, in Britain, around the time Stonehenge was built -- would they last more than five minutes?  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More on the Secrets of July 13, 1917

My good friend TH2, a devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, thoughtfully took time out  from battling the habitless hordes and keeping Mr. Scampers in line to respond at length to my post about the Secrets of Fatima, revealed to the children during the July 13th apparition.  He raises some serious questions about the secrets, about which there has been no shortage of controversy.  I think these questions are worth a post-long response, so here goes:

1. Why did Pope Benedict write a letter to Socci, thanking him for the "sentiments" of his book? Why is Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State, in an all out ideational war against Socci et al?
Here I must admit to gaps -- or, as William F. Buckley, Jr., would have said, lacunae -- in my knowledge.  I suspect I am going to have to break down and order Antonio Socci's book, which I confess to never having read.  I am not completely up on the feud between Socci and Cardinal Bertone, so I don't know the answer to the second question.  As to the first, I find a reference to this letter from the Pope to Socci in the Fatima Crusader, 86 at 42, 49, which is associated with the highly problematic Fr. Gruner, in an article by Socci.  He says that Pope Benedict thanked him for the "sentiments that inspired" his book, The Fourth Secret.  He implies that he is keeping that letter to himself, except for that one hint that he gives about its contents, so I don't know what the letter says.  (If you  have a source for the text, I will check it out.)  But if the Pope is thanking him for the sentiments behind the book, as distinguished from its theme or contents, I don't think that's necessarily an endorsement of the book itself.  In fact, based just on what I've seen so far -- which admittedly isn't much -- that could very well be a studied way of avoiding endorsing the contents. 

2. To my understanding, Sister Lucia was the only religious in the world forbidden against speaking to outsiders re: Fatima unless permitted by the Vatican. Why was that?

It might have been to protect her from the importunities of curiosity seekers.  Recall that when Lucia left Aljustrel for the Dorothean convent in Spain, she was strictly enjoined never to mention Fatima.  Part of the reason for this was to give her a shot at having a normal life, which she could not have had if she had stayed at home.  Afterward, she never spoke or wrote about the apparitions except under obedience, and even then, she did so reluctantly.  Besides, you can't be a cloistered Carmelite nun with a string of visitors hanging on the bell; and in any case, I doubt she would have wanted to complain to outsiders about Vatican foot-dragging in the matter of the Blessed Mother's requests.  I think she would have viewed that as a failure of reverence and obedience.     

3. Conversion of Russia Did Our Lady mean a rejection of Communism and a return to the Orthodox Church? But this would infer that the 1054 schism was valid, which is inconsistent with a return to unity with Peter in Rome. Then, did she mean that Russia was to become Catholic? Signs of this currently? Yet, Pope Benedict is now making inroads with the Orthodox. Or is this still many decades, centuries away? "God is not on our schedule" as you said.

We can only speculate on what the conversion of Russia would have entailed, and in what time frame, if we had promptly carried out Our Lady's wishes.   I bet it would have been more or less instantaneous.  But since we dinked around for several decades, we now have to live with the consequences of Russia's errors spread and entrenched throughout the world, so that we are presented with difficulties we would not otherwise have faced -- not the least of which was the rise of Soviet Russia as a superpower.  I suspect the conversion of Russia is now going to have to take place in steps, because of the damage that must now be undone.  I think it's safe to say that a necessary first step was the neutralizing of the immediate threat (as distinguished from the long-term threat) that Russia posed to world peace.  That certainly happened, and in a most astounding way: I'm betting you're old enough to remember the precipitous overthrow of the Soviet regime.  I wouldn't say Our Lady would endorse the schism you mention, but I don't think we can rule out that the Russian Orthodox Church has a role to play, especially in view of Pope Benedict's inroads.  (I don't think we would disagree in any case that the Russian Orthodox Church is orders of magnitude better than, and a huge step up from, atheistic Communism, though it should by no means be the final destination.)  As you point out, God's not on our timetable.

4. Spreading of Russia's Errors. Is the Marxist contagion still not infecting China, North Korea? Why did the 1989 student revolt in China fail when Communist governments elsewhere toppled so swiftly? Socialism - in its Gramscian form - seems to be gaining momentum in the West (e.g. Obama)?

No question about it: Marxism is still twitching.  The Chinese and the North Koreans are still enslaved; and, since the United States has failed to deserve to be spared the scourge of Marxism that has afflicted so many other nations, we now have it in power in Washington, D.C.  Yet no one can seriously argue that Marxism did not suffer a catastrophe of the first magnitude immediately on the heels of the 1984 act of consecration.  Nevertheless, there are still mop-up operations to be carried out, even after the enemy is defeated; there are still holdouts here and there, manned by soldiers ready to die rather than surrender.

As far as the gain in momentum of socialism in the west, I would chalk that up, not to the failure of the 1984 act of consecration to be efficacious, but to our own decadence.  We have  allowed ourselves to become mired in vice, and as a result, we have failed to take up the weapons we have been given to gain victory with.

5. Period of Peace in the World That is a hard one... If the fall of Communism was a sign of a valid consecration by the Pope, indicating the start of a period of peace, there has not been much peace since, especially since 9/11...."promises at Fatima were conditional", as you said.   

This question is linked with the previous one.  The Fatima promises were conditional, and our failure to fulfill the necessary conditions has played its role.  Russia had had almost 70 years to spread her errors throughout the world before we made a move, by which point, as mentioned above, we were faced with almost insurmountable yet perfectly avoidable problems.  Now, I think we are going to have to wait for that period of peace, since now the mess will take longer to clean up.  

One part at least of the Fatima message came through loud and clear: we must pray, do penance and amend our lives.  This part of the message, I think, is the most important part and will never cease to be relevant.

Yet it's the part that gets the least attention.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Another Ally for Victory: Doubting Thomas

Check out the latest Ally for Victory,  a new blog out of the eastern United States, Doubting Thomas' Blog.  Tom is a defender of conservatism and a huge fan of debate, and will take on all comers.  

If you like watching the dismantling of liberal sacred cows, go to Tom's blog.  If you are a defender of liberal sacred cows, go to Tom's blog.  Bring a first-aid kit.    

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why the Extraordinary Form Is Better

I know that for what follows, I am going to be solemnly apprised of the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass, and the fact that I am opinionated, and that I have no business holding that one form of the Mass is superior to another, and that I lack charity, and that I think I am more Catholic than the Pope, etc., etc.  Oh well.  Whatever.  Let not the apostles of "tolerance" rush to judgment.  I'm not a sedevacantist, and I have deliberately refrained from attending SSPX Masses, and I don't think the Novus Ordo is invalid.  But I do think it is not as good as the Mass we tried to shelve 40 years ago.


1. The Extraordinary Form Is Better Equipped to Focus the Mind on God.  The single biggest way that the Extraordinary Rite of Mass focuses the mind on God is by the priest facing God and not the congregation.  I have heard it argued that versus populum is of older vintage than ad orientem; however, if that is true, once you have attended a Mass in which the priest faces ad orientem, it is easy to understand why versus populum was previously abandoned.  In the ad orientem posture, the priest faces God.  He faces in the same direction as the congregation, thereby underscoring the unity of purpose between the priest and the faithful.  Another way in which the Extraordinary Rite focuses the mind more on God is by the fact that the Rite is celebrated in Latin and not in the vernacular.  This brings home to us the fact that the words spoken are the voice of the Church, and that they are addressed, not to us, but to God.  These reminders that we are not the center of worship are healthy, and help us to direct our minds where they should be directed during Mass.  (And yes, I realize that the Novus Ordo may also be celebrated in Latin and ad orientem, but let's face it: how often is that done?  The Extraordinary Form of Mass, on the other hand, is always done this way.)

2. The Extraordinary Form Sheds More Light on Truths of the Faith. One could go on meditating on the Mass until the end of time, and still not unpack all of its significance; but I find that there are some truths that the Extraordinary Rite makes more obvious.   One is the awesome dignity of the priesthood.  Another is the fact that the Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary.  Mass in the Extraordinary Form teaches me that the priest is not just any old guy doing a job, but a man specially selected and set apart in order to perform the Holy Sacrifice.  I can tell this by the fact that he is facing God, as I am, but he is permitted to approach the altar and to stand in the breach, as it were, between God and myself, obtaining God's pardon and grace for me.  I can also tell this by the fact that the priest does most of the praying and performs most of the external actions, while I sit, stand or kneel quietly.  This teaches me both the futility and the needlessness of relying purely on my own efforts to win salvation: futile, because I am powerless, and needless, because in that moment, God has appointed a minister to do for me what I cannot do for myself.  And all of this teaches me that the Mass is none other than the Sacrifice of Calvary.  The priest is alter Christus: Christ, in the person of the priest, entering the Holy of Holies, offering His own Self to secure redemption, as Paul says in Chapter 9 of the Epistle to the Hebrews.  The Holy Sacrifice itself is offered in silence: this teaches me that I am in the presence of Mystery.  This silence is not the muteness of ignorance, nor the silence of an empty church; it is the expectant hush falling over Calvary as the Savior breathes his last.  This moment is so solemn that when the priest first approaches the altar at the beginning of Mass, he does so in stages, begging mercy and the forgiveness both of his own sins and those of the people.  The penitential right is not slopped or rushed through, but dwelt upon, to make us understand our own sinfulness and nothingness before the stupendous mystery in which we are about to enter.

3. The Extraordinary Form Is Less Susceptible to Liturgical Abuses.  How can a priest improvise Latin nowadays?  No doubt it was done in the past; but at least the faithful (those not conversant in Latin) did not need to be contaminated by it.  And since the priest is not facing the people, and there is not an army of laity in the sanctuary, there is no room for the carnival atmosphere that too often pervades the Novus Ordo Mass. 

4. The Extraordinary Form Sheds More Light on the Reality of the Communion of Saints.  There is no touchy-feely stuff in the Extraordinary Rite; no hand-holding (yuck); no forced intimacy with our neighbors in the pews (double yuck); yet there is a greater sense of unity with the whole Church, Triumphant, Suffering and Militant, in this rite.  The fact that the priest and the faithful are all facing in the same direction underscores the unity of purpose and intention in this solemn act of public worship.  Plus, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is the Mass -- admittedly with some changes -- that has nourished centuries of saints.  It sheds light on their words.  When St. Faustina describes her mystical experiences during Mass, or when Dietrich von Hildebrand explicates the opening prayer at the very beginning of the Mass (Introibo ad altare Dei) -- now I understand what they're talking about.

5. The Extraordinary Form Is Hated and Despised by All the Right People.  Take it away, Michael Voris.

This program is from

The Mass in the Extraordinary Form is a precious treasure that we were foolish ever to try to change or throw away. I hope that one day the Extraordinary Rite will become the Ordinary Rite, and eventually displace the Novus Ordo entirely.  Until that day comes...I'll continue to attend the Extraordinary Rite whenever I can, and tough it out whenever I can't. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13, 1917: The Secrets

Now it was time to show the three children why it was necessary for them to suffer and to make reparation for sinners.  Lucia's Fourth Memoir:
A few moments after arriving at the Cova da Iria, near the holmoak, where a large number of people were praying the Rosary, we saw the flash of light once more, and a moment later Our Lady appeared on the holmoak.
"What do you want of me?"  I asked.

"I want you to come here on the 13th of next month, to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you."

"I would like to ask you to tell us who you are, and to work a miracle so that everybody will believe that you are appearing to us."

"Continue to come here every month.  In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe."

I then made some requests, but I cannot recall now just what they were.  What I do remember is that Our Lady said it was necessary for such people to pray the Rosary in order to obtain these graces during the year.  And she continued:

"Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially whenever you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months.  The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire.  Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear.  (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me.)  The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.  Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:

"You have seen hell, where the souls of poor sinners go.  To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.  If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.  The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI.  When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that He is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father.

"To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.  If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; but if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.  The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated.  In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.  The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.  In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved..."
It must have been at this point that the children received the "Third Secret," which would not be revealed publicly for eighty-three years.  However, in obedience to the Bishop of Leiria, Lucia committed the Third Secret to writing in 1944 as follows (edited here for punctuation, spelling and paragraph breaks):
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand.  Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: "Penance, penance, penance!" 

And we saw in an immense light that is God something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it: a Bishop dressed in white.  We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.  Other bishops, priests, men and women religious going up [sic] a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark.  Before reaching there, the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins; and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way.
Having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big cross, he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him; and in the same way there died, one after another, the other bishops, priests, men and women religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the martyrs, and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Then, after warning the children against telling anyone what they had seen and heard (except that the girls could tell Francisco, who was not able to hear what was said) the Blessed Mother gave the children what has come to be known as the Fatima Prayer, albeit in a somewhat different form than that which is now commonly used (at least in English):
"When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: O my Jesus, forgive us, save us from the fire of hell.  Lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need."

Then the apparition ended.  But the controversy over what happened that July 13th has not ended.  The Third Secret has given rise to much speculation, all the more since the decision was made not to make the Secret public in 1960, the year it was assumed the Secret should have been revealed. 

Why 1960?  When she wrote down the Secret for the bishop of Leiria-Fatima, Sr. Lucia wrote on the outer envelope that it could only be opened after 1960.  When asked why, and whether Our Lady had fixed the date, she replied: "It was not Our Lady. I fixed the date because I had the intuition that before 1960 it would not be understood, but that only later would it be understood. Now it can be better understood. I wrote down what I saw; however it was not for me to interpret it, but for the Pope."  By the time the contents of the Secret were finally made public in 2000, on the occasion of the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, so much doomsday-scenario speculation had gone on about it, during the bloodiest century in human history, that it seemed almost anti-climactic. 

So much so that a whole industry has grown up around the idea that the entire Third Secret has not been revealed, in spite of Sr. Lucia's categorical statement in 2001 that there are no more secrets.  It doesn't make sense, it is argued, that the vision of the Holy Father being shot refers to the attempt on the life of John Paul II on May 13, 1981, as asserted in the theological commentary on the Third Secret.  But that is a gross oversimplification of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's remarks.  The vision, he said, contains the whole bloody history of the 20th century, "a century of martyrs," as well as the special role of the Pope in "the Via Crucis of an entire century".  And, in view of the Communist connections of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Pope's would-be assassin, Ratzinger's reference to a comment Sr. Lucia made to John Paul II in a letter in 1982 should not be overlooked: "The third part of the 'secret' refers to Our Lady's words: 'If not, [Russia] will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.'"

Which brings us to part two of the July 13th controversy: whether or not, in spite of Sr. Lucia's statements to the contrary, the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary has ever taken place.  On December 2, 1940, Sr. Lucia wrote to Pope Pius XII, asking that he consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart, and order all bishops to do the same in union with him.  She stated that Our Lady came to ask for this in 1929, and described the efforts that had been made to have it done.  On October 31, 1942, Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate heart.  On July 7, 1952, he consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart, but without the participation of the world's bishops.  Further acts of consecration follow in 1964, 1982 and 1983.  John Paul II finally made the consecration as requested on March 25, 1984, yet it is still alleged that the consecration has not been properly made.   Perhaps the strongest argument they have is the moral and economic mess that Russia is still in today, which seems to counter-indicate a change of heart on the part of the Russian people. 

Concerning the consecration controversy, some observations:

-- The 1984 consecration is criticized for not having explicitly mentioned Russia.  Yet it is plain from the text of the act of consecration that the 1952 act of Pope Pius XII, which does mention Russia by name, is incorporated by reference.  That would be good enough in a legal document; it was clearly good enough for heaven, as subsequent events attested.

-- Our Lady promised that Russia would be converted, but she neither said when this would take place, nor promised that it would take place instantaneously.  God is not on our schedule.

-- There is a danger of expecting too much.  Our Lady never promised that the consecration of Russia would eradicate all evils from the earth.  That will not happen this side of the Last Day.  Furthermore, she did not say how long the "period of peace" that would follow the conversion of Russia would last.

-- Our Lady's promises at Fatima were conditional.  God made His promised blessings dependent upon our repentance and conversion, which has not generally been forthcoming.  The fact that we have not promptly heeded Our Lady's requests for repentance and conversion must be set down as a factor in the present state of world affairs.

-- We must not forget that more than half a century elapsed between the time Our Lady asked for the consecration (1929) and the time it was actually done (1984).  That was more than half a century that Russia had to spread her errors throughout the world.  The late date at which the consecration was done, coupled with the amount of damage done in the world by Russia's errors, has to have had an effect on the timetable.

-- Yet the cataract of disasters in the Communist world that led to the removal of the Soviet Union as a threat to world peace began almost immediately after the 1984 consecration.  It's hard to believe that there is now a generation of adults who are not old enough to remember the Cold War; perhaps this is part of the reason for the disappointment over the "failure" of Russia to be converted.  It is true that the seeds of failure had been sown in the Soviet system from the beginning.  Nevertheless, the Soviet Union persisted for generations: by the time the Soviet era came to an end, one had to be quite old to remember back behind it.  For those who do not remember the collapse of Communism, it is hard to overstate how breathtakingly sudden, swift and unexpected it was.   I recall very clearly that late in 1989, one of my German language professors, who was from Germany and still had family stuck in the GDR, declared her belief that the Berlin Wall would never come down; just a few weeks later, down it came.  In a few months, Germany would reunify, East Germany having voted itself out of existence; the following year, the Soviet Union would be no more. All of this was unimaginable just a few short years before, yet it all happened within seven years of the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart.

-- The words of Our Lady concerning the conversion of Russia make clear that it is not merely for the benefit of Russia that that nation must convert, but for that of the whole world.  There can be no doubt that the implosion of the Soviet Union which immediately followed the 1984 act of consecration was of considerable benefit to the world and to the cause of world peace, whatever else might come after.  As for the change of heart of the Russian people, surely the breaking of the shackles of Communism was a necessary first step.  The Communists had to experience the failure and collapse of their precious system.

-- We do not know what calamities have been averted because of the 1984 act of consecration.

But we do have an inkling, 93 years later, of how three small shepherd children were drawn into the maelstrom of human history and, by means of their generosity of spirit and heroic sufferings, became instruments in God's great intervention.  More suffering lay ahead.

Monday, July 05, 2010

July 4th

So my trusty Olympus camera and I went out to the fairgrounds in Homedale for fireworks last night.  It's too bad the operator of the camera is not as trusty as the camera.  This is about the best picture I got of the action.
Most of my pictures came out like this.
And then my batteries died, and I didn't have spares ready instantly to pop in, and it was  too dark to rifle my bag for them, and I didn't want to miss the show.  So I wasn't able to get the finale.

But at least I got a halfway decent shot of the sunset.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Thread by Thread

An interesting development of the 20th and 21st centuries: the criminal courts are swamped, more than they have ever been, even in Idaho, a state whose entire population is smaller than that of many cities.  The county jails are stuffed to capacity and beyond.  I practice exclusively criminal defense, and my filing cabinet is about to explode.  Yet we live in a society where an increasing number of evils are accepted and even condoned.  How can so many people be in the system in a society where bad behavior is so celebrated?

The law distinguishes between two types of bad acts: malum in se and malum prohibitumMalum in se refers to something that is evil in itself -- violations of the law of God: murder, rape, theft, perjury, etc.  Malum prohibitum is an act that is (at worst) morally neutral in itself, but which the law of man prohibits -- what we might call "regulatory crimes": driving without privileges; carrying a concealed or unlicensed weapon; possessing alcohol as a minor; being in a city park after dark (yes, this is a misdemeanor in the city of Boise); carrying an open container of alcohol within city limits; tearing the tags off mattresses.   

These regulatory crimes account for a substantial percentage of my caseload and take up an awful lot of my time.  Many citizens have racked up a criminal record and even spent time in jail because they have run afoul of the law of picayune peccadilloes.  And when they are convicted of these crimes -- for more often than not, there is no defense to the charge -- they may, if they are unfortunate enough to fall into the hands of overzealous prosecutors, suffer penalties out of all proportion to the seriousness of the act.  In most cases, having a misdemeanor conviction on one's record is already a disproportionate consequence, yet this is only the beginning.  Being lawbreakers in need of rehabilitation, these newly-minted criminals may be placed on probation, made to take classes or undergo treatment, herded into programming designed to cure their criminal mentality, and generally forced to expend an inordinate amount of time, resources and money into paying their grossly inflated debt to society.  The size, scope and reach of the criminal justice system is proof that charity has grown cold in the world, and not just on the part of lawbreakers.

Where does this preoccupation with creating regulatory crimes come from?  My own theory is that it arises from the fact that we love licentiousness more than freedom.   This slavery of individuals to their appetites -- especially the appetite for sexual immorality -- extends out into society, creating havoc and confusion. Finding that there are consequences to bad behavior doesn't seem to motivate us to straighten up; instead, we search for ways go on behaving badly without consequences.  Political correctness is one way we try to blunt whatever pricks our consciences; another, and extremely popular method is to invoke the police powers of the state.  Every time an outward manifestation of spiritual disorder crops up, instead of coping with the source of the disorder, we figure the solution is to pass a new law.  Each new law is like a thread, holding back our freedom just a little.  We figure it's only a little restriction, and that it confers great benefits, so we tolerate it.  But thread after thread is wound around us until, like Gulliver, bound by hundreds of Lilliputian threads, we can no longer move.  We have exchanged true freedom -- the freedom to do what is right -- for mere license, which amounts to slavery.

We are choked with petty laws, but can't figure out why the cure for the disorder of society continues to elude us.  We strain at gnats, and let through camels.  We save the world from the scourge of open containers of alcohol in city limits, and close our eyes to the evils of promiscuity and making babies out of wedlock.  Cops with binoculars stake out school yards to keep tobacco products out of the hands of children, and the schools fill those same hands with how-to manuals on contraceptives and filthy sexual practices.  We crack down on glass bottles in parks, and celebrate in glossy magazines the adulterous affairs of bubbleheaded celebrities who live in glass houses.  We send the Civil Air Patrol out to break up kid keggers in the desert, and enshrine the murder of children in their mothers' wombs as a constitutionally-guaranteed right.  These picky rules rigidly enforced are a product of, and a distraction from, our failure to live uprightly.

The idea that it is possible to separate private life from public life is a lie.  The fact is that if morality and order prevailed in our private lives, they would also prevail in society at large, without the need for petty legislation.  But we have ceased to govern ourselves.  We want to be free to do whatever we want, so we try to beat back the assault of bad consequences, not by stopping the behavior that brings on those consequences, but by ever stiffer regulations on otherwise legitimate behavior.  We try to have it both ways.  In vain.

It is time we acknowledged that the law is a poor substitute for self-governance.  It is time we started living moral, upright lives and cut the paralyzing threads.
Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.

John Adams