Sunday, March 25, 2012

Help Save the Ultrasound Bill

Remember the real face of abortion.
You may be aware, even if you do not live in Idaho, that there is a bill in the state legislature that will require a pre-abortion ultrasound as a condition of informed consent to an abortion.  An ultrasound demonstration was performed at the Statehouse, so that legislators could see for themselves what will be shown to pregnant women contemplating abortion.  The firestorm that has erupted amongst hell's fellow travelers and useful idiots testifies to the effectiveness of this demonstration.  Fascinating that the same crowd that wants to have the feds reach into the pocketbooks of Catholics to bankroll their reckless promiscuity is now suddenly worried about "government intrusion" by ultrasound.  

The state senate has passed the bill, but it has now stalled in the house.  Apparently the legislators, who are overly concerned with re-election, are hearing more from the abortion forces than from those who support life.  

Remember that the Annunciation, the Feast of the Incarnation, is upon us.  If you are an Idahoan, what more fitting way to honor the Incarnation than by contacting your state legislators and urging them to choose life.

UPDATE: A Life Rally will be held on the Capitol steps in Boise tomorrow, Monday, March 26th from 4-6 p.m. in support of the ultrasound bill, to prove to wobbly legislators that more than just 3 1/2 people support the bill.  Please be there if you can.  The ACLU is planning a "candlelight vigil" in opposition to the bill starting at 7:30 p.m.  Pray for rain.

UPDATE: The legislature will not pursue the ultrasound bill any further this year.  The 2012 session is expected to end this week.

Liberty Enlightening the World

The Centennial Light, Livermore, California, the world's longest-burning light bulb.  This picture provides a good view of the mechanism of this lamp, as well as its beauty and careful hand-craftsmanship.  (Source.)
This light bulb hangs from the ceiling at Fire Station 6 on East Avenue in Livermore, California, where it serves as a night light over the fire trucks.  Hand-blown with a carbon filament, it was manufactured at the Shelby Electric Company in Shelby, Ohio and first installed at Livermore's fire department horse cart house on L Street in 1901.  It has been moved twice since then; since its most recent move, in 1976, it has been hooked up to its own independent power source, and has burned continuously without being turned off or going out.

Consider this.  The year this light bulb was installed was the same year that Queen Victoria died.  It was the year President William McKinley was assassinated, and Teddy Roosevelt took his place in the White House.  In 1901, Leo XIII was Pope in Rome; Winston Churchill was just beginning his extraordinary career in the House of Commons; the Panama Canal was still under construction; Douglas MacArthur was still a cadet at West Point; radio and motion pictures were still new inventions; the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk was still two years away, and it would be another seven years before Henry Ford's Model T would begin to roll off the assembly line.  Since 1901, two world wars have ravaged the planet; most of the world's monarchies have toppled; the Soviet Union rose and fell; the Cold War raged; man took flight, first across continents and oceans, then to the moon and back; telephones, televisions, and above all computers have brought the entire world right into our homes.  Through it all, this bulb has continued to shine.   True, the Centennial Light is down to only a fraction of its original brightness; yet even its manufacturers, who prided themselves on making the best lamps in the world, could hardly have imagined how long this light's working life would continue.

Nor is the Centennial Light the only bulb possessed of extraordinary longevity.  Others have been documented as having functioned for many decades, including one that has shone since 1908.  Who knows how many other bulbs have worked for decades that nobody has documented?  Truly, the incandescent light bulb is among the most useful devices ever come up with in the history of human innovation.  

So it makes perfect sense that the current socialist administration, whose ultimate goal is the moral and material enslavement of Americans, should make war upon the incandescent bulb and try to cram vastly inferior fluorescent bulbs down our throats.  

Let's face the facts about fluorescent bulbs -- and particularly the spaghetti bulbs meant to be installed in place of incandescent ones.  Like virtually all other things liberals are always trying to force-feed us, fluorescent bulbs stink.  They take forever to reach their full brightness, and their full brightness isn't much to write home about.  They're costly. They're full of mercury, which makes them dangerous.  They're worthless in an Easy-Bake Oven.  And you can't just throw them out when they burn out, like you can incandescent bulbs.  

Fortunately, there is still a company in this country that manufactures incandescent bulbs.  America's entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well at Newcandescent, which legally manufactures incandescent bulbs.  And they say their bulbs will last 7 years.  

I don't usually plug products on this blog, but I'm glad there's somebody still manufacturing incandescent bulbs in this country.  Still, there is one thing that really sticks in my craw about it.  Even if you are a fan of fluorescent bulbs, if you are a patriotic American and lover of liberty, you must acknowledge that greater principles are at stake than the preferability of incandescent over fluorescent.  The fact that Newcandescent had to (a) redesign incandescent bulbs to comply with new federal requirements, and (b) apply to the Department of Energy for permission to manufacture the newly designed bulbs ought to fill you with rage.     

Did you ever think we'd reach a point in this country when American citizens would have to apply for permission from the federal government to manufacture incandescent bulbs on American soil?  Was this what the Founding Fathers had in mind?  Is there some provision of the Constitution, written, perhaps, in invisible ink, that gives the feds this authority?  Was this what generations of patriots shed their blood in distant lands to protect?

It's a shame to have to admit it, but the America upon which the Centennial Light first shone 111 years ago was a much freer one than the one we live in today.  Our first order of business in this country is to straighten ourselves up as individuals, governing our passions, recovering our Christian morals and living according to right reason.   Without this, nothing else will work.  Our second order of business is to throw out the socialist bums that have seized power in this country at every level of government.  Our third order of business is to reduce the federal government to its original constitutionally mandated functions, and every other level of government to reasonable proportions in accordance with state constitutions, common sense, and the principle of subsidiarity.  And in the meantime, we should support entrepreneurial efforts like Newcandescent that prevent the useful things that improve our lives from being cast into oblivion by socialist elites.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fr. Guarnizo Sheds Light

The embattled Fr. Marcel Guarnizo has issued a public statement regarding the lesbian-Communion affair and his removal from public ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington.  The entire text of his statement can be found here.

In my first round of comments on this ugly business, I asked what effect the occasion (a funeral) had on the Can. 915 requirement of "manifest grave sin" to justify withholding Communion.  I pointed out that the daughter of the deceased was a prominent attendee of this particular Mass, rather than just another face in the crowd, and that the congregation most likely knew about her lifestyle.  I think Dr. Ed Peters has now answered my question, based on Fr. Guarnizo's public statement.  Addressing Can. 915, Peters says (emphases and comments added):
Prescinding from rarely encountered excommunication and interdict situations, Canon 915 lays out several distinct conditions that must be simultaneously satisfied before a minister of Holy Communion may (and indeed, should) withhold the Eucharist from a member of the faithful. To justify withholding the Eucharist under Canon 915 according to its plain terms, the conduct in which a communicant perseveres must be obstinate, manifest, grave, and sinful. [In other words, the conjunction "and" tells us all of these conditions must be met.  This principle of statutory construction also applies in the secular world.]These conditions must be understood and assessed according to the Church’s canonical tradition, else, one is no longer talking about the law of the Catholic Church.

Given the very strong canonical presumptions accorded the faithful in regard to reception of the sacraments, and given the strict interpretative hermeneutic set out in Canon 18, the burden is, without question, on the minister of holy Communion to verify that all of the conditions listed in canon 915 are satisfied before he withholds holy Communion from a member of the faithful who approaches for it publicly. Put another way, the burden is not on Guarnizo’s critics to prove that he should not have acted as he did in this case, rather, the burden is on Guarnizo to prove that he acted in accord with Church discipline.


Guarnizo did not know, and could not have verified, whether Johnson’s sin (speaking objectively), which could be grave (a conclusion I think a Catholic could reach based on the words used here) was also manifest, as well as obstinate and perseverating. Yet such factors, according to a host of respected commentators writing over many decades, must be verified before withholding holy Communion from a member of the faithful. Consider:

“If the priest … doubts the publicity or notoriety of the crime, it would certainly be safer to give the Holy Eucharist to one who publically asks for it.” Dom Augustine, COMMENTARY (1920) IV: 230.

“Occulto peccatori qui publice accedit ad sacram Mensam administranda vero est sacra communio … si fideles, quippe cum eis indignitas non sit nota, timore afficiantur, ne et ipsi infamentur, si sacerdos ob … ignoratiam, errorem, etc, eos praetereat.” Jone, COMMENTARIUM (1954) II: 100.

“If there is doubt about the notoriety of the sin, the communicant is to be favored in public.” Abbo-Hannan, SACRED CANONS (1960) I: 854.

“Before a minister can lawfully refuse the Eucharist, he must be certain that the person obstinately persists in a sinful situation or in sinful behavior that is manifest (i.e. public) and objectively grave.” Kelly, in GB& I COMM (1995) 503.

“The minister of holy communion should not publicly deny communion to a person who, being afflicted by grave sin and/or subject to a non-declared penalty latae sententiae [e.g., for apostasy] is not notoriously under those situations.” Gramunt, in EXEGETICAL COMM (2004) III/1: 615-616.

I know of no commentator who disputes these views. In terms of Canon 915, and given Guarnizo’s factual admissions above, I conclude that Guarnizo erred in withholding Communion.
So basically, what I understand Dr. Peters to be saying is this: at the very moment that Holy Communion is withheld, (1) the requirements of obstinacy, manifestness, gravity and sinfulness must exist simultaneously; and (2) the minister of Holy Communion must have a subjective knowledge that all these conditions exist.  So even if the four requirements of Can. 915 are in fact in place, the minister who denies Communion is still not covered as long as he has a doubt (which I take it means legitimate doubt, not born of willful blindness) that they were in place.  What the minister finds out afterwards, or what later turns out to be the case, is not relevant: what is relevant is what he knows at the moment of the incident.

The inescapable conclusion, then, is that Fr. Guarnizo did not comply with Can. 915 in withholding Communion.  For reasons that he delves into in his post linked above, Peters also concludes that Fr. Guarnizo's action was not covered by canon law on any of the other potential grounds for denying the woman Communion.  In short, Fr. Guarnizo was wrong and stands in need of correction.

But what Fr. Guarnizo doesn't stand in need of is persecution.  He erred, but he erred on the side of love for the Eucharist and for the deluded soul of the woman who provoked him: on that point, he requires no correction.  I have said before, and continue to maintain, that this whole thing was a set-up, and that the penalties visited upon Father are out of all proportion to the offense.  Yes, there has been a firestorm, but Fr. Guarnizo's error was merely the excuse for the firestorm: it is the so-called injured party who has fanned the flames.  The lesson that needs to be drawn from this is that a priest's best defense against attacks of this kind is solid, thorough training in the proper application of canons governing the administration of the Sacraments.

Based on the foregoing, I accept that Fr. Marcel Guarnizo erred under canon law in this incident.  But (a) he has received a vastly disproportionate, and therefore unjust punishment; and (b) the Archdiocese of Washington gives every appearance of throwing him under the bus, all while coddling the woman who put him in such a dreadful position.  To my way of thinking, that is the greatest scandal in this whole affair.      

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

If We Turn Out the Lights, We Can Expect to Stumble in the Dark

Ever stop to think about why it is that the world is steeped in darkness, and in particular, why the Church is under siege in our time?

I was thinking tonight that maybe part of the reason we are so inundated with evils is because, for the last half-century or so, we quit praying for protection from them. 

The Extraordinary Form of the Mass is full of powerful, muscular, soldierly prayers.  The 1962 Missal is also well-stocked with votive Masses for all sorts of occasions and all sorts of intentions.  There is a Mass for the propagation of the faith; a Mass for the defense of the church; a Mass for deliverance from death in time of pestilence; a Mass for the forgiveness of sins; a Mass for the grace of a good death.  How often have any of these Masses been offered since Vatican II?  And what about the St. Michael prayer for protection from the forces of hell that used to be said at the end of every Low Mass (and still is said wherever the Extraordinary Form is celebrated)?  Consider Compline according to the breviary of 1962: the hymn "Te Lucis ante Terminum" contains a powerful verse that has been expunged from the breviary of Paul VI:

Procul recédant sómnia,
Et nóctium phantasmata;
Hostémque nóstrum cómprime,
Ne polluántur córpora.

From all ill dreams defend our eyes,
From nightly fears and fantasies;
Tread under foot our ghostly foe,
That no pollution we may know.

A couple of weeks ago, this space featured a piece on the old Rituale Romanum, full of petitions for blessing and protection from various evils, and how these prayers help us, among other things, to avoid sin and excess in the use of material goods.  Why did we get rid of this?  How are we better off for having done so?

The Church used to pray constantly for protection from all sorts of ills, temporal and spiritual.  Yet for the last almost half-century, those prayers have been all but wiped out.   Somewhere along the line, we got the idea that we no longer needed divine protection. This was, and is, a dumb idea.  It was especially dumb in the midst of the blackest and bloodiest century in human history, wracked with apostasy, heresy, immorality and fratricidal slaughter.  But the horrors of the 20th century came in no small part precisely because this dumb idea had long been brewing under the surface: we had long ceased to pray from our hearts, and that made it easy to cease praying with our lips.  We ceased to view the world in the light of eternity; that made it all the easier to scrap the traditional Mass and the Rituale Romanum, and replace them with the spiritual gruel that has been rationed out to us most of our lives.  And the Church and the world are far poorer because of it.

St. Alphonsus Liguori says there are certain graces God doesn't ordinarily grant us unless we ask for them.  We haven't been asking for the conversion of sinners, deliverance from natural disasters or protection from harm for 40+ years, so we probably shouldn't be surprised that the world is saturated in sin, widely stricken by natural (and often man-made) disasters, and physically exceedingly dangerous.  Now, after decades of dumbness, we need to re-learn the long-forgotten words in order to re-train our hearts.  We need to recognize our utter dependence on God, and call on Him once again to protect us from evil.  We need to reconnect with our immemorial Catholic traditions in order to remind ourselves how to do this.  We need the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy -- Mass, Sacraments, Divine Office -- to be restored in every parish.  We cannot survive on business as usual.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Persecution of Fr. Guarnizo Intensifies

I trust that Dymphna will not mind my borrowing this image from her excellent blog: it is a good reminder that faithful priests can expect no easier fate than that which befell Him Whose representatives on earth they are.  And now, one faithful priest who has been suffering before the world on account of his love of the Eucharist, has been given a new and heavier cross to bear.

Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, who denied Holy Communion to an open lesbian (who, by the way, is also an activist and practicing Buddhist) has now been placed on administrative leave, and prohibited from exercising any priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of Washington.  Dr. Peters expounds on what this development means and what it doesn't mean from a canonical point of view.

The March 9th letter from auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout cites "credible allegations that Father Guarnizo has engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry."  These allegations are not specified but are described as being of a "grave nature."

I have never been to Gaithersburg, Maryland, and neither I nor anybody I know personally am familiar with the particular ins and outs of the parish where Fr. Guarnizo was stationed.  I must confess to not knowing what exactly gave rise to the allegations that have led to Fr. Guarnizo being put on administrative leave.  However, a few general observations spring to mind.  

-- Firstly, it is interesting that it has taken until now, when he has become embroiled in controversy, to discover the "intimidation" tactics of a priest who has been in the parish since March, 2011.  Even if there are legitimate grounds to place Fr. Guarnizo on leave, the timing of this new action against him stinks.  It looks like the lesbian activist has won.  That the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Washington, D.C. appears to be caving to a lobby of public sinners ought to be a matter of concern to the cardinal archbishop. 

-- Secondly, it has long been my experience that it is the support staff who wield the real power in many organizations -- parishes included -- because very often only they know how to keep them running on a day-to-day basis.  In an age when parish priests are frequently and routinely transferred, and laity are "empowered" pursuant to the "spirit of Vatican II," it seems to me that the parish staff, who are often the only real constants in the parish office over the long term, enjoy an accumulation of influence and thus a certain security not shared by the priests that they see coming and going down the years.  

-- Thirdly, Fr. Guarnizo appears, by all accounts, to be, overall, a man of sense.  It is ridiculous to suppose that a sensible priest who has only been in the parish for a year, is not the pastor, and is, moreover, incardinated in another diocese, should try to "intimidate" the parish staff who are higher on the totem pole than he is.  That he should do so at a time when his own influence is at its lowest ebb, and he knows he does not enjoy the backing of the archbishop, is absurd.  That parish staff should actually feel "intimidated" by a priest in such a tenuous position -- even if the lesbian-Communion imbroglio had not taken place -- simply strains all credibility.

I continue to stand by my previous analysis of this business.  In the light of all that has emerged so far regarding this ugly affair, I am perfectly prepared to believe that someone has been deploying intimidation tactics; but I am not prepared to believe that that someone is Fr. Marcel Guarnizo.    Pray for him and for all embattled priests.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

March 7th: Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P. (Pre-Conciliar Calendar)

One of the (very few and far between) advantages of having two calendars in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church is that, occasionally, one gets to honor a favorite saint twice in one year.  Such is the case with my friend and illustrious brother in St. Dominic, Thomas Aquinas.  It seems fitting to be able thus to honor the Angelical, and to beg his intercession at a time when vile assaults are being launched against the Eucharist, to which he was so touchingly devoted.  

Here again, and none the worse for having been posted before, is the Litany of St. Thomas of Aquin, published in 1913 in The Dominican Manual: A Selection of Prayers and Devotions.

O THOU, the Most High, have mercy on us.
Mighty One of Jacob, have mercy on us.
Divine Spirit, have mercy on us.
Great Triune God, have mercy on us.

Glorious Mother of the King of kings, pray for us.
Saint Thomas of Aquin, pray for us.
Worthy child of the Queen of Virgins...
Aquinas most chaste...
Aquinas most patient...
Prodigy of science...
Silently eloquent...
Reproach of the ambitious...
Lover of that life which is hidden with Christ in God...
Fragrant flower in the parterre of St. Dominic...
Glory of Friars Preachers...
Illlumined from on high...
Angel of the Schools...
Oracle of the Church...
Incomparable scribe of the Man-God...
Satiated with the odour of His perfumes...
Perfect in the school of His Cross...
Intoxicated with the strong wine of His charity...
Glittering gem in the cabinet of the Lord...
Model of perfect obedience...
Endowed with the true spirit of holy poverty...

Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world: grant us peace.

Ant.— Oh, how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory, for the memory thereof is immortal, because it is known with God and man, and it triumpheth crowned for ever.
V. Oh! what have I in heaven, or what do I desire on earth?
R. Thou art the God of my heart, and my portion for ever.


O God, who hast ordained that blessed Thomas should enlighten Thy Church, grant that through his prayers we may practise what he taught, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Persecution of Fr. Guarnizo

In re the campaign to destroy Fr. Marcel Guarnizo in Gaithersburg, Maryland, a few observations:

-- The whole business smells like a set-up. It appears that Fr. Guarnizo has a reputation as a faithful and orthodox priest.  It appears further that the complaining party in this ugly affair is not a reliable source of information regarding what actually happened. Good priests can expect more of this sort of thing.  Bishops need to be fathers to their priests and defend them against unjust attacks.   Catholics in the pews need to pray harder for their shepherds. 

-- Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law provides:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
It would seem that if any part of this canon applied in this case, it would be the language about "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin."  Not being a canonist, and not being familiar with canon law evidentiary standards, I hesitate to undertake a legal analysis.  I do note that at least one prominent canonist, Dr. Ed Peters, is of the opinion that Fr. Guarnizo erred, and his opinion appears to derive from the conclusion that the requirement of manifestness is not satisfied in this case.  Dr. Peters says:
Unless a substantial majority of the community in question (I’m assuming them to be adults, reasonably aware of Catholic life around them, etc.) knows at the time why a given individual is being denied holy Communion, that’s a pretty good sign that Canon 915 has not been satisfied, and that Canon 912 (and some others norms) has been violated.
However, Peters pursues his analysis as though this incident took place at an ordinary Sunday Mass, whereas it took place at a funeral.  The woman who was denied Communion was not just another face in the crowd, but the daughter of the deceased -- a prominent figure among those assembled.  It is not unreasonable to suppose that those gathered for the funeral were family and friends, and thus knew about this woman's living arrangements.  What I would like to see a canonist address is whether these factors change the Canon 915 analysis, and if not, why not.

-- Even if the priest erred, the punishment sought by the putative injured party is out of all proportion to the offense.  The high-tech lynching Fr. Guarnizo is currently undergoing is also out of all proportion to his alleged offense, and stands as stark proof that charity has gone cold in the world.  His apparent abandonment by the archdiocese is shameful.  If Fr. Guarnizo did indeed err, then, as Dr. Peters says in one of his posts linked above, it is correction rather than punishment that is called for.

-- Canonists and clergy who opine that Fr. Guarnizo did the wrong thing in this case should not be surprised by the fact that so many laymen are anxious to justify his actions, even on erroneous grounds -- even regardless of what canon law provides.  Such a reaction is the natural and inevitable product of decades of anger at the spectacle of hired hands allowing the wolves to ravage the fold with impunity while putting the smackdown on holy priests.  Monumental injustices continue unabated: national pro-abortion figures continue to be admitted to Holy Communion; certain parishes continue to be homosexualist playgrounds; gross liturgical abuses are still the order of the day in many places, and not a peep out of those charged with the responsibility of putting a stop to all this.  Naturally, the lay faithful are outraged to see the hierarchy straining out the gnat of a priest denying Holy Communion to a lesbian (if indeed this can be characterized as a "gnat") while swallowing all these camels.

-- In my judgment, the person most deserving of sympathy and support in this situation is not the lesbian who rushed into print with a sensational account of this business, but Fr. Marcel Guarnizo.  He, not she, is the real target of hatred in this whole affair.  It must have made him feel sick to be placed in such an awful position -- a situation every faithful priest must dread.  Whether he was right or wrong, he surely did the best he could in very trying circumstances.

Pray for Fr. Marcel Guarnizo, and for all our priests and bishops.