-- The secular lay members of the Mystical Body of Christ have their own role to play in the history of salvation and a special dignity all our own that is different from that of priests and religious. It is crass clericalism of a major order to think that the secular lay faithful are not fully participating in the life of the Church unless we are engaged in a flurry of activity at Mass or otherwise doing things that priests ought to be doing.
-- When we go chasing after imaginary "rights," we forfeit our authentic ones, both for ourselves and for others. When we start chasing after the "right" to pursue our unbridled passions, even at the price of putting to death unwanted babies in the womb, we forfeit our right to a well-ordered society. When we start chasing after the "right" of two people of the same sex to enter into "marriage," we forfeit the free exercise of religion. When we start chasing after the "right" of one spouse to put away the other spouse when he gets tired of her and trade her in for a new model, we forfeit the right of the innocent spouse to a common life and consortium; we forfeit the right of the children to live in an intact family with both mother and father; and we forfeit the property rights of the spouses.
-- That last point bears a little closer examination. Has anybody besides innocent spouses noticed that no-fault divorce is just a great, big redistribution scheme? File for divorce, and suddenly, your property isn't your property anymore: the marital estate -- not to mention the separate income of the spouse who makes the most money, even if he is not the one who filed -- gets turned over to the legislature and the courts to distribute as they see fit. This kind of power in the hands of government perverts the mission of government, which should be to protect society's building-block institutions. That is why the law favors those who set out to torpedo their families, and leaves those who want to stay together without any recourse.
-- Think you know all about the "Red Scare" and the Hollywood blacklist? Did you know, for instance, that every single one of the Hollywood Ten was in fact an active member of the Communist Party and had pledged his allegiance to the Soviet Union? Did you know that, in an effort to gain control over the movie industry, the Communists instigated two bitter, violent and ultimately fruitless strikes of behind-the-scenes studio employees in 1945 and 1946? Did you know that the blacklist was actually instituted by the studios themselves -- not by the government -- in response to the defiant performance of the Hollywood Ten in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947? If not, then you need to read Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters: Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler by Allan H. Ryskind.
-- It is always the priests who have to add their little ad-libs to the Mass, or take out parts of the Mass they don't like, who can't faithfully say the black and do the red, who have the greatest reputations for humility and pastoral-mindedness. This proves that we no longer have a clue in what humility consists.
-- I am happy to be able to report that it has been some years now since I have seen sand or twigs or nothing at all in local holy water fonts during Lent. But if you are unfortunate enough to live in a place where that foolishness still goes on, don't just take it. Carry holy water around (REAL holy water, blessed according to the Rituale Romanum -- find a priest willing to do this and create a big supply) and fill the empty fonts, dumping the debris when necessary.
-- Fr. Chad Ripperger is a big proponent of spiritual contracts. A spiritual contract is when you ask God that, every time you say a particular prayer or do a particular good work, He understand you to be offering that prayer or work for some intention. That way, you can always pray for the intention even when you are not consciously thinking about it at the time of the prayer or work. Here is an example of some of my own spiritual contracts. I like to say the Litany of the Sacred Heart after every Holy Communion. I have marked particular lines in the Litany with the names of people for whose intention I want to pray every time I say that line. Sometimes, I just say that line as an aspiration; and every time I do, I am praying for that person. I also have spiritual contracts tied to some of my daily prayers. The thought that I am praying for the intentions of people I love every time I say some part of those prayers helps me to persevere in prayer even when I don't feel like it.
-- In these days of institutional rottenness both in the Church and in the secular world, we are told that those who speak out against this rottenness and who try to restore what has been destroyed are "divisive" and "uncharitable." Bl. Clemens Graf von Galen, the Lion of Münster, teaches us how to respond to this accusation:
My Christians! It will perhaps be held against me that by this frank statement I am weakening the home front of the German people during this war. I, on the contrary, say this: It is not I who am responsible for a possible weakening of the home front, but those who regardless of the war, regardless of this fearful week of terrible air-raids, impose heavy punishments on innocent people without the judgment of a court or any possibility of defence, who evict our religious orders, our brothers and sisters, from their property, throw them on to the street, drive them out of their own country. They destroy men's security under the law, they undermine trust in law, they destroy men's confidence in our government. And therefore I raise my voice in the name of the upright German people, in the name of the majesty of Justice, in the interests of peace and the solidarity of the home front; therefore as a German, an honourable citizen, a representative of the Christian religion, a Catholic bishop, I exclaim: we demand justice! If this call remains unheard and unanswered, if the reign of Justice is not restored, then our German people and our country, in spite of the heroism of our soldiers and the glorious victories they have won, will perish through an inner rottenness and decay.
-- Things in the Church have been so bad for so long that we are ready to leap on any little crumb of comfort -- any tiny sign, for instance, that in fact we have been mistaken all these years about our pastor or our bishop being a doctrinaire leftist, or that reverence will soon be restored in our local parishes -- in the frantic hope that it portends a change for the better. But once we have devoured that crumb, we see that nothing has really changed, and we feel emptier than ever. We may have to endure even worse times before authentic reform comes. But when it does come, we will not need to wonder whether it is here. It will be unmistakable.