Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This Is Why

We don't yet know the identity of the human debris that mowed down innocent people with a rental car and then stabbed a policeman to death at the Palace of Westminster today, before police -- mercifully -- gunned him down.  But it is confirmed that this was a jihadist assault.

Whether this scumbag turns out to be an immigrant or home-grown, incidents like this are the reason we need to protect our borders.  The ideology that produced the Westminster attack and others like it is entirely foreign to the American ethos, as it is to that of Great Britain and the West in general.  Nations -- which are an extension of families and clans -- have a natural-law right to self-defense, and to extend citizenship only to those who have the nation's good at heart.  No duty of charity requires the importation of persons and ideologies hostile to the continued existence of a nation; indeed, for the sake of the common good, charity demands the reverse.  It is not only a dereliction of a government's duties to its citizens to let in all and sundry without vetting or in spite of known terrorist connections or even in violation of our laws; it only fans the flames of terrorism everywhere.  Bringing people who hate us in to dwell in our midst does not make them change their mind and love us.  On the contrary, it makes them think we are stupid and increases their contempt for us.  And frankly, if we adopt suicidal immigration policies, they have a point.  The majority of the country that elected Donald Trump seem to get this.  This is why Trump, the only candidate to take seriously their concerns about our present immigration policies, got elected.

Political correctness causes the death of real, flesh-and-blood human beings -- human beings with families and friends and hopes and dreams and aspirations and potential, nearly always unknown to, and callously dismissed by, the elites who champion stupid policies like open borders.  As more details emerge, we will find out to what extent the events at Westminster may be laid on the doorstep of political correctness.   

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

There Are Reasons People Hate Clowns

I don't know how many of the three or four people who read this blog are priests; but if you are a priest or bishop, and you think you are there to entertain your congregation at Mass, this post is addressed to you.

Some of you priest celebrants at Mass cannot resist doing a clown act on the altar.  Some of you confine this nonsense to your sermons, which is bad enough.  Others of you pepper the liturgy with stupid jokes; or you constantly halt the liturgy in order to try to warm up the crowd with "humorous" asides.  The nervous, raised-eyebrow tittering of your congregation suggests nothing to you.

You need to cut this crap out right now.

First of all, you are living, breathing proof of what a rotten idea it was (a) to turn the priest around to face the people during Mass; (b) to give him a microphone; and (c) to cobble up a liturgy where every part of the Mass has numerous different options for how it can be done, all entirely at the discretion of the priest-celebrant.  (The new Mass has so many options to it, in fact, it is next to impossible for us in the pews to follow in the missal and know whether you are using a legitimate option or just making up your own.)  No wonder you think it's all about you.  No wonder that after decades of this kind of stuff, you are now convinced that you are supposed to be the center of everything.  And having had your ego thus stoked all these years, no wonder you fight tooth and nail to resist the traditional Mass at your parishes, no matter how much your people might want it.  You have weakened and fattened your flock up for the wolves on a steady diet of liturgical junk food, until the ones who still actually believe in the content of the Catholic faith are reduced to gritting their teeth and telling themselves that at least they are getting the Eucharist.

Somewhere along the line, you clown priests convinced yourselves that you need to spice up the Mass with your own peculiar (and I do mean peculiar) brand of humor in order to be "pastoral."  Well, let me give you the perspective from the receiving end.

You have no idea who all in your congregation is dealing with what -- not even those of you who bother to find out who your parishioners are (and not all of you do).  That man sitting way in the back, in a corner, behind a pillar, has been away from the Church and the Sacraments for years and years, and is in shock over his realization that he has been leading a bad life.  That miserable-looking, unfriendly woman who doesn't want to engage in pre-Mass ice-breakers or the sign of peace has just suffered a major bereavement.  That couple off to the side with haunted expressions on their faces have no idea where their child is or whether they will ever see her again.  Those teenagers who aren't singing along with the offertory hymn have just been told that their mother has terminal cancer.  That stony-faced father with three little kids has just lost his job.

And here you come, administering blows on top of bruises with your "pastoral" method.

In the first place, you are not cheering these people up.  You are trivializing and adding to their pain.  Proverbs 25:20: He who sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on a wound.

In the second place, what these people most need, in the midst of these awful changes in their lives, is something that does not change.  At one time, and until very recently, that was the liturgy, which opened up a window onto the supernatural.  But your people can't see through that window, because you are in their face, dancing around in front of them while they are trying to look at something greater and more important than yourself.  You have no idea how jarring your "improvements" to the Mass are.  You have no idea, because you never listen.  After all, you are the priest, and therefore, you know better.  Nobody can tell you anything, so they eventually give up trying.

Since so many of the changes in the liturgy over the last 60 years or so have purported to be about going back to the "purity" of the early Church, maybe we should bring back the ancient practice of the laity rioting anytime they heard changes in the wording of the Gospel.  The time has not yet passed out of living memory when it was considered a mortal sin for a priest to make changes to the liturgy sua sponte; that's another idea whose time has come again.  It has not been considered so during this extended period of experimentation; but it's time we seriously asked ourselves whether it is possible that the objective sinful character of such acts can really have changed.  The answer surely lies in the rotten fruits of experimentation, and the real pain it has caused us in the pews.

Priests, you have got to stop playing the fool at Mass.  You are driving your flocks, and yourselves, away from the True Shepherd, and you are going to have to answer for every one.  The Bread of Life is Jesus Christ, not you.  Stop giving us stones when we come to you for the Bread.

Monday, March 20, 2017

It Don't Make Sense

Back when the Russians, under the communists, really were conspiring to subvert American democracy, the liberals were (a) all for it; (b) telling everyone else to get over their "inordinate fear of communism; (c) sending guys like Teddy Kennedy to Moscow to serve as communist propaganda tools.  Some of them even went as far as to shift their allegiance to the Soviet Union.  Now, suddenly, the liberals are beside themselves at the (totally unproven) idea that the Russians rooted for and colluded with Trump in the 2016 election -- the only thing, in their version of reality, that could conceivably have caused Hillary to lose.

Have they even stopped to ask themselves why the Russians should prefer Trump to Hillary?  

Because they think Trump is a buffoon?  I don't know that the Russians think Trump is a buffoon.  If they have studied him, and read his books, they might think he is a boor and a vulgarian; but they would also realize that he is a workaholic, a fighter, well-informed, conscientious, and anything but stupid.  Yet even if they do think he's a buffoon, Trump, as a non-politician, would be an unpredictable buffoon who has been very outspoken, for instance, on the need to build up the U.S. military.  It might serve their interests to have a buffoon in the White House, but surely not one who likes armaments and might use them.

Surely, therefore, the Russians would far rather have had Hillary in the White House.  She has the triple advantage of (a) being a buffoon; (b) being entirely predictable; (c) supporting policies that are bad for us but good for them, such as the disarmament so beloved of Barack Obama.  Even if the Russians didn't think Trump would be able to carry out his agenda if elected, surely they would have much preferred the candidate who would not even make the effort in the first place.  Hillary, not Trump, would surely have been the path of least resistance to the Russians.

The testimony in today's hearings was unequivocal that there is zero evidence to support the cockamamie notions of Russian tampering and collusion with the Trump campaign; and it doesn't even make sense that they should have favored Trump in the first place.  

Spring Has Sprung

At the moment this post went up, Spring began.  At 04:29 Mountain Daylight Time, the sun crossed the celestial equator in its apparent path northward in our sky.  At that moment, the plane of Earth's equator passed through the center of the sun, and the sun was exactly overhead of the equator.  Today we have equal periods of daylight and nighttime -- hence the name "equinox."

When Julius Caesar reformed the Roman calendar in 45 B.C., he set dates when the equinoxes and solstices were deemed to occur.  According to the Julian calendar -- followed in the Western world for more than 16 centuries, until the reforms of Pope Gregory XIII -- March 25th marked the vernal equinox.  June 25th marked the summer solstice, when the days begin to shorten; September 25th marked the autumnal equinox; and the winter solstice, when the days begin again to lengthen, fell on -- December 25th.

Note how the changes in season coincide with the great feasts of Christianity.  On March 25th, the beginning of spring, we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, when the Word was made flesh and broke the winter of hell's dominion on earth.  Christ is also believed to have been crucified on March 25th, the same day as His Conception, so the beginning of spring also coincides with the opening of heaven's gates, previously closed by sin, and the Resurrection, when Christ conquered death.  June 25th, when the days begin to grow short, coincides with the nativity of John the Baptist, the Savior's forerunner and herald, who said that he must decrease while Christ increased -- just as daylight begins to increase with the Nativity of Jesus on December 25th.  As for September 25th, perhaps that change of season, which marks the harvest, stands for the harvest of souls, the wheat gathered into the Master's barn at the end of time.

I can almost hear the groans and tongue-clicking from persons steeped in the idiotic rationalism of our day.  No, Christians didn't make this stuff up.  Julius Caesar, who gave the world the Julian calendar, was not the pagan tool of a cabal of proto-Christians who were just waiting for the right moment to spring upon the world a new-fangled religion that would incite bloody persecutions.  Nor are we filling in the blanks with imaginative mummery just to satisfy our irrational urge for spirituality and add a little color to gray, prosaic reality.  We humans are just not smart enough to come up with these things on our own.  Only God is smart enough; though He does give us enough wits to take notice of the symbolism, and the truths it points to.

Spring, Idaho Style

Harbingers of spring in the Gem State:


Confirmation: March 20, 1984

Future Bishop Juan Arzube in his youth.
33 years ago today, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation at the hands of +Juan Arzube, then an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, at the parish of St. Catherine of Siena in Reseda, California.  Bishop Arzube died Christmas Day of 2007 at the age of 89.  

It is good to remember, and pray for, the priests at whose hands you received your first Sacraments.  I received all mine (to date -- still haven't received the Sacrament of Matrimony) in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  I was baptized by Rev. (later Msgr.) Austin J. Greene in November of 1970 at St. Joseph the Worker parish, then in Canoga Park, now Winnetka, California.  I made my first confession to Fr. Sergius Propst, O.P. in 1978 at the aforementioned St. Catherine of Siena, and received my First Holy Communion the same year and at the same parish from Fr. Richard McCarthy.  Fr. Propst is still living and still in ministry.  I am unable to find out how Msgr. Greene turned out, though I see that the convention hall of the parish he founded is named in his honor.  Fr. McCarthy, a native of Ireland, left the priesthood not long after my first Communion.  Bishop Arzube was unfortunately dogged in his later years by sex abuse allegations, which he denied, but which formed part of a monster settlement by the Archdiocese.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Reflections on the Last Full Day of Winter, 2017


Boise: where it's sometimes hard to tell which
season it is.
-- This winter we got more snow in the Treasure Valley than we have ever had since I moved down here in 2003.  All the years I lived up in the Idaho panhandle taught me to deal with huge amounts of snow (though winter is still a huge trial for me, even 21 years after leaving southern California); but up there, the local authorities are pretty good at snow removal.  Down here, we are pretty clueless as to how to deal with even a little snow.  Even busy thoroughfares go unplowed and untreated during snowfalls, so if you work in downtown Boise, and it's been snowing, it might take you an hour to an hour and a half to travel the five miles from there to the Bench.  The great winter avalanche of 2017 was such a disaster, and the local highway district was so unprepared to cope, that they had to suspend their red-tape requirements for private snow removal contractors (question: why should we ever have red tape for such a thing?) and even bring in the National Guard to remove snow.  Still, it was days before any residential streets got plowed, and the local schools quickly exhausted their quotas of snow days for the year.  A lot of people ended up getting stuck in various places; I personally had to be rescued twice.

-- In the wake of all of which, the (already-much-despised) local highway district backed a bill in the state legislature that would limit highway districts' snow removal responsibilities.  You have to hand it to them for their sense of timing.

-- I have spent the last couple of weeks of winter battling a viral infection that started in my sinuses and settled into my upper respiratory tract.  It couldn't have come at a worse time from the point of view of my work calendar.  There is not a lot you can do about viral bronchitis except treat the symptoms, get as much rest and fluids as you can, and ride it out.  I have drunk gallons of black tea with honey and lemon (and occasionally rum).  I cut out the rum when I got a prescription for codeine cough syrup, and cut out the lemon when it started to give me a sour stomach.  God bless whoever invented codeine cough syrup.  It is worth all the money in the world not to be up all night coughing your brains out.

-- With the end of winter comes the beginning of Lent (at least this year, when Easter falls a little on the late side).  I am making a terrible Lent.  My whole life has felt like one long Lent for the last couple of years -- especially last year, with the death of my mother, hard on the heels of the death of a dear friend, in turn hard on the heels of the death of my grandfather.  There is nothing messier than life; it does not seem that one can become a saint by avoiding the mess.

-- And there does not seem to be a greater mess than the mess that is currently the Catholic Church.  My own diocese feels like the most God-forsaken one on the planet.  Every parish is so busy doing its own thing that one is reduced to finding the least-offensive Mass possible on Sundays and holy days of obligation.  Long gone are the days when you could attend Mass anywhere in the world and it would always be the same, always Catholic and always familiar.  I have news for priests: idiosyncrasies in the liturgy -- including tinging it with your malodorous personalities -- was never, ever something the laity in the pews clamored for.  This is something you wanted, because you forgot who you are and who God is (hint: you aren't Him) and why you are there at the altar, and you were therefore becoming bored with the whole affair.  Now you have succeeded in making several generations of Catholics forget it, too.  Congratulations.

-- Part of the mess in the Church is the idiotic idea that rules are bad (except of course any rule that prohibits the traditional Mass), and that Jesus did away with rules.  Set aside for the moment the irony of holding this view during the reign of perhaps the most autocratic, authoritarian pope in recent history (who himself ridicules people who pursue private devotions according to rules).  The reality is that if you take away rules, you kick out from under a lot of people a much-needed support for their weakness.  Rules give people clarity and certainty.  Some people need these things, even if you think they're stupid.  And if you think something is stupid that legitimately serves the needs of your fellow man, and you don't care what effect depriving him of it might have, then maybe you have not made as much spiritual progress as you think.

-- On the political front.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news to liberals (well, maybe not so much), but: all the stuff President Trump is doing that you think I should find outrageous, from knocking the media to cutting funding for PBS, I actually enjoy seeing him do.  In fact, these are things I have wanted to see for years and years -- and so have plenty of other Americans.

-- And while we're on the subject of Trump, the media just can't stop lying about him -- like the latest wholly-manufactured firestorm about how he is going to eliminate Meals on Wheels.  But even if Meals on Wheels were a federal program (which it isn't) and Trump was going to abolish it (which he isn't), what is to stop all these reporters from reviving it and funding it on a private basis?

-- In fact, where does the idea come from that, unless the government confiscates our money and does "charity" for us, we in the United States are going to leave old people to starve in ratty, run-down apartments or die in the streets?  It's true that in a lot of ways, we Americans have our heads up our butts; but it's also true that Americans are some of the most generous people in the world.  We have an all-volunteer military, so everybody who joins up -- especially when we have troops committed to various hell-holes around the world -- has demonstrated a willingness to give up creature comforts and even their lives for their fellow Americans.  The same goes for those who voluntarily join police departments and fire departments.  Whenever some disaster strikes on the other side of the globe, we are the ones who rush to the scene with rescue personnel and equipment.  And we Americans contribute substantially to charities.  We even found charities.  We are the ones who gave the world the Red Cross.  The Christian spirit -- which liberals have worked so hard to undermine and destroy -- is nevertheless still so potent that even in its diluted form, it is powerful enough to motivate Americans on behalf of the needy.

-- Back to the seasons.  Now that the end of winter is only about 12 hours away as I write this, we are swiftly approaching another harbinger of the change of season, namely, the roaring back to life of the irrigation works.  We southern Idahoans know spring is well and truly under way when the sluices are opened and the irrigation canals fill up.  Northern Idaho doesn't need irrigation, so they miss out on this minor spectacle.

-- Meanwhile, we look for another sort of spring in a world that seems hopelessly messed up -- a spiritual spring; the real springtime the fathers of the Second Vatican Council thought they were ushering in, though the hopes of those who acted in good faith were cheated.  There have certainly been plenty of changes on the political front, over which all the right people are dismayed.  I hope this represents a real sea change, and more than a mere temporary reprieve from the disasters we had previously been hurtling toward.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Beware the Pi's of March

Julius Caesar: fooled by success, did NOT beware the Pi's of March.
Yesterday was Pi Day; and yesterday, I was thinking that, if certain people had had their way, today would be Pi Day.  I seem to recall that a few years ago, there were some parties who thought pi as presently constituted is toooooooo haaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrd, and should be rounded up to 3.15.  Fortunately, the iron-clad laws of math -- a subject I have always hated -- do not move with the swirls and eddies of Political Correctness. 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

More on The Common Good

The common good entails respect for people's sensibilities.  I hasten to add, in our cock-eyed world: people's legitimate sensibilities.  Legitimate sensibilities are reasonable and grounded in nature and reality.  Sensibilities that are unreasonable, grounded in fantasy, and purport to require other people to give way before them at all costs, are not legitimate and should not be catered to.

Recall that the good of individuals is bound up in, and not swallowed up by, the common good.  The good of individuals involves consideration for their feelings, and for their attachments -- to family and friends, to places, to neighborhoods, to institutions, to culture, to manners, to creeds, to traditions.  The common good is not being served in any situation where callousness is institutionalized.  Where flesh-and-blood human beings are viewed as raw material to be "formed" and "molded" and experimented on according to some ideology, and can be uprooted and moved around and situated and employed according to the pleasure of governing elites -- and where there is no real emergency, like armed invasion, forcing a drastic change in priorities -- the common good is being trampled.  If you treat people's feelings as worthless, and their legitimate, natural attachments and aspirations as stupid and pointless, they begin to believe it, and to treat others accordingly.  Then we shouldn't be surprised when crassness and coarseness and even violence become widespread.

When people are objects to have things done to rather than for; when they are valued only to the extent they are "useful"; when their feelings and sensibilities are trivialized; then the common good is being violated.    

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Taking Even Bitter for Sweet

It is said to be an abuse to neglect to give a homily at Sunday Mass.  Apparently, there are places where this abuse is widespread.  I want to know where to go to sign up to have the neglect of homilies enshrined in canon law as it applies to my parish, where I have been given to understand, among other things, that the hierarchy of the Church was not divinely instituted; that the Eucharist was established by the Christian community as a memorial to Christ; that you don't need to believe in God to be a good person; and that the darkness the people walked in before they saw the great light was not sin, but the oppression of the priestly classes.

Today, instead of a homily, we got a really lame joke from the priest, followed by a layman ascending the pulpit and dunning us for donations to the diocese.  Not quite what I had in mind, but at least I didn't have to listen to the Gospel According to Karl Marx.

Still, it's a mark of how bad things are when you find yourself rejoicing that this time you only got slapped in the face instead of getting beaten with a baseball bat.

A soul that is full shall tread upon the honeycomb: and a soul that is hungry shall take even bitter for sweet.  Proverbs 27:7.