Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Red Flag We Are Trained to Ignore

What are we to make of it when a priest, who has long been a darling of the “progressive” left on account of his public dissent from the teachings of the Catholic faith — and particularly the teachings of the Catholic faith on sex — is exposed as a sexual deviant?

For decades, we have been conditioned to buy into the false dichotomy between a man’s private life and his public persona.  A quarter of a century ago, we were told — all the way through to his impeachment — that Bill Clinton’s sexcapades had nothing whatsoever to do with his ability to run the country.  Similarly, Catholic liberals have for many years given us to understand that you can have heterodoxy alongside holiness — and that, in fact, heterodoxy may even be an outstanding sign of holiness, since it implies The Courage to Take On The Establishment, which is invariably The Enemy in the Struggle to Do the Right Thing.

And so we are lulled into not asking key questions and drawing key conclusions about the left’s favorite “progressive” sons in the hierarchy, such as: why does someone within the Church attack the Church’s teachings on sexual matters?  Because these teachings are out of step with our enlightened notions of “fairness” and “equality”?  Because they might give pain to some hypothetical third parties?  Because they aren’t nuanced enough?  But real life is a concrete thing, a wrecking ball too weighty for our towering yet spindly edifices of sophistry to withstand; and people’s motivations are usually quite uncomplicated, and really not so noble.  After all, who really has time or energy to take on causes without some sort of personal investment?  The most obvious and straightforward answer to the question of why is that the dissenter probably has a favorite sin he is trying to hold onto.  To which the heterodox reply will be that (a) the person drawing such a conclusion is “uncharitable” for arriving at a “rash judgment”; and (b) in any case it doesn’t matter whether the dissenter has a dog in the fight, since his motivations in no way detract from the correctness of his positions.

But in fact, the dissenter’s motivations are directly relevant to his objectivity, and therefore to his credibility.  This is why lawyers get to cross-examine witnesses on their motives for testifying.  Credibility matters a great deal in a court of law, and in public discourse.  Sometimes, credibility is the only asset an advocate has to trade on.  It is precisely in a bid to preserve the credibility of a dissenter that inquiries into his motives are suppressed; besides which, the very people who want to engage in such suppression would be the first to raise suspicions about the motivations of someone who supports Catholic doctrine.

There has to be something compelling, not merely theoretical, that drives Catholics — lay and clerical — to wage war on the doctrines of Christ’s Church.  One very distinct possibility is that they are no longer serving Christ (if indeed they ever did serve Him) but the idol that is their pet vice.  Such is their devotion to it that the titanic efforts needed to conform society to their tastes in order to salve their consciences are as nothing compared to the agony of even willing to conform their own selves to Truth.

The hard, cold reality of life is that we cannot throw out the Ten Commandments without also forfeiting the protection they afford.  After all, if we decide that there’s nothing wrong with people thinking the moral law is stupid, then we shouldn’t be surprised when those same people decline to follow it, and when they prey on others in order to feed the appetites that that law does not restrain.  If a person publicly proclaims the stupidity of the moral law, isn’t it foolish to assume that he must be privately following what he publicly derides?  Then why should we be surprised to find a priest who both publicly dissents from the teachings he has been charged to pass on and lives contrary to those same teachings?  A priest who publicly repudiates Catholic doctrines is already unfaithful in virtue of that very fact since, by consenting to receive Holy Orders, he has consented to bearing the burden of preaching those very doctrines.  And once he is unfaithful in one thing, it is easier for him to be unfaithful in other things, which paves the way for unfaithfulness in more and more things.  Sin leads to more sin.

The lesson here would seem to be twofold.  First, heterodoxy is not the mark of a free and tolerant society, but a huge red flag that we have all been trained to ignore.  Second, in case the authority of the Catholic Church to speak on behalf of Christ is in any doubt, the fruit of dissent from orthodoxy in the life of the dissenter bears strongly on the correctness of his dissenting views.  You can’t have holiness without orthodoxy.  If God is Truth, then the pursuit of something other than Truth must be the pursuit of something other than God.  But it is our business as Catholics to pursue God, and the business of our shepherds to lead us rightly in that pursuit.  If a shepherd is pursuing something other than God, then where must he be leading his sheep?  What must he be doing to his sheep while he leads them astray?  And what is to become of bishops who do not pay attention to what their priests are pursuing?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

When the Sun of Culture is Low on the Horizon, Even Dwarves Cast Long Shadows

I recall hearing a priest say that once on Mother Angelica’s show.  The audience was at first stunned into silence, and then broke into applause.  It captures our age perfectly.

Scripture has another way of putting it.  Proverbs 27:7:
A soul that is full shall tread upon the honeycomb: and a soul that is hungry shall take even bitter for sweet.
When things are bad enough, and we are famished enough, our expectations plummet.  We start sniffing and scrounging and scratching and foraging for comfort.  Then, when we find even the tiniest crumb, we act as though we have stumbled upon the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  The “pot of gold” is invariably something so meager and nasty that in better times we would have despised it as trash.  But we have arrived at times so wretched that even trash looks like treasure.

Take the state of things in our beloved Catholic Church.  Into what ecstasies are we launched on those rare occasions when a priest correctly states a Catholic teaching from the pulpit.  Father actually said that marriage is between one man and one woman, and for life!  Dare we to hope — we ask ourselves — that the tide is finally turning?  But in better times, even the worst priests preached what the Church teaches.  What’s that?  Pope Francis celebrated Mass facing east?  It must be the dawn of a new era of reverence and Catholicity in the liturgy!  But in better times, even the worst priests faced east as a matter of routine and did not dare to ad lib the Mass — at least those parts of the Mass that the people could see and hear.  Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo de Borgia, led a life that can be described  only as scandalous; yet it is nowhere recorded that he tried to reinvent the divine truths he flouted, or to remake the Mass or the Sacraments to suit his tastes.  What an age we live in, when even the corrupt churchmen of the Renaissance look like saints!

But we in the pews cannot claim to be any better.  The negligent, slothful and even subversive priests and bishops that plague us today come from within our own ranks.  If we are off the rails, our shepherds will be off the rails.  Bad clergy openly flaunt the evil habits that they once kept under wraps, because we in the pews can no longer rise to the level of being shocked.  They get away with it, because we, being mired in our own evil habits, are too effete to do anything about it.

Let’s face it: we are not in the springtime of renewal in the Catholic Church.  We do ourselves and the Church a great disservice by denying this.  The fact is that those who are not in the Church can see the true state of affairs for themselves, and we make ourselves and our Mother ridiculous by trying to deny it.  But when that renewal does come, we will not need to ask ourselves whether it has in fact arrived.  About the real renewal and revival, there will be no room for doubt. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Passing Scene: 2017

1: Terrorist attack at a nightclub in Istanbul leaves 39 people shot dead and 69 wounded.
3: Ford announces it will cancel its plan to build a factory in Mexico and instead will invest in expanding and developing an already-existing factory in Flat Rock, Michigan.
4: A commuter train derails in Brooklyn, New York, injuring 103 people.  Also: Chicago police arrest on hate crime charges four black thugs who tortured a mentally-disabled white man live on Facebook.
6: Shooter opens fire at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport in Florida, killing five and wounding six before being taken into custody.
8: A terrorist deliberately runs a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem, killing four and wounding 15.
10: Dylann Roof is sentenced to death for the murders of nine people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015.
11: Donald Trump holds his famous press conference wherein he declines to take questions from a CNN reporter, calling CNN "fake news."
12: Soon-to-be-outgoing President Obama abolishes the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that fast-tracked Cuban refugees for permanent residency.
14: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announces it is shutting down after 146 years.
17: Soon-to-be-outgoing President Obama commutes the 35-year sentence of convicted spy Bradley Edward "Chelsea" Manning to 7 years.  Also: British Prime Minister Theresa May announces the U.K.'s departure from the European Single Market.
20: Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.
23: President Trump withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and reinstates the Mexico City Policy.
24: President Trump approves construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
25: President Trump signs executive orders to build the wall along the U.S. southern border and to defund sanctuary cities.
27: Vice-President Mike Pence addresses the Washington, D.C. March for Life.
28: Pope Francis assumes control over the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is a sovereign nation.  Also: a federal district judge stays President Trump's Executive Order No. 13769, limiting immigration from seven countries.  Several more district judges in various parts of the country will also stay the order.
30: Sally Yates, acting Attorney General and Obama holdover, is fired for refusing to enforce Executive Order No. 13769.

Deaths: Nat Hentoff; Roy Innis; Steven McDonald (quadriplegic NYPD detective, famous for forgiving the man who shot and wounded him); Dick Gautier; Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka; Eugene Cernan (last man to walk on the moon); Miguel Ferrer; Charles Liteky (one of five priests who have won the Congressional Medal of Honor); John Hurt; Mary Tyler Moore; Mike Connors; Barbara Hale.


3: The U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran in response to the latter's missile tests.  Also: a federal district judge in Seattle blocks enforcement of Executive Order No. 13769.
6: Queen Elizabeth II becomes the first British monarch to celebrate a sapphire jubilee (65 years).
9: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the district court in re Executive Order No. 13769.
13: Nearly 190,000 people are evacuated due to the threatened failure of the Oroville Dam near Yuba City, California.  Also: Kim Jong-Nam, half-brother of North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-Un, is assassinated in Malaysia by two women using a chemical weapon of mass destruction.
20: Gay conservative Milo Yiannopoulos becomes a pariah in the wake of revelations of his thoughts on adult men having sex with adolescent boys.
22: The Trump administration revokes Obama regulations on transgender students in schools.
23: In preparation for building the Dakota Access pipeline, authorities evict protesters from the site, where they have generated tons of garbage and literally turned the area into a toxic waste dump.
24: A white Navy veteran shoots two Indian nationals in Kansas, killing one and wounding the other.  Liberals blame Trump.  Also: Trump bans several main-stream news agencies from a Friday press gaggle at the White House.
25: President Trump announces he will not attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Deaths: George "The Animal" Steele; Al Jarreau; Alan Colmes; Brenda Buttner; Norma McCorvey; Judge Joseph Wapner; Bill Paxton.


1: The Dow-Jones Industrial Average hits an all-time high at more than 21,000 points.
4: President Trump accuses Barack Obama of having wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign.  Amid a blizzard of leaked phone conversations and allegations that Trump is being investigated for ties to Russia, media outlets reporting the story nevertheless hasten to add that he provides "no evidence" to support his claims, and ridicule the notion that he is under scrutiny.
8: Malta's Azure Window collapses in a storm.  Also: Congress mandates that NASA send humans to Mars by 2033.  I have a long list of people who need to go there.
10: Attorney General Jeff Sessions requires the resignations of 46 chief federal prosecutors.  Only liberals are stunned by this.
16: The Brexit Act receives royal assent.
17: Donna Brazile fesses up to helping Hillary Clinton cheat on presidential debates by forwarding her questions in advance.
18: A man who tries to take an assault rifle from a soldier at Orly Airport in Paris is shot dead.
22: A Muslim extremist rams multiple people with a car, killing five -- including an American celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary -- then stabs a police officer to death before being taken out by police.  
23: A Muslim extremist uses a car to try to ram pedestrians in Antwerp before being taken into custody. 
24: Liberals leap for joy as the bill to replace Obamacare is withdrawn before the House vote.  Also: President Trump approves the Keystone XL pipeline.
28: President Trump signs an executive order setting aside Obama-era climate-change regulations.
29: The United Kingdom formally notifies the European Council of her intent to withdraw from the European Union.
30: Donald Harvey, former hospital worker and serial killer known as the "Angel of Death," is found beaten to death in his prison cell in Ohio.
31: The mayor of New York City announces a plan to close the prison at Rikers Island within 10 years.

Deaths: Joni Sledge (founding member, Sister Sledge); Robert James Waller (author, The Bridges of Madison County); Lynn Stewart; Robert Osborne (Turner Classic Movies); Tommy Page; John van de Kamp (fabled L.A. district attorney and California attorney general of yore); Colin Dexter (author, Inspector Morse series); David Rockefeller; Jimmy Breslin; Chuck Berry; Chuck Barris; Lawrence Montaigne; Darlene Cates.


1: Flash flooding and landslides in Mocoa, Putumayo, Colombia, kill hundreds and leave hundreds more injured.

3: A terrorist bombing on a St. Petersburg Metro train in Russia kills 14 and injures 45 others.  A second bomb was found and defused.  Also: former national security adviser Susan Rice is identified as the person responsible for the "unmasking" of Americans, including Trump campaign staffers, whose communications were intercepted incidental to surveillance on foreign nationals.
5: North Korea fires a medium-range ballistic missile in the direction of Japan, landing the missile in the sea 37 miles away.
7: President Trump orders a missile strike against an airbase in Syria in response to an April 4th chemical weapons attack on civilians.  Also: terrorist attack in Stockholm, Sweden, as a hijacked delivery truck is deliberately rammed into civilians in front of a department store, killing 4 and wounding 15.
9: ISIS claims responsibility for two Palm Sunday suicide bombing attacks against Egyptian Coptic churches -- St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria and St. George's in Tanta, resulting in 44 deaths.  Also: in response to North Korean missile testing, the U.S. deploys a navy strike group to the Korean peninsula.  Also: a United Airlines passenger is roughed up and dragged off a plane for refusing to be kicked off to make room for United employees on an overbooked flight.
10: An elementary school teacher's husband shoots her and an eight-year-old student to death, and wounds a nine-year-old, in their classroom; after which the shooter turns the gun on himself.  Also: Judge Neil Gorsuch is sworn in as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
13: The U.S. Air Force uses the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast -- the world's most powerful conventional bomb -- on an ISIS cave complex in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.
16: 74-year-old Robert Godwin of Cleveland, Ohio, was shot to death by a monster who broadcast the murder live on Facebook.  Two days later, the shooter turned the gun on himself while being pursued by police.  Also: Turkey votes to turn itself into a dictatorship.
18: Terrorist attack in Fresno, California, wherein three are shot to death by a man yelling "Allahu akbar!", before being captured by police.  Also: In a surprise announcement, and contrary to earlier statements, Prime Minister Theresa May of the U.K. calls a general election for June 8th.  The House of Commons will overwhelmingly approve the snap election the next day.
19: Bill O'Reilly is fired from Fox News amid sexual harassment allegations.  Also: Aaron Hernandez, former New England Patriots player and convicted murderer, is found hanged in his prison cell.
20: A Muslim terrorist opens fire on three policeman on the Champs Elysees in Paris, killing one, before being taken out himself.
21: Researchers discover a parchment manuscript of the Declaration of Independence in a record office in Chichester, England.
25: A U.S. federal district court judge rules that President Trump's executive order withholding federal funding from sanctuary cities is unconstitutional, despite the illegality of sanctuary cities
27: President Trump announces his intent to renegotiate NAFTA.
29: Another failed Nork missile launch.  Also: President Trump holds a rally in Pennsylvania instead of attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Deaths: Tim Pigott-Smith; Don Rickles; Emma Morano (oldest living person and last living person born before 1900); Clifton James; J. Geils; Dorothy Mengering (David Letterman's mother, often appeared on his show); Cuba Gooding, Sr.; Erin Moran; Kate O'Beirne.


3: Puerto Rico files for "local government bankruptcy.
4: Announcement of Prince Phillip's forthcoming retirement from public duties.
6: 82 out of 220 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok, Nigeria in 2014 are released.
7: Emmanuel Macron is elected President of France.
9: President Trump finally fires James Comey as head of the FBI.
13: Pope Francis canonizes Bl. Jacinta and Francisco Marto of Fatima, making them the youngest non-martyred saints in history.
17: Convicted spy Bradley Edward Manning, who now calls himself Chelsea Manning, is released from prison pursuant to outgoing President Obama's commutation of his sentence.
18: A car crashes into pedestrians in Times Square, killing one and wounding 20 others.  This time it does not appear to be an act of jihad.
19: Anthony "Carlos Danger" Wiener pleads guilty to sexting with a minor.
20: President Trump lands in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of his first foreign trip as president.
21: The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to an end after 146 years.
22: A jihadist suicide bomber sets himself off at a concert in Manchester, England, killing 22, mostly women and girls.
23: President Duterte of the Philippines declares martial law on the island of Mindanao in response to Islamist clashes with the army in Marawi.
24: An apparent jihadist bombing attack takes place in a bus terminal in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing three policemen.
25: Republican Greg Gianforte handily wins a special congressional election in Montana, despite an incident that led to his being charged with assault against a reporter for the Guardian.
26: Islamist gunmen shoot to death 28 Coptic Christians on a bus in Minya, Egypt.  Also: a white supremacist shouting racial slurs at a Muslim girl on a train in Portland, Oregon, stabs three people who intervened, killing two.
28: Murder spree, Lincoln County, Mississippi: shooter, who wanted to commit "suicide by cop," kills eight, including a sheriff's deputy, at three houses, before being apprehended.
29: Tiger Woods is arrested for DUI.
30: An ISIS suicide bomber kills 13 outside an ice cream parlor in Baghdad, Iraq.

Deaths: Manuel Noriega; Gregg Allman; Zbigniew Brzezinski; Jared Martin; Peter Lawler; Roger Moore; Dina Merrill; Roger Ailes; Chris Cornell (Soundgarden); Powers Boothe; Clive Brooks (Pink Floyd); Tony Alamo; Archbishop George Niederauer.


1:Donald Trump withdraws the United States from the Paris Accords.  Liberals predict the immanent demise of the planet.
3: Muslim terrorists plow vans into pedestrians on London Bridge, then get out and go on a stabbing spree, killing eight and injuring dozens before armed police take them out.
5: A Muslim terrorist who had been abroad training with terror groups murders a hotel clerk and holds a prostitute hostage in Melbourne, Australia, before being taken out by police.  Also: several Middle Eastern countries cut diplomatic relations with Qatar based on the latter's support for terrorism.
6: A Muslim terrorist launches a hammer attack at Notre Dame in Paris before being shot and wounded by police.
7: ISIS gunmen attack the Iranian parliament and the Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum in Teheran, killing 18.
8: Snap election in the United Kingdom results in a hung parliament, with the Tories 12 seats shy of a majority in the House of Commons.  Also: Fired FBI director James Comey testifies before the Senate and totally blows to hell the whole Russia collusion meme, confirming that Trump was never under investigation for such collusion.
10: Act! for America stages a March Against Sharia in various cities around the country.
11: Puerto Rico statehood referendum: 23% of eligible voters turned out to vote for statehood.
13: North Korea releases Otto Warmbier, an American prisoner whom they tortured into a year-long coma, shortly before his death.
14: A deranged Bernie Sanders supporter opens fire on Republicans at a congressional baseball practice, injuring four, one critically, before being taken out by the Capitol Police.  Also: the Grenfell Tower apartment complex in West London is destroyed in a fire that killed at least 80 people.  Also: a disgruntled UPS employee in San Francisco murders three co-workers before turning the gun on himself.
16: President Trump reinstates restrictions on travel and trade restrictions with Cuba, reversing Obama's policies.  Also: Amazon buys Whole Foods.
17: The U.S.S. Fitzgerald collides with an alleged merchant ship off the coast of Japan, resulting in the deaths of 7 American sailors.  Also: Bill Cosby's sex abuse trial ends in a hung jury.
19: A van runs over pedestrians outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, London, killing one and injuring ten.  Also: a car carrying firearms and incendiary devices rams into a police car on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, whereupon the driver -- who was on a security watch list -- is shot dead.
20: A terrorist bomb goes off in Brussels Central Station, resulting in zero casualties, after which police shoot the bomber.
21: A policeman at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan is stabbed in the neck, not fatally, by a suspect yelling "Allahu akbar!"

Deaths: Adam West; Peter Sallis; Bishop David Choby of Nashville; Roger Smith; Rosalie Sorrells; Bill Dana; Stephen Furst; Helmut Kohl; Michael Bond (creator of Paddington Bear); Gary DeCarlo.


3: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is caught appropriating for his own use and that of his family a beach that he had closed to the public.
4: CNN bullies into silence a private citizen who made a video of President Trump throwing to the ground a man with the CNN logo superimposed on his face, after the President posted it on his own Twitter feed.
5: A Vatican priest is arrested in connection with a gay orgy in his apartment.
6: President Trump visits Poland, where the crowds cheer him wildly.
15: 40-year-old Justine Damond of Australia is shot to death by a Somali-born Minneapolis police officer from the passenger seat of his patrol car after she had called 911 to report an assault in the alley behind her house.  The officer had three prior complaints against him within the previous 2 years, and the chief of police afterward resigned at the request of the mayor.
16: Gender ideology strikes Dr. Who as the first female persona is announced.
19: Sen. John McCain of Arizona announces he has brain cancer.
20: O.J. Simpson is granted parole.
21: Sean Spicer resigns as White House press secretary.
23: Nine illegal immigrants are found dead, with 30 more suffering heat stroke and exhaustion, inside a tractor-trailer parked at a Walmart in San Antonio, Texas.
26: President Trump bans transgenders from the military, across the board.
28: A jihadist knife attack in a supermarket in Hamburg, Germany, leaves one dead and four injured. Also: North Korea launches more missiles that land in the Sea of Japan.  Also: Death of Charlie Gard, a British infant with a rare genetic condition whose parents the British government forbade to take him out of the country for treatment or even home to die.

Deaths: Joachim Cardinal Meisner; Joaquin Navarro-Valls; Martin Landau; Harvey Atkin; Chester Bennington (Stone Temple Pilots); John Heard; June Foray; Sam Shepard.


2: Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, retires from public life at the age of 96.
18: Steve Bannon resigns as White House Chief Strategist.
19: Discovery of the wreck of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, sunk in the Pacific by Japanese submarines in 1945.
21: Total solar eclipse sweeps across the continental United States, the first in nearly 100 years.  Also: Big Ben's four-year silence begins while necessary repairs are carried out.
25: Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Texas.  Also: President Trump pardons Arizona Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio.
30: Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in Louisiana.  Meanwhile, Hurricane Irma forms and begins its destructive path across the Caribbean.
31: Video footage is release of the arrest of a nurse in Utah who refused to conduct a warrantless blood draw on an unconscious suspect.

Deaths: Goldy McJohn (Steppenwolf); Ara Parseghian; Glen Campbell; Dick Gregory; Jerry Lewis; Cecil Andrus; Jay Thomas; Richard Anderson.


3:  North Korea tests a hydrogen bomb at its Punggye-Ri Nuclear Test Site.
7: Chiapas, Mexico suffers a magnitude 8.1 earthquake.  Also: Announcement of Equifax data breach.
10: Murder spree, Plano, Texas: shooter kills seven at a house party before being killed himself in a shootout with police.
12: The U.S. Supreme Court affirms the president's right to deny entry of refugees into the United States.  Also: Ed Murray, the mayor of Seattle, resigns amid allegations of sexual abuse of teenagers from the '70s and '80s.
15: North Korea launches a missile over Hokkaido, Japan.  South Korea launches a missile of its own six minutes later.  Also: the space probe Cassini deliberately crashes into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 20-year mission.

Deaths: Shelley Berman; Pete Domenici; Harry Dean Stanton; Bobby "The Brain" Heenan; Jake LaMotta; Liliane Bettancourt; Hugh Heffner; Benjamin Whitrow; Monty Hall.


1: A gunman opens fire on a country music concert from an upper floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort, killing 59 and wounding 527.  Also: Knife-wielding jihadist at a train station in Marseilles, France, murders two women.  Also: Catalonia votes to declare itself independent from Spain, despite having been declared illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.
6: Governor Moonbeam signs legislation to make California a sanctuary state.  Also: movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's career begins to unravel over sex abuse allegations.  Also: President Trump rescinds by executive order the Obamacare birth control mandate.
10: President Trump declares the northern California wildfires a major disaster.  Also: Governor Moonbeam signs into law a bill that reduces the crime of exposing people to the HIV virus from a felony to a misdemeanor.
26: Thousands of previously secret files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are made public.
31: Terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan as an Uzbek in a rented pickup mows down people on a bike path, killing eight and wounding 11, before he himself is shot and taken into custody.

Deaths: Tom Petty; Trevor Martin; Fats Domino; Bishop Emeritus Michael Driscoll of Boise; Robert Guillaume.


5: A gunman murders 26 in a shooting spree at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
8: Kevin Spacey's career begins to unravel in the wake of sex abuse allegations.
21: Robert Mugabe resigns as President of Zimbabwe.
26: John Conyers becomes the latest to fall amid sex abuse allegations.
30: Man charged with the murder of Kate Steinle is acquitted of murder, although he is convicted of felon in possession of a firearm.  Conservatives do not riot.

Deaths: John Hillerman; Liz Smith; Ann Wedgeworth; Earle Hyman; Charles Manson; Della Reese; Mel Tillis; David Cassidy; Jim Nabors.


1: Emperor Akihito of Japan announces that he will abdicate the throne in April of 2019.
2: Brian Ross of ABC News is suspended for four weeks for an erroneous story on Michael Flynn.  Also: President Trump withdraws the United States from the United Nation's Global Compact on Migration.  Also: NASA successfully fire ups Voyager I's backup maneuvering thrusters for the first time in 37 years, to keep the probe's antenna pointed toward Earth.
4: The U.S. Supreme Court gives the green light to full effect for the Trump "travel ban."  Also: President Trump signs an executive order returning large portions of land designated as federal national monuments back to the state of Utah.
5: Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.) steps down amid sexual misconduct allegations.  Also: Austria's Constitutional Court legalizes same-sex "marriage."
6: President Trump announces the United States' official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
7: A shooter kills two students at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico, before turning the gun on himself.  Also: "comedian" Al Franken announces he will resign from the U.S. Senate "in the coming weeks" amid sexual misconduct allegations.
8: Rep. Trent Franks (R.-Ariz.) announces his resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations.
11: Failed terrorist pipe bombing at New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal wounds two plus the bomber.  Also: Democrat Doug Jones beats Republican Roy Moore in Alabama race to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.
18: An Amtrak train derails on a freeway overpass near Seattle, Washington, resulting in three deaths and over 100 injuries.  Also: the United States defeats a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a withdrawal of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
20: President Trump's tax reform bill passes both houses of Congress.
28: 12 die in an apartment building fire in the Bronx. 
29: 9 die in an attack on Coptic Christians in Cairo, Egypt.

Deaths: Bernard Cardinal Law; Christine Keeler; John B. Anderson; Rose Marie; Heather Menzies; March Fong Eu; Sue Grafton.

As the roller coaster ride continues into 2018, let us pray to a merciful God for the undeserved blessings of peace and freedom in our troubled world.

Friday, December 08, 2017

REPOST: Mary, Conceived Without Sin, You DID Know

Raise your hand if you have ever heard the song "Mary, Did You Know?" within the precincts of a Catholic church.  I can't see you, but I know you're out there.  My hand is also up.  Somehow, because this song mentions the Mother of God, it has become a Christmas tradition in some parishes.  But although the gentleman who wrote "Mary, Did You Know?" clearly means well, this song is both musically inappropriate for Mass and subversive of the Catholic faith.

From a musical standpoint, "Mary, Did You Know?" is basically a pop song, and although the Mass has been saturated with such for a couple of generations now, the fact remains that it is not sacred music suited for use at Mass.  But even more objectionable, from the Catholic point of view, is the lyrical content.  

"Mary, Did You Know?" is based on some abysmally erroneous assumptions.  To begin with, it is supposed that Mary does not know that her holy Infant is the Son of God.  Some saints -- for instance, St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and Doctor of the Church -- are of the opinion that even before the Annunciation, Mary had a profound understanding of prophecies and Scriptures concerning the promised Messiah.  But even without such an understanding, it would have taken a high degree of inattention on Mary's part to the message of Gabriel and the inspired greeting of her cousin Elizabeth for her to labor under ignorance of her Son's divinity.  It is further supposed that Mary does not know that her Son will suffer for the redemption of mankind.  This would have required her to utterly gloss over the prophecies of holy Simeon concerning her Son as God's salvation, a sign of contradiction, and concerning the sword of sorrow that would pierce her own soul.  The idea of the Mother of God not being in possession of the most critical facts about her divine Son, particularly in view of explicit revelations received by her, is absurd on its face.

But there is an even more blatant error in the lyrics of "Mary, Did You Know?" that ought to induce in every Catholic a sharp intake of breath.  It is a defined dogma of the Catholic faith that the Mother of God was conceived without original sin.  On December 8, 1854, in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. 
Contrast this with the following lyrics from "Mary, Did You Know?":
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Whereas Catholics accept as revealed truth that Mary was free from sin from the instant of her conception by virtue of the anticipated merits of Jesus' suffering and death on the Cross, the foregoing is based on the assumption that Mary was under the sway of sin at the time she gave birth to the Christ Child, and that she would remain so until His Sacrifice of redemption.  In short, it is a flat denial of the Immaculate Conception.  As such -- and for this reason alone -- it should never be sung in a Catholic church, or find any place in any Catholic liturgy, and Catholics should not embrace it.

Perhaps a fitting way to honor today's feast of the Immaculate Conception -- in addition to fulfilling our obligation to attend Mass -- would be to defend the dogma which this feast celebrates by doing what we can to see that "Mary, Did You Know?" remains unheard in our parishes during this and every Christmas season.

REPOST: Potuit, Decuit, ergo Fecit: Why the Immaculate Conception Must Be True

I will shew thee all good, and I will proclaim in the name of the Lord before thee: and I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please me.  
Exodus 33:19

Once in a while, a comment comes along that deserves a post-length response.  Here, from a self-professed ex-Catholic turned non-denominational, is one that just came in on my post about the appalling song "Mary, Did You Know?":
Mary had to have sinned. She called Jesus "my Savior" and what is Jesus the Savior for? Sinners. She had sinned. And there is no biblical evidence for her having no sin.

Those of you with a kick against the Immaculate Conception always want to set limitations on God.  You generally have no problem acknowledging in theory that God is infinitely good, infinitely holy, infinitely perfect, infinitely merciful and infinitely powerful; but in practice, what you really want is a sort of bite-sized God, One that we can wrap our woefully inadequate brains around and Who does not confound our puny capabilities.  So when God actually goes and does something that only an infinitely good, holy, perfect, merciful and powerful Being could do, you protest.  The fact, however, is that God can do whatever He wants; and whatever is fitting, we may be sure that He will do.

God can do the impossible more rapidly and easily than we can blink our eyes or draw a breath.  It was perfectly within His power to preserve Mary free from the taint of sin from the instant of her conception.  This singular privilege of His grace was purchased for her by the limitless merits of Christ's suffering and death on the Cross.  God, not bound by the constraints of time or space, was perfectly capable of applying these merits beforehand and granting this privilege in advance of the Crucifixion.  Thus God really was Mary's Savior, and did not need her to sin in order to be her Savior: His intervention to prevent her from receiving the taint of sin that she would otherwise have contracted as a descendant of Adam was also a salvific act.  Have you never been prevented from committing sins -- by being deprived of means or opportunity, or because you have never experienced the temptation to commit particular sins?  These are also interventions of God's grace.  So you should know from experience that God saves us, not only by forgiving sins we have actually committed, but also by preventing us from committing sins we would otherwise have committed, perhaps to our eternal ruin.   Why, then, should it be so hard to accept that God, out of the abyss of His goodness and mercy, could exercise His infinite power to prevent the Mother of His Son from being tainted by the least stain of iniquity from the very instant she began to exist?

It is altogether fitting that God should preserve Mary inviolate and immaculate from the first instant of her life.  God always gives us the grace we need to do the work He gives us: the greater the work, the greater the grace given to carry it out.  Was ever a more important mission given to a mere human being than that entrusted to Mary?  It was her task to supply the matter out of which the all-holy Son of God would take flesh, to bear Him in her womb, to nurse Him and to rear Him to manhood, and to share in her soul in the agonies of His Passion.  This touches on a point raised by my correspondent in a follow-up comment:

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for dying for our sins because He was without blemish. If Mary had no blemish either, that would pretty much validate her for crucifixion too. Which would make Jesus less important.
Here my correspondent, though off the rails in the implications for the importance of Jesus, hits on an important truth.  Mary did in fact suffer with her divine Son, more than any other human being could have.  The saints (e.g., St. Alphonsus Liguori) are of the opinion that her sufferings were greater than that of all other men who have ever lived or will ever live put together, and that only a miracle kept her from dying of grief.  This is why Catholics honor her under the titles of Mother of Sorrows and Queen of Martyrs: only her Son's sufferings exceeded hers.  When she presented her Son in the Temple, holy Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul, that out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed (Luke 2:35).  It makes sense that she should bear so great a share in her Son's Passion: not only was she his loving mother; she was also fully aware that He was God, and therefore of the horrible outrage that He should be murdered by His own creatures.  Moreover, would it have been possible for her to suffer entirely for his sake and not at all for her own if she herself had had a share in the sins that caused Him to be nailed to the Cross?  Still, this share of hers in Christ's suffering does not in any way diminish Him.  Jesus was the perfect Sacrifice not only because He was without blemish, but because He was God.  Mankind had outraged the infinite God, and therefore it would take infinite merits to repair the outrage; these could only be offered by the Son of God. 

If you do not accept the Immaculate Conception, then I am bound to ask you why you would want the Mother of God to have been a sinner.  Is this not tantamount to wanting an unworthy vessel for the Incarnate God?   Does it make sense for the woman entrusted with bearing and caring for and suffering alongside the Son of God to have spent even a single instant under the dominion of hell?  No: especially when you consider that the Woman of Genesis 3:15, between whom and the serpent God put enmity is none other than the Mother of God, and her Seed is none other than Jesus Christ:

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
Here is scriptural proof of the Immaculate Conception.  If God creates perfect and implacable enmity between the Woman and the serpent -- and surely it is unthinkable that if God creates enmity between the Mother of God and evil, this enmity will be imperfect and half-hearted -- then it follows that she could never be under the serpent's sway, or in allegiance with him, as she must be if she had sinned.  Thus it was fitting for God to preserve her without sin from the very beginning.

Since it was perfectly possible for God to preserve Mary free from sin from the moment of her conception, and it was fitting that He should do so, it follows that He in fact did do so.  It would be a gross omission on God's part, and incompatible with His infinite perfection, if He should leave undone that which was fitting.  Therefore, we may safely take it that He did not leave it undone.  

Potuit, decuit, ergo fecit! He could; it was fitting; therefore, He did it!

H/T Canterbury Tales

Friday, October 13, 2017

100 October 13ths Ago: The Miracle of the Sun

All of Satan's fallen host seemed to have burst its bonds during the month of October, 1917.  The Battle of Passchendaele had raged since the end of July.  Only the day before the children were to keep their final appointment with the Lady of the Rosary, the Allies alone suffered 13,000 casualties trying to break the German defenses outside the rural Belgian village.  By November, upwards of three quarters of a million lives on both sides would be consumed; out of the wrack and ruin of Passchendaele, where he served in a Bavarian division, would emerge a young Austrian named Adolf Hitler.  Only a few days after the last apparition, the Bolshevik Revolution began.  How apt was the nickname of "Red October" that the Communists gave to this fateful month, when the fury of hell lashed the world as mercilessly as the torrential rain that fell on the Cova da Iria on the 12th and 13th.
Perhaps that rain, and the mud that went with it, were part of hell's wrath.  But if it was a campaign to keep people away from the Cova, it was a colossal failure.  Believers and skeptics alike defied the awful weather, choking the Cova and its approaches; Fr. Di Marchi quotes as the most widely accepted figure 70,000 souls.  Lucia relates in her Fourth Memoir:
We left home quite early, expecting that we would be delayed along the way.  Masses of people thronged the roads.  The rain fell in torrents.  My mother, her heart torn with uncertainty as to what was going to happen, and fearing it would be the last day of my life, wanted to accompany me.

On the way, the scenes of the previous month, still more numerous and moving, were repeated.  Not even the muddy roads could prevent these people from kneeling in the  most humble and suppliant of attitudes.  We reached the holmoak in the Cova da Iria.  Once there, moved by an interior impulse, I asked the people to shut their umbrellas and say the Rosary.  A little later, we saw the flash of light, and then Our Lady appeared on the homoak.

"What do you want of me?"
Now the Lady was to keep her oft-repeated promise to tell the children who she was and what she wanted.
"I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor.  I am the Lady of the Rosary.  Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.  The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes."

"I have many things to ask you: the cure of some sick persons, the conversion of sinners, and other things..."

"Some yes, but not others.  They must amend their lives and ask forgiveness for their sins."

Looking very sad, Our Lady said:

"Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended."

Then, opening her hands, she made them reflect on the sun, and as she ascended, the reflection of her own light continued to be projected on the sun itself.
Now the Lady would keep the other promise: to perform a miracle for all to see and believe.  How often does it happen that a miracle on a huge scale is promised for a particular date -- and then it happens?  Herewith the eyewitness account of Dr. Joseph Garrett, professor of natural sciences at Coimbra University, written in December, 1917 and quoted in Francis Johnston's book, Fatima: The Great Sign:
I am going to relate to you in a brief and concise manner, without any statements which would conceal the truth, what I saw in Fatima on 13 October 1917...I arrived at midday. The rain which had fallen persistently all morning, combined with a blustery wind, continued fretfully, as if threatening to drown everyone. The dull and heavy sky, its dark-grey clouds water-laden, predicted abundant rain for a long time to come.

I remained on the road in the shelter of the hood of my car, looking rather disdainfully toward the place where they said the apparition would be seen, not daring to step on the sodden and muddy earth of the freshly-ploughed field. I was a little more than a hundred metres from the high wooden posts mounted by a rough cross, seeing distinctly the wide circle of people who, with their umbrellas open, seemed like a vast arena of mushrooms. A little after one o'clock [footnote omitted], the children to whom Our Lady, as they declare, appeared and appointed the place, day and hour of the apparition, arrived at the site. Hymns were intoned and sung by the people who gathered around them. At a certain moment, this immense mass of people, so varied and compact, closed their umbrellas and uncovered their heads in a gesture that could have been one of humility or respect, but which left me surprised and bewildered, because now the rain, with a blind persistency, poured down on their heads and drenched them through.

Later, I was told that this crowd, who finished up by kneeling in the mud, had obeyed the voice of a child. It must have been about half past one when there rose up, on the precise spot where the children were, a pillar of smoke, a delicate, slender, bluish column that went straight up about two metres, perhaps above their heads and then evaporated. The phenomenon lasted for some seconds and was perfectly visible to the naked eye...It was repeated yet a second and third time. On these three occasions, and especially on the last one, the slender posts stood out distinctly in the dull grey atmosphere.

While I continued looking at the place of the apparitions in a serene, if cold expectation of something happening, and with diminishing curiosity, because a long time had passed without anything to excite my attention, I heard a shout from thousands of voices, and saw the multitude which straggled out at my feet, here and there concentrated in small groups round the trees, suddenly turn its back on the point toward which, up to now, it had directed its attention, and turn to look at the sky on the opposite side...The sun, a few moments before, had broken through the thick layer of clouds that hid it and shone clearly and intensely. I veered toward the magnet which seemed to be drawing all eyes, and saw it as a disc with clear-cut rim, luminous and shining, but which did not hurt the eyes...

It looked like a glazed circular piece cut from a mother-of-pearl shell...It could not be confused, either, with the sun seen through fog (for there was no fog at the time), because it was not opaque, diffused or veiled...The sky was mottled with light cirrus clouds, the blue coming through here and there, but sometimes the sun stood out in patches of clear sky...It was a remarkable fact that one could fix one's eyes on this brazier of heat and light without any pain in the eyes or blinding of the retina...

The sun's disc did not remain immobile. This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamour was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during these moments was terrible.

During the solar phenomenon, which I have just described in detail, there were changes of color in the atmosphere...Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything around was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything in an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same colour. An oak tree nearby threw a shadow of this colour on the ground. Fearing that I was suffering from an affection of the retina...I turned away and shut my eyes, keeping my hands over them to intercept the light. With my back still turned, I opened my eyes and saw that the landscape was the same purple colour as before...Soon after, I heard a peasant who was near me shout out in tones of astonishment: "Look, that lady is all yellow!" In fact, everything both near and far, had changed, taking on the colour of old yellow damask. People looked as if they were suffering from jaundice, and I recall my amusement at seeing them look so ugly and unattractive. Laughter was heard. My own hand was of the same yellow colour...

All these phenomena which I have described, were observed by me in a calm and serene state of mind and without any emotional disturbance. It is for others to interpret and explain them.
Francis Johnson records that the solar miracle was seen over an area of 600 square miles.  He relates some eyewitness accounts:
In the town of Leiria, eighteen miles away to the north-west, the miracle was seen as a great red flash due to the restricting contours of the land.  Rev. Joaquim Lourenco, a canon lawyer of the diocese of Leiria in 1960, witnessed the miracle in the village of Alburitel, some nine miles distant.  He was a schoolboy at the time, and in 1960 he told John Haffert:

"I feel incapable of describing what I saw.  I looked fixedly at the sun, which seemed pale and did not hurt my eyes.  Looking like a ball of snow, revolving on itself, it suddenly seemed to come down in a zig-zag, menacing the earth.  Terrified, I ran and hid myself among the people, who were weeping and expecting the end of the world at any moment.  It was a crowd which had gathered outside our local village school, and we had all left classes and run into the streets because of the cries and surprised shouts of men and women who were in the street in front of the school when the miracle began.

"There was an unbeliever there who had spent the morning mocking the 'simpletons' who had gone off to Fatima just to see an ordinary girl.  He now seemed paralyzed, his eyes fixed on the sun.  He began to tremble from head to foot, and lifting up his arms, fell on his knees in the mud, crying out to God.  But meanwhile the people continued to cry out and to weep, asking God to pardon their sins.  We all ran to the two chapels in the village, which were soon filled to overflowing.  During those long moments of the solar prodigy, objects around us turned all colors of the rainbow..."

An American building contractor, Abano Barros, related to John Haffert in 1960 how he saw the miracle in a village near Minde, about eight miles from Fatima.  "I was watching sheep, as was my daily task, and suddenly, there in the direction of Fatima, I saw the sun fall from the sky.  I thought it was the end of the world."

At least one eyewitness, the poet Alfonso Lopes Viera, saw the miracle from a distance of 30 miles -- at the ocean town of San Pedro der Muel.  The author has also discovered at first hand that the miracle was seen in Pombal, some 32 miles to the north.  Investigations have proved that it was visible over an area of approximately 32 miles by 20.

As for the children themselves, Lucia relates simply and straightforwardly in her Fourth Memoir what they saw:
After Our Lady had disappeared into the immense distance of the firmament, we beheld St. Joseph with the Child Jesus and Our Lady robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun.  St. Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to bless the world, for they traced the Sign of the Cross with their hands.  When, a little later, this apparition disappeared, I saw Our Lord and Our Lady; it seemed to me that it was Our Lady of Dolours.  Our Lord appeared to bless the world in the same manner as St. Joseph had done.  This apparition also vanished, and I saw Our Lady once more, this time resembling Our Lady of Carmel.
So ended this dramatic heavenly intervention in human affairs, at the height of the fratricidal fury that swept away the old order of things, and ushered in a new era of slaughter and destruction previously unknown.  But the message behind the drama is quite simple: repent and convert.

When will we start?

Monday, October 09, 2017

One More Thing...

Why is it that my "civil libertarian" colleagues want to do away with or at least vitiate the one civil right that most effectively guarantees our freedom, namely, the right to keep and bear arms?  That is the true purpose of the Second Amendment.  It is not there merely to guarantee our ability to hunt, and the "well-armed militia" clause does not serve as a limitation on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, as the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a few years ago.  The Second Amendment is there because tyranny requires an unarmed populace.  Liberals have been working for decades to achieve a citizenry that is helpless and prostrate before those in power.  That is the real purpose of the welfare state -- and it works like a charm, in case anybody cares to take notice.

These same colleagues also like to rag on the police as bean-brained boobs, uniformed thugs or ruthless, scheming charlatans -- which in fact a few are, though most are not.  Yet these colleagues seem not to have noticed that the very gun policies they advocate would give an exclusive monopoly on firearms to these same rotters who, in their view, cannot be trusted to safeguard our constitutional rights.  

But then liberalism is really a sort of religious dogma that its adherents hold to every bit as unthinkingly as they assume I hold to my Catholic faith.  Which is probably why they assume, without investigating, that my Catholic faith makes no sense.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Random Thoughts

- I haven't had much to say lately on any subject, because there is so much that is so depressing going on, both in the world at large and in my own little corner of it, that I have felt like silence is the only response I can muster. Maybe it's time for the choleric side of my personality to reassert itself over the melancholic, which has had the upper hand for the last few years.

- There is indeed a sea change in the world, and the signs include the Brexit vote in June of last year, and the election of Donald Trump in the United States last November.  People are finally beginning to reject and push back against the "Enlightenment" ideology that has so fascinated the West's elites, and held Christendom in thrall, for the last two and a half centuries.  But the corrupt elites are themselves pushing back -- hard.  It remains to be seen whether we have started to regain our senses in enough time to save Christian civilization, and whether enough people are willing to defend it.

- It is easy enough to expose the hypocrisy of the "open borders" crowd by asking them why they don't tear down their own fences and gates and throw open their own real estate holdings to all and sundry, no questions asked.  It is because they know they will be cleaned out and maybe even not escape the experience physically unscathed.  A nation -- which is an extension of the family, which springs from our human nature and has rights in the natural law -- is no different in this respect.  A family has the right to let some people into its home and keep others out, according as its interests dictate; to expect guests and visitors to obey the rules of the house; and to expel those who will not comply.  A nation possesses these same rights.  A national government also has the same duty to look first to the well-being of its own citizens, that parents have to look first to the well-being of their own children.

- It's depressing to think how far we have slid down the sewer of violence in the 21st century, and still more depressing to realize that that is the way our Elders and Betters, including those who run the mass media, want it.  Seven gangsters and gang associates died in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago in 1929, and the nation was aghast.  Eighty-eight years, a world war, multiple regional wars and countless murders, abortions and terror attacks later, the deaths of innocent civilians in European cities at the hands of Muslim extremists are barely making the news anymore.  The leaders of Europe declare their resolve to "carry on" and not be intimidated by terrorists, but they are utterly unwilling to do what it takes to put an end to the predations of terrorists.  Instead, they spend their time coming up with hash tags, and putting up barriers, and telling their people they are just going to have to put up with terrorism as a part of life, and chewing their nails about insoluble and even non-existent problems, like "climate change" and "carbon footprints."  Why is it they think it impossible to keep out of their countries people who want to destroy them, but consider it totally feasible to adjust the earth's temperature by means of legislative enactments?

- Let us not kid ourselves that mass murders like the one in Vegas last week are unrelated to the scourge of abortion.  Mother Teresa warned us of this at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994:
But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?
- It is worth remembering that in that same speech, Mother Teresa -- who is loved by both conservatives and liberals -- did not fail to draw the line between abortion and contraception:
In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self.  This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception.  Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.
- I'm really getting sick of these NFL demonstrations. I don't watch football, but if I did, it would be for entertainment -- just like going to a movie or watching a TV show. For years, we have been putting up with having leftist propaganda shoved down our throats every time we go to some entertainment venue, and I, for one, am fed up. That's not why I pay to get in.

- Leftists reduce everything to politics. The last time I argued about this taking-a-knee business with a leftist, I was accused of hypocrisy on the grounds that patriotic displays, which I don't object to, are nothing more than a political argument for the side I agree with. This is how the left operates: redefine the terms so nobody else can possibly win.  We have to stop buying into their planted axioms.  In fact, everything is not politics, and displays of patriotism are not political. Patriotism is a virtue, and standing for the anthem with your hand over your heart is a civic ceremony wherein we give expression to that virtue and reaffirm our identity as Americans. These idiotic protests strike at our unity as Americans.  I say, throw the bums out. The First Amendment doesn't apply to players on the field. They are there to work and earn their keep, just like I am whenever I go to court.  Hold them to the same standards as any other employee in any other workplace.  I don't get to do or say anything other than what I get paid for in the course of my employment, and neither should they.

- It would be interesting to know just what Harvey Weinstein -- who looks every inch a disgusting pig -- did to lose him the protection of The Establishment.  Whatever it was, it cannot have been sexually predatory behavior.  Hollywood has been glamorizing sexually predatory behavior for years, and has show itself quick to circle the wagons around sexual predators in its midst.  When, for example, the authorities nabbed Roman Polanski on his way to a film festival in Zurich in 2009 -- more than 30 years after skipping out on his sentencing in Los Angeles for plying a 13-year-old girl with booze and quaaludes, then raping and sodomizing her -- the film community rose in outrage at the authorities.  Harvey Weinstein, incidentally, and not surprisingly, was very vocal in defending Polanski.  So what heresy did Weinstein commit that made his own company throw him out on his ear?  One is tempted to speculate that he might have said something that could, in a certain light, be construed as mildly favorable to Donald Trump.  That would correspond more exactly to the Hollywood Left's idea of high crimes and misdemeanors.

- I suppose the sea change I mentioned above might be taking place in the Church as well as in Western society at large, as witness the filial correctio published recently, several weeks after it had been presented to the Holy Father and gotten no response.  It is refreshing to hear heresies straighforwardly designated as heresies, but I cannot say that I am surprised that the Pope continues not to respond.  If a Pope really does subscribe to heresies, and he cannot bring himself to declare definitively against them, declaring definitively in their favor is not an option: the charism of infallibility that he possesses in virtue of his office prevents this.  The only thing a Pope could do in these circumstances would be to remain silent.  Whatever the case may be, the Church is in a real crisis.  We should be prepared for the possibility that we will not see this crisis resolved during the current pontificate.

- On the other hand, we are just a week way from the 100th anniversary of the culmination of Our Lady's appearances at Fatima, Portugal, when tens of thousands of believers and non-believers within about a 30-mile radius witnessed the miracle she promised to perform to prove that she really had appeared to the three children and called for penance, repentance and conversion.  We are also in the centenary of Red October, when the Soviet Union was born -- the instrument by which Russia has spread her errors throughout the world, as Our Lady warned she would.  One also thinks of the hundred years satan asked God to give him in which to destroy the Church in the vision Pope Leo XIII is said to have had that inspired him to compose the Prayer to St. Michael.  We have certainly seen the fury of hell intensify all over the world over the last several years, and the storm roils every level of Church and state, from the palaces and mansions of the great down to the most humble individual.  Are we now near the end of those hundred years?

I hope we may live to see the promised triumph of her Immaculate Heart, and that soon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

100 September 13ths Ago: Toward the Climax

St. Mary Magdalene, one of the greatest penitents.
The three children of Fatima had taken very much to heart the Lady's exhortations to do penance and make sacrifices for sinners.  They offered up their persecutions at the hands of the government, and Lucia's trials at home, but these were not enough.  The children soon got into the habit of giving away their lunches and picking acorns and bitter plants to eat instead; they would deny themselves water on hot days; Jacinta even wanted to drink from the same dirty water that the cows trampled in and muddied.  Sometimes, the children would refrain from hiding from curiosity-seekers (at which they happened to be quite adept) in order to be able to make a sacrifice of submitting to importunities.  One day, Lucia found a length of scratchy, stinging rope; cutting it into three pieces, the children wore it around their waists under their clothes as a sort of hair shirt.  Such was their zeal that they even wore the ropes to bed.  All to drag sinners back from the brink of hell. 

On September 13th, the children were free to keep their appointment with the Lady in the Cova da Iria, hindered only by the immense crowds that gathered in eager anticipation -- thirty thousand souls, according to Fr. de Marchi.  Lucia records in her Fourth Memoir:
As the hour approached, I set out with Jacinta and Francisco, but owing to the crowds around us we could only advance with difficulty.  The roads were packed with people, and everyone wanted to see us and speak to us.  There was no human respect whatsoever.  Simple folk, and even ladies and gentlemen, struggled to break through the crowd that pressed around us.  No sooner had they reached us than they threw themselves on their knees before us, begging us to place their petitions before Our Lady.  Others who could not get close to us shouted from a distance:
"For the love of God, ask Our Lady to cure my son who is a cripple!"  Yet another cried out: "And to cure mine who is blind!"...To cure mine who is deaf!...To bring back my husband, my son, who has gone to the war!...To convert a sinner!...To give me back my health as I have tuberculosis!" and so on.

All the afflictions of poor humanity were assembled there.  Some climbed up to the tops of trees and walls to see us go by, and shouted down to us.  Saying yes to some, giving a hand to others and helping them up from the dusty ground, we managed to move forward, thanks to some gentlemen who went ahead and opened a passage for us through the multitude.
Now, when I read in the New Testament about those enchanting scenes of Our Lord's passing through Palestine, I think of those which Our Lord allowed me to witness, while yet a child, on the poor roads and lanes from Aljustrel to Fatima and on to the Cova da Iria!  I give thanks to God, offering Him the faith of our good Portuguese people, and I think: "If these people so humbled themselves before three poor children, just because they were mercifully granted the grace to speak to the Mother of God, what would they not do if they saw Our Lord Himself in person before them?"
Among the tens of thousands of witnesses on September 13th was Msgr. John Quaresma, Vicar General of the Diocese of Leiria.  Father de Marchi gives us an excerpt of a letter Msgr. Quaresma wrote about the events in 1932:
So on a beautiful September morning we left Leiria in a rickety carriage drawn by an old horse, for the spot where the much-discussed apparitions were said to take place. Father Gois found the dominating point of the vast amphitheatre from which we could observe events, without approaching too nearly the place where the children were awaiting the apparition.

At midday there was complete silence. One only heard the murmur of prayers. Suddenly there were sounds of jubilation and voices praising the Blessed Virgin. Arms were raised pointing to something in the sky. "Look, don’t you see?"

"Yes, yes, I do...!" Much satisfaction on the part of those who do. There had not been a cloud in the deep blue of the sky and I, too, raised my eyes and scrutinised it in case I should be able to distinguish what the others, more fortunate than I, had already claimed to have seen.

With great astonishment I saw, clearly and distinctly, a luminous globe, which moved from the east to the west, gliding slowly and majestically through space. My friend also looked, and had the good fortune to enjoy the same unexpected and delightful vision. Suddenly the globe, with its extraordinary light, disappeared.

Near us was a little girl dressed like Lucia, and more or less the same age. She continued to cry out happily: "I still see it! I still see it! Now it's coming down...!"
Father de Marchi gives the following account of this shortest of the Fatima apparitions:
Now, while the beads were being told, the crowd could see the children rise from their knees and face to the east, and see the wonder come alive upon their faces. A moment while the children waited, watching, watching, their eyes on the oak tree now, their joy like a flame. They had fallen to their knees again, and people, close to Lucia, heard her say:

"What do you want of me?"

But for Lucia and her cousins there were no people. Their senses could not wholly accommodate the Queen of Heaven standing in gentle courtesy above them. There was room for nothing more. Neither smiling nor grave, the Lady gave her simple, direct, and unadorned instructions:

"Continue the Rosary, my children. Say it every day that the war may end."

"Is that all?"

No, there was more, because the Lady repeated all she had told them the month before, reminding them that in October they would see St. Joseph with the Holy Child. God Himself would be seen and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Our Lady of Dolors would appear.

The Lady paused. Her triumphant beauty softened, her voice became more tenderly maternal.

“God is pleased with your sacrifices,” she said, “but He does not want you to wear the cords to bed. Keep them on only in the day.”

Lucia, whose eyes had been lowered during the Lady's statement of God's approval of their sacrifices, dared now to raise her glance.

"I have the petitions of many for your help," she said. "Will you assist a little girl who is deaf and dumb?"

"She will improve within the year," the Lady said.

"And the conversions that some have asked to have brought about? The cures of the sick ones?"

"Some I will cure," the Lady said, "and some I will not. Our Lord does not trust them all."

Lucia, obedient and satisfied, accepted this decision. She then remembered the desires of Maria da Capelinha and other pious women who had believed in the apparitions from the beginning.

"Would you like a small chapel to be built here with the money the people have left?" she asked.

"Yes; I would like a small chapel built in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. But tell them to use only half the money for this. The other half is to be for the andors [litters] that you already know about."

Lucia’s thoughts turned inward to personal problems.

"So many believe that I am an impostor and a cheat," she said, "that they say I deserve to be hanged and burned. Will you please perform a miracle so that all of them can believe?"

"In October," the Lady said, repeating her earlier promise, "I will perform a miracle that will permit everyone to believe."
After this, the Lady rose and departed.

In the letter quoted above, Msgr. Quaresma noted that not everyone present received the privilege of witnessing anything out of the ordinary.  Did Lucia's own mother, Maria Rosa, fall into this category?  In her Second Memoir, Lucia records the following:
Since it seems Our Lord had, a month before, wished to give some visible sign out of the ordinary, my mother eagerly hoped that, on this day, such signs would be still more clear and evident.  The good Lord, however, perhaps to give us the opportunity to offer Him yet another sacrifice, permitted that no ray of His glory should appear on this day.  My mother lost heart once more, and the persecution at home began all over again.

But Lucia entertained no bitterness toward the family that laid such heavy crosses on her little shoulders:
[My mother] had indeed many reasons for being so upset.  The Cova da Iria was now a total loss, not only as a fine pasture for our flock, but even as regards the eatables we had grown there.  Added to this was my mother's almost certain conviction, as she expressed it, that the events themselves were nothing but foolish fancies and mere childish imaginings.  One of my sisters did scarcely anything else but go and call me, and take my place with the flock, while I went to speak to the people who were asking to see me and talk to me.

This waste of time would have meant nothing to a wealthy family, but for ourselves, who had to live by our work, it meant a great deal.  After some time, my mother found herself obliged to sell our flock, and this made no small difference to the support of the family.  I was blamed for the whole thing, and at critical moments, it was all flung in my face.  I hope our dear Lord has accepted it all from me, for I offered it to Him, always happy to be able to sacrifice myself for Him and for sinners.  On her part, my mother endured everything with heroic patience and resignation; and if she reprimanded me and punished me, it was because she really thought that I was lying.  She was completely resigned to the crosses which Our Lord was sending her, and at times she would say, "Could it be that all this is God's work, in punishment for my sins?  If so, then blessed be God!"

So the children, and especially Lucia, continued their way up the royal road to Calvary, carrying their crosses without complaint, and even looking for more ways to suffer for the sake of poor sinners.  As for Maria Rosa, it remained to be seen whether her disappointment over not seeing any extraordinary signs would continue.