Thursday, January 29, 2009

This must be the latest generation of Catholic teens, weary of being condescended to with lousy liturgy and rotten music, reacting to -- so help me -- "Alleluia 'Ch-Ch'." This bit of musical malarkey is the work of OCP stalwart Paul Inwood, who has also favored us with compositions such as "Today Is Born Our Savior," an unfortunate local favorite here as a responsorial psalm for Christmas, and -- again, so help me -- "Finger-Snap Alleluia".

I still say the continued prevalence of this kind of junk is all about not having a clue what it is that really happens at Mass. At Mass, we really are on Calvary. If the music's got a good beat, and you can, like, dance to it, does it belong at Mass?

For that matter, does it belong at Mass if it just plain sucks?

Hat tip (I guess; bringing this one to my attention is debatable) goes to the Curt Jester.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Descent into Hell

When, in the Apostle's Creed, we say that Jesus descended into hell, we mean that He freed the souls of the just who died before Him, against whom the gates of heaven had been barred until the Sacrifice of Calvary. In this sense, "hell" means the underworld, the Limbo of the Fathers, where the just did not endure the sufferings of the damned, but nevertheless were deprived of the Beatific Vision.

But six decades ago, Jesus descended into hell in another sense. Read about it here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Grim Anniversary

An especially grim anniversary at the beginning of an administration whose chief has opposed state legislation aimed at protecting babies who survive abortion procedures, and has pledged to enact the "Freedom of Choice" Act. Thirty-six years ago, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), whose pseudonymous plaintiff later converted to Christianity and renounced abortion "rights."

In an age when so many are willing to buy into the myth that an unborn child is not a human being, and when we have elected to the highest office in the land a man whose answer to the question when life begins is that it is above his pay grade, it might pay to remind ourselves how abortionists and hardened abortion rights advocates answer the question, and how abortion has corrupted society in general and the medical profession in particular.

It is morally and ethically wrong to do abortions without acknowledging what it means to do them. I performed abortions, I have had an abortion and I am in favor of women having abortions when we choose to do so. But we should never disregard the fact that being pregnant means there is a baby growing inside of a woman, a baby whose life is ended. We ought not to pretend this is not happening."

-- Judith Arcana, abortion activist, at a London seminar, October 1999

"I know that the fetus is alive during the process most of the time because I can see fetal heartbeat on the ultrasound. . . I think brain death would occur because the suctioning to remove contents is only two or three seconds, so somewhere in that period of time, obviously not when you penetrate the skull, because people get shot in the head and they don't die immediately from that, if they are going to die at all, so that probably is not sufficient to kill the fetus, but I think removing the brain contents eventually will. . . My intent in every abortion I have ever done is to kill the fetus and terminate the pregnancy."

-- Leroy Carhart, testifying under oath in 1997 about what he does to commit abortion, Asheville Tribune

"[T]he abortion patient has a right not only to be rid of the growth, called a fetus, in her body, but also has a right to a dead fetus. . . [I] never have any intention of trying to protect the fetus, if it can be saved. . . as a general principle [t]here should not be a live fetus."

-- Robert Crist, abortion doctor, testifying in federal court in 1980
" 'Forceps, please,' Mr. Smith slaps into his hand what look like oversized ice-cube tongs. Holtzman pushes it into the vagina and tugs. He pulls out something, which he slaps on the instrument table. 'There,' he says, 'A leg. You can always tell fetal size best by the extremities. Fifteen weeks is right in this case.' I turn to Mr. Smith. 'What did he say?' 'He pulled a leg off,' Mr. Smith says. 'Right here.' He points to the instrument table, where there is a perfectly formed, slightly bent leg, about three inches long. It consists of a ripped thigh, a knee, a lower leg, a foot, and five toes. I start to shake very badly, but otherwise I feel nothing. Total shock is painless. 'I have the rib cage now,' Holtzman says, as he slams down another piece of the fetus. 'That's one thing you don't want to leave behind because it acts like a ball valve and infects everything.... There, I've got the head now. Also a piece of the placenta.' I look at the instrument table where next to the leg, and next to a mess he calls the rib cage but that I cannot recognize, there lies a head. It is the smallest human head I have ever seen, but it is unmistakably part of a person."

-- Magda Denes, abortion advocate, clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, In Necessity and Sorrow; Life and Death Inside an Abortion Clinic, 1978
"When you're a doctor who does these abortions and the leaders of your movement appear before Congress and go on network news and say these procedures are done in only the most tragic of circumstances, how do you think that makes you feel? You know they're primarily done on healthy women and healthy fetuses, and it makes you feel like a dirty little abortionist with a dirty little secret. I think we should tell them the truth, let them vote and move on. In the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along. The abortion-rights folks know it, the anti-abortion folks know it, and so, probably, does everyone else."

-- Ron Fitzsimmons, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, in "An Abortion Rights Advocate Says He Lied About Procedure", New York Times (February 26, 1997)

"Is birth control an abortion? Definitely not; an abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun."

-- Planned Parenthood pamphlet (August 1963)

"The pro-life groups were right about one thing, the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make much of a moral difference. We cannot coherently hold it is all right to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive. The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite, to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth."

-- Peter Singer, Princeton "ethicist" and death enthusiast, Practical Ethics, pp. 185-8, 1993

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Today, Barack Obama, late the junior Senator from Abraham Lincoln's home state, will be inaugurated the 44th President of the United States. It is reported that he will be swearing his oath of office on the same Bible on which Abraham Lincoln swore his.

Speaking of Abraham Lincoln, this is Abraham Lincoln delivering his famous Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865. The Second Inaugural is justifiably hailed as one of the finest speeches in American history -- if not the finest.

On a day when the leadership of the nation is about to be taken over by a man who will turn out to be F.D.R. (without the wartime leadership), Jimmy Carter, and Planned Parenthood all rolled into one, surrounded by a bunch of Clinton retreads, it might pay to look back on our nation's great moments, and remind ourselves of what we should be living up to, but presently aren't. So here, in its entirety, is the text of the Second Inaugural.


At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The German Shepherd Defends His Flock: Tightening the Screws on Alleged Visionaries

Despite the widespread belief that Catholics are superstitious (because we use medals and holy water and other sacramentals) and that the Church is a huge bunco scheme (that gets rich off of bilking poor peasants in order to build sumptuous churches), the reality is that no person or organization in the whole universe has exposed and put the kibosh on more frauds, swindles, hoaxes and scams than the Catholic Church. Another reality is that few people are sharper, smarter, or more far-seeing or formidable than her present head, Pope Benedict XVI.

Which is why false visionaries need to re-evaluate their strategies, especially in light of the Pope's forthcoming instructions on how to assess purported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and what conclusions are to be drawn from given facts. Get the story here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More on the Boy Who'd Rather Be Named "Sue"

About a month ago, we heard about young Adolf Hitler Campbell, whose parents complained to the media about the fact that they couldn't get a store to write his name on his birthday cake. Now the child and his family are in the news again, as word gets out that New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services has taken young Adolf and his sisters, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, away from their parents. At this writing, nothing is known about the reasons for removing the children from their home, although the source for the story, Sgt. John Harris of the Holland Township Police Department, says he has known the family for years and was not aware of any abuse. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Thursday.

At this point, then, we know next to nothing about the basis for the case against the Campbell children's parents. What is really newsworthy is the idea, taken seriously by some experts, that giving a child a name such as those given to the Campbell children constitutes child abuse.

For example, forensic psychologist N.G. Berrill is of opinion that naming a child Adolf Hitler could constitute child abuse. "Part of it is the infantile nature of the [Campbells'] behavior. You can name your dog something weird, but they think they're making some kind of bold statement with the children, not appreciating that the children will have separate lives and will be looked at in a negative light until they're able to change their name. It is abuse." And in a study the Fox News Channel referred to in its story, economists David E. Kalist and Daniel Y. Lee of Shippensburg University -- who did not look at either Adolf or Hitler in their research -- found "unpopular" first names, coupled with negative factors like a "disadvantaged home life" may increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency.

And then there is precedent from other countries, a favorite yardstick of legal correctitude for some members of our Supreme Court. In New Zealand in 2008, a court took a nine-year-old child away from her parents because they named her Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.

So can we add giving a kid a rotten name to the list of legitimate reasons for taking him away from his parents? It is unquestionably stupid and selfish for a parent to give a child a name that will expose him to unnecessary ridicule. But is there a "right" to be protected from ridicule, such that the state is justified in excercising its coercive police powers to intervene? Is giving a child an idiotic name really on the same level as abusing him sexually, or starving him, or neglecting him, or beating him almost to death? What is to become of children whose lives are truly in danger, if we divert scarce resources to children named after historical villains? Are we just unwilling to accept that there are problems that the government is simply incompetent to solve?

I make no brief for parents who give stupid names to their children. The last time I wrote about Adolf Hitler Campbell in this space, I excoriated and ridiculed his parents at length for giving their kids such repugnant names. But the notion bruited about by "experts" that this counts as as child abuse that should trigger police action ought to give pause.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting into the Habit

Ever wonder about a nun's habit? I mean the old-fashioned habit, like the one Mother Angelica and her Poor Clare nuns wear. I always wondered about how easy the habit is to take care of and put on. Can you just throw it in the washer, or does it have to be dry-cleaned? And what about the headgear? Is it all in one piece that you can just sort of pull on over your head? And how does the veil stay in place?

It's a bit of a challenge to find information on the web about habits, but it is out there. Here is, the website for an outfit in San Francisco that specializes in -- well, outfitting monks and nuns. The section in the sidebar entitled "Nuns Latin Rite" not only answers the above questions, but also has illustrations of various orders' habits and pieces of the headgear (it's not all one piece you can just pull on), as well as detailed instructions on how to put on the habit, and how to launder the same (the material is pretty temperamental).

So nuns may not have to worry about what to wear every day, but getting into and out of the habit -- not to mention laundering the thing -- looks like an almighty trial in itself, on top of the many sacrifices that monastic life entails. Let those of us who live outside cloister walls give thanks for civvies.

P.S. I still think nuns should wear habits. We were none of us promised a rose garden.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Study on the Fate of Unbaptized Infants

I have previously posted on the fate of unbaptized infants, especially in the context of abortion. Quite a while after publishing that post, I caught hell from a "miscarriage support" forum, none of whose members were prepared to let their self-pitying wrath be quelled either by Christian charity or by what I actually said.

But in an age when more and more parents see no need to have their children baptized, and when so many children don't even make it to birth, it becomes necessary to reflect on the question of whether there is a possibility of salvation for unbaptized babies. Hence the International Theological Commission's study on this subject, the report on which was approved for publication by Pope Benedict on January 19, 2007.

Thanks to Fr. Powell, OP for bringing this to our attention.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Brother, Can You Spare a Slime?

This from Larry Flynt, the creepy, wheelchair-bound founder of Hustler magazine, and Joe Francis, the sleazy Girls Gone Wild mogul: we need a $5 million dollar bailout!

According to the repulsive reprobates, the porn industry has suffered a five-billion-dollar decline in revenue, down from $18 billion last year, and needs a boost. "The government's handing out money to the auto industry," says Francis. "Why shouldn't it hand some to an industry the nation could not live without?" Says Flynt: "People are too depressed to be sexually active. This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such, but they cannot do without sex."

These guys insist the bailout gambit isn't just a publicity stunt, and that they are going to send a written request for bailout money to Barney Frank and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The L.A. Daily News story linked above notes that the bailout request is not being taken seriously by other members of the porn industry; but the response of Bruce Ackerman, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley -- where the porn industry is a huge employer -- should raise some eyebrows. Although he says no bailout request by any industry should be viewed as reasonable, and that the taxpayers should not bear such burdens, he also says: "I don't think you can laugh any of these requests off. I sympathize with any industry that needs help." Any industry?

Joe Francis and Larry Flynt are a couple of sleazy publicity hounds, and this whole thing is probably just a stunt (not that they wouldn't take the five bil if offered). But amid the wreckage of the principles upon which this country was founded, who knows what might happen?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Msgr. John Donoghue, R.I.P.

Msgr. John Donoghue, about whom you have read in this space, passed away on January 5th, the Feast of St. John Neumann, who was a hero of his. His vigil will be Sunday, January 11th at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark's on Northview and Milwaukee in Boise, and his funeral will be Monday the 12th at 11:00 a.m., also at St. Mark's.

Prayer to St. John Neumann

O Saint John Neumann, your ardent desire of bringing all souls to Christ impelled you to leave home and country; teach us to live worthily in the spirit of our Baptism which makes us all children of the one Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the family of God.

Obtain for us that complete dedication in the service of the needy, the weak, the afflicted and the abandoned which so characterized your life. Help us to walk perseveringly in the difficult and, at times, painful paths of duty, strengthened by the Body and Blood of our Redeemer and under the watchful protection of Mary our Mother.

May death still find us on the sure road to our Father's House with the light of living Faith in our hearts. Amen.