Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Now More than Ever

One glance at the headlines proves it's about time we got busy and started wearing out the rosaries. What was once considered intolerable -- abortion on demand; open and notorious concubinage; children born out of wedlock in epic numbers; the sexualization of little kids; instant divorce; filth over the airwaves; militant campaigns for gay "marriage" -- is now not only tolerable, but raised to the dignity of God-given rights. We have let our country slide into the sewer, and as a reward, the enemies of everything this nation has ever stood for are now in charge. Things are only going to get worse from here.

Unless we straighten up and start flying right. We are never going to change the world by marching and carrying signs; the change has to come from within. And a sure means of effecting that change is the Rosary -- which is why, in 1917, the Blessed Mother asked the world to pray the Rosary every day.

Here, from the website of the Rosary Confraternity, are the Blessed Mother's Fifteen Promises to Christians who faithfully pray the Rosary:

1. To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.

2. Those who shall persevere in the recitation of my Rosary will receive some special grace.

3. The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy.

4. The rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

5. Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary will not perish.

6. Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.

7. Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

8. Those who are faithful to recite my Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces and will share in the merits of the blessed.

9. I will deliver promptly from purgatory souls devoted to my Rosary.

10. True children of my Rosary will enjoy great glory in heaven.

11. What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.

12. To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court.

14. Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.

When the Blessed Mother asked for daily Rosaries in 1917, she didn't get them. As predicted, we got World War II. Based on the current state of world affairs, she still isn't getting them. When are we going to learn?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Goodbye, Billie Jean?

A monster vigil for Michael Jackson is scheduled for July 13th at the O2 Arena in London, where Jackson was to have performed. A celebrity tribute show is planned for September. Wait for the unmitigated hysteria, melodrama, and general absence of dignity utterly unbecoming the final disposition of a fellow human being's mortal remains.

And I'm waiting for a repeat of one of the tackiest aspects of the exceedingly tacky aftermath of Princess Diana's death. Will Elton John again recycle "Candle in the Wind"?

Nuggets from the News

There are other things going on in the world besides the death of Michael Jackson.

I guess.

There has to be something.

Well...maybe not.

Forget it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson Inundation

These are the times when it's good not to have TV. The internet coverage is bad enough. From what I saw while dog-sitting at someone else's house yesterday, television is wall-to-wall Michael Jackson. And if my memory of the months-long schmaltzfest following the death of Princess Diana is anything to go by, we can expect more of the same for some time to come.

While he was alive, Michael Jackson was an unmitigated freak, fodder for the tabloid press, a weirdo who swung his infant child out over a fourth-floor balcony rail, a black man looking more and more like a white woman with a nose chiseled to the thinness of tissue paper. Now that he is dead, he is a saint, and crowds flock to his haunts as to shrines, to place flowers and pictures. For weeks and months to come, we will be glutted with Michael Jackson and his melodramatic mourners, and snowed under with praise for his legacy. His legacy: there, the hagiographers have a point, at least to the extent they are talking about his feats in the entertainment industry. Few people are as accomplished in their field of endeavor as Michael Jackson was in his.

And yet Michael Jackson was one of the most pathetic human beings that ever walked the earth. He manifestly had a desire to love, to be loved, to do good works, and to place his time, talent and treasure at the disposal of those less fortunate than himself. But where was his spiritual compass? His over-the-top extravagance and ultra-flamboyance were not normal. His relationships with wild animals, like the chimpanzees he kept and dressed up, was not normal. His relationships with little boys were not normal, and may even have been criminal, even if no charges actually stuck. His gender-bending was not normal. His Peter Pan syndrome was not normal. His constant recourse to cosmetic surgeons -- are there no ethics governing multiple nose jobs? -- was not normal. His drug use -- who were the doctors that supplied him with all those drugs? -- was not normal. Michael Jackson was about as far from normal as you can get without ending up in an institution. He was, in fact, a shining example of what a grace it is not to be able to indulge one's every whim, and what a tragedy it is to be able to have one's own way in everything.

Michael Jackson needs to be prayed for. There is hope for his soul; nevertheless, he was not a saint, and should not be taken for one. The extent to which he is taken for a saint should serve to warn us how far off track we are.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22: St. Thomas More

From the Office of Readings for Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher: From a letter written in prison to his daughter, Margaret, by Saint Thomas More.

Although I know well, Margaret, that because of my past wickedness I deserve to be abandoned by God, I cannot but trust in His merciful goodness. His grace has strengthened me until now and made me content to lose goods, land, and life as well, rather than to swear against my conscience. God's grace has given the king a gracious frame of mind toward me, so that as yet he has taken from me nothing but my liberty. In doing this His Majesty has done me such great good with respect to spiritual profit that I trust that among all the great benefits he has heaped so abundantly upon me I count my imprisonment the very greatest. I cannot, therefore, mistrust the grace of God. Either He shall keep the king in that gracious frame of mind to continue to do me no harm, or else, if it be His pleasure that for my other sins I suffer in this case as I shall not deserve, then His grace shall give me the strength to bear it patiently, and perhaps even gladly.

By the merits of His bitter Passion joined to mine and far surpassing in merit for me all that I can suffer myself, His bounteous goodness shall release me from the pains of Purgatory and shall increase my reward in Heaven besides.

I will not mistrust Him, Meg, though I shall feel myself weakening and on the verge of being overcome with fear. I shall remember how Saint Peter at a blast of wind began to sink because of his lack of faith, and I shall do as he did: call upon Christ and pray to Him for help. And then I trust He shall place His holy hand on me and in the stormy seas hold me up from drowning.

And if He permits me to play Saint Peter further and to fall to the ground and to swear and forswear, may God our Lord in His tender mercy keep me from this, and let me lose if it so happen, and never win thereby! Still, if this should happen, afterward I trust that in His goodness He will look on me with pity as He did upon Saint Peter, and make me stand up again and confess the truth of my conscience afresh and endure here the shame and harm of my own fault.

And finally, Margaret, I know this well: that without my fault He will not let me be lost. I shall, therefore, with good hope commit myself wholly to Him. And if He permits me to perish for my faults, then I shall serve as praise for His justice. But in good faith, Meg, I trust that His tender pity shall keep my poor soul safe and make me commend His mercy.

And, therefore, my own good daughter, do not let your mind be troubled over anything that shall happen to me in this world. Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Things I Don't Get, Chapter 27,384


Why, in a city specially designed for traffic to snarl up when more than ten cars are on the road, are we going to shut down half of downtown for an athletic event? To accommodate the Ironman triathlon this weekend, major downtown streets are going to be closed from Friday evening through Sunday morning. Doesn't anybody go to church of a Sunday morning anymore? How are those of us who do go going to get there?

This is as bad as when we had the Special Olympics earlier this year, and they closed down the main drag out of town right at rush hour. Why does the whole city have to be paralyzed just so a few people can have a race?

***END RANT***

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Closed for Business

George Tiller's human slaughterhouse in Wichita has closed for good. In a statement released by their lawyers, Tiller's family at once affirms their pride in his work and states that no family members will be involved in any "similar clinic."

Can't say I'm sorry to hear it.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

June 4, 1944: A Forgotten Anniversary

At any rate, it was certainly forgotten by me the other day. We tend to forget all about the anniversary of the Allies' capture of Rome, because it is overshadowed by D-Day, which took place only two days later.

Lt. General Mark Clark, who led the liberation of Rome, visited Pope Pius XII and apologized for disturbing him with the noise of his tanks. The Holy Father's smiling response: "General, any time you come to liberate Rome, you can make just as much noise as you like!"

Saturday, June 06, 2009

June 6, 1944: The Longest Day

Would you ever guess, at first glance, that war's white-hot fury had ever touched this place? But a close look reveals the scars of the battle that took place here sixty-five years ago, where tens of thousands of British and American soldiers and their allies poured out their blood in the largest amphibious assault in all of history -- the assault that breached Fortress Europe and led to the downfall of Hitler and his murderous regime.

This 65th anniversary may be the last big anniversary that will be attended by D-Day veterans -- although there are still one surviving American and three British veterans of World War I, 95 years after that war began. In commemoration of The Longest Day, here are three classics that are becoming D-Day traditions in this space -- none the worse for having been posted before.

Ike's D-Day Address to the Allied Expeditionary Force

Click on the picture for a link to an image of the original document, in which -- like FDR in his address to the nation above -- Ike shamefully tears down the "wall" between church and state.

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the german war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of hte world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Verlaine's D-Day Poem

The first stanza of Paul Verlaine's Chanson d'automne was used to warn the French Underground that the Allied invasion of Normandy was immanent.

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l'automne
Blessent mon coeur
D'une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l'heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure

Et je m'en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m'emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

The long sobs
Of the violins
Of autumn
Wound my heart
With a languor

All suffocating
And pale when
The hour strikes
I remember
The old days
And weep

And I go away
In the ill wind
that carries me off
This side and beyond
Like the
Dead leaf.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Infallibility, However Much It Hurts

One of the comments to this piece of Fr. Z's about Francis Cardinal Stafford stepping down as Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (not the Big House) led me to read The Year of the Peirasmòs - 1968 by Cardinal Stafford. It was published on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, and deals with the howls of dissent from within the Church that greeted Pope Paul VI's encyclical in 1968.

Cardinal Stafford describes his experiences in 1968 as a priest who, having seen through his ministry "the bitter fruits of the estrangement of men and women," and of the separation of the unitive and procreative aspects of sexuality, dissented from the dissenters. "The summer of 1968," he recalls, "is a record of God’s hottest hour. The memories are not forgotten; they are painful. They remain vivid like a tornado in the plains of Colorado. They inhabit the whirlwind where God’s wrath dwells. In 1968 something terrible happened in the Church. Within the ministerial priesthood ruptures developed everywhere among friends which never healed. And the wounds continue to affect the whole Church. The dissent, together with the leaders’ manipulation of the anger they fomented, became a supreme test. It changed fundamental relationships within the Church. It was a Πειρασμός [peirasmòs, in Greek, "trial," "test," "temptation"] for many.

As I read, I was struck by a few lines (emphasis added):
...the Papal Commission sent its recommendations to the Pope. The majority advised that the Church’s teaching on contraception be changed in light of new circumstances. Cardinal Shehan [archbishop of Baltimore] was part of that majority. Even before the encyclical had been signed and issued, his vote had been made public although not on his initiative.

As we know, the Pope decided otherwise.
This is not the first I had heard of the findings of the papal commission, but it is the first time I have received this fact with such force. Here is a striking proof that the Church is not purely a human invention, and that therefore her visible head on earth cannot err in matters of faith and morals. If she were, then no doubt the Pope would have bowed to the papal commission's recommendations, and swung into line with increasingly vocal and strident public opinion on the subject of birth control. But instead, he stuck to the Truth, in spite of the cost -- and the cost was indeed appalling, as Cardinal Stafford describes.

Yet the harm done was not the product of the Pope's teaching, but of the actions of those who refused to listen to him. Cardinal Stafford describes the ruptures within the clergy resulting from the preference on the part of many for their own opinions over the teachings of the Magisterium. And today we are reaping the bitter fruits of the Sexual Revolution: abortion raised to the level of a constitutionally guaranteed right; burgeoning illegitimacy; the tidal wave of crime and other social pathologies stemming from fatherless families; the appalling degradation of women; the destruction of marriage as an institution that protects children.

Nevertheless, the loss is not total, thanks to a Pope who -- despite his faults and mistakes -- stood by the Truth, so that his prodigal sons and daughters would at least have a beacon to light their way back home once they came to their senses. The moment of Humanae Vitae's publication ranks with Clement VII's decision not to grant Henry VIII his hard-fought-for divorce from Catherine of Aragon, even though so many prominent persons were in favor of it, and even though he knew it would be the excuse for England to enter into schism. Moments like these prove that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, and that however close to the edge of the abyss He may allow her to go, He will never let her fall in.

This is the reason the Pope is infallible on questions of faith and morals: not for his own personal aggrandizement in the eyes of the world (of which Paul VI enjoyed precisely none on this occasion), but so that Faith and Truth may be preserved inviolate.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On the Murder of George Tiller

Late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller, age 67, was gunned down at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas at about 10:00 a.m. on Sunday the 31st. Based on witness descriptions, police tracked down and arrested Scott Roeder, about whom the media are, at this writing, furiously speculating. Meanwhile, Wichita police Detective Tom Stoltz has stated: "We will investigate this suspect to the Nth degree -- his history, his family, his associates -- and we are just in the beginning stages of that."

The murder of George Tiller is just that: murder. There can be no justification for it, regardless of what he has done. Murder is murder, whether committed by an abortionist or a cold-blooded shooter; the murderer needs to prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished accordingly. If the motive here is because Tiller was an abortionist -- and it is universally assumed that that was the motive -- then, besides incurring eternal punishment for himself, (failing repentance) the shooter has accomplished nothing more than the false martyrization of Tiller and, under the present political circumstances, has let the pro-life movement in for an era of persecution.

But there is another lesson in this: the lurking possibility of sudden death that could strike any of us at any time. We are prone to entertain the notion that we have all the time in the world, and that we can do whatever we want now and repent on our deathbed; but how do we know we are going to get a deathbed, or any sort of warning? The thread of our life may suddenly be cut, without any chance to settle our affairs, or make up for the smallest misdeed, or even to say we are sorry to God; then, without warning, we are stripped of everything and standing before Him in judgment. What will we then say to the One Who sees everything, hears everything, knows everything? What are the odds George Tiller expected to be gunned down while ushering at his church on the feast of Pentecost? What are the odds any of us expects the time and manner of death that are in store for us?

One can only hope that George Tiller was given, and took advantage of, the opportunity to repent of his evil deeds before his death, even though to our eyes it appears he had no such opportunity. But we dare not presume on such a grace for ourselves. This is why Scripture warns us that if today we hear His voice, we had better not harden our hearts.