Friday, July 31, 2009

Novena in Honor of St. Dominic: Day One

Here's another gem from John Keenan's little treasure chest, Devotions to St. Dominic: a novena in honor of St. Dominic in preparation for his feast day. The book sets the novena to start on July 26th, because it was published at a time when his feast was on August 3rd (which was in fact the date of his death); but since the feast of St. Dominic is now on August 8th, we'll start it today. I'll post an installment each day.

First Day:
The Force of Good Example

Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and kindle within them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit, and our hearts shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, Who hast taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be ever truly wise, and ever rejoice in His holy consolation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O light of Holy Church,
Teacher of Truth Divine,
Sweet rose of patience,
Ivory white thy chastity doth shine.
Of Wisdom's living waters
All freely thou hast given;
O messenger of grace to men,
Lift thou our souls to heaven.

"He shone in his days as the morning star, in the midst of a cloud, and as the moon at the full; and as the sun, when it shineth, so did he shine in the temple of God." (Ecclus. L, 6, 7)
R. Thanks be to God.

Spiritual Reading


St. Dominic was born in Spain, A.D. 1170. With the dawn of reason his whole soul turned to God. His childhood was most pious, and his youth angelic in purity. In the University of Palentia he was the model student. When twenty-five he became a Canon Regular at Osma, and with the religious habit he put on the Lord Jesus Christ and strove in all things to imitate Him. His time was divided into prayer, study of Holy Scripture, and community duties. Silence and retirement were his delight; works of penance and tears of contrition his meat and drink. Going in 1205 to France, he spent many years in every kind of labor for the conversion of the Albigensian heretics. Like Jesus Christ he passed the day in apostolic work, the night in prayer. His penance was extreme, but to others he was gentle, sweet and kind. Many were converted by his miracles, many by the example of his holy life. Six times he journeyed to Rome, once to Spain, once to Paris, walking barefoot, praying or singing on the road, preaching in the towns and villages, spending the nights in contemplation. He founded in 1215 the Order of Friars Preachers for the conversion of souls. He was a man of truly apostolic heart, a column of the faith, a trumpet of the Gospel, the light of Christ to men. He died at Bologna in 1221.


The father bids the world prepare
The nuptials of the Lamb to share;
The hour has struck; the Master sends
His faithful servant to His friends.
Rich food of life He offers all,
Who come, responsive to His call.
V. And Dominic His herald names,
Who through the world the feast proclaims.
Rich food of life He offers all,
Who come, responsive to His call.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
R. Rich food of life He offers all,
Who come, responsive to His call.
V. Pray for us, O blessed father Dominic.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O most enlightened teacher of divine truth, holy father, St. Dominic, who didst teach what was profitable for salvation and didst make thyself all things to all men, that thou mightest win all things to Christ; help us to close our ears and hearts to all false doctrine and whatever may be hurtful to our souls and to open them joyfully to the truths of Holy Church. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
V. May the divine assistance remain with us always.
R. Amen.
V. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bitter Medicine for Medjugorje Partisans

Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, the Franciscan priest who was once the spiritual director of the alleged seers of Medjugorje, and who was severely sanctioned last year by Rome, has been laicized and expelled from the Franciscan order.

A little over a year ago, Bishop Ratko Perić of the diocese of Mostar-Duvna -- the bishop having jurisdiction in the case of the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje -- released a statement explaining the canonical status of then Fr. Vlašić, who was under investigation "within the context of the phenomenon Medjugorje" by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and had fallen under interdict latae sententiae. The bishop's statement includes the following (edited for italicization of foreign words and spelling, and with emphasis added):
The Decree of the Congregation mentions that Rev. Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, a cleric of the Franciscan Minor Order – the founder of the association ‘Kraljice mira potpuno Tvoji – po Mariji k Isusu’ and who is involved in the “phenomenon Medjugorje” – has been reported to the Congregation “for the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sextum [i.e., sins against the Sixth Commandment].”

Having studied the case, the Congregation during its special Congress decreed the following sanctions against Rev. Fr. Tomislav Vlašić:

“1. Mandatory residence in one of the houses of the Order in the region of Lombardy (Italy) to be determined by the Minister General of the Order and to be realized within thirty days from the time of the legitimate notification of this decree;

2. All contacts with the “Kraljice Mira…” community and with its members are prohibited;

3. Any actions involving juridical contracts and administrative organizations, whether canonical or civil, effected without the written permission ad actum of the Minister General of the Order and under his responsibility are prohibited;

4. A mandatory course of theological-spiritual formation, with a final evaluation along with a prior recognitio of this Congregation, and a solemn professio fidei;

5. The following are also prohibited: activities involving the ‘care of souls’, preaching, public appearances, while the faculty to hear confessions is also revoked up until the conclusion of the terms described in the previous number, barring an evaluation of the case.

An additional sanction of a latae sententiae interdict (can. 1332) reserved to the Apostolic See is adjoined in the case of the violation of the mandatory residence (n. 1) and the other prohibited acts mentioned in n. 3 and n. 5.

Fr. Vlašić is forewarned that in the case of stubbornness a juridical penal process will begin with the aim of still harsher sanctions, not excluding dismissal, having in mind the suspicion of heresy and schism, as well as scandalous acts contra sextum, aggravated by mystical motivations.
Staunch believers in the genuineness of the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje are quick to point out that the "seers" have been dissociated with Vlašić for some time, and would like to think that the discrediting of this priest is no reflection on Medjugorje (although, in 1990, Bishop Pavao Zanec, former bishop of Mostar, flatly pinned the responsibility for Medjugorje on Vlašić). However, it is hard not to read a message regarding Rome's views on the whole Medjugorje affair in the letter from the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor announcing Vlašić's laicization and dismissal (my emphases):

Prot. N. 098714

To the Provincial Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Italy

Dear Brother Minister,

The Holy Father, accepting the request of friar Tomislav Vlašić, O.F.M, member of the province of friars minor of St. Bernardino of Siena (L'Aquila), responsible for conduct harmful to ecclesial communion both in the spheres of doctrine and discipline, and under a censure of interdict, has granted him the favor of reduction to the lay state (amissio status clericalis) and of dismissal from the Order.

In addition, the Holy Father has granted the petitioner, motu proprio, the remission of the censure incurred as well as the favor of dispensation from religious vows and from all the responsibilities connected with sacred ordination, including celibacy.

As a salutary penal precept - under the pain of excommunication which the Holy See would declare, and if necessary, without prior canonical warning - the following precepts are imposed on Mr. Tomislav Vlašić:

a) Absolute prohibition from exercising any form of apostolate (for example, promoting public or private devotion, teaching Christian doctrine, spiritual direction, participation in lay associations, etc.) as well as of acquiring and administering goods intended for pious purposes;

b) Absolute prohibition from releasing declarations on religious matters, especially regarding the "phenomenon of Medjugorje";

c) Absolute prohibition from residing in houses of the Order of Friars Minor.

For the execution of the serious measures imposed by the Holy See regarding Mr. Tomislav Vlašić, the same Apostolic See calls directly on the Superiors of the Order.

Therefore I turn to you, so that you make sure to instruct the Guardians and superiors of friaries about full compliance, by Tomislav Vlašić, with the pontifical measures regarding him, in particular relative to the prohibition of residing in any houses belonging to the Order of Friars Minor, under pain of removal from office.

Trusting in your full understanding and prompt cooperation, I greet you fraternally.
Rome, 10 March 2009.

Fr. José Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M.
Minister General
To me, at any rate, it seems from the above that the following conclusions may reasonably be drawn:

-- Since the study by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was done in the context of the Medjugorje phenomenon; the offenses which Vlašić was alleged to have committed were described as having "mystical motivations"; and Vlašić has been explicitly ordered, upon pain of excommunication, not to make any public pronouncements on the subject of Medjugorje, it is clear that, as far as the Holy See is concerned, Vlašić is not and cannot be dissociated from Medjugorje, however much the Medjugorje people would like him to be.

-- It seems clear from the language of the above letter that this outcome represents something in the nature of a plea agreement.

-- Since Vlašić is forthrightly blamed for "conduct harmful to ecclesial communion" in the spheres of both discipline and doctrine, and since Rome clearly views this as inextricably bound to Medjugorje, I for one do not see how it can possibly be hoped that Rome will ever declare Medjugorje worthy of belief.

Much is made of the "fruits" of Medjugorje -- conversions, vocations, reversions, people having more recourse to the Sacraments -- which are constantly held up as proof of its authenticity. But if we are to look at the fruits, then surely we cannot ignore this exceedingly bitter fruit -- far from the only bitter fruit -- in the person of the individual whom the former bishop of Mostar described as the "creator" of Medjugorje. Whether the partisans of Medjugorje like it or not, this is a sore blow to their cause.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Successors of JonBenet Ramsey

Can we just call this what it is: the sexual exploitation of children. Served up by the children's parents and brought to you by your local cable company.

Toddlers and Tiaras on the "Learning" Channel is just another sleazy and embarrassing article in the brown-paper-wrapped magazine that is American television. It covers the stupid and pointless drama of people who put their kids through toddler beauty contests in pursuit of fame and fortune. The show's website features, among other things, pictures of kids before and after their sexing-up. Some of these kids look pretty unhappy. No doubt their parents maintain that they are happy, and that they are doing exactly what they want to be doing; but how is a little child to resist the juggernaut of a parent's ambitions?

Can anyone doubt that all-out war is being waged on the innocence of children? This goes way beyond a little girl playing dress-up with her mother's shoes and jewelry and makeup. This is about making sex objects out of little kids. Parents, doesn't it occur to you that you are feeding the appetites of predators? Do you honestly think you can protect your child while breaking down her inhibitions and subjecting her to this kind of exposure? Do you really like the idea of some dirtbag playing with himself while he leers at a picture of your tarted-up child?

People who want to dress something up should go out and get a Barbie doll and leave their children alone. And the rest of us should quit tuning in to crap like Toddlers and Tiaras.

H/T Carolina Cannonball.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tin Pan Alley's Greatest Hits

This is Tin Pan Alley, located on 28th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City, headquarters of America's popular music industry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tin Pan Alley's leading composers include the Gershwins, Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Lew Pollack, Jack Yellen, and George M. Cohan.

Some Tin Pan Alley hits have had such a profound effect on American culture that they are probably familiar to even the goofiest, most rap-inundated, network-television-soaked kids of today. Even if you don't recognize the names of these songs, you will probably recognize the songs themselves as soon as you hear them. For example:

"Maple Leaf Rag," (1899) by Scott Joplin. This is one of the most famous and recognizable ragtime pieces ever. The rendition linked here was played by Scott Joplin himself.

"The Entertainer" (1902) by Scott Joplin. Probably even more famous than "Maple Leaf Rag." It served as the theme for The Sting in 1973.

"Hello! Ma Baby" (1899) by Joseph Howard and Ida Emerson. Anybody who grew up watching Warner Bros. cartoons on Saturday mornings has heard the chorus to this one. This recording was performed by Arthur Collins in 1899.

"Give My Regards to Broadway" (1904) by George M. Cohan. The linked performance is by James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942).

"Down by the Old Mill Stream" (1911) by Tell Taylor. Most people who are familiar with this song know the chorus and not the verses. It goes against the grain, but I have linked to the Chipmunks' performance of this tune.

"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1908) by Jack Norworth (lyrics) and Albert von Tilzer (music). The composers had never attended a ball game, and would not do so for several decades. The recording was made in 1908 by Edwin Meeker.

"Ain't She Sweet" (1927) by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen. This song was written for Milton Ager's daughter, who was then two years old. Jack Yellen, you may remember, was also the co-composer of "My Yiddishe Momme," which I posted about the other day. The linked performance is by Lillian Roth in 1933.

"Happy Days Are Here Again"
(1929), also by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics). Unfortunately, this song was hijacked by FDR and the Democrat Party. This rendition was recorded in 1930 by Charles King in the movie Chasing Rainbows.

And last but not least...

"God Bless America" (1918) by Irving Berlin. Berlin made some revisions to the song in 1938, when Kate Smith introduced it during an Armistice Day broadcast. It became her signature song.

And here she is, singing it in This Is the Army (1943). (Watch for a future president in this clip from the film.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Amusements, Irritants and Head-Shakers

When you've practiced criminal law over a long enough period, you start to see the same things over and over and over again. Some are amusing; some are irritating; some just make you shake your head. A partial list:

Amusement: the mindset that leads a person to believe that it's okay to drive a rider mower home from a bar while drunk and with a suspended license, since a rider mower isn't a car. Or to believe that being caught with a whole bunch of loot under one's coat before leaving the store is a defense to a theft charge, since one has not succeeded in actually leaving the premises with the swag. (The answer to both of these is a resounding "HUH-UH!")

Irritant: clients who lie to their attorneys. Folks, if you lie to your counsel, you are your own worst enemy, and you deserve whatever comes of it.

Head-shaker: the term "fiance(e)" as applied to one's shackmouse boyfriend/girlfriend. Has there been an exchange of promises to marry (before the three kids)? Is she wearing an engagement ring? Have you set a date? If the answer to these questions is "no," then that is not your fiance(e).

Amusement: everybody who gets pulled over for drunk driving had "a couple of beers." Everybody who gets caught with marijuana last smoked the stuff "two weeks ago."

Irritant: people who can't seem to make it all the way to the end of a sentence without dropping at least five F-bombs. I have to admit this bothers me more the older I get.

Head-shaker: people who give their kids ridiculous names, like Kanyone, or ordinary names with ridiculous spellings, like "Eyezik" instead of "Isaac." I'm convinced the latter is mainly the product of illiteracy. Nine times out of ten, children with these kinds of goofy names live at an address that includes the phrase "Space Number."

Amusement: three things people invariably rate themselves highly on: (1) how well they perform in bed; (2) how well they drive; (3) how well they performed on the field sobriety tests.

Irritant: raunchy B.O. and buffalo breath.

Head-shaker: the invalid mother that remains unseen and unheard of at all times except when the child -- the only person on the whole planet who can take care of her -- is under arrest. Who was taking care of her while you were on that three-day drug run?

Amusement: people who, at court, ask me if I'm somebody's secretary. I tell them secretarial work is too hard for me (which is the truth), and I don't deserve such a promotion (also the truth).

Irritant: the following question, most commonly asked of the court at arraignment: "Should I go with the public defender, or should I get a real lawyer?"

Head-shaker: people who bring their little kids to court. Why would you want your child to see you in trouble? I know some people do this in the hopes that they won't go to jail that day; however, this is not always an effective strategy. Years ago, I used to appear regularly in front of a judge who, when a parent brought his kids to his sentencing, would take the parent to jail and put the kids in foster care.

Amusement: people with a rap sheet stretching from here to the moon and back who tell me they don't understand the system.

Irritant: people who haven't worked in years, or who have had about fifty jobs in the last six months, telling me how to do my job.

Head-shaker: women who will move heaven and earth to get rid of the no-contact order that is protecting them from the men who are beating the tar out of them.

Amusement: people who have obscenities tattooed on their faces, then (a) demand to know what the hell you're looking at, and (b) blame the recession for their inability to find work.

Irritant: the relatively new custom of calling a person by his first and last names. "Anita Moore, this is your client, Joe Sixpack." "Anita Moore, this is what happened." "Anita Moore, call me back as soon as you get this message." To the ear of someone who was raised during a time when there was still a speck of gentility in the world, and we used titles like "Mr.," "Miss" or "Mrs.," this sounds rude and crass. I'd almost rather go back to the days when people were calling total strangers by their Christian names.

Head-shaker: people who discuss their cases and other (hitherto) uncharged criminal activity on the phone from jail, or who violate no contact orders from jail by phoning the protected party, despite repeated warnings that the jail records all inmate phone conversations and keeps a log of all numbers called. Why do you think you have to use a PIN to make a phone call?

Amusement: opposing counsel who think intimidation tactics or psychological games supply for a weak case.

Irritant: opposing counsel who, irritated that my client will not accept a plea offer, demand that I divulge privileged communications.

Head-shaker: opposing counsel who refuse my client's plea offer in the belief that they can get more out of my client after a trial, then go to the trouble of trying the case, only to end up with exactly what I had previously offered, or -- worse for them -- nothing at all.

Amusement: the whole criminal justice system.

Irritant: the whole criminal justice system.

Head-shaker: the whole criminal justice system.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Would Jesus Say?

Every time an orthodox Catholic calls Bravo Sierra on some liberal scheme -- as here -- or even mildly criticizes some heterodox inanity, up goes the sniveling cry: is this how Jesus would want you to talk? Would Jesus want you to spread such hatred? What would Jesus say?

Seems to me these questions are easily answered by taking a good look at some of the things Jesus actually did say.

1. Jesus Calls His Enemies Children of the Devil

John 8:43-45: "Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.

2. Jesus Calls His Enemies Liars

John 8:54-55: Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of Whom you say that He is your God. But you have not known Him; I know Him. If I said, I do not know Him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know Him and I keep His word.

3. Jesus Calls His Enemies Hypocrites (Just a Couple Examples out of Many)

Matthew 15:7-9: You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'"

Matthew 22:15-18: Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how to entangle Him in His talk. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Hero'di-ans, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for You do not regard the position of men. Tell us, then, what You think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put Me to the test, you hypocrites?..."

4. More Choice Names Jesus Had for His Enemies

Matthew 23:15: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves."

Matthew 23:16-17: "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'If any one swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if any one swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?"

Matthew 23:27-28: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs [whited sepulchres], which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

Matthew 23:33: "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?"
So what is my point here? Is it to condone gratuitous nastiness? Absolutely not: Jesus never engaged in nastiness, and neither said nor did anything without a point.

My point is that Jesus is no hippie. My point is that the image liberals seem to have of a granola-chewing, birkenstock-wearing, recycling Jesus, tolerant to the point of being blind to everything that is sick and wrong, is a huge lie. My point is that the little pleasantries that make liberals squeal like little girls and dissolve into puddles of tears are nothing compared with the words of Jesus recorded in Scripture.

Christianity is not soft, squishy, mushy nor gushy. And neither is her Founder.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Yiddishe Momme

For some reason, the old song "My Yiddishe Momme" came to mind, and I had to look it up. It was written in 1925 (or thereabouts) by Jack Yellen and Lew Pollack, and made famous by Sophie Tucker. This version is by Yossele Rosenblatt (1882-1933), renowned Ukranian master of Jewish cantorial singing.

And since I can't find a print translation of the song in English, here is Leo Fuld (1912-1997), the King of Yiddish Songs, singing it in English and Yiddish.

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 1969: One Giant Leap for Mankind

This footprint was made 40 years ago today. And this post went up at 20:17 Coordinated Universal Time -- the moment the Apollo lunar module landed on the surface of the moon.

CBS News covers the moon landing:

(Walter Cronkite sounds better speechless.)

P.S. Walter Cronkite was still alive when I wrote this post. I pray for his soul. But my point still stands. And I don't take it back.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

URGENT Prayer Request

Please stop and pray for the safe return of the Idaho soldier who is now in the hands of the Taliban.

Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl, 23, of Ketchum, Idaho, went missing from his base in eastern Afghanistan on June 30th. This picture is from a Taliban propaganda video.

This is a case for St. Joseph.

Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power, I fly unto you and beg your protection. Despise not, O Guardian of the Redeemer, my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me. Amen.

The Memorare to St. Joseph

Another good prayer to St. Joseph:

Remember, O most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who implored your help and sought your intercession were left unassisted. Full of confidence in your power, I fly unto you and beg your protection. Despise not, O Guardian of the Redeemer, my humble supplication, but in your bounty, hear and answer me. Amen.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ite ad Joseph: Go to Joseph

Prayer to St. Joseph for the Welfare of the Church

To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and having implored the help of thy thrice-holy spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou wast united to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength.

Most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blight of error and corruption; mercifully assist us from Heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God's holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that, supported by thine example and thine assistance, we may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Morning-Star of Memory

Apparently, the morning-star of memory rises earlier than we knew. The Washington Times reports that even before birth, babies have memories. Monitoring babies' responses to stimuli in the womb shows that they get used to sounds from outside the womb well before birth.

The Times reports that NARAL Pro-Choice America could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Some Good Words

Some great words we don't get a chance to deploy very often (unless we are William F. Buckley, Jr.):

abstruse: dense; difficult to understand or penetrate. Like the Code of Federal Regulations.

dactylogram: fingerprint.

damoiseau: the male counterpart of a damsel (demoiselle).

deaconing: putting the best-looking wares on top of the pile. Not much of a reflection on deacons.

dippydro: a person who frequently changes his mind. Also known as a lawyer's nightmare client.

the belief that the Bible can be presented to the unlearned without commentary. From the Greek for "naked" plus "book." Hah!

hebdomadal: weekly. As in the piety of certain politicians.

hemisemidemiquaver: a 64th note. By extension, a thought or frustration lasting only for passing seconds.

hypermammiferous: having enormous breasts.

lustrum: a period of five years. Judge Parker in Rooster Cogburn wasn't making this word up!

nanocephalous: having a tiny head. Another species of nightmare clients for lawyers.

person who doesn't believe in anything in particular, like the administration of Notre Dame.

thick-tongued. I'd like to see this word in a police report in a DUI case.

pusillanimous: cowardly. "The Pusillanimous Lion" doesn't quite sound the same, does it?

steatopygic: having an enormous rump. Like too many girls who wear short, tight skirts these days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13, 1917: The Secrets of Fatima

It was 92 years ago today, amid the raging turmoil of the First World War and the Bolshevik revolution, that the Blessed Mother revealed a three-part secret to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco in the Cova da Iria at Fatima. The secret was a message of hope, but also a warning that -- if it had been heeded -- might have averted the unprecedented horrors of the 20th century.

This was Mary's third appearance to the children. The first time, May 13, 1917, when she promised the children that they would go to heaven, they were alone. The second time, when she foretold that Francisco and Jacinta would go to heaven soon, but Lucia would have to remain on earth for some time (i.e., 88 years!), they were accompanied by a few dozen curious onlookers. This time, five thousand people came to see what there was to see.

When the Lady came, there was something for the crowd to see, and to feel: though they could not see what the children saw, they did see a small cloud came to rest over the holm oak where the Lady had previously appeared, and feel the scorching July heat suddenly cool. Ti Marto, the father of Francisco and Jacinta, could hear what he described as a buzzing like a horse-fly in a bottle.

But the children saw the Lady herself. She asked them to sacrifice themselves for sinners, and taught them a prayer to say whenever they made a sacrifice. Then the first part of the secret:
Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent. This vision lasted but an instant. How can we ever be grateful enough to our kind heavenly Mother, who had already prepared us by promising, in the first Apparition, to take us to heaven. Otherwise, I think we would have died of fear and terror.
Then the second part of the secret:
We then looked up at Our Lady, who said to us so kindly and so sadly:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
In 1929, Lucia, now Sr. Lucia, experienced another apparition during a nocturnal Holy Hour, in which the Blessed Mother asked for the Holy Father, in union with all the world's bishops, to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart.

As for the third part of the secret, Sr. Lucia committed it to writing under obedience in 1944, and put it in an envelope on which she wrote that the secret should not be revealed before 1960. She later said that the Blessed Mother had not told her to do this; she had done it on her own on account of an intuition that the secret would not make sense until after 1960. The Third Secret, as it came to be known, was finally revealed in 2000, at the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendour that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White ‘we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.
Today, two controversies still swirl around the secrets of Fatima: one, based on the idea that the Third Secret has still not been revealed (and that Rome's interpretation of the Secret is therefore bogus); and two, based on the idea that the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart has still not been done as asked. As to the first controversy, Sr. Lucia herself stated categorically that the secrets have all been revealed, and confirmed the interpretation.

As to the second controversy, it is certain that the collegial consecration took decades to accomplish; but Sr. Lucia stated categorically that the collegial consecration has been accomplished. On October 31, 1942, Pope Pius XII consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Sr. Lucia, stated that although this act of consecration would result in the war being shortened, it was not what the Blessed Mother had asked for. Ten years later, Pius explicitly consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart, but not in union with all the world's bishops. It was not until March 25, 1984* that Pope John Paul II consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart, in union with all the world's bishops. Although the act of consecration did not specifically mention Russia by name -- one of the reasons some take issue with it -- it does entrust those nations and persons most in need of consecration. It also incorporates by reference the consecrations of Pius XII, one of which does mention Russia by name.

It is further alleged that the consecration was not effective because evil still has so much sway in Russia. This of course ignores the fact that the Soviet Union was dead within five years of the consecration. It also ignores the fact that the Blessed Mother never promised that evil would be totally eradicated before the Last Judgment. Most of all, it ignores the fact that the Blessed Mother asked for people to amend their lives and say the Rosary every day in order to avert disaster. Her requests were not heeded in 1917, and disaster was not averted. They must not have been heeded afterward either, since it the collegial consecration took so long to accomplish. Perhaps the long delay is also the reason the results of the consecration, though quite dramatic, were not dramatic enough to impress the skeptics. By 1984, Russia had had many years to spread her errors throughout the world, and there is still much damage to be undone.

But on July 13, 1917, the Blessed Mother reminded us of the remedies for this damage that are within easy reach: prayer and penance. This message is as timely now as it was 92 years ago.

*It occurs to me, as I write this, that this was the very day I received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

No Applause Please, Just Throw Money

Thanks to ParamedicGirl over at Salve Regina, who has added another couple of awards to my swelling collection. Acceptance of the Honest Scrap Award requires me to do the following:

-- Thank the bestowing party. (Done.)

-- Link back to the bestowing party. (Done.)

-- Divulge ten (10) honest things about myself.

-- Present the award to seven (7) others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.

First, the Ten Honest Things about Myself.

1. I do beadwork, including rosaries and seed/bugle bead jewelry.

2. I have been singing in choirs since childhood, though not during my college years.

3. I like falafel and hummus, which are made from chickpeas, but hate raw chickpeas. To me, raw chickpeas are like little balls of compressed sawdust.

4. I'll take a four-lane ant highway, stretching from one end of my home to the other, over a single cockroach.

5. I have never seen either Grease or West Side Story. I am not consumed by the desire to rectify this situation.

6. I have been inside a B-29 Superfortress. As a matter of fact, it was this Superfortress.

7. When I was in high school, I learned to use a darkroom. I won an award in a national photography competition: my winning entry was something I just hastily threw together and didn't think too much of (whereas nobody noticed the stuff I worked hard on). The prize was $30.00, which I used to buy a polarizing filter for my 35 mm camera.

8. I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was in the fourth grade. I have read it many, many times since (lost count after 35).

9. I cannot automatically tell right from left. I have to think about it every single time.

10. My 18th birthday came during a presidential election year. I registered to vote at my college campus. Both the Democrats and the Republicans had voter registration sites. The Republicans had a nicely painted booth, with portraits of President Reagan and Vice President Bush. The Democrats had a sheet of plywood over two garbage cans. I leaned on the plywood to get up from the kneeling position in which I had filled out my voter registration card, and almost sent the whole thing flying.

This award goes to:

The Redoubtable One

Causa Nostrae Laetitiae
Cygnus' Sphere
Dymphna's Road
Father Down Under
Adoro Te Devote
The Paleolithic Papists

The True Heart Award goes to everybody on my blogroll.

"Those who receive this award are of the sweetest nature. They are kind, friendly, funny, loving, eager to share their love for Jesus with others, and brave in their efforts to reflect Him to this darkened world. They are the kind of folks you're blessed to know, even if it's only in the bloggy-sphere."

Friday, July 10, 2009

When Did Ignorance Become a Point of View?

After crawling out from under my rock and reading yesterday's outpouring of drivel from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, I was ready to crawl right back.'s headline: "Without a Doubt: Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the pope" (and "pope" is uncapitalized in the original and throughout). That this towering monument to crass stupidity should be taken seriously in a major newsweekly is a testament to how far mainstream American culture has slid into the sewer.

Townsend begins with a summary of the President's visit with the Pope in the wake of the controversy surrounding Notre Shame's decision to award an honorary degree on the most virulently pro-abortion president ever to occupy the White House, and then offers the following:
In truth, though, Obama's pragmatic approach to divisive policy (his notion that we should acknowledge the good faith underlying opposing viewpoints) and his social-justice agenda reflect the views of American Catholic laity much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists. When Obama meets the pope tomorrow, they'll politely disagree about reproductive freedoms and homosexuality, but Catholics back home won't care, because they know Obama's on their side. In fact, Obama's agenda is closer to their views than even the pope's.
She then treats us to her "analysis" of the Pope's new encyclical (did she actually read it? If she did, does she pack the intellectual gear to understand it?), and then forfeits once and for all any claims to be taken seriously on any subject by declaring that "Obama (the community organizer from Chicago) could teach the pope a lot about politics—and what a Catholic approach to politics could entail." Barack Obama -- radical leftist pup who lucked into an office for which he is grossly unprepared -- a light illuminating the darkness. Pope Benedict -- theologian, professor, Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, author of more than 30 books, Vicar of Christ on earth -- total ignoramus.

Then we find out that the Truth in its fullness really subsists, not in the Church, but in Kathleen Kennedy Townsend:

Politics requires the ability to listen to different points of view, to step into others' shoes. Obama might call it empathy. While the pope preaches love, listening to the other has been a particular stumbling block for the Catholic hierarchy (as it is for many in power). The hierarchy ignores women's equality and gays' cry for justice because to heed them would require that it admit error and acknowledge that the self-satisfied edifice constructed around sex and gender has been grievously wrong. Before he became John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla had a telling all-or-nothing formulation: "If it should be decided that contraception is not an evil in itself then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit is on the side of the Protestant Churches." That attitude has resulted in some heinous decisions.

Most famously, in the lead up to the encyclical "Humanae Vitae" in 1968, an advisory body of theologians and laity empaneled by the pope advised that the church should reverse its position on birth control and concede that the issue should be a question for morality and for science. But authority—not truth, not love—prevailed: Pope Paul VI, listening to the advice of Wojtyla, disagreed with the majority of these advisers, who had voted 69 to 10 for change, fretting that to change this position would weaken his authority.
If only the Popes would allow Church doctrine to be decided by majority rule, then maybe Catholic doctrine would deserve to be taken seriously. But alas, this will never happen on Pope Benedict's watch. Laments Townsend: "Pope Benedict, having lived in the safety and security of the Vatican for much of his professional life, is part of this culture that silences dissent. (His last job was as the enforcer of doctrine.)" This is as opposed to the unsheltered life of Barack Obama, whose career is thoroughly uncontaminated by any experience that might suit him to discharging the high office which he now holds by dint of sheer dumb luck, let alone repairing the appalling ignorance of the Successor of St. Peter.

Then there is Townsend's tactful and delicate take on limiting the priesthood to men:

In 1979, Sister Theresa Kane, the head of the Sisters of Mercy and the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, greeted Pope John Paul II on his first visit to the United States by proposing that the Church provide "for the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church," including the priesthood. This was greeted with revulsion at the Vatican, which insists that the only people who can represent God in the priestly role are those with male sex organs.
As if that wasn't enough proof that the papacy is out of touch with American Catholics (instead of the other way around), the polls are there to prove how wrong Rome is. Or as Townsend puts it, "...American Catholics do not want to be told by the Vatican how to think." 54% of American Catholics think homosexual relationships are morally acceptable. 79% of American Catholics disagree with the Pope's statements about condoms and AIDS. 73% of American Catholics didn't think John Kerry should be denied Holy Communion (or "communion" as Townsend puts it). More than two thirds of American Catholics don't think the Church should try to influence Catholic votes or even Catholic candidates. If all this is true, then it's no wonder so many Catholics had no problem voting for a man who supported infanticide in the Illinois legislature. 54 percent of American Catholics voted for Obama, proving that they're "tired of watching the church grasp frantically for control at the expense of truth and love." No wonder the country is going to hell in a hand basket.

Finally, we have the justification for Notre Shame's subversion of Catholic teaching:

Notre Dame awarded the president an honorary degree because it saw the need to highlight the best of Catholic teaching as applied to politics: the ability to open the eyes of those who would prefer to keep them closed, and to open the hearts of those who would prefer not to know the pain that their actions cause.
Now if only our ignorant, benighted Pope would get on board:
The pope has a lot to learn about Catholic politics in America.
Fortunately, we have the solution, if only he would open up his mind:
Barack Obama can teach him.
Actually, come to think of it, the Church is run by majority rule. It is ruled by a majority of Three in One whose votes outweigh those of all the papal commissions and fallen Catholic universities and Barack Obamas and Kathleen Kennedy Townsends put together.

That's something we can take comfort in.

Monday, July 06, 2009

July 6th: Anniversary of St. Thomas More's Martyrdom

A reader has reminded me that today is the date St. Thomas More was actually martyred, even though we celebrate his feast on the 22nd of June. I thought I'd observe the anniversary of his martyrdom with pictures .

St. Thomas More's cell in the Tower of London. From these arrow slits, the saint and his daughter witnessed the first of the Carthusian Martyrs being led out to Tyburn Tree to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

How's this for a second-class relic: St. Thomas More's hat.

A saint pays homage to a saint. St. Josemaria Escriva had a great devotion to St. Thomas More. Here he is at St. Dunstan's, Canterbury, before the Roper vault, where Thomas' head was buried in the arms of his daughter Margaret.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Prayers Urgently Requested

Please stop and offer prayer for Kathleen Schuck, OPL, the treasurer of my Lay Dominican Chapter of Bl. Margaret of Castello. Yesterday, although she was in pain, the cause of which was unknown, she was eating barbecue and celebrating with the chapter; today, she is in the hospital, and the doctors say it is very serious.

Prayer to Saint Peregrine

O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty," "The Wonder-Worker," because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you.

For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you.

(Pause here and silently recall the names of the sick for whom you are praying.)

Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy.


The Fourth of July

This is rather a sad Fourth of July. It is sad because this nation has placed herself into the hands of the enemies of all she has ever stood for. We have fallen away from our faith and our ideals, and have let ourselves in for a terrible chastisement. This has already started; how many of us notice?

We need to start wearing out the rosaries. We also need to remind ourselves of our glorious patrimony, before we throw it all away.

Pray also for our Marines currently engaged in a major offensive in Afghanistan.

Psalm 144

Blessed be the LORD, my Rock,
Who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
my Rock and my Fortress,
my Stronghold and my Deliverer,
my Shield and He in whom I take refuge,
Who subdues the peoples under Him.
O LORD, what is man that Thou dost regard him,
or the son of man that Thou dost think of him?
Man is like a breath,
his days are like a passing shadow.
Bow Thy heavens, O LORD, and come down!
Touch the mountains that they smoke!
Flash forth the lightning and scatter them,
send out Thy arrows and rout them!
Stretch forth Thy hand from on high,
rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
from the hand of aliens,
whose mouths speak lies,
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
I will sing a new song to Thee, O God;
upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to Thee,
Who givest victory to kings,
Who rescuest David Thy servant.
Rescue me from the cruel sword,
and deliver me from the hand of aliens,
whose mouths speak lies,
and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
cut for the structure of a palace;
may our garners be full,
providing all manner of store;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
and ten thousands in our fields;
may our cattle be heavy with young,
suffering no mischance or failure in bearing;
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
Happy the people to whom such blessings fall!
Happy the people whose God is the LORD!

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Earth Charter: Green on the Outside, Red on the Inside

Herewith a partial list of all the things wrong with the Earth Charter, any one of which would be a 'nuff said in itself:

1. While the Earth Charter people describe their project as "a broad-based, voluntary, civil society effort," it is clearly anything but a grass-roots movement. It is spearheaded by a bunch of Euro-leftist elitists, academic types and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Ex-Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev and his Green Cross International are prime movers in the Earth Charter project.

2. Because the Earth Charter is the product of a bunch of Euro-leftist elitists, academic types, UNESCO, and ex-Soviet dictators, it proceeds from an utterly unrealistic view of the world, of reality, and of human nature. For example, the Earth Charter lists among its goals the elimination of poverty and the elimination of corruption in all public and private institutions, thereby overlooking the reality of original sin and the admonition of Jesus that the poor we will always have with us.

3. The Earth Charter is based on the assumption that puny humanity, going about its everyday life and improving its standard of living, has the power to destroy a planet that, for the last 4.6 billion years, has survived, unruffled, meteoric impacts, volcanoes, tornadoes, vast floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, solar flares, and other catastrophes, none of which we can even come close to reproducing.

4. The Earth Charter promotes universal health care, redistribution of wealth, vitiation of private property rights -- in short, socialism.

5. The Earth Charter promotes global government.

6. The Earth Charter contains what are tantamount to built-in emergency powers that may be triggered arbitrarily. Pursuant to Article I, Section 6, Paragraph (a), the Charter would authorize whatever governing authority is acting pursuant to its provisions to "take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive." The following paragraph would "place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm." All of this proves that the Earth Charter is nothing more than a governmental power grab and not concerned with protecting the environment.

7. The Earth Charter would destroy the free market. Article I, Section 7, Paragraph (d) provides: "Internalize the full environmental and social costs of goods and services in the selling price, and enable consumers to identify products that meet the highest social and environmental standards."

8. The Earth Charter is pro-contraception and pro-abortion. Article I, Section 7, Paragraph (e) provides that the Charter would "ensure universal access to health care that fosters reproductive health and responsible reproduction. " Nobody can reasonably argue that these are not code words for abortion and population control.

9. The Earth Charter purports to create synthetic rights, such as the "rights" to potable water, safe food and sanitary living conditions, that actually serve to vitiate authentic human rights, especially the right to private property. Article III, Section 9, Paragraph (a) provides that these "rights" are to be guaranteed by "allocating the national and international resources required" -- i.e., legalized looting.

10. While Article III, Section 12 of the Earth Charter purports to guarantee freedom of religion, it also purports to guarantee a "right" of "indigenous people" "to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods." That would seem to make a crime out of spreading the Gospel, thereby vitiating the religious freedom of, oh, Christians.

11. The Earth Charter purports, at one and the same time, to drill children and youth in "contribut[ing] actively to sustainable development" and to guarantee the right of dissent. Does anybody seriously think dissent from the Religion of Sustainability would ever be tolerated under the Earth Charter?

12. The Earth Charter is full of New Age baloney. Article IV, Section 16, Paragraph (f) stipulates: "Recognize that peace is the wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part." Yuck.

And last, but certainly not least:

13. The Earth Charter is utterly Godless.

It would be easier to list all the things that are not wrong with the Earth Charter.