Sunday, June 30, 2013

An Open Letter to the Bishops of the United States

Dear Bishops, Archbishops and Eminences of the Church in the United States:

In 2007, Barack Hussein Obama was elected President.  It was his explicitly stated goal to fundamentally transform this country.  This he has certainly done.  He has nationalized entire industries; increased the national debt to hopelessly out-of-control levels; turned the national security apparatus and the taxing authorities against his political opponents; promoted radical Islam at home and abroad; eviscerated our military;  attacked our right to keep and bear arms; crammed abortion, contraceptives and active homosexuality down our throats; published countless new regulations and executive orders; wrecked our system of checks and balances; sought to destroy our sovereignty via open borders; and made our beloved United States the laughing stock of the world.  Above all, he has declared war on the Catholic Church, and therefore on God.

We know that Obama is especially targeting the Catholic Church because of the HHS contraceptive mandate.  There are other religious groups that also oppose contraceptives, but it is the Catholic Church that is pre-eminently known and despised and laughed at, from without and from within, for having consistently and unswervingly refused to join the many other religions that have caved on contraceptives.  We know that Obama is targeting the Catholic Church because he aggressively promotes abortion, active homosexuality and socialism, all of which the Catholic Church condemns.  We know that Obama is targeting the Catholic Church because of his brutal campaign to deprive her of her rights and rid the public square of her influence.

But what makes it most certain that Obama is targeting the Catholic Church is his army of unfaithful Catholic footsoldiers, many of whom were obviously quite deliberately recruited by him in order to weaken Catholic resolve.  These politicians and bureaucrats quite openly and notoriously join Obama in his opposition to Catholic teaching, to the great scandal of the faithful.  Many more Catholic public figures at various state and local levels who are not directly connected to Obama nevertheless add to the scandal by publicly supporting his agenda.

But what is even more scandalous than all this is the silence of so many bishops in the face of this insouciance.  A few bishops take up their rods and staffs and publicly declare that Catholic politicians who openly support intrinsic evils will not be admitted to Holy Communion.  Most, however, remain silent.  Some allow themselves to be photographed in the act of hobnobbing with openly declared enemies of the Church.  Others go so far as to declare they will not enforce canon law against public sinners, on the grounds that this purportedly makes a political football out of the Eucharist.

Perhaps we should be thankful that some of our shepherds are more enlightened than, say, the authors of Canon 915, and are thus in a position to make up for the deficiencies of the Church's lawmakers.  On the other hand, perhaps the whole idea of refusing to inflict punishments in pursuit of "the law of love, rather than the law of fear" needs to be re-examined in light of the chastisements we are already suffering on its account.

Dear Shepherds, I can tell these erring Catholic public figures how wrong they are until I'm blue in the face; but they will not listen to me, and aren't about to listen to me.  You, on the other hand, have teeth.  Only you can force them to a decision: whether they love God more, or their ideologies and all that goes with them.  Only you can force them to choose: whether to go on being able to receive the Sacraments, or to persist in their obstinacy.  Only you can face them with the stark consequences of their bad choices.  

Perhaps, if you do that, they will repent.  Is not the point of punishment to make sinners see the error of their ways and repent?  But as long as you allow them to go on pretending to be Catholics in good standing, all while waging war on the Church, they will see no reason to repent.  When you do not take action, the whole Body of Christ suffers.  How much bad legislation could have been averted, if you had acted to move someone to repent?  How many disastrous Supreme Court decisions might never have been written, had you taken steps to correct your erring sheep?  And we must all live with the effects.  By not punishing the guilty, you punish the innocent; and then, how are you to escape your own punishment?

Dear Bishops, time is running out.  Events are moving very rapidly.  Every day brings fresh disasters; the blows rain down on us with ever-increasing ferocity.  There is little left now of the America we grew up in, and of the freedoms we pray every Sunday for our politicians to safeguard.  You, dear Bishops, also bear a responsibility for safeguarding our freedom.  It is time, and past time, to drive the wolves out of the fold, and to preach repentance and conversion, without which we will never get our country back. 

And when the United States is gone beyond recall, where will we go then to find religious freedom?

As ever, your obedient servant.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22nd: Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More

There are times when I can't decide what is more disconcerting: that every man has his price, or that the price is always so low.  Today is the feast of two men -- one a bishop, one a married layman -- who could not be bought at any price.  They lost their heads for it.

Thomas More died because he would not deny the primacy of Peter.  It's important to remember how difficult that must have been in a world where so many churchmen were ready to enter into schism with Henry VIII.  St. Thomas More was neither stupid nor ignorant -- indeed, he was one of the most brilliant men who ever lived -- but the thought of so many in the Church ranged against him must have been frightening.  Was there a chance he was wrong to give up everything and bring poverty on his family?  What if they were right and he was wrong?  If he went willingly to his death for a bad cause, how would he stand in the Supreme Tribunal?

Imagine how daunting the circumstances had to be for St. John Fisher.  If we today are plagued by many bishops who are weak at best and heretical at worst, our age is not unique.  Are we worse off than England during the time of Henry VIII's rebellion?  Only one bishop in England remained true, and that was John Fisher.  Only one cardinal has ever suffered martyrdom, though cardinals wear scarlet precisely as a sign of their willingness to die for Christ: that was John Fisher.

Here is a pair of saints for our time, when the world's hostility toward the Church is again approaching a rolling boil, and we need both wisdom and courage to persevere.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Public Prayer: A National Tradition

The First Amendment to the Constitution, which also applies to the states via incorporation into the Fourteenth Amendment, reads in its entirety:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The guarantee of religious liberty under the First Amendment is a dying letter. The pragmatic utilitarian elite of this country has chipped away at it for decades, to the point where frontal assaults on the Free Exercise clause have become brazen and commonplace.  The strategy has been to foist upon us an entirely perverse reading of the Establishment Clause, pursuant to which it is alleged that, in order for freedom to flourish, religion must absent itself entirely from the public sphere.  Since Christianity of its very nature requires public expression, this is really war on the Church.  

Not only does the pragmatic utilitarian interpretation of the Establishment Clause emanate from the nether regions; it is utterly without historical foundation.  It cannot be possible that the Framers intended to make this country a Christianity-free zone.  Madison and Jefferson were still living when George Washington came out with the following proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks--for His kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

Fast-forward 71 years to August 12, 1861, when the nation was beginning to be riven by a bloody Civil War:

A Proclamation.  

Whereas a joint committee of both houses of Congress has waited on the President of the United States and requested him to "recommend a day of public humiliation, prayer, and fasting to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace"; and

Whereas it is fit and becoming in all people at all times to acknowledge and revere the supreme government of God, to bow in humble submission to His chastisements, to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to pray with all fervency and contrition for the pardon of their past offenses and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action; and

Whereas when our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united prosperous, and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation and as individuals to humble ourselves before Him and to pray for His mercy -- to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved, that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the re-establishment of order, law, and peace throughout the wide extent of our country, and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence.

Therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next as a day of humiliation, prayer, and fasting for all the people of the nation.  And I do earnestly recommend to all the people, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion of all denominations and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day according to their several creeds and modes of worship in all humility and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace and bring down plentiful blessings upon our country.

When was the last time our bishops came out with anything as Catholic-sounding as this proclamation issuing from a secular head of state who was not himself Catholic?

Fast forward another 83 years to June 6, 1944, when even that paragon of progressivism, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, led the nation in prayer for the success of the Allied troops who at that moment were storming Festung Europa at Normandy:

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas -- whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them--help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.  Amen.

A few months after this, in a move that today would probably result in a court-martial, General Patton began a campaign to get the entire Eighth Army to pray for an end to the driving rains that were hampering their efforts.  This was on the eve of the Battle of the Bulge.  Although this would prove to be the bloodiest battle of the whole war for the United States, the Eighth Army's prayers for good weather were answered, and the Allies won the battle.  It was Germany's last offensive of the war.

Finally, there is 36 U.S.C. § 119, enacted in 1952 and still on the books, despite the best efforts of the pragmatic utilitarian First Amendment rampart-watchers:

The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.

In short, public prayer in the Judeo-Christian mold is an American tradition stretching all the way back to the Founding.  The idea that faith, and especially the Christian faith, is a purely private matter is entirely foreign to the American ethos and totally unsupported by history and tradition.  If we ever expect to turn this country around and get it back on the rails, it's time we push back.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

June 6, 1944: The Longest Day

"Believe me, Lang, the first twenty-four hours of the invasion will be decisive...the fate of Germany depends on the outcome...for the Allies, as well as Germany, it will be the longest day."
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to his aide, Capt. Hellmuth Lang, April 22, 1944

From Part One, Chapter 13 of The Longest Day, by Cornelius Ryan (available, by the way, on Kindle):

Now Eisenhower stood watching as the planes trundled down the runways and lifted slowly into the air.  One by one they followed each other into the darkness.  Above the field, they circled as they assembled into formation.  Eisenhower, his hands deep in his pockets, gazed up into the night sky.  As the huge formation of planes roared one last time over the field and headed toward France, NBC's Red Mueller looked at the Supreme Commander.  Eisenhower's eyes were filled with tears.

Minutes later, in the Channel, the men of the invasion fleet heard the roar of the planes.  It grew louder by the second, and then wave after wave passed overhead.  The formation took a long time to pass.  Then the thunder of their engines began to fade.  On the bridge of the U.S.S. Herndon, Lieutenant Bartow Farr, the watch officers and NEA's war correspondent, Tom Wolf, gazed up into the darkness.  Nobody could say a word.  And then as the last formation flew over, an amber light blinked down through the clouds on the fleet below.  Slowly it flashed out in Morse code three dots and a dash: V for Victory.

Now you know where the title of this blog comes from.

Some classic D-Day posts:

And from Life magazine: color photos, before and after D-Day

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Hard Times Call for Plain Speech

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R.OK) yesterday on the floor of the House:

The liberals are big on the idea of "speaking truth to power"; well, here it is in action.  Folks, we need more of this from patriots.  Hard times call for plain speech.  The pragmatic utilitarians who now run our government are neither afraid to offend the rest of us, nor ashamed to hurl the filthiest calumnies against us, nor hesitant to trample our sensibilities; so why do so many of us fear to offend them?

Bravo to Rep. Bridenstine.  We need 434 more like him in the House of Representatives.  

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Worldwide Adoration

Pope Francis asked that today, in honor of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, every parish in the world have a Holy Hour of adoration between 17:00-18:00 Rome time.  That was 9:00-10:00 a.m. here in the Mountain time zone, and very conveniently fills up the hour between the first two Sunday Masses at St. John's Cathedral.  The Host, placed in the cathedral's very beautiful, ruby-studded monstrance, was enthroned on the altar, surrounded by candles.  The hour ended with Benediction.  Plenty of Latin was involved.  

And, for the first time since I have attended the cathedral parish, silence reigned before Mass.  I am in the habit of arriving early on Sundays to pray the Rosary before Mass; but pretty soon, the cathedral fills up with people yapping and laughing and carrying on and generally behaving as though they were someplace else, until the noise becomes unbearable.  It is especially awful when there is a Baptism between Masses.  Today, however, a very different atmosphere prevailed.  Except for the occasional unavoidable noises, like coughs and sneezes, the cathedral was quiet.  People were on their knees, praying.  Some sat with prayer books or devotionals.  People coming in made every effort to do so silently.  If there was anyone there not praying, at least they weren't yakking, either.  

It should always be that way inside a church.  It's God's house, and the gate of heaven, and Jesus is always present there in the tabernacle.  Yet sadly, the uproarious din of the Novus Ordo Missae spills over into the hours outside of Mass, so that it's almost never quiet in churches, and hasn't been for a long time in a lot of places.  But the Blessed Sacrament, exposed in the monstrance and enthroned on the altar, makes a palpable difference.  We should have this hour of adoration every Sunday.  If the majority of Catholics -- even the Mass-goers -- no longer believe in the Real Presence, then bring them before their Eucharistic Lord, every Sunday before Mass, where they can have Him right in front of their eyes and be conscious of His presence.  He will take care of the rest.  

And I hope Pope Francis makes a habit of calling for worldwide Holy Hours.  This is a perfect use of our media of instantaneous communications.  Imagine a worldwide Holy Hour every month!  If this became a regular event, parishes would have the opportunity to adjust their Sunday Mass schedules if necessary, until Catholics in every parish on earth are kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament at the exact same hour, obtaining graces and blessings for themselves and the whole world.  This could not fail to have its effect.  Perhaps even, in the fullness of time, the conversion of every nation on earth.

In fact, we should write to the Holy Father and ask him.  Those who do not ask, do not receive.  Hopefully, some influential person will join in this petition.