Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

Once again, Sunday Mass featured a visiting priest who evidently thinks it's All About Him. Today's narcissism took the form of constantly interrupting the Mass -- even the Canon -- in order to insert commentaries.  Can somebody point out where in the Missal it says to do that?  Must the priest's private views, which I did not come to church to hear, constantly intrude on the Mass, which I did come to hear?  Why can't we just have -- the Mass?  

The incessant attention-seeking from today's celebrant put me in mind of a religious sister I heard speaking once, a high-ranking official in the diocese at the time, who was publicly lamenting the fact that the Church contumaciously refuses to ordain women (read: her) as priests.  It pained her so much, she said, that she could only do so much before people had to turn away from her and seek out a priest.  In other words, she wanted to be a priestess because she wanted (a) power, and (b) to be the center of attention.  This distorted view of the priesthood is wholly foreign to the mindset of a man with a legitimate vocation, who understand himself to be called to a life of service and self-sacrifice.

Then I thought: after decades of attending Holy Mass under the guise of a fourth-rate vaudeville act, can the wymynpriest crowd really be blamed for thinking the priesthood is the key to satisfying their cravings for the spotlight?  Have not priests themselves fostered this gross misconception; and is this not due in large part to what has been done to the liturgy?  Turn the priest toward the congregation and hook him up to a microphone, and of course he will think he's supposed to play to the crowd, and begin acting accordingly.  Next thing you know, Holy Mass is transformed from the highest act of worship to a show that the priest feels the need constantly to try to steal.  And just to make sure of an adoring crowd, the people in the pews are strictly regimented, while he gets away with doing whatever he wants, whatever the Missal may say -- a phenomenon we have reflected on in this space before.  Was the women's ordination movement as noisy and pestiferous before the changes to the Mass and the ensuing abuses as it is now?

The abuses in the liturgy that are now so widespread are themselves a symptom of deeper problems in the Church; but they are the proximate cause of doctrinal derailments, which foster chaos and moral impotence that ripple out into the world at large.  No wonder it is said that to save the liturgy is to save the world.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Coup d'Etat Is Under Way

Pay close attention to Rep. Tom McClintock (R.-CA) as he appears on the floor of the House of Representatives on October 14th and explains how that walking, talking constitutional crisis, Barack Hussein Obama, is usurping Congress' borrowing powers under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, and threatening to precipitate a default on sovereign debt in violation of Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

This is nothing short of a coup d'etat, and a brazen violation of Obama's oath of office, such as the most lawless of his predecessors never dreamed of.  The man needs to be impeached.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why We Can't "Just Let Obamacare Implode"

1. Because Obamacare is unconstitutional, and, indeed, anti-constitutional.  It purports to compel individuals to enter into binding contracts against their will -- an unprecedented overreach that takes the federal government far, far beyond its enumerated powers.  This is not changed by the fact that Obamacare bears the imprimatur of the Supreme Court -- from which has emanated, among other things, Dred Scott v. Sanford (blacks cannot be citizens); Plessy v. Ferguson (upholding racial segregation); Korematsu v. United States (upholding FDR's executive order interning Japanese Americans during World War II); and Roe v. Wade (legalizing abortion).  Besides, the Court's 5-4 decision in National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius hardly constitutes a solid consensus among the justices, as liberals are fond of pointing out any time the Court comes out with a 5-4 decision they don't like.

2. Because Obamacare was hurriedly rammed, Politburo-style, through Congress and onto the President's desk, purposely in order to avoid deliberation and to prevent the American people from finding out all the gory details before it was too late.  This process is utterly un-American and at variance with the open, above-board legislative process that is supposed to foster the health of a constitutional republic.

3. Because Obamacare is pure socialism, and as such is a frontal assault on liberty, limited government, subsidiarity, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of commerce, private property rights -- in short, every principle upon which this nation was founded.  For those who are Catholic, it is worth noting that a line of Popes stretching back to Bl. Pius IX has condemned socialism: you can't be a faithful Catholic and a socialist.

4. Because Obamacare is going to be enforced by the IRS.  This alone should be sufficient reason to oppose it.

5. Because Obamacare is already hurting flesh-and-blood Americans.  Employers are already laying people off and/or shortening their hours in order to escape the costly burden of falling within Obamacare's ambit.  Obamacare's prohibitive costs are also inducing insurance carriers to discontinue certain policies or pull out of certain markets altogether, leaving many customers with private insurance high and dry.  This is contrary to Obama's explicit promise that people would be "allowed" to keep their coverage -- as if, by the way, the Founding Fathers ever intended that the people be "allowed" to engage in free enterprise and enter into contracts at the gracious sufferance of an imperial Chief Executive.

6. Because anybody with any political clout with this regime -- including Congress and other ruling elites in Washington -- is seeking exemptions from Obamacare -- and getting them.  If Obamacare is not a train wreck, why are the feds themselves stepping out if its way?  And, while we're on the subject, who told Obama that he had the constitutional authority to make unilateral alterations to a federal statute, however devious and disgraceful the process by which it was rammed through the legislative process?

7. Because when was the last time failure doomed a government program to extinction?  How many of LBJ's "Great Society" programs have been abolished after half a century and trillions spent on the "war on poverty"?  Have we driven a stake through the heart of all of FDR's "New Deal" programs eighty years later?  When it comes to the federal government, failure is an almost certain guarantee of immortality.

No, we cannot simply sit back and let Obamacare run its course.  Obamacare is a legal, moral and economic evil that must be stopped.  We must make the effort to stop it even if (which I do not believe) it were true that we could not hope to succeed in doing so, because that is the right thing to do.  If Obamacare is allowed to "implode" and "collapse under its own weight," it will certainly take the country with it.

For generations, people who long for freedom have fled to the United States.  When we have allowed the United States to be destroyed, where will we flee?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

God Never Messes with Our Heads

Our Lady of Fatima pilgrim statue in Boise, 2007.
Photo by Jim Nourse.
When one breaks weeks of silence, one casts about for the best subject with which to do it.  One runs one's mind over affairs both temporal and spiritual, from the government shutdown to the Pope's Big Interviews that have caused such a ruckus.  Today the big news item in the Catholic world was the Holy Father's consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on this, the 96th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, witnessed by tens of thousands of believers and non-believers over a large area of Portugal.  To my way of thinking, this is only the third really comforting thing Pope Francis -- whom I believe can rightly be described as the Pope of our punishment -- has done so far in his reign, the first being the worldwide hour of Eucharistic adoration in June, and the second being the day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria last month.  All of his talk about Mary and about the reality of hell and the devil is good, but not surprising, since, the Pope, no matter who he is, cannot do otherwise than reaffirm authentic Catholic doctrine.

Which brings me to one theme that has underlain my thoughts in recent days: God does not mess with our heads.

In a world saturated in the despairing infidelity of modernism, in which being manipulated by government, media, Madison Avenue, each other, and even ourselves is a daily way of life for nearly all of us, it pays to remind ourselves of this.  God is Truth and Justice, and can no more deceive than He can be deceived.  The beauty and order of creation, from galactic superclusters to the inner workings of the subatomic, testify to the existence of a Creator Who is all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful and all-good.  The laws of nature communicate truths about how creatures function and interact, and we try to traduce these laws at our peril.  The very best and highest authority that any proposition can have is that God revealed it.  On that basis alone, it would deserve to be believed and not doubted, even if we do not like it or cannot understand it.  

So how can we know that a proposition comes from God?  We can know it if it has the backing of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, endowed with His authority, under the headship of His Vicar, the Pope.  He gave us a clearly visible and recognizable institution to teach us all that we need to know in order to save our souls, and He has guaranteed it against error in matters of faith and morals.  No matter who the Pope is, no matter how many disconcerting things he may do -- even if he is an unabashed public sinner like Alexander Borgia, or hopelessly incompetent as an administrator, like St. Celestine V -- the Pope could not change even the tiniest particle of doctrine, even if he had all the armies that have ever existed at his back.  When it comes to the most critical business of our lives -- our eternal salvation -- God does not leave us to puzzle things out for ourselves, or pull a bait-and-switch on us.  His justice demands this.  Since He does not leave us without a lamp for our steps, He also does not leave us with any excuses for persisting in darkness.  God does not mess with our heads.

God will not mess with our heads even after we are dead.  Contrary to popular depictions of the afterlife in movies and books, there will be no confused period of wandering disembodied on the earth, no haunting by human spirits of houses or old battlefields, no mistaking hell for heaven, or heaven for hell.  In the very place where we die, we will be judged.  By the time others have figured out that we are dead, we will have already been completely undeceived about ourselves and about God, and about where we deserve to spend eternity -- and we will have already gone there.  At the end of time, all flesh will be confronted with all truth, and all obscurity and confusion will disappear.  We need not allow ourselves to be deceived by charlatans claiming to be the Second Coming.  They aren't.  The real Second Coming will leave us in no possible or impossible doubt as to its authenticity.  Some things really are that simple and straightforward.  God does not mess with our heads.

Since God does not mess with our heads, we can and should allow ourselves to derive consolation from both our Faith and its wholesome outward expressions that, in this modernist age, have been derided from within and without the Church as childish superstition.  We have allowed ourselves to become inured to believing bad news over good, but the Gospel really is good news, and is really true -- more true than anything that bears the stamp of the world, however plausible.  Beauty really is truth, and truth really is beauty: we need not be prisoners of the lie we have been conditioned to believe, that only the gray, the banal, the flat-footed and the pedestrian are real.  The forces of evil may seem to have the upper hand in our age, and in many places, but the truth is that they have already lost, and their time is short.   Jesus really is the Son of God, and really did die on the Cross to save us, and really did rise from the tomb and ascend into heaven.  He really did give us His Immaculate Mother to be our mother.  That is why we can expect good to come of the Holy Father once again consecrating the world to her Immaculate Heart.

We may deceive ourselves and each other.  We may play psychological games, and manipulate, and create frenzy and precipitate crises, one after the other, in order to control others.  The devil may also do this to us in order to lure us into hell.  But God never does any of these things.  If we find ourselves caught in these webs, God is not behind that.  Perversity and sadism are not attributes of God.  God never messes with our heads.