Monday, December 31, 2018

The Passing Scene: 2018

1: California legalizes recreational weed.
2: Liberal heads explode as President Trump tweets that his nuclear button is bigger than Kim Jong Un's, and that it actually works.
4: Attorney General Sessions rescinds the Obama-era policy of non-interference with states that legalize recreational weed.
5: At the U.N. Security Council, the United States declares its "unapologetic" support for the anti-government protests in Iran.  Also: Republican senators call for a criminal investigation of Christopher Steele, the author of the so-called "Trump Dossier."
9:  Mud slides in Santa Barbara County, California, claim at least 21 lives and result in $177 million in property damage.
13: An alert of an incoming ballistic missile is sent out over the state of Hawaii, and is declared a false alarm after 38 minutes.
14: The 13 children of David and Louise Turpin of Perris, California are rescued after being held captive, tortured and malnourished over the course of nearly 30 years.
21: A message in a bottle dropped from the German barque Paula on June 12, 1886 is discovered off the coast of Western Australia, breaking all records for the longest time such a message has remained adrift.
30: President Trump's first State of the Union address.
31: A total lunar eclipse, supermoon and blue moon all coincide.

Deaths: Ray Thomas (the Moody Blues); Thomas Bopp (co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp); Jerry Van Dyke; John Young (astronaut, ninth man to walk on the moon); Peter Wyngarde; Olivia Cole; Dorothy Malone; Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey cartoonist).


5: The discovery of exoplanets beyond the Milky Way Galaxy is announced.
6: Space X successfully tests its partly-reusable Falcon Heavy rocket.
7: The Canadian national anthem becomes "gender neutral."
8: Bermuda repeals same-sex "marriage."
14: Murder spree, Parkland, Florida: a 19-year-old former student guns down 32 students and teachers at Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 17, before being apprehended.
27: President Trump formally announces his candidacy for re-election in 2020.

Deaths: Kenneth Haigh; John Mahoney; Michael White (Thompson Twins); John Gavin; Craig MacGregor (Foghat); Marty Allen; Billy Graham; Nanette Fabray.


4: The 90th Academy Awards.  Who cares.
6: Stormy Daniels sues President Trump.
13: President Trump fires Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
14: Toys "R" Us announces it will go out of business in the United States.
15: An unfinished pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami collapses, killing 6.
23: 200,000 French citizens take to the streets to protest Emmanuel Macron's economic "reforms."  Also: President Trump issues an order banning transgendered persons from serving in the military. 

Deaths: David Ogden Stiers; Stephen Hawking; Linda Carol Brown (appellant in Brown v. Board of Education).


11: House Speaker Paul Ryan announces he will not seek re-election.
13: President Trump pardons Scooter Libby.
16: The first woman in 33 years wins the Boston Marathon.
22: Murder spree, Nashville, Tennessee: a gunman kills four and wounds four at a Waffle House restaurant.  He is later apprehended.
23: Birth of Prince Louis of Cambridge, fifth in the line of succession to the British throne.  Also: the world's first successful transplant of male sex organs (not including testicles) is performed on a U.S. soldier injured in Afghanistan.
27: In an historic meeting at Panmunjom, North and South Korea declare an end to the Korean War.

Deaths: Steven Bochco; Susan Anspach; Soon-Tek Oh; Tim O'Connor; Art Bell; R. Lee Ermey; HarryAnderson; Barbara Bush; John Stride; Paul Junger Witt.


3: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences votes to suspend Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski for violating their standards of conduct, even though Polanski's conduct failed to bother the Academy for 40 years.
4: A magnitude 6.9 earthquake strikes Hawaii, and Kilauea Volcano begins erupting, prompting evacuations from the Leilani Estates subdivision.  Also: the U.S. Navy re-establishes the Second Fleet, which had been disbanded in 2011.  Also: a bill banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected becomes law in the state of Iowa.
9: Death of Dale Moore, my father, 11 days shy of his 71st birthday.
12: North Korea announces the forthcoming dismantling of its Punggye-Ri nuclear test site.
14: Seventieth anniversary of the foundation of the modern state of Israel, and dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.
18: All 34 Roman Catholic bishops of Chile offer to abdicate after the Pope accuses them of destroying evidence of sex crimes.
19: Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Essex.
29: ABC cancels the recently-rebooted sitcom Roseanne after Roseanne Barr issues what they considered to be an offensive tweet.
30: Harvey Weinstein is indicted for rape in New York.

Deaths: George Deukmejian (former governor of California); Margot Kidder; Tom Wolfe; Clint Walker; Alan Bean (fourth man to walk on the Moon).


11: Net neutrality ends in the United States.
12: Beginning of the historic summit meeting between the United States and North Korea in Singapore.
18: President Trump directs the Department of Defense to start laying the groundwork for a Space Force, as a sixth branch of the armed forces.
19: The United States withdraws from the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is a joke anyway.
26: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds President Trump's September 2017 travel ban.

Deaths: Matt "Guitar" Murphy; Koko the sign language gorilla; Joe Jackson (Jackson 5 patriarch).


1: Vermont legalizes recreational pot.
9: President Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
10: An international team completes operations to rescue a junior soccer team and its coach that has been trapped in a cave in Thailand.
17: Jupiter is discovered to have ten additional moons, bringing the total to 79.

Deaths: Tab Hunter; Roger Perry; Bernard Hepton (Pallas in I, Claudius); "Red" Ron Dellums.


2: Pope Francis purports to change the Catholic Church's immemorial teaching on capital punishment.
14: Pennsylvania's attorney general releases a grand jury report implicating hundreds of Catholic priests in the sexual abuse of children in six Pennsylvania dioceses.
18: A specimen of ancient Egyptian cheese, thought to be 3,200 years old, is discovered in a tomb in Saqqara.
21: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is convicted of eight counts relating to bank fraud and tax fraud.
22:  The Vigano Testimony.
30: The deadly Carr wild fire in California is finally 100% contained.

Deaths: Charlotte Rae; Aretha Franklin; Kofi Annan; Barbara Harris; Robin Leach; John McCain; Neil Simon.


4:  Police recover a pair of Judy Garland's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz that had been stolen from a museum in Minnesota in 2005.
22: The Vatican signs a breathtaking agreement with the government of communist China that gives the latter power over the appointment of Catholic bishops.
25: Bill Cosby receives a ten-year unified prison sentence after being convicted of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in 2004.
29:  The second Vigano Testimony.

Deaths: Warren Jones (Idaho Supreme Court justice); Thad Mumford; Burt Reynolds; Sheila White (Messalina in I, Claudius); Peter Donat; Marty Balin.


1: North and South Korea begin removing landmines from the DMZ.
4:  Heavy floods begin that cost 69 lives and hundreds of millions of Euros in property damage across Europe.
6: After a lengthy and disgraceful circus of a confirmation hearing to rival that to which Justice Clarence Thomas was subjected to, Brett Kavanaugh is finally confirmed as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
10: The deadly and destructive Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Florida.
17: Canada fully legalizes Mary Jane.
19:  The third Vigano Testimony.
22: The Trump administration announces plans to define "gender" as a permanent genetic and anatomical condition fixed at birth.
23:  The discovery in the Black Sea of the oldest known intact shipwreck (c. 400 B.C.) is announced.
27:  Murder spree, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: a shooter kills 11 and injures 7 more at a synagogue before being wounded in a shootout with police.
29:  The Boston Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series.
30:  President Trump publicly challenges the concept of birthright citizenship in the United States.

Deaths: Peggy McKay; Wah Wah Watson (the Funk Brothers); Tony Joe White ("Polk Salad Annie").


1: Great Britain legalizes medical marijuana.
2: The Trump administration re-imposes all the sanctions against Iran that had been lifted in 2015.
6: The Democrats win control of the House of Representatives.
7:  Murder spree, Thousand Oaks, California: a shooter kills 12, including one police officer, at a restaurant, before turning the gun on himself.  Also: President Trump fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
25: The Camp Fire in California, which left 86 dead, is finally contained.

Deaths: Sondra Locke; Katherine MacGregor (Harriet Oleson on Little House on the Prairie); Michele Carey ("Joey" McDonald in El Dorado); Bishop Robert C. Morlino of the Diocese of Madison; Bernardo Bertolucci; George H.W. Bush.


4: In response to the grass-roots Yellow Vest movement in France, the government announces the suspension, for at least six months, of a proposed hike in fuel taxes.
17: For the first time in 800 years, the bridges across the river Severn in Great Britain are toll-free.
20: Secretary of Defense James Mattis announces his resignation, effective February, 2019.  Also: Prestige without merit: part of California's Ventura Freeway is renamed the President Barack H. Obama Highway.  Also: a priest of the Diocese of Boise, found in possession of an immense stash of child pornography, is sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole.

Deaths: Simcha Rotem (last survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943); Richard Arvin Overton (oldest American man and oldest surviving veteran of World War II); Sister Wendy Beckett; Herb Ellis; Donald Moffat; Norman Gimbel; Penny Marshall; Ken Berry

2018 has been a tough year, at least for me.  Let us pray to a merciful God for blessings of peace and freedom, none of which we merit on our own.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Mary, Conceived Without Sin, You DID Know

Raise your hand if you have ever heard the song "Mary, Did You Know?" within the precincts of a Catholic church.  I can't see you, but I know you're out there.  My hand is also up.  Somehow, because this song mentions the Mother of God, it has become a Christmas tradition in some parishes.  But although the gentleman who wrote "Mary, Did You Know?" clearly means well, this song is both musically inappropriate for Mass and subversive of the Catholic faith.

From a musical standpoint, "Mary, Did You Know?" is basically a pop song, and although the Mass has been saturated with such for a couple of generations now, the fact remains that it is not sacred music suited for use at Mass.  But even more objectionable, from the Catholic point of view, is the lyrical content.  

"Mary, Did You Know?" is based on some abysmally erroneous assumptions.  To begin with, it is supposed that Mary does not know that her holy Infant is the Son of God.  Some saints -- for instance, St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and Doctor of the Church -- are of the opinion that even before the Annunciation, Mary had a profound understanding of prophecies and Scriptures concerning the promised Messiah.  But even without such an understanding, it would have taken a high degree of inattention on Mary's part to the message of Gabriel and the inspired greeting of her cousin Elizabeth for her to labor under ignorance of her Son's divinity.  It is further supposed that Mary does not know that her Son will suffer for the redemption of mankind.  This would have required her to utterly gloss over the prophecies of holy Simeon concerning her Son as God's salvation, a sign of contradiction, and concerning the sword of sorrow that would pierce her own soul.  The idea of the Mother of God not being in possession of the most critical facts about her divine Son, particularly in view of explicit revelations received by her, is absurd on its face.

But there is an even more blatant error in the lyrics of "Mary, Did You Know?" that ought to induce in every Catholic a sharp intake of breath.  It is a defined dogma of the Catholic faith that the Mother of God was conceived without original sin.  On December 8, 1854, in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. 
Contrast this with the following lyrics from "Mary, Did You Know?":
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Whereas Catholics accept as revealed truth that Mary was free from sin from the instant of her conception by virtue of the anticipated merits of Jesus' suffering and death on the Cross, the foregoing is based on the assumption that Mary was under the sway of sin at the time she gave birth to the Christ Child, and that she would remain so until His Sacrifice of redemption.  In short, it is a flat denial of the Immaculate Conception.  As such -- and for this reason alone -- it should never be sung in a Catholic church, or find any place in any Catholic liturgy, and Catholics should not embrace it.

Perhaps a fitting way to honor today's feast of the Immaculate Conception -- in addition to fulfilling our obligation to attend Mass -- would be to defend the dogma which this feast celebrates by doing what we can to see that "Mary, Did You Know?" remains unheard in our parishes during this and every Christmas season.

Potuit, Decuit, Ergo Fecit: Why the Immaculate Conception Must Be True.

I will shew thee all good, and I will proclaim in the name of the Lord before thee: and I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please me.  
Exodus 33:19

Years ago, a commenter in this space delivered himself of what must have been, in his own estimation at least, the following effusion of brilliance: 
Mary had to have sinned. She called Jesus "my Savior" and what is Jesus the Savior for? Sinners. She had sinned. And there is no biblical evidence for her having no sin.

Those of you with a kick against the Immaculate Conception always want to set limitations on God.  You generally have no problem acknowledging in theory that God is infinitely good, infinitely holy, infinitely perfect, infinitely merciful and infinitely powerful; but in practice, what you really want is a sort of bite-sized God, One that we can wrap our woefully inadequate brains around and Who does not confound our puny capabilities.  So when God actually goes and does something that only an infinitely good, holy, perfect, merciful and powerful Being could do, you protest.  The fact, however, is that God can do whatever He wants; and whatever is fitting, we may be sure that He will do.

God can do the impossible more rapidly and easily than we can blink our eyes or draw a breath.  It was perfectly within His power to preserve Mary free from the taint of sin from the instant of her conception.  This singular privilege of His grace was purchased for her by the limitless merits of Christ's suffering and death on the Cross.  God, not bound by the constraints of time or space, was perfectly capable of applying these merits beforehand and granting this privilege in advance of the Crucifixion.  Thus God really was Mary's Savior, and did not need her to sin in order to be her Savior: His intervention to prevent her from receiving the taint of sin that she would otherwise have contracted as a descendant of Adam was also a salvific act.  Have you never been prevented from committing sins -- by being deprived of means or opportunity, or because you have never experienced the temptation to commit particular sins?  These are also interventions of God's grace.  So you should know from experience that God saves us, not only by forgiving sins we have actually committed, but also by preventing us from committing sins we would otherwise have committed, perhaps to our eternal ruin.   Why, then, should it be so hard to accept that God, out of the abyss of His goodness and mercy, could exercise His infinite power to prevent the Mother of His Son from being tainted by the least stain of iniquity from the very instant she began to exist?

It is altogether fitting that God should preserve Mary inviolate and immaculate from the first instant of her life.  God always gives us the grace we need to do the work He gives us: the greater the work, the greater the grace given to carry it out.  Was ever a more important mission given to a mere human being than that entrusted to Mary?  It was her task to supply the matter out of which the all-holy Son of God would take flesh, to bear Him in her womb, to nurse Him and to rear Him to manhood, and to share in her soul in the agonies of His Passion.  This touches on a point raised by my correspondent in a follow-up comment:

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for dying for our sins because He was without blemish. If Mary had no blemish either, that would pretty much validate her for crucifixion too. Which would make Jesus less important.
Here my correspondent, though off the rails in the implications for the importance of Jesus, hits on an important truth.  Mary did in fact suffer with her divine Son, more than any other human being could have.  The saints (e.g., St. Alphonsus Liguori) are of the opinion that her sufferings were greater than that of all other men who have ever lived or will ever live put together, and that only a miracle kept her from dying of grief.  This is why Catholics honor her under the titles of Mother of Sorrows and Queen of Martyrs: only her Son's sufferings exceeded hers.  When she presented her Son in the Temple, holy Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul, that out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed (Luke 2:35).  It makes sense that she should bear so great a share in her Son's Passion: not only was she his loving mother; she was also fully aware that He was God, and therefore of the horrible outrage that He should be murdered by His own creatures.  Moreover, would it have been possible for her to suffer entirely for his sake and not at all for her own if she herself had had a share in the sins that caused Him to be nailed to the Cross?  Still, this share of hers in Christ's suffering does not in any way diminish Him.  Jesus was the perfect Sacrifice not only because He was without blemish, but because He was God.  Mankind had outraged the infinite God, and therefore it would take infinite merits to repair the outrage; these could only be offered by the Son of God. 

If you do not accept the Immaculate Conception, then I am bound to ask you why you would want the Mother of God to have been a sinner.  Is this not tantamount to wanting an unworthy vessel for the Incarnate God?   Does it make sense for the woman entrusted with bearing and caring for and suffering alongside the Son of God to have spent even a single instant under the dominion of hell?  No: especially when you consider that the Woman of Genesis 3:15, between whom and the serpent God put enmity is none other than the Mother of God, and her Seed is none other than Jesus Christ:

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.
Here is scriptural proof of the Immaculate Conception.  If God creates perfect and implacable enmity between the Woman and the serpent -- and surely it is unthinkable that if God creates enmity between the Mother of God and evil, this enmity will be imperfect and half-hearted -- then it follows that she could never be under the serpent's sway, or in allegiance with him, as she must be if she had sinned.  Thus it was fitting for God to preserve her without sin from the very beginning.

Since it was perfectly possible for God to preserve Mary free from sin from the moment of her conception, and it was fitting that He should do so, it follows that He in fact did do so.  It would be a gross omission on God's part, and incompatible with His infinite perfection, if He should leave undone that which was fitting.  Therefore, we may safely take it that He did not leave it undone.  

Potuit, decuit, ergo fecit! He could; it was fitting; therefore, He did it!

H/T Canterbury Tales

Sunday, November 11, 2018

One Hundred November 11ths Ago

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

I’m Calling B-arbra S-treisand on These Pre-Election Stunts

Like all the monstrosities allegedly committed by Trump and his supporters against poor delicate liberals, this stuff about the alleged “MAGA Bomber” just doesn’t pass the smell test.  

Look.  These incidents that supposedly target liberals — from the non-existent “hate crimes” right after the 2016 election to these “pipe bombs” — always look more like liberals’ cartoonish ideas of what Trump voters think than what Trump voters actually think.  I don’t recognize myself in these parodies.  Decent, law-abiding citizens are just not out there doing this kind of stuff:  

- We don’t go in for demonstrations, because demonstrations cut into the time we could be spending living our lives.  

- We don’t go in for violence, because we think unjust aggression is wrong, and plus, we don’t want to bloody up the clothes we worked hard to earn the money to buy.  

- We don’t go in for public indecency, because we still believe in modesty, and still think some things should be kept private.  

- We don’t go in for mailing “pipe bombs” to liberal celebrities, because we’re not terrorists, and because being in jail gets in the way of getting up and going to work in the morning — and besides which, we who are busy with life never heard of half the people who got these things anyway.  We certainly don’t have time to make a professional-grade, rolling billboard out of our vehicles, like this “MAGA bomber” is supposed to have done.  

No, it takes LIBERALS to think of these things — just like it took liberals to come up with the idea of Trump, who is a cleanliness fanatic, paying prostitutes to urinate on a bed, or to come up with the idea that Justice Kavanaugh, who is the quintessential Boy Scout, arranged rape parties in college.  That kind of stuff is not how decent people get their kicks, and those aren’t even ideas they’d come up with.  I call B-arbra S-treisand on this whole thing.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Our “Worship” Proves We Still Don’t Get It

The modern world, which denies personal guilt and admits only social crimes, which has no place for personal repentance but only public reforms, has divorced Christ from His Cross; the Bridegroom and Bride have been pulled apart. What God hath joined together, men have torn asunder. As a result, to the left is the Cross; to the right is the Christ...The Western post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without His Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, feminized, colorless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount, but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity on the one hand, and divorce, judgment, and hell on the other. This sentimental Christ is patched together with a thousand commonplaces....Without His Cross, He becomes nothing more than a sultry precursor of democracy or a humanitarian who taught brotherhood without tears.
Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ

Amid the revelations of deep corruption in the Church at the very highest levels, we are still deluding ourselves that Romper Room worship is cutting it: muzak-like campfire ditties played on piano and bass guitar and bongos and cymbals and tinkly chimes; girl altar servers with loose hair and flip-flops; people encouraged and even ordered to socialize with each other instead of getting recollected for Mass; a priest improvising Mass parts; the canon gone through hastily and almost carelessly; and applause at the end for Murph and the Magictones, followed by raucous yakking inside the church.

Such is the Cruise Ship of Peter, the favorite fantasy of so many Catholics from the laity to the highest of the hierarchy.

Unlike the Barque of Peter, constantly under assault and in danger of sinking, yet manfully plowing forward through rough seas, the Cruise Ship of Peter is nice.  Its worship is uncontroversial.  It is bland.  It is insipid.  It is jejune.  It is decadent.  It is effeminate.  It kindles no fires, stirs no ardor, pricks no consciences.  Its lifeblood is mediocrity.  It docks at any old port, and will strike any old compromise to do so.  It insulates man from the uncomfortable mystery of the supernatural, and protects him from transports of zeal.  There is little enough to distinguish it from any other organization calling itself a church, or even from secular society: its very furnishings are precisely those of a posh country club.  That is why it always has smooth sailing, at least for as long as this serves the purposes of the prince of this world.  Even when sailing is not smooth, the ship is so grand and luxurious that nobody on board notices.  One leaves the liturgy on the cruise ship feeling as though one has just been to a really nice wine and cheese reception.  With its affluence and its amphitheater layout and its cushioned pews and its polished wood and its orchestra pit next to the sanctuary and its soothing, tranquilizing liturgy, the Cruise Ship of Peter is all ordered, down to the smallest detail, with a view to sealing up Catholics in a soft, warm cocoon of niceness and upper-class comfort, making them forget, or even filling them with friendly feelings toward, the pirates and cutthroats that smile back, knives in their teeth, from their little boats that nevertheless daily increase and close in.

All are welcome aboard the Cruise Ship of Peter -- they even have a song about it that they sing at the beginning of Mass! -- all, that is, except anyone who might rock the boat.  What might the Cruise Ship do, one is tempted to wonder, with a Francis of Assisi, or a Dominic de Guzman, or a Catherine of Siena, or an Alphonsus Liguori, or a Fulton Sheen?  Would they have to walk the plank?  How much has the Cruise Ship liturgy to do with immemorial tradition?  Does it inspire missionaries and fortify martyrs?  Does it remotely resemble the Masses of Aquinas, wrapped in awe; or the fugitive worship of the Recusants in Elizabethan England, where it was death to be a priest; or the celebrations of Father Willie Doyle on makeshift altars in the muddy trenches of the First World War; or of the Cristeros in their secret refuges from the Masonic Mexican regime; or of the first and only Mass celebrated by Bl. Karl Leisner, secretly ordained in Dachau on Gaudete Sunday, 1944, desperately ill yet on fire for souls?  Can one picture Father Augustine Tolton on board, his soul blazing like a beacon from the crumbling lighthouse of his overworked body, his trembling hands raised amid the mellow strains of "On Eagle's Wings"?

Is it worth it to try to trade the Barque of Peter in for this new luxury model?  Does the Cruise Ship of Peter connect Catholics to their illustrious past?  Does it prepare Catholics to meet their adversaries in battle in these increasingly stern times?  Is it counter-cultural?  Does it provide Catholics with a distinctive identity apart from the secular society?  Does it actively promote unity, rather than Balkanization, of Catholics of differing ethnic and linguistic backgrounds?  Does it make Catholics know that we are not of the world, though we are in it?  Does it come remotely close to appeasing the God Who is being outraged by the predators and sexual perverts walking around in the garb of priest and bishops?

Or does it merely fatten and soften up the sheep for the slaughter, and add another log onto the bonfire of the punishment we are preparing for ourselves?

You decide.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Let All the Poisons

This is a time when cesspits of corruption are being laid bare, both in the secular world and in the Church.  Now we are seeing exactly where that awful smell we have been coping with for so long has been coming from.  For decades, the hirelings among the Church’s appointed shepherds have held the ascendancy.  They have publicly palled around with leftist, pro-abortion celebrities and politicians.  They have preached heresies from the pulpit, or declined to take action against heretical priests under their purview.  They have stood silent in the face of secular encroachments onto the Church’s turf.  They have lived posh lifestyles.  (Question: why does a cardinal archbishop even have a beach house or a penthouse suite?)  They have fattened themselves on their flocks.  And now all of these scandals stand aside in awe at the monumental scandal that underlies them all, the scandal of sexual perversion and complicity in sexual perversion among not only priests but also bishops, and the revelation that the collaborators include even the Bishop of Rome himself.

For many, many years, the “progressive” wing of the Catholic Church has been slamming and making fun of Catholic teaching on sexual morality.  Why, then, should we be surprised to find members of this wing not behaving in accordance with the teachings that they publicly despise?  Now we are seeing that these teachings, so far from raining on our parade, are really our first line of defense against the predations of the powerful.  And since the powerful have for decades been assiduously knocking down and discrediting the last line of defense — canonical penalties — we see that now, humanly speaking, we have no defenses.  The wolves have free run of the sheepfold.

So is the solution to leave the Church?  I guess one could argue that that depends on whether we can expect to find greater purity, greater morality, and greater uprightness in the world outside the Church than we find inside the Church.  But it is the world outside the Church that has been telling us for so long that chastity is stupid, and that we should be free to decide for ourselves what is “normal” and what is “moral,” instead of trying to live up to objective standards.  At least within the Catholic Church there subsist the principles — unshakable even when ignored — that lust is a sin, using other human beings as objects is wrong, and lewd conduct is a damnable offense.  Will we find a safer refuge in the world, where those principles do not subsist?

Are we now ready, at long last, to accept the thorough discrediting of the colossally stupid idea that the Church needs to “modernize” and “get with the times”?  Modernity is thoroughly bankrupt.  “The times” that too many in the Church have been so anxious to get into line with over the last hundred-plus years have been filled with fratricidal wars, genocide, lawlessness, deceit, sexual deviancy, murder, and the powerful preying on the defenseless.  It is not the Church that needs to get with the times, but the times that need to get with the Church.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Other Swamp

If you are not Catholic, believe me when I tell you you are not more furious about the clergy and bishop sex abuse scandal than those of us who are in the Church.

If you are Catholic, believe me when I remind you that the world outside the Church is not the home of greater pristine purity and uprightness than the Church.

And Judas Iscariot is not a new phenomenon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Red Flag We Are Trained to Ignore

What are we to make of it when a priest, who has long been a darling of the “progressive” left on account of his public dissent from the teachings of the Catholic faith — and particularly the teachings of the Catholic faith on sex — is exposed as a sexual deviant?

For decades, we have been conditioned to buy into the false dichotomy between a man’s private life and his public persona.  A quarter of a century ago, we were told — all the way through to his impeachment — that Bill Clinton’s sexcapades had nothing whatsoever to do with his ability to run the country.  Similarly, Catholic liberals have for many years given us to understand that you can have heterodoxy alongside holiness — and that, in fact, heterodoxy may even be an outstanding sign of holiness, since it implies The Courage to Take On The Establishment, which is invariably The Enemy in the Struggle to Do the Right Thing.

And so we are lulled into not asking key questions and drawing key conclusions about the left’s favorite “progressive” sons in the hierarchy, such as: why does someone within the Church attack the Church’s teachings on sexual matters?  Because these teachings are out of step with our enlightened notions of “fairness” and “equality”?  Because they might give pain to some hypothetical third parties?  Because they aren’t nuanced enough?  But real life is a concrete thing, a wrecking ball too weighty for our towering yet spindly edifices of sophistry to withstand; and people’s motivations are usually quite uncomplicated, and really not so noble.  After all, who really has time or energy to take on causes without some sort of personal investment?  The most obvious and straightforward answer to the question of why is that the dissenter probably has a favorite sin he is trying to hold onto.  To which the heterodox reply will be that (a) the person drawing such a conclusion is “uncharitable” for arriving at a “rash judgment”; and (b) in any case it doesn’t matter whether the dissenter has a dog in the fight, since his motivations in no way detract from the correctness of his positions.

But in fact, the dissenter’s motivations are directly relevant to his objectivity, and therefore to his credibility.  This is why lawyers get to cross-examine witnesses on their motives for testifying.  Credibility matters a great deal in a court of law, and in public discourse.  Sometimes, credibility is the only asset an advocate has to trade on.  It is precisely in a bid to preserve the credibility of a dissenter that inquiries into his motives are suppressed; besides which, the very people who want to engage in such suppression would be the first to raise suspicions about the motivations of someone who supports Catholic doctrine.

There has to be something compelling, not merely theoretical, that drives Catholics — lay and clerical — to wage war on the doctrines of Christ’s Church.  One very distinct possibility is that they are no longer serving Christ (if indeed they ever did serve Him) but the idol that is their pet vice.  Such is their devotion to it that the titanic efforts needed to conform society to their tastes in order to salve their consciences are as nothing compared to the agony of even willing to conform their own selves to Truth.

The hard, cold reality of life is that we cannot throw out the Ten Commandments without also forfeiting the protection they afford.  After all, if we decide that there’s nothing wrong with people thinking the moral law is stupid, then we shouldn’t be surprised when those same people decline to follow it, and when they prey on others in order to feed the appetites that that law does not restrain.  If a person publicly proclaims the stupidity of the moral law, isn’t it foolish to assume that he must be privately following what he publicly derides?  Then why should we be surprised to find a priest who both publicly dissents from the teachings he has been charged to pass on and lives contrary to those same teachings?  A priest who publicly repudiates Catholic doctrines is already unfaithful in virtue of that very fact since, by consenting to receive Holy Orders, he has consented to bearing the burden of preaching those very doctrines.  And once he is unfaithful in one thing, it is easier for him to be unfaithful in other things, which paves the way for unfaithfulness in more and more things.  Sin leads to more sin.

The lesson here would seem to be twofold.  First, heterodoxy is not the mark of a free and tolerant society, but a huge red flag that we have all been trained to ignore.  Second, in case the authority of the Catholic Church to speak on behalf of Christ is in any doubt, the fruit of dissent from orthodoxy in the life of the dissenter bears strongly on the correctness of his dissenting views.  You can’t have holiness without orthodoxy.  If God is Truth, then the pursuit of something other than Truth must be the pursuit of something other than God.  But it is our business as Catholics to pursue God, and the business of our shepherds to lead us rightly in that pursuit.  If a shepherd is pursuing something other than God, then where must he be leading his sheep?  What must he be doing to his sheep while he leads them astray?  And what is to become of bishops who do not pay attention to what their priests are pursuing?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

When the Sun of Culture is Low on the Horizon, Even Dwarves Cast Long Shadows

I recall hearing a priest say that once on Mother Angelica’s show.  The audience was at first stunned into silence, and then broke into applause.  It captures our age perfectly.

Scripture has another way of putting it.  Proverbs 27:7:
A soul that is full shall tread upon the honeycomb: and a soul that is hungry shall take even bitter for sweet.
When things are bad enough, and we are famished enough, our expectations plummet.  We start sniffing and scrounging and scratching and foraging for comfort.  Then, when we find even the tiniest crumb, we act as though we have stumbled upon the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  The “pot of gold” is invariably something so meager and nasty that in better times we would have despised it as trash.  But we have arrived at times so wretched that even trash looks like treasure.

Take the state of things in our beloved Catholic Church.  Into what ecstasies are we launched on those rare occasions when a priest correctly states a Catholic teaching from the pulpit.  Father actually said that marriage is between one man and one woman, and for life!  Dare we to hope — we ask ourselves — that the tide is finally turning?  But in better times, even the worst priests preached what the Church teaches.  What’s that?  Pope Francis celebrated Mass facing east?  It must be the dawn of a new era of reverence and Catholicity in the liturgy!  But in better times, even the worst priests faced east as a matter of routine and did not dare to ad lib the Mass — at least those parts of the Mass that the people could see and hear.  Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo de Borgia, led a life that can be described  only as scandalous; yet it is nowhere recorded that he tried to reinvent the divine truths he flouted, or to remake the Mass or the Sacraments to suit his tastes.  What an age we live in, when even the corrupt churchmen of the Renaissance look like saints!

But we in the pews cannot claim to be any better.  The negligent, slothful and even subversive priests and bishops that plague us today come from within our own ranks.  If we are off the rails, our shepherds will be off the rails.  Bad clergy openly flaunt the evil habits that they once kept under wraps, because we in the pews can no longer rise to the level of being shocked.  They get away with it, because we, being mired in our own evil habits, are too effete to do anything about it.

Let’s face it: we are not in the springtime of renewal in the Catholic Church.  We do ourselves and the Church a great disservice by denying this.  The fact is that those who are not in the Church can see the true state of affairs for themselves, and we make ourselves and our Mother ridiculous by trying to deny it.  But when that renewal does come, we will not need to ask ourselves whether it has in fact arrived.  About the real renewal and revival, there will be no room for doubt.