Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Passing Scene: 2019

2019 has been a most eventful year, not least for me.  This year I became a homeowner.  Then, on the very afternoon of the day I closed on the house, my car was totaled in a collision and I had to then buy another car.  2019 has also been a very eventful year for the country, and for the Church.

1: Catholic Austria legalizes same-sex "marriage."
3: A Chinese probe becomes the first man-made object to land on the far side of the Moon.
23: New York legalizes abortion up to birth.  The legislature gives itself an ovation and "Catholic" governor Andrew Cuomo orders the pink lighting up of New York landmarks in celebration.
27: Islamic terrorists bomb the Roman Catholic cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, the Philippines, killing 20 and injuring 120.
29: Pakistan's supreme court upholds Asia Bibi's acquittal for blasphemy.

Deaths: Bob Einstein (Super Dave Osborne); "Mean" Gene Okerlund; Carol Channing; Kaye Ballard.


1: President Trump pulls the U.S. out of the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing Russian non-compliance.
3: Pope Francis visits Abu Dhabi where, in a shocking break with Catholic doctrine, he declares that God wills the diversity of religions.
12: Discovery of the wreck of the U.S.S. Hornet at the site of the Battle of the South Pacific.  Also: North and South Korea announce a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics. 
13: End of mission for Mars rover Opportunity, which ceased communications in June of 2018.
14: William Barr is confirmed as Attorney General.
15: President Trump declares a national emergency at the southern border.  Democrats gear up to challenge his declaration in court.
21: Jussie Smollett is arrested for filing a false police report in connection with his staged "mugging" at the hands of Trump supporters.
26: Cardinal Pell of Australia is convicted of child sex abuse charges, for which he will receive a six-year sentence.
27: Beginning of the Hanoi Summit between the United States and North Korea.

Deaths: Clive Swift (Hyacinth Bucket's husband in Keeping Up Appearances); John Dingell; Albert Finney; Betty Ballantine; Lyndon LaRouche; David Horowitz (Los Angeles consumer reporter); Beverly Owen (first actress to play Marilyn on The Munsters); Peter Tork (the Monkees); Katherine Helmond; Doug Sandom (The Who); Nathaniel Taylor; Andre Previn.

3: Tornados strike Lee County, Alabama, killing 23.
6: Alek Trebek announces his terminal stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
21: President Trump announces his intent to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
22: Robert Mueller delivers his bomb of a report on the alleged misdeeds of President Trump.
26: All charges against Jussie Smollett are dismissed.
29: The Cayman Islands legalizes same-sex "marriage."

Deaths: Christopher Alan Pallies ("King Kong Bundy"); Luke Perry; Godfried Cardinal Daneels.


8: Felicity Huffman and 13 co-defendants plead guilty to charges related to bribing top-drawer colleges into admitting their children regardless of merit.
11: Korea's 1953 abortion ban is overturned in court.
15: The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris is severely damaged in a fire.  The high altar survives, while the Novus Ordo picnic table altar is crushed beneath the remains of the collapsed roof.
25: Several people die in a wave of tornadoes across Texas and Louisiana.
30: Emperor Akihito of Japan abdicates in favor of his son, Naruhito, making him the first Emperor of Japan to abdicate in over 200 years.

Deaths: Fritz Hollings; Georgia Engel; Peter Mayhew.


6: Birth of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, seventh in line to the British thronefirst child of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
12: Islamic terrorists burn down a Catholich church during Mass in Dablo, Burkina Fasso, killing six, including the priest.
15: Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama signs into law legislation that criminalizes abortion except when "necessary" to avert a serious health risk to the mother.
21: In yet another blow to human dignity, Washington state legalizes human composting.
23: John Walker Lindh, who has not renounced Islamic extremism, is paroled 17 years into his 20-year prison sentence.
26: Terrorists shoot up a Catholic Church in Toulfe, Burkina Faso, killing four.
30: Governor Jon Bel Edwards of Louisiana signs a bill banning abortions as early as six weeks.
31: Murder spree, Virginia Beach, Virginia: a disgruntled city employee murders 12 and wounds four before being shot dead by police.

Deaths: Grumpy Cat; Barbara Perry; Peggy Lipton; Doris Day; Tim Conway; I.M. Pei; Herman Wouk; Claus von Buelow; Carmine Caridi; Leon Redbone.


7: Police arrest an Islamic terrorist who had planned to attack Times Square in New York City.
15: The first Mass is celebrated at Notre Dame Cathedral since the fire on April 15th.
18: President Trump announces he will run for re-election in 2020.

Deaths: Alistair Browning; Robert Sorrells; Gloria Vanderbilt; Judith Krantz; Bryan Marshall; Max Wright; Billy Drago.


2: Nike cancels its line of Betsy Ross flag shoes after Colin Kaepernick attacks them as "racist"; in response, Rush Limbaugh launches a "Stand Up for Betsy Ross" merchandise campaign that raises more than $5 million for Tunnels to Towers, a charity that pays off mortgages for the families of fallen soldiers and first responders.
9: Protests, still ongoing, in Hong Kong against the move to establish measures to extradite fugitives to mainland China.
23: Boris Johnson is elected lead of the United Kingdom's Conservative Party.  The Queen will ask him to form a government as Prime Minister the following day.
25: The feds resume usage of the death penalty.
28: Murder spree, Gilroy, California: shooter kills three and wounds 12 at the Gilroy Garlic Festival before being shot dead by police.
29: Announcement of Capital One data breach, in which the data of 106 million people in the United States and Canada were compromised.
31: Dozens are wounded in an explosion at the ExxonMobile oil refinery in Baytown, Texas.

Deaths: Pat Crawford Brown; Lee Iacocca; Arte Johnson; Ross Perot; Rip Torn; David Hedison; Rutger Hauer; Jeremy Kemp.


4: Murder spree, Dayton, Ohio: a shooter murders nine and injures 27 a bar before being killed by police.
5: Harland and Wolff, the shipbuilding company that constructed the Titanic, effectively goes out of business after 158 years.
10: Sex trafficker and billionaire Clinton pal Jeffrey Epstein is found dead in his jail cell in an apparent "suicide."
14: A shooter on a spree in Philadelphia hits six police officers, though not fatally.
15: The state of Israel puts the kibosh on anti-Semitic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib's planned visit on account of their support for the Palestinians' boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign.

Deaths: Ian Gibbons (The Kinks); Toni Morrison; Freda Dowie (Caesonia in I, Claudius); Barbara March; Kip Addotta; Peter Fonda.


5: Going in for self-parody, the city of San Francisco, which cannot stop people from taking a crap all over the pavement, declares the National Rifle Association a "domestic terrorist" organization.
17: Bogus "impeachment hearings" against President Trump begin.
20: Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom is accused of patronizing Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking enterprise.

Deaths: Robert Mugabe; T. Boone Pickens; Eddie Money; Ric Ocasek; Cokie Roberts; Aron Eisenberg (Nog on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine); Lee Paul; Jessye Norman.


6: Beginning of the Amazon Synod, which will feature pagan worship and idols in the Vatican and on the altar of St. Peter's.
13: Canonization of John Henry Newman.
19: The government of Chile declares a state of emergency over rioting in Santiago triggered by increases in subway fares.
21: Alexander Tschugguel, an Austrian Catholic, removed five pachamama idols from the Catholic church of Santa Maria in Traspontina and threw them into the Tiber, electrifying faithful Catholics around the world.

Deaths: Diahann Carroll; Rip Taylor; John Clarke; Elijah Cummings; John Conyers.


4: NASA announces it has received its first message from interstellar space, from Voyager 2.
11: Mercury transits the Sun.  The next such transit will take place in 2032.  
14: Murder spree, Santa Clarita, California: a 16-year-old shooter at Saugus High School kills two and wounds five before turning the gun on himself.
20: Prince Andrew withdraws from public life on account of his involvement with Jeffrey Epstein.
29: An Islamic terrorist stabs two and injures three others on London Bridge, before being shot dead by police.

Deaths: Michael J. Pollard; Clive James; John Simon (film and theater critic); Joan Staley.


1: Terrorist assault on Christian church in Foutouri, Burkina Faso, leaves 14 dead wounds dozens more.
10: Democrats unveil their laughable articles of impeachment against President Trump, whom they seek to remove from office due to their disagreement with his politics and policies.

Deaths: Don Imus; Danny Aiello; Philip McKeon; Rene Auberjonois; Leonard Goldberg; D.C. Fontana; Shelley Morrison; Gertrude Himmelfarb.

May the turn of the decade bring peace, grace and blessings, none of which we deserve, all of which we long for whether we acknowledge it or not.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Your Heart Deserves Better

I first wrote these words eight years ago.  I made a few little changes; but overall, I think they are still true.

He who is sated loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.  
Proverbs 27:7
Now that the feminists have made the world safe for neanderthals by clearing away all the rules and taboos and social norms and fathers and truly masculine men that once kept boorish behavior in check, and put the kibosh on the sexual exploitation of women, all sorts of things are acceptable that should not be.  And now that the unacceptable is not only acceptable but respectable, many women seem unable any longer to distinguish between a good catch and a loser.  It is at once amazing, frustrating and heartbreaking to see what members of my sex are prepared to put up with in the name of Not Being Alone.  In our oversexed world, full of promiscuity, fatherless families and irreligion, we have been trained to view ourselves as nothing.

This is a depressing tide that I cannot stem alone.  But I still want to do my poor bit to shed some light into this overwhelming darkness, drawing upon my age and experience.  So, for all the ladies out there who are in a bad situation or teetering on the brink of one:

Your Boyfriend Is Probably a Loser If:

...He Is Violent and/or Emotionally Abusive.  Yes, this should be obvious, but sadly, for many, it is not.  Where there is true love, there is peace and trust.  Real love wants nothing but the best for the beloved; in fact, the ultimate goal of real love is the salvation of the other person as well as oneself.  No one who truly loves you is going to use physical force on you.  Period.  No one who truly loves you is going to terrorize you, or keep you in a constant state of frenzy, or belittle you or manipulate you.  Such behavior is repugnant to true love.  True love would rather die than treat the beloved that way.  If that is the treatment you are getting, run, and don't look back

...He Is Chronically Unemployed.  Bad times hit us all.  I have been out of work and I have been underemployed in my life, and I know exactly how harrowing it is to have bills mounting and little or no money coming in.  But if your boyfriend is out of work, what's he doing about it?  Is he out pounding the pavement?  Is he at the unemployment office combing the classifieds, sending out resumes, making phone calls, visiting potential jobsites, signing up with temp agencies?  Is he taking anything and everything that comes along, no matter how grueling or humiliating, until he finds a good job?  Sending out an application a day is not looking for work.  Devoting ten minutes a day to job hunting and spending the remaining 23 hours and 50 minutes to sleeping, playing video games and bumming smokes is not looking for work.  Waiting to be named ambassador to the Court of St. James is not looking for work.  Is your boyfriend capable of holding a job for more than two weeks at a stretch, or has he had six jobs in the last six weeks?  Does he show up on time to work, and do his job diligently?  Or does he party all night and then sleep until 3:00 p.m.?  Is his mother paying his bills?  Are you?  If a guy is not serious about work, how can he be serious about a relationship?  His excuses for being out of work, by the way, should hold no water in times, like right now, when this country has millions more jobs than there are people to fill them.

...He Is Mutilating Himself Extensively.  Satanic and occult symbols, prison gang logos and swastikas permanently emblazoned on a guy’s skin are definitely things that should make you turn and run.  And, I know I am bound to catch hell for this in an age when everybody and anybody seems to be getting tattoos and piercings, but: you seriously need to think about how wise it is to get involved with a guy who has tons of tats and all kinds of piercings, especially on his face and neck.  It is a sign of a less-than-respectable lifestyle.  Sorry, but after many years as a career public defender, this is my experience.  Yes, there are many professionals who have ink, but almost never right on their faces, or on their necks.  Face tats and face piercings are common among people who are involved in drugs and other illegal activities, and who have been in prison.  But even if this were not the case, you have still to consider that a man’s willingness to cover himself in tattoos and piercings, especially from the shoulders up, tells you something about his priorities.  For one thing, tats and piercings are not cheap, and they add up the more you accumulate.  For another, ink and studs on your face cut you off from many respectable avenues of employment.  How easy will a man find it to support a family when he has the words “DIE” “PIGS” tattooed where his eyebrows ought to be?  Finally, what is it that makes a person not want to leave his body, and especially his face, the way God made it?  Think hard about this.

...You Are Taking Care of His Financial Obligations to the Criminal Justice System.  First off, if your boyfriend has constant entanglements with the criminal justice system, don’t walk, but run for the nearest exit.  He’s not in all that trouble because the cops are out to get him: the common denominator in all his woes is him.  Secondly, if you are constantly bonding his ass out of jail, or paying his fines, or paying for his court-ordered domestic violence treatment that he has to do because he beat you up, that should tell you everything you need to know about what he thinks is your mission in life.

...You Are Constantly Accompanying Him to Court.  This might be your turkey’s idea of a date, but it should not be that of any woman in her senses.  Add another three strikes if the reason you’re accompanying him is because his driver’s license is suspended and you are his ride.

...He Does Drugs or Abuses Alcohol.  A guy who does drugs is not taking care of business.  He is, however, wasting a lot of time and money on his habit.  Habitual drug use and habitual alcohol abuse do impair your mental faculties over time, and they do stunt your emotional growth — and yes, this includes marijuana.  An active addict cannot cope with life’s vicissitudes, great or small — except by using or drinking.  Also, if the guy does illegal drugs in your home, or uses your car for his illegal drug activity, you could end up having your property forfeited out from under you.  Plus, people do steal in order to nourish their habit.  Don’t imagine he’s above stealing from you.  A guy who abuses alcohol will be a source of endless domestic misery even if he can hold down a steady job.  Marrying an addict will not cure the addiction.     

...He Asks You for Sex and You’re Not Married.  Startling — in this day and age — but true.  Sex is not merely recreational.  It is the deepest expression of love and commitment possible between two human beings.  It is a total self-giving.  It leads to the creation of life.  It calls for reverence.  That is why it is only for marriage.  Anything outside of marriage is a mockery.  A man who wants to bed a woman down without any sort of commitment is only using her.   Every good father understands this: that is why good fathers are the natural enemies of boys who want to bed down their daughters.  It is a shame that so many girls grow up in fatherless families, and therefore never learn this.  But if you have a good father, or know one, think about this: run from any man who wants to do anything with you that he couldn’t do in front of a loving father.

...He Wants You to Shack Up.  Remember this, ladies: shack-up relationships are made to be walked away from.  What else could possibly be the point of playing house without a marriage license?  Moving in with him will not make him marry you.  Repeat: moving in with him will not make him marry you.  All you are doing is providing this jerk with a housekeeper, an economic advantage (is he even working?) and commitment-free sex into the bargain.  And by the way, you will not hang on to the bum by getting pregnant by him, either.  Do you read me on that?  The existence of kids does not change the fact that shack-up relationships are made to be walked away from.  If he really loved you and any future kids, why would he be afraid to enter into a legally binding commitment with you?

Ladies: it is perfectly okay to be alone.  In fact, that may well be your vocation.  It is far, far better to be alone than to live in the captivity of an emotional slave-driver.  If your man is a bum, the love of a good woman is not all that he needs to become a good man.  If he is a bum, he is incapable of appreciating you or your love, except to the extent you serve his purposes for the moment: you cannot fix him.  If he is a criminal, it is beyond your poor power to reform him.  You will not succeed where the criminal justice system, with all its money and coercive police power and shrinks and probation officers and prisons, have failed.  The cube of sugar he tosses you now and then is not worth the gallons of bile you get the rest of the time. 

A man is not a unique fixer-upper opportunity.  Look: you can’t cure a decent man of annoying little habits like leaving the seat up, or throwing his socks on the floor, or filling the bathroom sink with his whiskers.  If you can’t do that, you certainly will not make a Sir Galahad out of an Al Capone.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Francis’ Bad Emanations Do Not Mean He Is an Antipope

In these confusing times, we have to educate ourselves on our Faith.  In these times, we have particularly to educate ourselves on the scope of the Pope’s powers and prerogatives, and the limits of his authority.  It is providential that Ryan Grant, an Idaho (!) Latinist, has been busying himself with the long-overdue task of translating the works of St. Robert Bellarmine into English.  On the Roman Pontiff is a must-read for all faithful Catholics who find themselves suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous pontiffs.  We are bound to suffer even more, and needlessly, if we are laboring under misconceptions about the limits on papal authority, when the Pope can legitimately bind Catholics, and when the Pope is and is not protected by the charism of infallibility.

Taylor Marshall interviews Christopher Ferrara about the meaning of the message of Fatima for our time.  The entire interview is fascinating.  If you struggle to reconcile the errors of Pope Francis with his authenticity as Pope, then pay attention, starting at 37:28.  Here Ferrara explains why the errors of Pope Francis do not trouble him about the Church’s indefectibility, even though the current Pope’s audacity exceeds anything we have ever seen before in the history of the Church.  He explains in particular how to cope with bad teaching from the Pope, and how to distinguish teachings that are truly magisterial from those that aren’t, even if they are labeled as such.

 The key point is that God is not mocked.  He is not fooled by false labels; nor does He require us to accept false labels, even when they are applied by the Pope and his minions.  On the contrary, we are bound to reject that which is false.  Therefore, God does not put us in a Catch-22 even when He allows us to be governed by a bad Pope who purports to change doctrine.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Bring Back the Communion Rail

Thou shalt not take nor remove thy neighbor's landmark, which thy predecessors have set in thy possession, which the Lord thy God will give thee in the land that thou shalt receive to possess.
Deuteronomy 19:14
Pass not beyond the ancient bounds which thy fathers have set. 
Proverbs 22:28
Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor’s landmarks: and all the people shall say: Amen.  
Deuteronomy 27:17

One of the worst moves pastors and bishops made in the wake of Vatican II was to tear the Communion rails out of existing churches, and to build new churches without them.  Egalitarianism, don’t you know, dictated that there be no boundaries between the sanctuary and the rabble in the pews.  We ought not even to have to climb steps to the altar!  God should be on our level.  Everything must be flattened and horizontalized.  After all, there ought to be no barriers between us and our pal, the Man Upstairs.

But there are barriers between us and God, starting with the fact that He is the Infinite God and we are dust and ashes.  There is an infinite abyss between us and God, and only God can bridge it -- which He in fact does.  But we still have to acknowledge that we are nothing compared to Him.  Another barrier between us and God is sin.  Christ died to destroy that barrier, and Baptism removes from us the stain of original sin; but we still suffer from the effects of original sin, and we still commit personal sins.  It takes a colossal pride for us to decide to act as if we are not in fact beggars at God's doorstep, and to dictate the terms upon which we are to approach God.  

Yet that's exactly what we did after the Second Vatican Council.  We decided we were too grown-up to abase ourselves anymore before God.  Can you credit that?  After a century and a half of atheistic revolutions, two world wars, atomic bombs, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the Cultural Revolution, millions of people across the world still being murdered by their own governments,  and millions of Catholics suffering under communist persecution, the need for humility and penance totally escaped us.  There we were, thinking we were Too Good to Be Lower than the Sanctuary and Kneel before God to receive Him in Holy Communion!  And Nothing is going to Keep Us Out of the Sanctuary if We Want to Go There!

But the irony is that, since most of the lay faithful do not in fact want to tramp gratuitously through the sanctuary, removing the Communion rail actually had the effect of distancing us from it.  The Communion rail is not a "barrier," but a boundary marker that shows us the point at which heaven meets earth.  The sanctuary represents heaven.  The Communion rail shows us where God comes to meet us.  How do we know where to go to meet the invisible, hidden God without a boundary marker?  The laity used to be accustomed to kneeling at the Communion rail to pray outside of Mass, so as to be as close as possible to Jesus in the tabernacle.  Now that the rails are gone, not only can we no longer kneel for Communion (with the hope of being able to get up off the floor again), we can no longer pray close to the tabernacle while keeping our proper place in the church.  Removing the Communion rail needlessly violates the sensibilities of faithful Catholics, and is thus an offense against charity.

Attacking people's faith is also an offense against charity.  It is practically impossible to view the changes to the reception of Holy Communion, including removing the rail, as anything but an attack on people's faith, especially in view of the boldness of many members of the hierarchy in our time who now openly display their lack of faith.  If the prelates responsible for these changes truly believed in the Real Presence, why would they want people to disrespect our Lord by approaching Holy Communion in a less reverent manner?  And let us not deconstruct the difference between kneeling and standing by pointing to the practice of Eastern Catholics.  We in the Latin Rite are not Eastern, and we do not receive Holy Communion in the same manner.  In the Latin Rite, kneeling is clearly more reverential than standing; and when you purport to abolish a more reverent posture in favor of a less reverent one, you are sending a message.  The message has clearly been received: now a majority of Catholics disbelieve in the Real Presence.  Incidentally, you also encourage non-Catholics to get into the Communion line, thus exposing the Sacrament to a heightened risk of profanation by people who simply do not know what to do with It.

Holy Scripture clearly anathematizes the removal of boundary markers.  We have now spent the last half-century learning the reasons.  Take away boundary markers, and you have to learn the hard way why they were there in the first place.  You also get to find out how hard, and how costly, it is to put them back.  It is high time we faced up to the difficulties of doing the right thing and accept them as a penance.

And all the people shall say: Amen.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Repost: 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

Once in a while, a comment comes along that deserves a post-length response.  Here, from a self-professed ex-Catholic turned non-denominational, is one that just came in on my post about the appalling song "Mary, Did You Know?":
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

Repost: 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.

Friday, November 29, 2019


Knowing that I would be finishing my Thanksgiving work week with a grueling hearing in a dreadful and difficult case, I decided to take today off and make it a four-day weekend.  That gives me time to sit in my big chair and reflect on the many things I have to be thankful for.

- I am thankful to have a home. I have a beautiful little house, currently pervaded on this freezing day by the smell of hazelnut coffee, where I can be warm and comfortable, and take refuge from the harshness of the world.  I am thankful for the patronage of St. Joseph, by whose breakneck-speed intercession I acquired this house, that has everything I wanted in a house, plus some extra things that fulfill desires I didn’t know I had.

- I am thankful for my car, which I acquired after my old car was totaled.  I am even thankful for the collision by which I lost the old car on the very day I closed on the house, just as I was musing on how I was going to be able to keep nursing that old car.  The collision was a surgical strike by God, in which He took out of my life something I needed rid of but would not have gotten rid of on my own, and replaced it with something much better.

- I am thankful for my job.  It is very high-stress and often nerve-wracking, but it is also very rewarding in many ways.  I get to concentrate on practicing law without worrying about the business side of running a practice.  I work with good people in an atmosphere of collegiality and comradeship (yes, I am reclaiming that word from the communists).  We work hard and take a lot of hard knocks, but we also have a lot of laughs.  

- I am thankful for my friends.  True friends are rare, but I have been fortunate to find some.  These are people who have been there for me and not disappeared during hard times, or times when I myself have been at my least lovable or attractive.

- I am thankful to have been born and to live in the United States of America.  It has been rightly said that merely to be born in America is to win at life’s lottery. We have many serious problems in this country, including the degradation of our popular culture, the plague of abortion, the slithering infiltration of socialism, and our national besetting sin of avarice.  Yet in America I am free to lead an orderly life, go about my business, worship my God and strive for excellence.  In a world where millions live in slavery and destitution, I have access in America to everything I need, from eyeglasses to air conditioning, and a lot of things that I don’t strictly require to survive but that do add to my happiness.

- I am thankful to be a citizen of the Catholic Church.  My parents were not devout Catholics — my father was not even a Catholic until I was 7 or 8 — but they made sure I was baptized and received the other Sacraments.  It was my father particularly who insisted that I receive a Catholic education, even though he was not Catholic and never cared much for the Catholic Church even after he entered it. I had a very difficult relationship with my father, but this was a gift from him that I cannot forget.  The Catholic Church herself is wracked with crisis, perhaps the worst in her history, and her hierarchy is infested with perverts and charlatans.  But there is no other refuge, and no other salvation.  It makes no sense to jump off the ship, just because we are in the middle of a typhoon and the guys on the bridge are busy having a drunken orgy.

- I am thankful to be alive, and to have so far been blessed with good health.  I have known people who died, despite wanting very much to live, because they were too ill to go on living; and I have known healthy people who threw away their lives because they thought death was a release from suffering.  But we were made for life, not for death, and even our greatest and seemingly most needless sufferings in this life have value when united to the Cross.

- Finally, I am thankful for the disappointments I have had in my life.  How many celebrities have been ruined by getting absolutely everything they wanted?  How often have I been spared this, because I have been denied things I wanted that would have been bad for me?  How many things I have been denied, even things that are good in themselves, that would nevertheless in my hands have become occasions for sin!  As I get older, I realize that sometimes the best and most loving answer God could give to my prayers is NO.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Painted into a Corner

If you take the position that Pope Francis is an antipope, and that Benedict XVI is still the true Pope: 

(1) What are you going to do if Benedict dies before Francis, thus, in your estimation, vacating the See of Peter?  What if Francis lives on for years afterward, filling the College of Cardinals with his own nominees? When Francis then dies, and a conclave convenes, how will you accept the result, seeing that it was arrived at by “cardinals” appointed by a false Pope?  Will not the line of Popes have been brought to an end?

(2)  What are you going to do if Francis dies before Benedict, and the conclave elects a truly holy, reforming and Catholic man to be the successor of Peter?  Are you not then in the perverse position of opposing that true Catholic as an antipope, and holding as invalid all his purportedly papal reforms, seeing that, in your estimation, he was elected by a conclave invalidly convened while the See of Peter was still occupied?

Haven’t you painted yourself into the corner of sedevacantism?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Not One Thin Dime

Earlier this month, our bishops and their entourages got together for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall meeting at the posh Inner Harbor Marriott in Baltimore where, amid four-star accommodations bristling with armed security, they promoted left-wing politics, ignored the real crises in the Church, produced glossy brochures and documents no one will ever read, lived it up, and generally wasted millions of dollars of our hard-earned donations.  Now we are about to be hit up once again for donations to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops publishes annual lists of organizations that receive grants from the CCHD.  It reads like a who’s who of lefty, if not communist-front organizations (phrases such as “workers” and “worker’s struggle” are telling, as are pictures of people with upraised fists).  Some of their websites are pretty bare-bones, so that it is hard to see how these organizations could properly be vetted just by checking out their pages; yet the sheer number of grantees is so large that, (assuming the USCCB really cared about aiding only those outfits that are faithful to Catholic teaching) it is hard to believe anyone there could be devoting the time it would take thoroughly to research every one.  The grantees’ webmasters generally appear to be more careful than they used to be about openly declaring their support for blatantly anti-Catholic agendas like abortion and contraception (although many Catholics don’t know or choose to forget that socialism is also condemned by the Catholic Church).  None of the organizations that receive Catholic dollars appear to be devoted to the work of making disciples of all the nations, and baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost.

And so I will not be giving the CCHD one thin dime.  I will not support an organization that supports left-wing agitators committed to the destabilization of American society and the overturning of the institutions and traditions that are the building blocks of that society.  No faithful Catholic should.

But we should make sure our bishops know that we are withholding money from their pet political projects, and why.  

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Who Do YOU Say that Jesus Is? Francis Is the True Pope.

Ann Barnhardt is a very smart woman with a talent for speaking extemporaneously and producing lucid and very nearly grammatical- and spelling-error-free English prose.  She has courageously (whether rightly or wrongly) taken a stand and radically altered her life to be true to her deeply-held beliefs. She pulls no punches and very forthrightly speaks the truth as she understands it, without fear or favor.  I believe she honestly tries hard to be a good disciple of Jesus Christ, zealous for the salvation of souls, and a good daughter of His Holy Catholic Church.
But trying hard, and speaking forcefully, are not the same thing as attaining perfection or possessing authority, or even just being right.  Barnhardt goes too far by trying to lay upon her fellow Catholics, on pain of committing blasphemy, the burden of accepting as irrefutable fact her opinion that Pope Francis is really an antipope, and that Benedict XVI, having failed validly to abdicate, is still the lawful and rightful occupant of the Throne of Peter.
That Jorge Bergoglio, reigning under the name of Francis, is not the true Pope, is Barnhardt’s opinion and nothing more.  Yet she argues that to not hew to her opinion on this subject is to blaspheme Jesus Christ as a liar, a charlatan and a promise-breaker Who failed to fulfill His guarantees concerning the Sovereign Pontiff.  She also argues, circularly -- and also more consistently with Protestant ideas of private judgment than Catholic ones of authority -- that God in His goodness makes it patently obvious that Francis is not the true Pope, such that we can see it for ourselves without having to be told.  She even thinks that priests who speak the name of Francis in the commemoration of the Mass are deserving of temporal punishments that she asks God to visit upon her instead. Thus, the rest of us are not to differ from her views on how much weight to give each piece of evidence that she adduces in favor of her proposition, or what picture these pieces actually make when put together.  In other words, no other views of the evidence that she considers dispositive are admissible, and — even if she doesn’t put it in exactly these terms — it is a sin to disagree with her opinion on this issue.
The stumbling block for Barnhardt is that the current pontificate is nothing short of scandalous.  She is right about that. If there is one thing the Amazon Synod has made clear, it is that, in our time, filth and corruption go all the way up to the top, and they are increasingly brazen.  Desecrations of the holiest places in Catholic Christendom have probably been going on for a long time, after they have been closed to the public and under cover of darkness.  The new development is that, with the Synod, desecrations were carried out openly and blatantly, before the cameras, and with the public approval of the Pope himself. And the involvement of the Pope, the touchstone of Catholic unity, is the most painful aspect of this mess.  
The Church is no stranger to treason: our Lord Himself hand-picked Judas Iscariot, a tare that He permitted to grow up in the midst of the wheat, knowing he would sell Him for 30 pieces of silver.  Nor is the Church a stranger to less-than-stellar popes. The first Pope started out his career by denying Jesus three times. Over the centuries, we have had bungling popes; negligent popes; worldly popes; weak and vacillating popes; fornicating popes.  But not even about Pope Alexander VI Borgia, with all his mistresses and illegitimate children, is it alleged that he ever sowed confusion and chaos about Catholic doctrine, or supported and elevated proponents of heresies, because of their heresies, or publicly participated in idolatrous rites.  He may have shamelessly shattered the Commandments; but he never tried to suggest, even indirectly, that they weren’t in fact Commandments. Pope Francis, by contrast, has done all of these things.
And so Barnhardt, and other like-minded Catholics, seek refuge in the idea that a man capable of all this can only be an antipope.  The survival of Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, allow them nimbly to sidestep the fever swamps of sedevacantism by maintaining that Benedict is still the reigning Pope, due to his having abdicated under coercion, and/or under the mistaken belief that he could abdicate part of the Petrine ministry while retaining part of it.  The proponents of this view hold that the conclave of 2013 was null and void, since it is not lawful to hold a conclave while the See of Peter is occupied. Alternatively, it is argued that the conclave was invalid because of illegal lobbying and electioneering by Bergoglio partisans.
The abdication of a Pope is, thankfully, an exceedingly rare event in the life of the Church.  The question of Pope Benedict’s abdication, the circumstances surrounding it, and its implications, certainly need to be closely examined.  A careful study of this event will be the task of a future pontificate. There does not at this time seem to exist the will to do it, at least among those who are now in power, so glad are they to have seen the back of Benedict, and so little do they seem to have the good of the Church at heart.  As to the effectiveness of Pope Benedict’s abdication, and the validity of the conclave of 2013, others have addressed these issues more eloquently and expertly than I can. Still, I will throw in a few observations of my own, to be taken for whatever they may be worth.  
First of all, it is difficult to imagine Pope Benedict XVI doing anything without careful deliberation.  The existence of fear on his part does not, ipso facto, imply coercion; nor does it rule out deliberation.  Fear is very often a factor in making a decision that is nevertheless taken knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily.  For example, people often enter into plea agreements, even if they are not happy about doing so, because they fear that to go to trial could result in a worse outcome.  The spectacular imprudence of other alternatives than the one they elect does not mean that their decision to take a plea has been coerced. Thus, Pope Benedict’s fears, if any, about remaining in office do not, of themselves, mean he was being coerced into abdicating.  Even if it could be persuasively argued that he was coerced into abdicating, he could still later acquiesce in having been deposed, and Christ could still ratify that acquiescence. Arguably, if there was a need for his acquiescence, Benedict has done so by reaffirming his abdication, and by declining to try to resume office.
Secondly, the idea strains all credibility that a careful, thoughtful, conscientious and experienced scholar like Josef Ratzinger, with his profound knowledge of Church law, could produce an instrument of abdication that, for some elementary failure in grammar or phrasing, would fail to do what it set out to do.  Mistakes like that are the stuff of first-year law students, which Benedict XVI manifestly is not. Unlike the current Pope, Benedict XVI is a man who weighs carefully every word, and understands that, when you draft a document intended to have some legal effect, every word counts. Also, unlike Ann Barnhardt, Pope Benedict is trained in Latin, so his opinions as to the best choice of words in a Latin instrument to effectuate a legal act are probably weightier than hers.
Thirdly, I do not believe that any after-the-fact musings of either Benedict or his private secretary about the nature of the Petrine ministry, entered upon in an effort, perhaps, to rationalize what he had done, deserve any weight as evidence of his intent at the time of his abdication.  Surely, to the extent Benedict’s beliefs about the Petrine Office, or his intent with respect to it, are at issue, the focus of any inquiry would have to center on what he intended at the time he renounced the papacy.  Whatever he said after the fact, even if it is picking up the threads of theological or philosophical speculations from years earlier, is at best minimally relevant to determining his thinking and his intent during the relevant time frame.  Why? Because people are known to change their minds, and sometimes even change them back again at a later time, and for all sorts of reasons. Even if Benedict’s reflections are relevant, they are not sufficient to tip the scales in favor of an invalid abdication.  Not every piece of relevant evidence carries weight, or deserves to.
Fourthly, Benedict’s conduct since his abdication — the continued use of his regnal name, the imparting of apostolic blessings, his continued wearing of the white cassock, his failure completely to disappear from public view — do not constitute smoking-gun evidence that he is still the lawful Pope.  Here again, it pays to remember that not every piece of evidence, even relevant evidence, carries weight. On the other hand, when you have a theory that you are determined to prove at all costs, you are apt to see relevant evidence where none exists, or to misinterpret or exaggerate in your own mind the importance of evidence that does exist.  When Pope Benedict became the first Pope to abdicate in nearly 600 years, it immediately became clear from the ensuing confusion that the Church really does not have a protocol for dealing with a former Pope, or for how a former Pope should conduct himself. It is quite likely that this lack of protocol is the primary reason why Benedict continues to hold on to some papal trappings.  A future Pope may or may not choose to address this issue.
Fifthly, just as she does not have a background in Latin, Barnhardt does not have a background in canon law.  This is not a criticism of her: not everybody can be an expert in everything. But without a background or training in a field in which you propose to exercise what amounts to some professional judgment, you are missing some important facts and principles; worse yet, you cannot know what you don’t know.  Since Barnhardt feels compelled to give us the benefit of her views on the law of the Church, her lack of canonist training is relevant in considering how trustworthy those views are.  
This is a point worth dwelling on, in a world where people who know less and less are bolder and bolder about ventilating their views, and where few opinions are more entrenched than ones based on ignorance.  I have been a practicing lawyer for over 20 years, and the bane of my existence is people without any legal training who think they know the law better than I do, and who actually fly into a rage because I do not endorse their legal opinions — even though I am qualified to give a legal opinion and they are not.  The reality is that there is a lot more to the practice of law than looking things up in books. In fact, looking things up in books is not even the beginning. You have to first know which books to look in. You have to know which, among myriad authorities, are controlling, and which are merely persuasive, and which ones take priority over others in which circumstances.  You have to know how to check your authorities to make sure they’re still current. You have to know how to read one piece of law in light of the whole body of law of which it is a part. You have to know when you are dealing with terms of art, with specialized meanings, and when you are dealing with terms that have the same meaning as in common parlance. You have to know how to think like a lawyer, which can be the end product only of training and experience.
Even this is not an exhaustive list of all that you need to do law competently.  And all my experience still only covers a small area. I am trained in one branch of the secular law that is based on the English common law, as currently expressed and applied in one small jurisdiction in the United States; and my field of actual experience is even narrower.  Canon law is a field where I fear to tread, even as a trained secular lawyer. It is not true that anybody can do canon law without training, any more than you can do secular law without training. Canon law has different terms of art, different operating premises and different concepts of controlling authorities than that branch of the secular law that I know.  It also requires a background in Latin. How much less confident about interpreting canon law should Ann Barnhardt be, who is not even trained in secular lawyering! Yet she tosses out canons, and what she considers to be her authoritative interpretations of them, like a wealthy aristocrat tossing coins to a crowd.
Barnhardt argues that the question of whether Francis is really the Pope centers on the question Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?”  Well, Ann, who do you say that He is?  You are saying that Christ is not active nor effective in the process of papal succession, and that He can be stymied by mere men, and even by their grammatical errors or semantics games.  You hold, in essence, that He does not ratify an abdication (even an imprudent abdication, entered upon using the free will that He confers upon everyone), strip a man who abdicates of the Office, and then confer it upon a successor. Worse: you are saying that, having designated Peter as the touchstone of Christian unity, Christ would then go on to allow His entire Church to falsely acclaim the wrong man as the true Pope.  How can the whole Church be wrong about something so critical?  Yet she universally acclaimed Francis as Pope upon his election in 2013.  Even you, Ann, acknowledged Francis as Pope, even if you didn’t like it. A lot of us didn’t like it, and still don’t.  But then, we were guaranteed a true Pope, not a likeable one, or even a good one. Regretting the fact that Francis is the legitimate Pope does not invalidate or reverse the guarantee of universal acclaim.
To repeat, this idea that Francis is an antipope serves as a refuge.  The “Antipope Bergoglio” crowd comfort themselves with the idea that Francis is not the true Pope, and that the Church has fallen into the hands of a wicked usurper, because this seems to them preferable to the possibility that a true Pope could permit the proliferation of heresy, idolotry and sexual deviancy within the Church.  That is their opinion.  
Well, here is my opinion.  I believe the situation is much worse than they think.  I think that (1) Benedict XVI legitimately abdicated; (2) that the conclave of 2013 was valid; (3) that Jorge Bergoglio, reigning under the name of Francis, and as awful as he is in light of the evidence of his words and deeds, and the sorry state of everything he touches, is the legitimate Pope.  I think Pope Francis has made it his business to push the envelope, and we are going to see just how far out that envelope goes.  Even now, we are finding out that the lines may not all be where we thought they were.
It is also my opinion that this calamity has been a long time coming.  I have long believed that the Church is under a chastisement. I have also long believed that this chastisement would never play itself out until we got a “spirit of Vatican II” pope.  This we now have in spades in Pope Francis. Now, since the kind and gentle father we had in Pope Benedict could not bring us around, we have been allowed to fall into the hands of an abusive one.  Now the “spirit of Vatican II” is going to carry itself out to its logical conclusion, as far as God will permit for the punishment of our sins.  
Barnhardt and those who agree with her maintain that to regard Francis as the legitimate Pope is to disbelieve in the protections that Jesus promised to His Church for her preservation until the end of time, including the charism of infallibility in faith and morals that the Pope possesses in virtue of his office (which charism applies more narrowly than Barnhardt seems to think).  But this state of affairs is not the result of God failing of His promises, but of us failing in our fidelity to God. Why else would He permit this if not because of our sins? He is allowing the scourge of our own wickedness to fall across our backs. Now the Church must face up to her infidelity. Jesus promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against her; but this does not mean that He will not permit her to go even to the edge of the abyss, for her purification.
The other day, Barnhardt asked: 
“If everything Bergoglio is doing is totally ‘in bounds’ with regard to the Petrine Promise…WHY DIDN’T SATAN, A LEGALIST, DO THIS CENTURIES or MILLENNIA AGO???”
Very simple, Ann.  Because the devil can only do as much as God permits, and no more.  (Who do you say that He is?)  God didn’t permit this centuries or millennia ago.  He permitted other sorts of chastisement. But then, centuries and millennia ago, we had not amassed the sins, and racked up the debt of guilt, that we have racked up in our day.  And so He hits us with a punishment that is fitting to our crimes.  
But He also gives us the grace to repent and convert.